Friday, 5 June 2020

Dragon Assassin 8 Burning Empire - Arthur Slade - Dragon Assassin Book 8

Dragon Assassin 8Burning Empire
Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises

What an intense conclusion to this saga. When this series launched it was planned for an installment a month, over a year. That did not happen. But the waits have proved worth it, and the volumes have got progressively longer. And this final piece of the story is an exceptional piece of writing. The intensity and drama in this series built with every volume. And Slade has again delivered an excellent read.

The series begin with Carmen who is about to graduate from the Assassin Guild, who meets the Dragon Brax trapped in a cave. And the Assassin Guild nearly being wiped out. Carmen and Brax make an agreement and both have made oaths. But after travelling all over the lands. In volume 1 we had:

Assassin School
A Dragon
A deal with said dragon
And more

Volume two continued with:

A reunion with a friend
An adversary turned friend
Aide from a former mentor and teacher
Another betrayal
A dragon to the rescue
The promise of three hands and a claw

Book three was where the plot twists began. Volume for we learned about dragon culture and customs. Volume six has a battle to the death. And Volume seven has a land of wizards, and a sort of reunion. And in this volume, it all comes together. And we return to some of the places from the first volume. And in this volume the twists in the plot completely took me by surprise.

Across the eight volumes we see a lot of action. The story is truly epic in a classic fantasy style. When Carmen goes out alone with Nameless, I was doubtful of the outcome. And when … Well to find out you will need to read the book.

The writing in this book and series is excellent. It is written in such a classic style. It reminds me of books I read when I was younger. It was a very enjoyable series. And an excellent addition to the canon of works from Slade’s masterful pen.

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings
Elder Magic
Royal Blood
Hidden Powers
Burning Empire

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Viper - Short Story

Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Death Panels - Michelle Buckman - A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith

Death Panels
A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith
Michelle Buckman
Saint Benedict Press
ISBN 9781935302476
eISBN 9781935302797


There are many books in this genre and style. I have read several of them. And even with stating that I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. This book has elements that remind me of I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner, Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden, The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe and those are just some of the ones I have read in the last few years. And yet it handles it in a very very different way. I very much enjoyed this book, and to be honest was disappointed that it was a stand along story. I would love to know what happens next, and how it happens.

The year is 2042, Christians either live by hiding their faith or they live in a sort of Christian reservation. The story follows a man with medical training. Who is from the Cloistered Dominion, or Dome, that man is David, and things in the States are far worse then they ever could have expected. The Death Panels are decisions based on statistics and probabilities. And Senator Axyl Houston wants to expand their control to all area’s of life and the whole population. But the sense that something is wrong is growing. And a spark can ignite a fire that will burn through the system and change it all.

From the writing of this story and even news events these days it is easy to see a story like this being prophetic. Written in 2020, I doubt even the author could have predicated that by 2020 masses around the globe would be cancelled or closed to attendance because of a virus. The story has a wide range of characters, and different views of religion and how life should be. The book was engaging from start to finish.

The writing is clear and concise. The characters are very well crafter. The world created is eerily familiar. The state controls who is born, and who dies. Your medical treatment is determined by a social score. And choosing the wrong food, snacks, or drinks can lower your score. If your score if low enough medical treatment can be outright denied. Being different is looked down upon.

There is a great deal of suspense in this story. But also hope. It was an intense read. I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Michelle Buckman:
Pretty Maids All in a Row
A Piece of the Sky
Turning in Circles
Death Panels
Rachel's Contrition

Pathways Collection:
Maggie Come Lately
My Beautiful Disaster

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The Oppenheimer Alternative - Robert J. Sawyer

The Oppenheimer Alternative
Robert J. Sawyer
Red Deer Press
ISBN 9780889956179
eISBN 9781988415239

It has been a few years since I have read a book by Robert J. Sawyer, I read a few when much younger before I started keeping track of what I read. And I very much enjoyed the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy when the first book, Hominids, was the one book for the Kitchener Waterloo community. But this book I have been excited to read since it was first announced. I followed Robert’s social media and some cover variations, and discussion about the book and the themes presented. The novel released on the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

The story begins with a list of 63 Dramatis Personae. Many of the names will stand out from history, even for those with just a general knowledge. We are informed that all the characters were real persons. And all but one is now deceased. We are also informed that the chapter head quotes are all real. And also that some of the dialogue in the story is from historic sources.

I would start by stating that this book is hard to put down. In fact, I read it in a single sitting. I kept saying just one more chapter, again and again. It is a wonderful piece of science fiction. And overall an amazing story. I was surprised by the ending, even though I knew a twist was coming. The novel is just brilliant. It is thought provoking and immensely entertaining. It is An alternative history story or should we say alternative future story but based on real events, real people, and science proven and theorized.

In this story a group of brilliant scientists lead by J. Robert Oppenheimer, Oppie, to his friends. After the destruction wrought by the atomic bombs, and the potential destructive power let loose in the world, Oppie gathers a group to work towards saving humanity from a natural disaster. Oppies’s team with the addition of Einstein, and Wernher von Braun race against time, all while trying to keep their discoveries from the public and the government. Author Matthew Kelly often states: “We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” In this story they have under 100 years a lot to accomplish if they hope to succeed. 

