Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Space Traipse Hold My Beer Season 3 - Karina Lumbert Fabian

Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781733447157

This marks the seventeenth book I have read, or reread that was written by or edited by Karina Fabian. And I admit I am a fan boy of her works. The Fabian Space Worlds are as fabulous as they are diverse. Stories about a Dragon exiled to earth who works as a PI, her religious themes space fiction. To be honest all of her stories are wonderful. But the Space Traipse Stories hold a special place in my heart. This volume is the third in here Space Traipse Trilogy. But I have read them out of order; I read Season 1, Season 2, Season 4, Doall's Do-Over and then circled back to this one. So, I had an idea of some of what would happen. But not how. And boy was it worth the read.

I grew up watching reruns of Star Trek the Original Series, and the animated series during its original run. I have long been a fan of the shows and when much younger read many novelizations. I loved reading the old James Blish Star Trek stories. Reading the stories in this series takes me back to that early reading, but with a much more humorous slant. These stories are part homage, part satire, part commentary, part parody, and they are a whole lot of fun! 

These stories follow the further adventures of the captain and the crew of the HMB Impulsive. The descriptions of the main crew members are: 

• Capt Jeb Tiberius: A good ol’ boy from Texas whose religion requires firm buttocks.
• First Officer Commander Phineas Smythe: His uncanny ability to win Rock-Paper-Scissors-Redshirt-Alien means he can pick his away missions.
• Chief Engineer Commander Angus Deary: The first person to reverse the polarity by 90 degrees.
• Xenologist and Ship’s Sexy, Loreli: A plant-based life form with a perfect figure, she keeps up ship morale – and ratings.
• Chief of Security, Enigo Guillermo Ricardo Montoya Guiterrez LaFuentes: Raised on the UGS The Hood, where gang war is a cultural right, he’s not afraid to shoot a fellow crewman. That’s what stun is for!
• Ops Officer Ensign Ellie Doall: Fresh from the HMB Mary Sue, she can so just about anything all on her own – and often does.
• Transporter Chief, Dolfrick Dour: By the manipulations of technology, he reduces people to their most basic elements and rematerializes them elsewhere. Is it any wonder he’s 23rd Century Goth?

The cast breaks the fourth wall in a most Dead Pool like manner. The stories in this volume are:

Trouble in Filedise
Phantom of the Cybersphere
Kippers & Chaos

At the beginning of the book we are told the tag line for the series:

“Space: By Keptar, there’s a lot of it. And it’s chock-full of stuff to do and people to meet. These are the adventures of the HMB Impulsive. Its mission: to explore worlds, to seek out anomalies, and to boldly do what no one else has the guts to do! And you know that we’re the ship to do it. 

Don’t believe me? Hold my beer!”

In this collection we join the crew as they navigate the minefields of space, time, place, and emotional entanglements. And also, family. At the beginning of the second episode we are informed that:

“So, that was heavy. Now, we lighten things up with… Space Traipse: The Musical! 

Oh, yes, I did. You may want to play songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Little Mermaid, and West Side Story, just to mentally prepare yourselves. Who am I kidding? I don’t know if anyone can prepare themselves for what’s coming. Certainly, the crew didn’t! While I hope this is less of a dumpster fire than the Cats movie, I will take complete responsibility for any lame lyrics that don’t scan. However, if you don’t like the singing, you’ll have to blame yourself because it’s totally in your head.”

We are also dealing with a robot in love. But not just a robot, a cleaning bot. That has been modified by the cybers. The bot is not only in love but has access to require your brain. And the final bonus story echoes episodes from both ST TOS and TNG. So we have a super tense story, a humorous story in a musical stylings, and then a story that is just … something else. 

This is another wonderful collection of three tales. I have said it before and say it again this is great for fans of trek, fans of parodies, or people who just love great science fiction stories. The tales reminded me of Spider Robinson’s Cross Time Saloon books in many ways. It is a great ensemble crew. More interesting adventures, and at least 2 after this one if you read them in order. Just a whole lot of fun. 

Some of Fabian’s earlier works and Anthologies are out of print, but they are well worth tracking down. And a few of them have had reprints recently. I suggest you grab these new stories I am sure you will be entertained. I cannot wait for the next season or stand-alone story in this universe. Give this third volume a try, I am sure you will be entertained. It is a lotta fun in a small package.   

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

DragonEye Pi Series:

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem 
Live and Let Fly
Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella
Murder Most Picante
If Wishes Were Dragons

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
Space Traipse Stories

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind

Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity

Monday, 17 May 2021

Martin Sheen Pilgrim on the Way - Rose Pacatte - People of God

Martin Sheen Pilgrim on the Way 
People of God Series
Rose Pacatte FSP 
ISBN 9780814637128
eISBN 9780814637371

This was the fourth volume in the People of God Series that I have read. It was one that was on my Wishlist for a long time, but the eBook was not available in my region. I have been a fan of Sheen’s film and television works and was aware his faith was important to him. I especially appreciated his portrayal of Catholicism as President Josiah Bartlet in the West Wing. And many years ago I had copy of The Jesus Meditations: A Guide for Contemplation written by Michael Kennedy and with an audio CD of meditations led by Martin Sheen. I only listened to a few and lent the book out, never to get it back. The few I listened to were wonderful. When I finally got my hands on this book I read it slowly over several days. 

While preparing this review I found that Sheen has lent his voice to a few books on meditation by Michael Kennedy. And he has written the forward or introduction to several books as well. I was well aware of the issues and problems during the filming of Apocalypse Now from a film and faith course at university. But there was much in the book that was new to me. The chapters in this volume are:

The Pilgrimage Begins
An Actor on the Way
Spiritual Journey
A Catholic Activist
Spirituality of an Activated Catholic

A lot of the book focuses on his activism. And social action. I would have loved to have read more about his personal devotion and piety. I feel like this book is a mix of broad overview, and a highlight of who’s who in Catholic social action. It does show an honest look at a man who struggled and was a revert to the faith. There is an excellent chapter about Sheen in Recovering Faith: Stories of Catholics Who Came Home by Lorene Hanley Duquin. Much of the writing in this book reminds me of that chapter. In some ways this volume feels disjointed. Jumping between accounts of Sheen’s life from friends and family, and from the author herself. Retelling stories about his actions and movements. 

But overall, I am glad I was able to track the book down and read it. And will likely read the book by Sheen and his son soon. Sheen’s faith is hard to pin down. In some ways he is very traditional, with frequent mass attendance and use of the Rosary. And in others he is very liberal or social action focused. The last chapter in the book tries to balance that out, called Spirituality of an Activated Catholic. It is a good spiritual biography. 

I consider this book well worth the read. Though for me it left more questions than answers. It is not my favorite in this series but still a pretty good book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Sister Rose Pacatte FSP:
Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart
Lights, Camera, Faith...! A Movie Lectionary, Cycle A
The Nativity Story: A Film Study Guide for Catholics
The Way: A Cinematic Retreat Guide

Contributed to by Sister Rose Pacatte FSP: 
Into Great Silence: A Film Study Guide: For Personal or Small Group Use
Lights Camera Faith - The Ten Commandments
Lights Camera Faith C
Lights, Camera... Faith! A Movie Lectiomary- Cycle B
Media Mindfulness: Educating Teens about Faith and Media
Our Media World
Through a Catholic Lens: Religious Perspectives of 19 Film Directors from Around the World

Books by or about Martin Sheen:
The Jesus Meditations - Michael Kennedy
Experiencing Jesus: Ten Meditations for a Changed Life - Michael Kennedy
Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way - Rose Pacatte FSP
Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son - Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez

People of God Series:
John XXIII - Massimo Faggioli
Oscar Romero - Kevin Clarke
Megan Rice - Dennis Coday
Francis - Michael Collins
Flannery O’Connor - Angela O’Donnell
Dorothy Day - Patrick Jordan
Luis Antonio Tagle - Cindy Wooden
Georges and Pauline Vanier - Mary Francis Coadyn
Joseph Bernardin - Steven P. Millies
Corita Kent - Rose Pacatte
Daniel Rudd - Gary B. Agee
Helen Prejean - Joyce Duriga
Thea Bowman - J. Nutt

Friday, 14 May 2021

St. Joseph and His World - Mike Aquilina

St. Joseph and His World
Scott Hahn (Forward)
ISBN 9781594173936
eISBN 9781594173943

I have read and reviewed many books by Mike Aquilina, I have benefited from each. And have many of his other volumes on my ‘to be read’ list. I have also read many books about Saint Joseph. And the fact that this volume released at the beginning of a Year of Saint Joseph is a blessing. But even if you stumble across this review long after the Year dedicated to Saint Joseph you will be greatly blessed by picking up and working your way through this volume. It is an excellent read and wonderful resource!

