Monday 11 December 2023

The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance - Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev

The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance
Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev
Ralitsa Doynova (Translator)
ISBN 9780938635499
ISBN 0938635492

I read this as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading. A full time student sent me their copy after they had read it. As this was the first volume Father Mark had done that was not available digitally. But back to this volume. The description of this book states:

“Every Christian feels a natural yearning of the heart towards God, a true desire to taste the sweetness of communion, of being with Him as He created us to be; but the impurity of our hearts--full of passions, conflicts, and fears--bars the way. Yet there is a cure for the weight of sin which burdens the heart and soul of each one of us and afflicts the conscience, keeping us from that longed-for inner peace and from peace with our neighbors and loved ones. That cure is the Mystery of Repentance. Archimandrite Seraphim in The Forgotten Medicine details the reasons many have for not coming to Confession, and for each of these he clearly brings forth the truth of the matter. For those who feel awkward because of not knowing how to approach Confession, he explains in depth how to prepare before, what to do when we are with the confessor, and what to do afterwards. He then writes of the wondrous changes in the lives of those who enter into the Mystery of Repentance, illustrating with several true accounts.”

It is a deeply moving read. I highlighted numerous passages while reading the book, some of them are:

“Archimandrite Seraphim reposed on January 13/26, 1993. He left us a precious inheritance: his books and his example of a zealous monastic life wholly dedicated to the service of the holy Orthodox Faith.”

“IN READING these words, every Christian feels a natural yearning of the heart towards God, a true desire to taste the sweetness of communion, of being with Him as He created us to be; but the impurity of our hearts- full of passions, conflicts, and fears-bars the way. Yet, there is a cure for the weight of sin which burdens the heart and soul of each one of us and afflicts the conscience, keeping us from inner peace and from peace with our neighbors and loved ones.”

“If such blessed transformation and heavenly consolation come through the Mystery of Repentance, why do we not hasten to partake of it? Archimandrite Seraphim in The Forgotten Medicine details the reasons many have for not coming to Confession, and for each of these he clearly brings forth the truth of the matter. For those who feel awkward because of not knowing how to approach Confession, he explains in depth how to prepare before, what to do when we are with the confessor, and what to do afterwards. He then writes of the wondrous changes in the lives of those who enter into the Mystery of Repentance, illustrating with several true accounts.”

“Dear readers, have you asked yourselves: if our Saviour were to come, He Who is bringing the greatest gift-His heavenly grace with which He makes our souls happy and saves them-and if He were to seek a shelter for Himself in our souls, where could He find a place fit for rest?”

“Jesus Christ, this wondrous heavenly Guest, often comes among us and wishes to enter under the roof of our soul. He appears among us through the unfathomable mystery of Holy Communion. He knocks on every door, longs to come into every home, desires to talk with every heart, wanes to make every believing soul happy and to give it His heavenly gift.”

“We are all more or less unworthy of the Redeemer coming from heaven. Bur here, He is knocking on our doors (cf. Rev. 3:20). He Himself longs to come into us, because we are created for Him and without Him we are infinitely unhappy. He is coming to bring His heavenly gift to everyone.”

“DEAR READERS, we are created for God, and only in Him do we find the paramount bliss for which our heart is constantly yearning. Nothing other than God can make our souls happy!”

“These earthly misfortunes do not separate us from God if we are seeking Him sincerely, but, on the contrary, they bring us closer to Him.”

“But we cannot hide anything from God. His eyes are brighter than the sun and penetrate everywhere. If we could take pictures of, or, with the help of some spiritual x-rays, see the hidden spiritual condition of each of us or of the whole of mankind as God sees it, we would be terrified!”

“We must shed tears of repentance, because there are only two kinds of water which can wash away the filth of sin: the water of baptism and the tears of repentance.”