The story balances science fact with science fiction. Walking a fine line weaving between the two. It is masterfully written. It presents many of the historic characters in at times unflattering light. It also presents the core group as doing what it takes to try and reach their goal. This story is an excellent read. I have not read a lot of science fiction or fantasy over the last few years. But after returning with this work I know I will need to track down more of Sawyers writings. An excellent read from a master of the genre.

Books by Robert J. Sawyer:
Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy


Quintaglio Ascension Trilogy:
Fossil Hunter

WWW Trilogy:
WWW: Wake
WWW: Watch
WWW: Wonder

Other Books:
Quantum Night
Red Planet Blues
Flash Forward
The Terminal Experiment
Illegal Alien
Calculating God
Factoring Humanity
Golden Fleece
End of an Era
Iterations and Other Stories
Identity Theft and Other Stories
The Oppenheimer Alternative

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Real Mother Goose Treasury - Grace Maccarone

Real Mother Goose Treasury
Grace Maccarone
Cartwheel Books an imprint of
ISBN 9780439858755

We were first introduced to this book at a friends. My friend’s wife had a copy, and she and my daughter sat down and read many of them together. My daughter was so enthralled with the gold trimmed anniversary edition that we had to track down our own copy. My daughter read the whole book with our friend. And has since read it aloud twice to me since we got our copy. She has even been doing calls and video chats and reading it back to the friends who introduced us to it.

My youngest daughter loves this book. It is her favorite book of nursery rhymes even though some are different than previous versions she had encountered. Her favorite is:

“Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music, wherever she goes.”

There are 5 chapters in the volume:

Girls and Boys
Ladies and Gentlemen

And there is an index of first lines. And there are over 130 poems and rhymes in this volume. It is a book she had read herself almost a dozen times now, and one she will read many, many more. The illustrations are bright and vibrant. There is a lot of space on the pages. And the poems are in a very large font. It is a family favorite. She brings it with her almost everywhere.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Fire Starters - Theresa Linden - West Brothers Book 6

Fire Starters
West Brothers Book 6
Theresa Linden
Silver Fire Publishing

ISBN 9780997674798
eISBN 9781393955276

It was bittersweet to read this book. A few years ago I read the first of the West Brothers books, Roland West Loner, and fell in love with Linden’s writing. Within a few months I had read everything she had published by that point. To find out that this is the last planned book in the West Brothers series leaves me wanting more. Even before I began the book. My only real hope is that we will encounter them again in other adult novels like Anyone But Him. But this book was an excellent read. I truly love each of the books Linden has penned and consider her a masterful writer. It does not matter if like Madeleine L’Engle she jumps genres and focus. The books in this series are for the most part like L’Engle’s Chronos series. They are realistic fiction. They could be families, friends, and youth that you know and have regular encounters with. One book in the series has a supernatural spiritual battle element. But for the most part just down to earth people, trying to live and live out their faith. In fact, The Fire Starters is the name the youth group picked. And in this book a confirmation story we have so many plots and events inter woven, and when they come together it is masterfully written.

There are several different subplots during the period of this tale. First the three West Brothers are all preparing for confirmation. They missed it during the period when they did not really attend church after their mother passed. They are doing it with the Grade 8 class. Their Church Saint Michael’s has suffered some extensive water damage. The church is fighting to stay. And it looks like the bishop might close the parish. Caitlyn is playing mom, while her mother has to go help her grandma who has had a stroke. She is also pulled out of school and working on homeschooling. Peter is racing all over the place trying to figure out who wants Saint Michael’s gone and why. Peter and Jarret West have some history. But peter pulls Jarret’s confirmation prayer card. In this story the West brothers are figuring out their path to confirmation. And at points it looks like both Roland and Jarret want to postpone it at least another year. And Peter and Caitlyn both reflect back on their own confirmation, and why they did it, and what it really means. Can the Fire Starters help save Saint Michael’s; can they help the West Brothers through the confirmation process? Will Peter figure out what is really up, at the church and with Jarrett? To find out you will need to read this amazing novel.

I have thought back on my own confirmation often. I remember only really doing it because the whole class was doing it, and they never really told us to you could do it later if you did not do it with your class. This book is excellent for those preparing for the sacrament, or those of us who have already received it. At the end of the volume is an excellent discussion guide. There is a section on the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And an excellent novena of surrender by Servant of God Don Dolindo Ruotolo.

I have really loved all of Linden's books, this one is one of the most powerful. It will hold a special place on my shelf. I recommend all of Linen's books, but the spiritual elements in this book take it to a new level, and the explorations of the importance of confirmation, and the continual process of growing in God is incredibly well written. Another incredible read that I give my highest recommendation. Last year I wrote a piece about Three Catholic Authors you might not have heard of. If I was to write a piece on my favorite contemporary Catholic or Christian authors Linden would be at the top of the list.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Theresa Linden:
Anyone But Him
Tortured Soul

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story


West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong
Roland West Outcast
Fire Starters

Armour of God Series:
Belt of Truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Boot of Peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)


Books contributed to:
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens