Monday, 10 December 2018

Father Damien's Letters - Joseph Damien De Veuster

Father Damien's Letters
Joseph Damien De Veuster
Congregation of he Sacred Hearts SS.CC.
788 p

I have been fascinated by Father Damien for many years now. When I heard about this book I searched and searched but could not find out any information about it. I went back and asked the author who had mentioned it. He told me about where it came from. I reached out to a few sources and finally was gifted a copy, I just had to cover the postage from Ireland. The book is not available commercially. But if you can lay your hands on it, it is a treasure. I typically do not keep physical books, instead donate most to school libraries. But this is one that will be going on my favorites shelf. I have read it once and am now reading it again at a much slower pace.

The note on the inside back dust jacket is:

In Jesus we find everything!
Father Coudrin, the Founder of
The Congregation liked to repeat
Those words. Surely, this was true
Also of Damien. In Jesus he found
The way to savor God along the
Journey of his life, and t hrough
Jesus he became an inspiration for
Others, Many join the
Congregation because of his
Example and many others,
Christian and those belonging to
Other religions, have been inspired
By his generous gift of self to serve
Those marginalized and ostracized.

A quote by Javier Alvarez-Ossorio ss.cc., Superior General taken from the preface. Speaking of the preface the chapters in the book are:

A Synopsis of the Times of Father Damien's Ministry 
A Chronology of Father Damien's Life
     Part I. Europe (1848-1863)
     Part II. Hawai'i (March 1864- May 1873)
     Part III. Moloka'i (May 10, 1873 - 1885)
     Part IV. Kalawao (1886-1889)
     Part V. Cards and Fragments
     Part VI. Appendices 
Index of Names
Statistical Overview
Chronological List of Father Damien's Letters

The volume contains 354 letters with footnotes, beginning in December of 1848 with a letter to his parents and concluding with a letter dated April 17th, 1889 written by Father Wendelin ss.cc. on Damien's last days. The last letter by Damien is dated March 15th 1889. There are 8 cards or fragments of letters

The read the words of this saint, is inspiring to say the least. And to date this is the most comprehensive section to date, and maybe that we will ever see. I have a feeling that this is a book I will read again and again. My only wish is that eventually an edition will be published for the general public, and that at that time there is an eBook edition. But this limited edition is a beautiful book. And I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to encounter it, and read it. It has already been a blessing.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin
Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers - Edited by Pamphile De Veuster 

Father Damien's Letters

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary & The Second Sunday of Advent 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary & The Second Sunday of Advent 2018

The readings for the Immaculate Conception Saturday December 8th:

First Reading Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial Psalm 98: 1-4 Response 1a
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 
Gospel Luke 1:26-38

The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent:

First Reading Burach 5:1-9
Responsorial Psalm 126:1-6 Response 3
Second Reading Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11 
Gospel Luke 3:1-6

What really spoke to me from the readings from both masses this weekend are the responses for the responsorial psalms.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.”


“The lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

I have written several times in these reflections on the mass reading about my desire to live more joy. Seeking to live joy and striving for a saintly life have been the quest. And each year that passes I feel the need for both more keenly. Each day I pray a “Consecration To Merciful Love” from the study 33 Days to Merciful Love by Father Michael E. Gaitley. Part of that prayer is:

“Finally, I believe, my God, that you can and will make me into a saint, even if I won’t see it, even if I have to struggle all my life against vice and sin, even if I have to wait until the very end. This blind hope in your mercy, O Lord, is my only treasure.”

I also pray that my actions live up to my theology. The last two decades have been a process of learning to be and learning to be better at being. Part of the growth over that period, is due to honest self examination, and daily examination of conscience. I am no where near where I would like to be as a husband, as a father, as a friend, as a man. But I am working on it. And the progress may be slow, and there may be back steps. But I pray, I seek, I hope, and I trust in God. 

And how does that tie to our readings this week? The Lord has done marvelous things, and great things for us, and in us. I am not where I want to be, but I have seen growth. And true growth not just change. I am not the man I was last year, or 10 years ago, or 25 years ago. Heck there are times I am not the man I was last week, or even yesterday. But I do sing to and for God. I do celebrate the joy coming into the world. And for the last few weeks I have been listening to Matt Maher’s new album ‘The Advent of Christmas’ I usually struggle during the holiday season. More a season of blues and looking back with regret. But this year is different. It is more purple and hope, then blues and despair. 

Ans so I pray: Lord fill us with your joy, help us to recognize all you do for us, and have done for us, and help us to sing a new song unto you. Forever more. 

Note: Link to all posts about St. Agnes Parish.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Product Review - Coast Protein Cricket Protein Powder Chocolate

Coast Protein Cricket Protein Powder,
Chocolate, Dairy Free, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO,
454g /1lb
20 Servings
Coast Protein

Chirp, Chirp. My first thought when I saw this product was to wonder how many crickets it takes to make a pound of protein powder. After it arrived, I posted a picture of the packaging. It got mix responses, most negative. But the more I read about this product, and this company the more intrigued I became. Some facts about Cricket’s from the back of the packaging:

Crickets are 67% Protein
Crickets are Very High in B12
Crickets are High in Iron.

Compared to Cows for other sources of protein and protein powder:

2000 times less water use
100 times less emissions
13 times less land usage

So if you are of a more environmental mindset there are some extra perks right there. If you want to try something different this is a good place to start. A single serving of this powder has 140% of your B12, and 29% of Magnesium, 90 Calories and 20 g of protein. It also has a wide range of 9 different amino acids.

I have tested this mixed with just water (a little chalky).
With milk (pretty good).
As a smoothie with chocolate milk and ice cream (very good).
And as a smoothie with Chocolate milk, frozen raspberries and blueberries (also very good).

The companies stated purpose is to: “normalize insect protein for a healthy and sustainable future.” Their cricket powder is good for the planet and good for us. There is one discrepancy on amazon it states 20 servings per package, and the packaging states 13. So depending on how many servings you get it will be between $2-$3 per serving.

Overall, I was very impressed with the product. Normally chocolate protein powders usually smell grate but have not so good taste. That was not the case. My 10 year old son did not like It but I have had a number of servings now and have had a little after taste from the stevia, but other than that no issues. It does get a bit chunky towards the bottom of the glass, but no more so than some other powders I have tried. And no you will not be picking legs or wings out of your teeth. On the company website there are numerous recipes, for cookies and smoothies. The powder also comes in a Vanilla Flavor and Peanut Butter. If either are as good as this then they are worth checking out also.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Ornamental Graces - Carolyn Astfalk

Ornamental Graces
Carolyn Astfalk
Full Quiver Publishing

Multa Verba Publishing
ISBN 9780997971804

This was the second novel by Carolyn Astfalk that I have read this year, I have also read her short story in the collection, Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories. At the time of writing this review this book is ranked in the following categories:

Religious & Inspirational

Now as a middle-aged guy I do not normally read romances. Some of the other YA Books I have read have a romance element, but usually written around adventure or mystery. As far as I can recall of the thousands of book I have read this is the first I would classify as romance. And yet, even with that being stated, I could hardly put this book down. This story is good clean Catholic, Christian fiction. It is the story about relationships, about family, about mistakes. And about learning to forgive ourselves. As a guy who did not always live his faith well this story was an incredibly powerful and moving read. And to be honest I wish there had been Young Adult books like this when I was much younger, maybe reading a story like this would have helped me avoid some of the mistakes, some of the sins in my own past. 

There are several strengths to this novel. The first are the characters. Astfalk does such an amazing job creating realistic characters. They are fully fleshed out. Dan Malone is a man trying to put his life back together. He hates who he was, and the things he has done. He is working hard, rebuilding his business and his name. By a chance encounter he meets Emily Kowalski, at his Christmas tree lot. They both discover eventually that they have feelings for each other, but because of their own personal struggles they keep messing it up. Dan has become friends with Emily’s brother, and is called uncle by his kids. Dan does not feel worth of Emily because of his past, a past that keeps reeling it’s ugly head. 

Astfalk also does an incredible job capturing the human condition. Dan’s angst over his past sins, and his sense of self worth. Emily’s self doubt. There is so much to rave about with this novel.

I could hardly put this book down. It is a true page turner. You will find yourself drawn in, and the characters will become like friends, and you will find yourself invested in what is happening to and with them. It is a very realistic read. 

This is an excellent read. It is a wonderful Christian novel, with a cautionary tale, and a story of redemption and recovery. I am very thankful I gave it and read and I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Carolyn Astfalk:
Rightfully Ours
Stay with Me
Ornamental Graces

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Prayer of the Day To Mary, Mother Of Perpetual Help

A Short Prayer To Mary, Mother Of Perpetual Help

Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favoured by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but Mother of the redeemed as well.

We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and God's mercy is from age to age on those who love God.

Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Author Profile and Interview with David Vining

Author Profile and Interview with David Vining

David M. Vining is an author I only discovered earlier this year. A novel of his was recommended by an author I respect and trust. But not willing to take the plunge on a historical fiction novel, I decided to try one of his collections of short stories. And within a few weeks had read his 5 collections of short stories and the novel. And now I eagerly await his net work to be published. As a budding author, David’s work is wonderful to read. He took time recently from the many hats he wears to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here in his own words is David.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How are you nurturing that dream?

I started writing in elementary school. I remember loving to throw myself into every writing project assigned to me. I also developed a little comic book company with a few friends that last a grand few weeks.

My big early project was a piece of Star Wars fan fiction (which is thankfully lost to time), followed by a The Lord of the Rings knockoff I tried to begin in high school.

In college, I majored in English Literature, and I took more than my fair share of creative writing classes where I thought very highly of myself. It was about this time I started what would become my first completed novel (more about that a bit later).

I never took the work of writing that seriously, though. It was only a few years ago in late 2013 that I decided to make writing something I would pursue as full time as I could manage. Unhappy with my job, I decided that the only way out of "real work" was my writing, so I started a promise that has led to me writing more than 1500 words a day almost every day today.

2. Who were some of the biggest supporters of your writing?

That's easily my mother. As a writer herself, I think she enjoys to see one of her children following, somewhat, in her footsteps. She's always encouraged my imagination and, in particular, my reading. She's read almost everything I've written and been the one person to give me strong feedback regularly. I've learned to listen to her recommendations, even if I don't always agree with them.

3. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

For the longest time (through college), I imagined myself as the next James Joyce. As you can imagine, that led to a lot of confused writing without much mooring to anything tangible a reader could latch onto (what a pompous amateur with significantly less talent will generally create when aping James Joyce). Since, I've stopped trying to be flashy and have focused more on just trying to tell stories.

Cormac McCarthy was a strong early influence. I love his elegiac style (which I sometimes strive to mimic), but his intelligent use of violence in the service of story imprinted well with me.

Ultimately, though, I really try to just follow the two main rules of writing that one of my college professors (Robin Allnutt) passed along to me: Never be muddy. Never be boring.

4. In the back of your books one of your acknowledgements is: “and to my employer for designing a building with many small conference rooms where I could hide away for my lunch hours and toil instead of eat.” What is your current day job?

I work for a software as a service company that deals with health insurance for employers. Most of the year, the job is relatively relaxed with enough opportunities for me to peel away and find a small conference room to write in. I make a special effort to do exactly that everyday on my lunch.

5. Do you see yourself writing full-time for a living?

That's the ultimate goal, although how I'll finally get there is still a mystery. I've pursued literary agents but I've never been able to find representation, so for now, I'm trying to leverage independent publishing to gain any kind of traction that I can.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

I always have ideas swirling in my head. If I don't have a set plan for the next two projects, at least, then I feel a little lost. Once I'm ready to take one of these ideas to the page, though, my process is actually fairly regimented. 
I have a pre-writing process that tries to hammer out as much of the plot and character elements I can before I start Chapter 1. My very first novel was done freeform, and it produced something less than ideal. 

After a bevy of outlines, character profiles, and other materials, I sit down to write the first draft. Once I begin that draft, I continue through until it's done. I never go back in the middle of a draft to change things, that's the job of the second draft. Once through, I set the draft aside and try my best to forget about it.

I'll go to another project (a third draft of something else, for example), giving me, hopefully, enough time away from the first draft to approach it as any reader would which will help me identify issues more objectively. 

My second draft includes a set process as well. I read the whole thing, write down my thoughts on the entire work, and then I go back through again. I'll then approach the book chapter by chapter, filling out a worksheet about what the chapter is trying to accomplish, how well it does it, as well as any other strengths and weaknesses, and rewrite as necessary. 

One other thing that I do is handwrite my first drafts for a variety of reasons, which means that at the end of my second draft, I have to type up the whole book, one of the most miserable experiences of the entire process. However, I keep it up because of my attachment to writing by hand, and this transcription forces me to look at the whole thing one more time.

Any subsequent drafts largely follow the same pattern.

7. You have published 5 collections of short stories and 2 novels. Were the collections of Short Stories written as collections? Or did you write a series of stories and then group them afterwards?

I wrote the short stories as an effort to create a bevy of content before I released my first novel (The Battle of Lake Erie). A little more than a year ago, I was considering the independent publishing route and decided to do it, but I did not want my first foray to be a novel that I had spent months and months on to be that introduction. I could imagine the anti-climactic response it would get. So, I made the conscious decision to write 5 short story collections, release them monthly, and then follow up with the novel.

8. Of the 25 published short stories across the 5 collections, which was your favorite to write and why?

It would probably be "A Question of Principles", the Star Trek Voyager pseudo-story. Out of all of the short stories in those collections, it had been the one in my head (in one form or another) for the longest. What gives me the most pride, though, was that I handed it a Star Trek fan friend of mine who read it and said that it felt like a real episode. Granted, it intentionally breaks with several of the conventions of the series, but he felt that the characters were well represented.

9. Across the 25 published short stories to date which character is your favorite and why?

I have a certain affinity to Matthew March, the protagonist of "Salut" in Old Magic in a New World. He's a slimy and entitled brat, but I find his cluelessness kind of endearing.

I also like Jacques Martin, the drunk Frenchman trekking through the Brazilian rainforest in search of a lost treasure, in "The Jewel of the Moon" in the collection A Light in the Darkness interesting as well. I find him to be an enigma, so much to the point that I still haven't decided what made him famous in the framing device, or whether he ever found the jewel itself.

10. Why did you publish the short stories as 5 collections of 5 compiled thematically instead of as a larger single volume?

It was purely an effort to extend the release over a greater amount of time and extend the amount of attention I could get for my work. Nothing beautifully artistic about it, just cold hard business strategy.

11. Your first novel, A Quest Through Winter Sleep, is now out of print. Do you ever see it coming back into print?


I wrote this book over the course of about two years right after college. As I alluded to earlier, the book was written freeform without any strong plan. As such, I find it a meandering mess with little justification for the length. It has some interesting ideas and images, but in order for me to fix the book to my own satisfaction, I estimate that it would take me at least six months of hard work. 

I think it's better to leave my first effort as a "lost work" than to spend so much time trying to salvage it instead of pursuing ideas I find fresher.

12. You have a professed love of history, and specifically American history. Of the books that you have read on the topic, which ones would you consider essential reading?

Most of my reading of history I've decided to do through biographies of American presidents. I'm going in order from Washington forward. As of this moment, I've finished through Andrew Johnson (the 17th President) with two competing biographies of Ulysses S. Grant calling to me from my bookshelf.
Regarding your actual question, the two works that I find rather indispensable to understand the early days of the American republic are two six volume biographies of the 3rd and 4th Presidents.

Dumas Malone is responsible for the biography of Thomas Jefferson.
Irving Brant wrote the biography of James Madison. As a quick tangent, it was actually this biography that first introduced me to The Battle of Lake Erie as a one and a half page summary of the battle I read that description, fell in love with the event, and began a series of research that ultimately led to me writing the book. 

13. Some of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of eBooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

At the moment, I'm just not big enough to worry about it. I need new readers as much as dollars for my work.

14. Some authors monitor torrent sites and contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?

I did a quick search after I read your question, and I haven't found anything, but again, I'm just too small a fish in too large of a pond for that fight.

15. You mentioned on your site a love of movies. What are your some of your favorite movies?

This is a question that I've thought way too much about. I'm actually much more of a movie fan than a book fan. I have a top ten:

The Passion of Joan of Arc
Duck Soup
2001: A Space Odyssey
Apocalypse Now
Au Revoir Les Enfants
The Last Temptation of Christ
The Thin Red Line
The Lord of the Rings

The list above is chronological in order. I love many more movies, but if relegated to only ten for the rest of my life, I'd find the above to be much more than satisfactory.

16. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?

My teen years were spent reading Star Wars Expanded Universe novels and The Lord of the Rings. I could have spent more time reading Heinlein or Asimov (which I dabbled in), but ultimately those years were shaped by those two main sources.

17. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

I've read Ulysses by James Joyce twice. The first reading left me confused, and the second reading left me enraptured. I read the Barsoom books by Edgar Rice Burroughs a few years ago as a source of light reading, and I've enjoyed them quite a bit.

I've been very slowly making my way through this list of English novels of the 19th century, starting at the bottom with The Wanderer (which I viscerally hated) and most recently having read Mary Barton (which I found to be two different books in one that weren't combined terribly well), but with Jane Eyre and Great Expectations at the top of the heap, I'm certain I'll find more greats along the way. 

18. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

I remember one of my last classes was a fiction for children course taught by a woman who had never instructed the material before. She gave conflicting information about what she expected a children's story to be. For example, she championed Roald Dahl as an exemplar, but hated dark themes in the work we actually turned in. In the final week of class, I wrote an email to her explaining how I had met the requirements of the course, even if she didn't like my writing in particular. Once completed, I was quite satisfied with the email (which she never responded to), because I felt like I had argued my case quite well.

I'm not sure that was the goal of every single one of my teachers, to simply get me to a point where I could effectively argue, but I believe that my personal experiences in college led to that.

And argument really comes from the ability to understand. I think of St. Augustine and something he said in The Confessions about how education for him became less worthwhile when his teachers stopped teaching him how to think and started teaching him what to think.

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

Much like my movie list, I'd want a variety. I'd love to have Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, a Burroughs collection, The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, and…

I'm not sure. Maybe I'll take some parachute drops of books from time to time, tossing what I don't want to keep me at or below ten.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Writing is a job. Treat it like one.

I get the impression from those who want to get into creative fields but haven't yet, that they imagine the creative process to be akin to dancing through a field, tossing flowers in the air, and receiving inspiration from the universe. If there's anything like that in the real thing, it lasts for a few minutes as you develop the beginnings of ideas. Once that's done, then it becomes hard work to tease that idea out into something resembling a story, to populate that story with characters resembling people, and then to assemble it all into something resembling readable. 

That effort takes hundreds of hours for a novel, and they are the kind of hours that are the most thankless one can experience, turning that blank page into something filled with words. Turning nothing into something.

A second piece of advice is to learn how to critically read your own work. That doesn’t mean insisting that everything is terrible, but understanding what is good and what is bad. I find that a buffer of time is one of the best things that leads to me to begin being able to do that. 

Focus on finishing the first draft, and worry about rewrites later. It's easier to fix a first draft than to complete a first draft when you can't get past chapter 1.

Thank you, David for taking the time to answer some question for the readers. If you have not read any of his books yet I encourage you to give them a try. The short stories are amazing, and the novel is excellent.

Books by David Vining:
A Quest Through Winter Sleep
The Battle of Lake Erie: One Young American's Adventure in the War of 1812

Collections of Short Stories:
Shoes for Two Soldier Sons
Old Magic in a New World
A Light in the Darkness
A Boy and His Satellit


Author profile and interview with David Vining.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Guarding Aaron - T.M. Gaouette - Faith and Kung Fu Book 3

Guarding Aaron
Faith and Kung Fu Book 3
T.M. Gaouette
ISBN 9781729434949

As of the writing of this review I have read all T.M. Gaouette’s published novels. I have appreciated her story telling immensely since first reading The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, about a foster family. But Guarding Aaron is the third novel in a series of four, and I find that with each book in the series the series gets better. I must say I was completely surprised by this novel. The twists that are tossed in this book, some subtle, and some not really make the reader think.

Many of the characters in this book are familiar to us from the first two volumes. And reading about this is like a visit with old friends. It is a chance to catch up and see where they are at in life, and in their spiritual journey. For some there is marked changes, and improvements. For others we see a turning from what they once believed and held dear. There are three main plot lines in this story that all wrap together well. First, we have Aaron being bullied at school, and who discovers the Dojo where Gabriel assists with teaching. We have Gabriel and Tanner who have feelings for each other but are both trying to find God’s plan and purpose for their life. And finally, we have Faith Perry, a young woman who is losing her way. All three plot lines flow in and around having faith, trusting God, and seeking god. 

The characters are one of the greatest strengths of this book and the series. The genre of these stories is ‘realistic fiction’. And in fact, reading these books could be like encountering friends and family that you know in real life. In fact, there is a young woman at the Dojo where my children and I train who just achieved her black belt who reminds me of a female counterpart to Gabe. The characters are so well written that readers might be disappointed to find out there is only one remaining book planned in the series. 

The second great strength of the story is the story itself. The plot and how Gaouette handles the elements is masterful. In this story we have bullying, teen drinking, discernment of God’s will, and overcoming adversity. The story is an intense and engaging read on many levels. I could not put the book down, and to be honest am desperate for the final installment in the series. 

The more I read by T.M. Gaouette the more I want to read. I thoroughly enjoy her works and appreciate that they are good clean Christian fiction. This is an excellent Catholic Young Adult book but can be read and enjoyed by anyone who loves a good story! A truly great read in a wonderful series for readers of all ages.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by T.M. Gaouette:
The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch

Faith & Kung Fu Series:

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Author Profile and interview with T.M. Gaouette

(New 2018 Covers)

(Original Covers) 

Monday, 3 December 2018

The Siege Of Reginald Hill - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Book 6.0

The Siege of Reginald Hill
I Am Margaret Book 6.0
Corinna Turner
UnSeen Books an Imprint of
Zephyr Publishing
eISBN 9781910806791
ISBN 9781910806807

The ‘I Am Margaret’ series has been full of surprises. It is currently comprised of 5 novels, one journal, 3 short stories, and a story in an anthology. This series and especially this story keep it fresh and new, and in a good way. Few series have the staying power of these books. And in some ways the story in this one is the most powerful yet! To summarize for those unfamiliar with the series, in book one, Margaret Verrall was selected for sorting, basically she failed a test and has been selected to just be spare parts for citizens of the Euro Block. But after winning a writing contest under a different name, and publishing a novel things have changed drastically.

At the time of this story sortings have been stopped. Religious freedoms are returning. The value of each human life is growing again. But in the middle of the night, during Eucharistic adoration, Fr Kyle Verrall has been abducted. He knows things are not good when he recognizes the voice of Reginald Hill, one of the most powerful men in the history of the Euro Bloc. Kyle knows Reginald, and know there are likely few people who hate his sister as much as Reginald. And not being able to get to Margaret in the Vatican Free State, he has come to Africa and captured her brother. When they begin the conscious dismemberment of Kyle, his prayers intensify. 

But who really is the captor and who really is free. After chapter two the story is told alternatively from the perspective of Kyle and Margo. In fact the chapter titles are just the news of whose part of the story it is. There are 32 short chapters in the volume. The story is nearly impossible to put down. I believe it is strong enough to be read on its own, but the whole series is incredible and worth reading. This story deals with themes of prayer, abandonment to God’s will, possible martyrdom, and forgiveness. It is a solid example of loving your enemy. 

The story is very well crafted. The story is tightly written. And the plot is excellent. It is a prime example of Catholic’s in the arts. Though written as teen fiction, this book and this whole series can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a great suspenseful read.  

Another incredible read in an amazing series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! 

The Siege of Reginald Hill Blog Tour:

December 1 – I Am Margaret
December 3 – Book Reviews and More
December 4 – CatholicMom.com
December 5 – Regina Doman
December 6 – Theresa Linden
December 7 – The Catholic Bard!
December 8 – T.M. Gaouette
December 10 – Carolyn Astfalk
December 13 – Leslea Wahl
December 14 – Elizabeth Amy Hajek

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)

1.0 I Am Margaret
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
5.5 An Unexpected Guest
6.0 The Siege of Reginald Hill
How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
1.0 Drive!
1.1 A Truely Rapror-Ous Welcome

Other Books:
Mandy lamb & the Full Moon

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.


Sunday, 2 December 2018

First Sunday of Advent 2018

First Sunday of Advent 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Jeremiah 33:14-16
Responsorial Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14 Response 1b
Second Reading 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 
Gospel Luke 21:25-28, 34-26

The new church year has begun. It is a time of waiting and preparation. It is with awe and gratitude that we begin this journey towards Christmas. The first reading ends with the words:

“And this is the name by which it will be called;
“The Lord is our righteousness.””

We eagerly await the return of Christ the King. But during this season we remember his first coming. His coming as baby, born in a manger. The second reading begins with a prayer:

“May the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we abound in love for you.
And may he strengthen your hearts in holiness
that you may be blameless before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

Christ will return with his saints, and we are called to be those saints. One of the prayers I try and pray daily contains this phrase:

“Finally, I believe, my God, that you can and will make me into a saint, even if I won’t see it, even if I have to struggle all my life against vice and sin, even if I have to wait until the very end. This blind hope in your mercy, O Lord, is my only treasure.”

I likely will never be a saint here on earth. But that should not stop me from trying. That is my call, that is our call as Christians, as Catholics. We are called to be saints. We must strive to ‘strengthen our hearts in holiness’. We must fortify our will. And work on developing our spiritual disciplines so as to be found worthy at that last judgement. But in turning back to the gospel we are encouraged to live with patient expectation. And that is the season we are beginning. That of waiting. And as the days are getting darker, there is time for us to work on renovating our hearts and renovating our lives, to prepare from him. 

I pray for you my readers, for strength, for peace, and for growth. I pray for your eyes to be opened and for your hearts to be moved. 

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