This is the thirteenth volume from the pen of Mike Aquilina that I have read. And it is one of my favorites. I have said it before about his works and say it again, this is one of those books that every Catholic, every Christian should read. The description of the book states:

“A TREMENDOUS BREAKTHROUGH” in the study of St. Joseph...
...There are few subjects so challenging” to authors as St. Joseph. So says scholar Scott Hahn in his foreword to this book. Yet the pages that follow give not merely glimpses, but vistas, of St. Joseph’s world. Hahn continues: “You’ll learn about Nazareth — and how it was created almost ex nihilo shortly before Joseph’s birth. You’ll learn about religious practice and education in that place and time. You’ll travel to Egypt and encounter the fascinating settlements of Jews in that land. You’ll also find out how a carpenter worked in those days: what tools he used, what items he crafted, where he got his training, and how he got to and from his job sites.” This book provides an imaginative entry into one of the most important lives in all of history — a life too often obscured by later legends. " 

This book was a hard book to put down, and to be honest even harder to review. It was a book I loved. And one I know I will return to and read again. A few of the passages I highlighted on my first read through the book are:

“What we do know is that the descendants of David lived as a clan while exiled in Babylon. Once kings, they now plied common trades and crafts. They kept a low profile, but within the home they passed their royal identity from one generation to the next, and they kept meticulous records of the family’s genealogy.”

“Later in that century, one of the families in Nazareth— a family of artisans— gave birth to a boy and named him Joseph. His name, like the name of his birthplace, reflected the hope of his people. Joseph, in Hebrew, means “God will increase.””

“It is possible that Joseph and Mary knew from a very early age that they were intended for one another. It is possible, too, that a young couple, influenced by Essene asceticism, could commit themselves to continence within marriage.”

“The great difficulty in sketching the character of Joseph of Nazareth is that Scripture never shows him speaking. He never says yes or no. He never makes a nod or gesture. And not only is he never shown to speak, the Gospels never show a single human being speaking to him— not even his wife or son. 

No humans speak to him; but four times, an angel speaks to him. 

Christian tradition makes much of Mary’s Annunciation. The Church commemorates it by a feast day and dedicates a daily prayer to it (the Angelus). But Joseph’s “annunciations” are also worthy of scrutiny— certainly for what they reveal about him, but also for what they reveal about angels. The Gospels present almost every episode in Joseph’s life as an encounter with an angel.”

“Though God had chosen Joseph for the greatest mission ever, he was an ordinary workingman. And this is a supremely important fact: he was no less ordinary for the fact that he was close to the angels. 

Why is this fact so important? Because in the midst of every believer’s daily work, the angels are there; God wants everyone to be close to the angels, attentive to the angels, and alert to their promptings. This is not a gift or a skill for unusual people. This is for everyone, as it was for Joseph.”

“God calls ordinary believers, as he called Joseph, to be his messengers and guardians, his power and his voice. He calls ordinary believers to be contemplatives in the middle of their neighborhoods and workplaces.”

“The unspoken word behind God’s call is trust. Joseph was called to remember the marvels of the Lord— to remember the divine acts that were proclaimed in synagogue and temple and at home— and trust the Lord who had worked those marvels.”

“It was no shame to feel fear. To be fearless in such a time is to be truly mad. Fear is the instinctive human response to bodily danger. In a father, it triggers the actions that will preserve his family and himself. Fortitude means not a lack of fear, but a right ordering of fears. Joseph feared the possibility of failing God far more than he feared the wrath of Herod. And he feared the loss of his son more than the loss of his own life.”

I hope from those few quotes you will get a feel for this work. It is a book of great scholarship. It was a very engaging read. And Aquilina is one of the greatest scholars of the early church and world of our times if not all time.  But he writes not just an academic volume, but a volume with will stir your faith. It is not fluff. But a real feast. It is a fantastic book to read for your personal sanctity and growth. I highly recommend this volume. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

For reviews of other books by Mike Aquilina click here.
For reviews of other books about Saint Joseph click here.

Other reviews and articles about Saint Joseph:
Consecration to St. Joseph - Fr. Donald Calloway
Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph Compiled from Traditional Sources- TAN Books
Prayer to Saint Joseph Prayer of the Day
Joseph of Nazareth - Federico Suarez
Devotion to St. Joseph - F. Declaux
Go to St. Joseph: Do Whatever He Tells You - Brian Kiczek
Saint Joseph: Help for Life's Emergencies - Kathryn J. Hermes
Feast of Saint Joseph 2018 Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal Patron of Canada
Companion to Saint Joseph - J.B. Midgley - CTS Companions Series
Saints of the Roman Canon - Julien Chilcott-Monk - CTS Living the Liturgy Series
Seven Saints for Seven Virtues - Jean M. Heimann

Books by Mike Aquilina:
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God
A Year With The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living
Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts
Companion Guide to Pope Benedict's 'The Fathers' 
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Fire of God's Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist
Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lessons 
Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life
Ministers & Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With St. Thomas Aquinas
Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You
Sharing Christ's Priesthood: A Bible Study for Catholics
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Sweet Gridlock: Selected Love Poems 
Terms and Conditions: Assorted Poems
The Apostles and Their Times
The Church and the Roman Empire
The Fathers of the Church Bible
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
The Mass of the Early Christians
The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Way of the Fathers: Praying With the Early Christians
The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Why Me? When Bad Things Happen
Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World

Books co-written by Mike Aquilina:
A Pocket Catechism for Kids - Fr. Kris Stubna
Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth - Dion DiMucci
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Fr. Frederick Gruber
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians - Scott Hahn
Praying the Psalms the Early Christians - Christopher Bailey
Saint Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mark W. Sullivan
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again - James Papandrea
Something More Pastoral: The Mission of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Ann Rodgers
Take Five: Meditations John Henry Newman - Fr. Juan Velez
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Fr. Kris Stubna
Take Five: On the Job Meditations With St. Ignatius - Fr. Kris Stubna
Talking to Youth About Sexuality: A Parents' Guide - Fr. Kris Stubna
The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today - John Michael Talbot
The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust the Apostle Thomas - Christopher Bailey
The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence - Christopher Bailey
The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness in Honor of Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap. - Kenneth Ogorek
The Holy Land: A Guide for Pilgrims - Fr. Dave Halaiko
The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions - Regis J. Flaherty
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The World's First Christmas: Jubilee 2000 - Regis J. Flaherty
Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo - David Scott
What Catholics Believe: A Pocket Catechism - Fr. Kris Stubna

Thursday, 13 May 2021

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chef - America’s Test Kitchen

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 
100+ Recipes that You'll Love to Cook and Eat
ISBN 9781492670025
eISBN 9781492688549

My youngest daughter at the age of 10 loves cooking and cooking shows. She saved up her own money and purchased herself two cookbooks, this one and Kid in the Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Tips for Young Home Cooks by Melissa Clark. This one arrived second and she was already enthralled with the other. She has carried them around the house for days, put in sticky note tabs for recipes she wanted to try. But more on that later.

This is another beautiful cookbook. Full color pages, but not full glossy pages.. The paper is not as heavy a weight as the other volume. It has a very solid binding. It is well designed and made. It is a great book to flip through and get ideas from. Or to plan whole meals. The chapters in the volume are:

Getting Started in the Kitchen
Snacks & Beverages
Cooking for You
Cooking for Family & Friends
Sides that Make the Meal
Conversions & Equivalents
Healthy Eating 101
Recipe Stats

The description of the volume is:

“For the first time ever, America's Test Kitchen is bringing their scientific know-how, rigorous testing, and hands-on learning to KIDS in the kitchen!
Using kid-tested and approved recipes, America's Test Kitchen has created THE cookbook every kid chef needs on their shelf. Whether you're cooking for yourself, your friends, or your family, The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs has delicious recipes that will wow!

     • Recipes were thoroughly tested by more than 750 kids to get them just right for cooks of all skill levels―including recipes for breakfast, snacks and beverages, dinners, desserts, and more.
     • Step-by-step photos of tips and techniques will help young chefs feel like pros in their own kitchen
     • Testimonials (and even some product reviews!) from kid test cooks who worked alongside America's Test Kitchen will encourage young chefs that they truly are learning the best recipes from the best cooks.

By empowering young chefs to make their own choices in the kitchen, America's Test Kitchen is building a new generation of confident cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters.”

We have picked several recipes from this volume to test and try. My wife has done a few recipes from America’s Test Kitchen that have all been big hits. I have done a few as well, always to great success. 

My daughter loves both of her new cookbooks. She prefers the other volume, Kid in the Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Tips for Young Home Cooks by Melissa Clark. Because it is glossier and shinier. I prefer this volume. The meals are easier. The ingredients less diverse. The meals are well defined and explained. This is an excellent cookbook for children and those cooking with them. It is one we will be using for years to come.

An excellent cookbook for younger aspiring chefs. A great place to start. This one is a good one for working with younger children, or letting older children experiment on their own.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Crown Jewels of Undlar - Roger Thomas

The Crown Jewels of Undlar 
Roger Thomas

ISBN 9781733080958

Over the last 2 years I read all the book available from the masterful pen of Roger Thomas. And there are some excellent reads. I especially loved his earlier collection of stories, The Last Ugly Person: And Other Stories, It was one of my favorite reads of almost 400 books that year. But somehow I missed the publication of this volume, and once I did pick it up, was in the midst of several other books and it got lost in the shuffle for a few months. Once it came to the top of my ‘To Be Read’ pile, it was a thrill from start to finish. This story written for the authors own children, is one of his earliest works. And it is just now coming to the light of day. I approached this volume much as I did Boxen by C.S. and Warnie Lewis. And though there are vast difference between the world created by the younger Lewis’s and Undlar. There is something wonderful about this volume. 

The description of the book is:

“Six siblings awaken from a mysterious sleep to find themselves in a beautiful but perilous land called Undlar that is missing some important things. The residents of Undlar are missing from their villages and fields, cowering in fear from the menace that haunts their skies and woods. The Lord of the land is missing from his throne, and is presumed to be asleep in his tower. The jewels which brought order and harmony to Undlar are missing from the Lord’s Crown, and are scattered and lost. Also missing are mysterious visitors who are foretold to be the ones to find the missing jewels, restore them to the Crown, awaken the Sleeping Lord, and restore order to Undlar. Not much is known about these visitors, except that they will be “giants”, and there will be six of them. To their alarm, the children find that the inhabitants of Undlar believe them to be the prophesied rescuers. Can six ordinary children surmount deadly peril to find the lost jewels that will heal a broken land?”

A fascinating story about Faith, Hope, Family, and new friends. That is what this story is about. It is about making things right. And helping to play a role in redemption. Follow the children after they pray for an adventure, and wake up in a strange world. A world where they are considered giants. A world befouled by greed and sin. A world with a sleeping ruler. A world that has been so long lost some no longer hope or believe the old stories. A quest to retrieve the six stones and right an old wrong. Can the children maintain hope as they separate and quest for the 6 missing stones. Can they bring insight and wisdom? Can they restore hope? To find out you will need to read the story.

I greatly enjoyed this volume. And it reminds me of many stories both old and new. It reminded me of Hinds Feet on High Places by Hanna Hurnard. And in some ways it also reminds me of The Secret of the Shamrock by Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower Chime Travelers Book 1. And even somewhat of the recent release Mystic Informant by Carissa Douglas the Douglings Adventures Book 1. And Fans of any of those works will enjoy this volume as well. 

In the canon of Thomas’s work it is obvious this is an earlier offering. But there is a charm and simplicity about this story that is very endearing. If you are a fan of any of the stories mentioned above, or of Thomas’s work this is a must read. A spiritual pilgrimage with 6 children as they find their way into a very different land, a prophecy they seem destined to fulfil, and a world in need of saving. An excellent read! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Roger Thomas:
The Accidental Marriage
From Afar
The Last Ugly Person: And Other Stories
The Ghosts of Midgard Manor And Other Stories

The Crown Jewels of Undlar