“THE HOLY SACRAMENT of Confession can rightly be called "The Forgotten Medicine." The whole world is lying in evil. Every one of us is infected with the deadly disease of sin, and one can be cured from this disease! The medicine is provided, and it is miraculous at chat. You are healed the moment you rake ic. But we do not reach for it, to be healed and to lighten our conscience. Why? Because we have forgotten and neglected it.”

“Repentance, this infinitely good gift, is given to you "at any rime of life, and it works with the same power for any sin: it cleanses every sin, saves everyone who turns to God, be it even in the last minutes before death."”

“How does the forgiving of sins occur? - through the Sacrament of Confession. The Christian burdened with sins goes to the priest with deep repentance in his soul and with a sincere desire to change and reveals to him in a detailed, frank, and full confession the secrets of his heart and conscience. The priest, convinced of the sincere repentance of the Christian and after the suitable introductory prayers, reads to him the sacramental prayer: "May our Lord and God Jesus Christ, according to the grace and kindness of His love for man, forgive you, child [name], all your transgressions; and I, the unworthy priest, through the power given to me by Him, forgive you and free you of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and
die Holy Spirit. Amen."

In that moment, whatever the priest is forgiving on earth is also being forgiven in heaven! Is there a greater mercy than this? We could not have believed that this is possible, if it had nor been cold us by the One Who never spoke an empty word or a lie (cf I Peter 2:22).”

“But look what a simple salvation God has established for us: Go shew yourselves to the priests (Luke 17: 14). Confess your sins before them. Repent with all your heart, and you will free yourselves from the chains of evil.”

“St. John Chrysostom, pondering on the miraculous results of sincere repentance, says: "Repentance is a medicine which destroys sin. It is a heavenly gift, a marvelous force which through the grace of God conquers the might and strictness of the laws. It accepts all and transforms all. It does not reject the fornicator, does not send away the adulterer, is not disgusted with the drunkard, does not loathe the idolater, does not neglect the slanderer, does not persecute the reviler nor the haughty man: it regenerates everybody because it is a furnace for purification from sin. The wound and the medicine, these are sin and Repentance" [Confession-author's note].”

“A young monk complained to the great ascetic Abba Sisoes: "Abba, what should I do? I fell." The elder answered: "Get up!"

The monk said: "I got up, and I fell again!" The elder replied:

"Get up again!" But the young monk asked: "For how long should I gee up when I fall?" "Until your death," answered Abba Sisoes.”

“No one says: "I will not wash my hands anymore, because I will get them dirty again!" But why is it then that many people say, "I will not go to Confession, because I will sin again tomorrow!" It is clear that the enemy of our salvation is enticing us not to wash our souls, so that he can gain power over them.”

“Besides, Confession before a priest has an enormous instructive meaning. It humbles us. It cures our pride; it makes us blush savingly; it instills in us shame and fear and thus protects us from future sins. When we sin, we sin against the Omnipotent God, but we are not ashamed before Him because we do not see Him. In the same manner, when we confess before God, we do so easily, because we do not see Him, and it is as if we were talking to ourselves. But what shyness comes over us when we confess before the priests!”

“Oh, Christian, I will say, it is not that shameful to disclose your sin in Confession, but it is shameful to remain closed in it, that is, to conceal it from your priest. St. Basil the Great said: "The hidden sin is an incurable sickness of the soul."”

“4) We must consciously hide absolutely nothing before the priest. If we unwittingly forger a sin, we must confess it the next time. To conceal something for which our conscience is clearly bothering us would mean that we have doubled our sin: doubled, because one, we have committed it, and two, we have concealed it.”

“7) During Confession, we must not tell of other people's sins, but only of ours, withholding whenever possible the names of the persons who have caused us to sin or whom we have tempted to sin with us.”

“9) When we confess, we must put the blame not on others, but on ourselves.”

“We see then what the rules are for a saving Confession: first, before we go to the confessor, we must examine well our conscience; second, when we are with the priest, we must confess sincerely, with a broken heart, and without shame and excuses; third, when we leave the priest, we must carry out our penance, put an end to the hostility, give up our impure life, and return that which is not ours.

He who does not correct his behavior through Confession does not confess but talks idly, according to the words of St. Basil the Great.”

“Wondrous are the consequences of true Confession! "The truly repentant man receives forgiveness for his sins, is reconciled with God, the Church, and his own conscience, and thus regains the precious filial striving towards God as his Father, and benefits from all the gifts of His fatherly love and kindness."”

“A soul which confesses regularly is like a house which is constantly swept. Conscience always stands as a watchful guard in front of such a clean house in order not to let in anything which should not be inside.”

I know that is a lot of quotes and I did skip over some of the lengthier ones. But I pray those quotes give you a real feel for the power in the words in this volume. It is an excellent read.

The chapters in the volume are:

About the Author 
A Note of Introduction 
The Rich Traveller 
The Forgotten Medicine 
Objections to Confession 
Rules for a Saving Confession 
Consequences of True Confession 
Closing Questions 

This was another fantastic read selected by Father Mark Goring for his Saint Mark’s School of Reading It was wonderful to work through this book and follow along with the weekly videos. I can easily recommend this book, and look to track down the other two by the author. This is a great read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev:
The Meaning Of Suffering
Strife & Reconciliation

The Meaning Of Sufferjng and Strife & Reconciliation  - Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev

Sunday 10 December 2023

The Confessions of St. Augustine - Gregory Pine, Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, and Matthew K. Minerd - Ascension Catholic Classics

The Confessions of St. Augustine
St. Augustine of Hippo 
Ascension Catholic Classics
ISBN 9781954882157
eISBN 9781954882164

Reading this volume was a bit of a different process. It is the second in a new series from Ascension press called Catholic Classics, and there is a podcast version by Gregory Pine and Jacob Bertrand Janczyk. I listened to the podcast in the morning and then read the associated sections in the afternoon. In essence I worked through the book twice. I did find I had to speed up Gregory and Jacob, but even with that it was great to listen to their commentary each day, and read their commentary before the different sections of the book. The description of this edition of this book is:

“The powerful witness of St. Augustine’s spiritual journey empowers all the faithful to strive for heaven.

The second book of the Catholic Classics series, The Confessions of St. Augustine, is an updated translation of the key work of Catholic tradition that is accessible for modern readers.

Often considered one of the most influential and inspiring works of the saints, this classic yet relevant text was written by the Doctor of the Church as a prayer to God, confessing his faith despite past mistakes and recognizing the ways that God has transformed his heart. Through the years, it has remained a key reflection on the spiritual life for believers who seek to persevere through weakness toward the glory of heaven.

Exploring topics such as understanding Sacred Scripture, the weakness of the human heart, and the transformative power of an encounter with the living God, this text draws readers ever closer to God through St. Augustine’s conversations with the heavenly Father who called him out of a life of sin and onto the path toward sainthood.

With a new translation by Dr. Matthew Minerd, this special version renews Catholics' understanding and appreciation of this spiritual classic. It also includes:

• Expert commentary from Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., and Fr. Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, O.P. introducing each of its 13 books
• A message from the authors about the relevance of this ancient text to the modern-day Catholic
• An insert of sacred art of St. Augustine from Ascension’s Sacred Art Collection of Holy Men and Women by Tianna Williams
• A leatherlike cover, foil stamping, and a place-holding ribbon

This beautiful book draws all Catholics into a deeper relationship with God in their pursuit of holiness through the honesty, authenticity, and wisdom of one of the Church’s greatest saints.”

The sections and chapters in this edition are:

About the Catholic Classics
Editor’s Remarks by Matthew K. Minerd
Introduction by Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., and Fr. Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, O.P.

Commentary on Book 1  
Book 1
Commentary on Book 2  
Book 2
Commentary on Book 3  
Book 3
Commentary on Book 4  
Book 4
Commentary on Book 5  
Book 5
Commentary on Book 6  
Book 6
Commentary on Book 7  
Book 7
Commentary on Book 8  
Book 8
Commentary on Book 9  
Book 9
Commentary on Book 10  
Book 10
Commentary on Book 11  
Book 11
Commentary on Book 12  
Book 12
Commentary on Book 13  
Book 13


This edition has it’s:

Nihil obstat: Reverend Msgr. J Brian Bransfield, Censor librorum, May 9, 2023

Imprimatur: Most Reverend Nelson J. Perez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, May 17, 2023

Now please note there are over 300 editions of this book in English. By several different translators, from various publishers and wither with and without commentary. Because the book is now in public domain many, many editions are just copies of each other. We are informed about Catholic Classics from Ascension Press that:

“There are texts by great saints that many devout Catholics are convinced they should read, but perhaps they feel overwhelmed by the thought. Most of these texts were originally written in a foreign language centuries ago. The available English translations often use terminology that has fallen out of use, making them more challenging to the modern reader. One can leave such texts with more questions than answers. They can seem unapproachable to all but scholars.

But these writings were intended as gifts to all of God’s faithful so that we can know more about God and, more importantly, so that we can know God. Each saint, each Doctor of the Church, each mystic reflects some aspect of the beauty and goodness of our creator.

To help renew Catholics’ appreciation of these works, Ascension has created this series, Catholic Classics. With updated translations, the works are more readable to modern eyes. Added introductions and commentary help unlock the text and give context to the original author’s references.

The peacock is the symbol for the Catholic Classics. It is an ancient Christian symbol of eternal life and the resurrection that reflects the perennial nature of these classics and the new life they will breathe into your spiritual life as you read them. The Scriptures tell us that King Solomon, renowned for his wisdom, kept peacocks, which were a mark of his grandeur (1 Kings 10:22). The peacock evokes the great wisdom contained in these classic works.

As you read, remember to use this opportunity as a moment of encounter with the living God. Pray as you read. See Christ in the words of his servants—of his friends—and know that he waits there for you.”

Matthew K. Minerd as editor and translator states:

“This book is a deep editing and reworking of a translation of The Confessions of St. Augustine from the 1800s, undertaken in close consultation with the original Latin of the text. The base text used for this project was a very literal rendering of Augustine’s prose and, therefore, has been subject to deep revision. Various aspects of Latin style and cadence differ significantly from the way the English language, especially contemporary English, is able to express thoughts. While remaining faithful to the text, its content, and even its rhetorical form, the translator must not allow adherence to Latinate linguistic forms to make the reading of a work in English unnecessarily difficult. Therefore, the book you are now holding is a completely new rendering of this great classic of Western spirituality and thought.

It is with trepidation that someone offers a translation of a text such as this. Anybody who is familiar with the style of the Doctor of Grace knows that St. Augustine’s prowess with words is immense. How true do we find here a confirmation of the often-cited Italian maxim “Traduttore, traditore”: the translator is a traitor! How difficult it is to capture the linguistic and rhetorical mastery expressed in the Confessions!

In the book you are now holding, I have striven to present this important work in a way that is completely faithful to St. Augustine’s original. However, many translations of this work exist, so there must be some justification for a new one presented by Ascension. Therefore, I have worked to make the Confessions accessible to those who will listen to the accompanying Catholic Classics podcast, which will unpack the riches of Augustine’s words. Therefore, in the back of my mind as I worked on this volume, I always heeded how the words would sound when read aloud.”
Some samples of selections from this volume are:

“Book 1 #1 Great are you, O Lord, and highly to be praised. Great is your power, and infinite your wisdom (see Psalm 145:3 and 147:5). Man wishes to praise you. But what is man? A mere particle within your creation. He bears within himself his own mortality, in witness to his sin, in witness to the fact that you, O God, resist the proud (see James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5). And yet, man, this mere particle in your creation, wishes to praise you. You rouse us to take delight in your praise, for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.
Grant, O Lord, that I might know and understand which is first: to call upon you or to praise you? And again: do we first know you or first call upon you? For who can call upon you if he does not first know you? Indeed, he who does not know you might well call upon you in a way that is, in fact, not in accord with who you truly are. Or, rather, do we first call upon you so that we might know you? “But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? … And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). And, they who seek the Lord shall praise him (Psalm 22:26). For they who seek shall find him (see Matthew 7:7). I will seek you, Lord, by calling upon you, and I will call upon you in faith, for we have heard the word of preaching spoken about you. My faith, O Lord, shall call upon you, the faith that you have given me, the faith that you have inspired in me through the incarnation of your Son, through the ministry of your preacher.”

“Book 2 #4 Theft is punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law written upon the hearts of men, which iniquity itself does not erase. For what thief will abide a thief? Not even a rich thief will abide someone who steals because of his poverty. Yet, I lusted to steal and did so, compelled by no hunger, nor by poverty, but from a contempt for justice and an excess of iniquity. For I stole something that I had enough of, and indeed more than enough. Nor did I care to enjoy what I stole but, rather, took joy in the theft and sin itself. Near our vineyard there was a pear tree laden with fruit, tempting neither in its color nor in its taste. Some of us lewd young men went, late one night (for in our pestilential custom we continued our playing of sports in the streets until that time of day), to shake and rob this tree. We took huge loads, not to eat them but instead to fling them to the hogs, having ourselves only tasted them. We did all this only in order to do something that we liked merely because it was disliked. Behold my heart, O God, behold my heart, which you had mercy upon in the lowest depths of the bottomless pit. Now, behold, let my heart tell you what it sought there, seeking to be gratuitously evil, tempted to commit this evil solely by the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish and loved my own fault, not that for which I was at fault but, rather, my fault itself. What a foul soul, falling from your firmament to utter destruction, not seeking anything through shame except shame itself!”

“Book 4 #9 This is what is loved in friends, indeed loved such that a man’s conscience condemns itself if he does not love him who loves him in return or does not love in return him who loves him, looking for nothing from this person other than indications of his love. Thus, we see the source of the mourning that follows upon the death of such a friend, with dark sorrows, the heart being soaked with tears and all sweetness turning to bitterness, and also the death of the living that follows upon the loss of life suffered by the dying. Blessed is he who loves you, and his friend in you, and his enemy for your sake. For he alone loses nobody who is dear to him, to whom all are dear in him who cannot be lost. And who is this but our God, the God that made heaven and earth (see Genesis 1:1) and fills them (see Jeremiah 23:24) because by filling them he created them? None lose you except those who depart from you. And he who departs from you, where does he go or where does he flee if not from you well-pleased to you displeased. For in the midst of his punishment where does he not encounter your law? And your law is truth, as you are (see Psalm 119:142; John 14:6).”

“Book 7 #8 Yet you, O Lord, abide forever (see Psalm 102:12), but you are not angry with us forever. For you take pity upon the dust and ashes from which we are made, and it was pleasing in your sight to reform my deformities. Inwardly prodding me, you roused me, so that I should be ill at ease, until you at last would be manifested to my inward sight. Thus, by your secret medicine my swelling abated, and the troubled and dimmed eyesight of mind was healed day by day by the bitter salve of healing sorrows.”

“Book 13 #1 I call upon you, O my God, my Mercy, who created me and does not forget me, though I forget you. I call you into my soul, which you prepare for yourself by the longing that you yourself inspire in it. Forsake me not now that I call upon you, who aided me before I even called and urged me onward with so great a variety of repeated callings, that I might hear you from afar, be converted, and call upon you who called out for me. For you, O Lord, blot out all that my evil has deserved, lest you repay into my hands, with which I fell from you, the recompense that would be justly owed to me. And you have been the source of all the goods that I deserve, so that you repay the work of your own hands, with which you made me. For before I was, you were. Nor was I anything, to which you might grant being. And yet, behold, I am, because of your goodness, which is the source that precedes all that you have made me to be, yes, because of that goodness from which you made me. For neither do you have any need of me, nor am I any sort of good that would be helpful for you, my Lord and God. I do not serve you as though you would tire out in your work without me or as though your power might be less if it lacked my service. Nor is it a question of cultivating your service like a land that would remain uncultivated without my labors cultivating you. Rather, I serve and worship you so that I might receive well-being from you, the very source of the fact that I have a being capable of well-being.”

I hope those few samples give you a feel for this translation. This is an excellent volume, and a great version of it. I have read at least 2 other translations while in school. And great to read or follow along with the pod cast. This book was a wonderful read. It challenged me personally and I know it will do the same for you. I am thankful for having read and to be slowly applying the lessons from this Saint. And I look forward to the other volumes from his pen. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next Catholic Classics from Ascension Press.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Saturday 9 December 2023

A Very Jurassic Lent - Corinna Turner - An unSPARKed Story

A Very Jurassic Lent
An unSPARKed Story
Unseen Books
eISBN 9781910806999

A Very Jurassic Lent - Corinna Turner - An unSPARKed Story

Another amazing story in an excellent series. A deeply moving and powerful story! This story previously appeared in Ashes Visible & Invisible 10 Stories for Teens from Catholic Teen Books. I loved it the two times I read the anthology. And I devoured it again as a stand-alone short story in this volume. 

This is a masterfully written piece! I have read it three separate times now. This time as soon as I finished it I wanted to start reading it again. This is a FANtastic story in an AWEsome series. I have read stories in this series over 36 times now, not counting the ones I have read in anthologies. When my son was younger I read them to him, and mow he has read all of them to me, and reread them all on his own as well. We have been ordering them for my nephew his cousin, as he finished each we order him the next. We have also given a complete set to our school library that is how much we love these stories! It is a sign of how highly we regard these stories and Turner’s writings.

I first read a story by Turner in 2015, and read the first in this series in 2017. Since then, I have read book by her a total of 69 times, and unSPARKed stories 36 of them. This story is available as an eBook short but also available in the print edition of Three Clawsome Tales which also contains Liam and the Hunters of Lee'Vi and A Truly Clawful Christmas. This story and series are excellent stories for teens, young adults and adults. The series keeps getting better and better! It has real staying power. 

When I am recommending this series, which happens often, I frequently describe it as a mashup of Mad Max, Lost World, and Jurassic Park, and I have recommended it to many, all who have enjoyed them. In many ways it is like 50 years after Jurassic World Dominion. We have even bought a full set for my son’s school library and know from the Librarian that they are very popular.

unSPARKed is a series set in a not-too-distant future. Dinosaurs once again roam the earth. Just because a scientist could do something, did not mean they should have done it. Most people live SPARKed, in cities with walls and electrified fences. There are two groups of people who live unSPARKed, farmers who have electric fences around their farms and live in community with their close neighbours. The other are Hunters who live most of the time out on the road or off road in HabVI’s Habitat Vehicles. 

The description of this volume is:

“Perfect Faith—Like Saint Desmond.

When a risky Ash Wednesday mission to sterilize T. rex eggs goes wrong, fasting is the least of Joshua, Darryl, and Harry's worries. Can they survive a protective Rex Momma and a pack of raptors, or will their Lent begin with tragedy?

From the Carnegie Medal Nominated author of the I AM MARGARET series, this thrilling unSPARKed short story provides a pulse-pounding introduction to the series.”

This volume is told in a series of alternating first person accounts. The breakdown of chapters is:

Harry 5
Darryl 7
Joshua 7

At the end of the volume is a series of discussion questions that can be used to test reading comprehension and retention or have a group discussion with. 

This was a very moving story, like many others in the series. As is obvious by the title it is a story that takes place at the beginning of Lent. It Starts on Shrove Tuesday. Harry and Darryl learn a lot about Hunter traditions for lent. Including full fasts, and marking with ashes. One of the Harry chapters ends with:

“Josh and Darryl open their mouths—I scowl, cheeks hot, wishing I’d kept quiet. “No! I am not eating anything after God just saved you two like that. Forget it! Not one bite until midnight.”

Darryl laughs so hard she holds her sides, and so does Josh.


“Sorry, just picturing you hovering beside the fridge at one minute to midnight, waiting.”

“Yeah,” smirks Josh. “’Cos I promise you, I shall be asleep in bed.”

I have to grin, too. “Oh. Yeah. Guess I will be too. We are allowed breakfast tomorrow, right?”

Josh nods. “Sure. Oatmeal. With the last of the ashes in it.”

The ashes. We’re going to eat them. Of course we are.

Welcome to Lent, hunter-style.

For some reason, I’m becoming increasingly sure I want to be a farmer. Unlike my big sis.

But we’re all alive. Yeah, after today, nothing a hunter-Lent can throw at me is gonna make me waver. Grumble a little, probably—but not waver.
Thank you, God!”

In this story Josh has to cull a T-Rex nest. One that has a lot of personal history for him. And God provides a Lenten miracle. But to find out what happens you will need to read this excelLENT story!  

Three Clawesome Tales released the same day as this volume, and a couple of weeks later What’s Done is Done was available. So many great books in a wonderful series in such a short time span. This story takes place over just 2 days. But it is a very moving read!

This is another great read in a MASTERfully written series. It is an excelLENT read by a gifted and talented author, and one of our favourite contemporary YA and Catholic authors at that! A volume we can easily recommend for fans of the series! And for those who want a Jurassic park kind of Lenten story.   

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.0 The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles (A prequel)

0.5 Brothers (Prequel)
1.0 I Am Margaret
1.5 How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)
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
6.5 Buttons (Short Story)
7.0 A Saint in the Family
I Am Margaret The Play - Fiorella de Maria

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:

Mandy Lamb Series:
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
Treasures: Visible & Invisible 8 Stories for Teens

Friday 8 December 2023

The Holiday Special - Barry J Hutchinson - Space Team Book 2.5

The Holiday Special
Space Team 2.5

The Holiday Special - Barry J Hutchinson - Space Team Book 2.5

First I want to note this story was previously available as a standalone volume both as an eBook and Audio book. Since that time it has been combined with 5 other short stories set in the Space Team Universe called, Space Team: A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories, and is considered volume 6.5 in the series. Weather you have access to the standalone version or read it as part of the collection, it is a fun read in a good series.

Nearly a year ago before reading this I encountered the works of J.D. Kirk I also discovered that Kirk publishes children’s books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. I have read 24 stories published under the Kirk Name and I am now branching out to the ones under the Hutchinson names. This is the 19th I have read under one of the Hutchison names. He is published over 200 books across the three pen names, and books he has ghost written. If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. I have enjoyed all I have read from his pen and this one was no different. This is the second in the Space Team Series I have read, and I have read the first in the spin off Deadman Detective Series

The description of this story is:

“Die Hard meets the Nativity - in space! A Space Team short story.

Having successfully saved the galaxy on his very first day in space, Cal Carver and the crew of the Shatner drop by the North Star space station for Kroyshuk - an annual celebration of peace and goodwill - and some well-earned rest and relaxation..”

The introduction states:

“Welcome to the Space Team Holiday Special! This short story is set between the events of the first two novels in the series, Space Team and Space Team: The Wrath of Vajazzle. While the title of the story is inspired by the hypnotically dreadful Star Wars Holiday Special, you can rest assured that there the similarities end. Mostly.

This story was originally written as a free giveaway for members of Team Space Team, a group of readers who have signed up for notifications and news on the Space Team series, and who I regularly shower with free reads.

If you’re reading the preview of this book and haven’t yet bought it, go ahead and grab it for free via my website. If you’ve already paid for it then, hey, at least it was cheap, and you can still grab some other free books at that same link, including an exclusive prequel to my Space Team spin-off, The Bug, and a short horror story, The Bone House.

But for now, settle down, make yourself comfortable, imagine the cast of the story waving awkwardly at the camera while someone announces their name in an overly-enthusiastic manner, and enjoy this Space Team Holiday Special…”

Even the cover asks: “So, Uh, This isn’t actually canon, is it?” again giving a hat tip to that ill fated Star Wars tv special. The team finds themselves on a station during a regional holiday. Due to Cal always finding a way to get into trouble they are soon protecting a pregnant woman from pirates, bounty hunters and just about anyone without a conscious. So unto the Space Team a child we be born. It’s not quite space Christmas, but it comes close for Cal, a human so far from home.

This was another fun read. There is a lot of slap stick humour. Some over the top antics, and at times it is laugh out loud funny. This book and the series reminds me of several series and authors, most of whom, I read when I was much younger. So, in a way it was like a jump back in time for me. The first to come to mind was Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steal Rat series with his Bill the Galactic Hero series, the next was Robert Asprin’s Phule’s Company Series, it also brought to mind the works of Tom Holt and of course the comparison to Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker Series are going to abound. But for all the sense of a mash up of these other series there is something different about this offering, and that is even more evident in this second offering in the series. The series now comprises 13 novels and 6 published short stories or novellas, and three side stories in this universe featuring Dan Deadman. Recently Hutchison in an article talked about how the first in this series was written to learn about self publishing so he could speak to school students about it. I for one am thankful he took the gig and started along this path. I think that has to do with Hutchinson’s characters and sense of humour. And the characters in this story are wild. Delenn in Babylon 5 states:

“Of course it is, for the simple reason that no one else would've ever built a place like this. Humans share one unique quality. They build communities. If the Narns or the Centauri or any other race built a station like this, it would be used only by their own people, but everywhere humans go, they create communities out of diverse and sometimes hostile populations. It is a great gift and a terrible responsibility, one that cannot be abandoned.”

Cal a low-level con man, who is scooped up from Earth by the Zertex corporation to help stop an intergalactic war, is that type of character. He builds community and he tags this odd assortment or military personnel, criminals, and a shape shifting blob and forges them into the Space Team. In this 2.5 story there is a lot of action, some body humour, and also some serious moments. 

I freely admit I have greatly enjoyed all the books by Hutchinson that I have read to date, no matter what name they are published under. This one is a fun read in an entertaining series, it is shaping up to be a terribly humorous series. It has more of a Young Adult feel to it than mainline adult fiction to me, but I am certain it will have fans in both categories. Another good read from the pen of Hutchison.    

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:

Robert Hoon Thrillers:

DI Heather Filson Series:

Contributed to:
Everyday Kindness: A Collection of Uplifting Tales to Brighten Your Day

Books as Barry J. Hutchison:
Dan Deadman Space Detective Series:
Dead in the Water

Space Team Series:
The Search for Splurt 
Song of the Space Siren 
The Guns of Nana Joan 
Return of the Dead Guy 
Planet of the Japes 
The Time Titan of Tomorrow 
The King of Space Must Die 
Sting of the Mustard Mines 
Sentienced to Death
The Hunt for Reduk Topa
Konto Garr: Bounty Hunter and Occasional Babysitter
A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories

Sidekicks Initiative Series:

The Bug Books Series:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Complete Season One

Other Books:

Children’s books as Barry Hutchison:
Invisible Fiends Series:
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The Book of Doom 

Benjamin Blank Series:
The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing 

Beaky Malone Series:

Generator Rex Series:
Mirror Mirror

Living Ted Series:
Revenge of the Living Ted
Invasion of the Living Ted

Spectre Collectors Series:
Too Ghoul for School
A New York Nightmare!

Other works: