Friday, 18 September 2020

Prayer of the Day Robert Southwell's Prayer for the Church

Robert Southwell's Prayer for the Church 

We therefore are under an obligation to be the light of the world by the modesty of our behaviour, the fervour of our charity, the innocence of our lives, and the example of our virtues. 

Thus shall we be able to raise the lowered prestige of the Catholic Church, and to build up again the ruins that others by their vices have caused. Others by their wickedness have branded the Catholic Faith with a mark of shame, we must strive with all our strength to cleanse it from its ignominy and to restore it to its pristine glory. 

Reviews of books about Robert Southwell:

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

I Am Margaret The Play - Corinna Turner and Fiorella de Maria

I Am Margaret The Play
Fiorella De Maria
Corinna Turner
UnSeen Books 
ISBN 9781910806845
eISBN 9781910806852
Director’s Edition
ISBN 9781910806548

I had no idea this volume was in the works. And to be honest it had been many years since I have read a play or other script. Once upon a time when I was involved with productions in High School and University, I often read plays, and of course the Greek classics. But it has been years since I picked up a play to read. But upon hearing of this one I not only picked it up, but devoured it in 2 sittings, one late at night and the other early the next morning. This is a work by two of my favorite contemporary Catholic authors. Fiorella de Maria I discovered a year ago and devoured all her fictional works. I have been a fan of Corinna’s works for years and have read most of her offering. The I Am Margaret book and series is a magnificent piece of fiction, and a warning. And this is that story in play format by the masterful pen of de Maria. 

The I Am Margaret book is a warning to all people, but especially Christians and Catholics. And this play brings it to life in a new and powerful way. Reading this play the story came alive in my minds eye in a completely new way. Part of the description of the book is:

“In Margo's World, The 'Imperfect' Are Recycled. Literally.

Margaret Verrall dreams of marrying the boy she loves and spending her life with him. But she’s part of the underground network of Believers – and that carries the death penalty. But before she can be unmasked as a Believer, she fails her Sorting and is reassigned as spare parts. Bane swears to rescue her before she can be dismantled, but a chance to take on the system ups the stakes beyond mere survival. Now she has to break out of the Facility—or face the worst punishment of all: Conscious Dismantlement.”

I first read I Am Margaret five years ago. It was a story that had an immediate impact but also a story that has stuck with me. It is a series I have shared and recommended with countless people. And this new play version is just as powerful. I would absolutely love to see a production of this play or see it on film. I was amazed at how deMaria captured the novel across three acts and a total of 21 scenes. 

Note there are two editions of this play. A standard edition for personal use and a director’s edition that includes:
- Photocopying/Printing and Sharing rights for 1 production
- Free eBook and PDF file 

If you are a fan of the I Am Margaret books you owe it to yourself to give this play a read. And if you love reading plays or scripts, I strongly encourage you to give this a try. And if you are involved with a youth or community theatre group, I would encourage you to give this consideration for your next project.

A fantastic read, and should make for an deeply moving production. A powerful story in an amazing new format.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 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

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
0.0 Breach
0.5 A Mom with Blue Feathers
1.0 Drive!
2.0 A Truly Rapror-Ous Welcome
3.0 Panic! 
4.0 Farmgirls Die in Cages
5.0 ???

Mandy Lamb Series:
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon
The Wolf The Lamb and the Air Balloon

Elfling Series:
The Most Expensive Alley Cat in London

Other Books:
Three last things or The hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin
The Raven & The Yew

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

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.

Books by Fiorella De Maria:
The Cassandra Curse
Father William's Daughter
Poor Banished Children
Do No Harm
We'll Never Tell Them
A Most Dangerous Innocence
I Am Margaret The Play

Father Gabriel Mysteries:
The Sleeping Witness
The Vanishing Woman
See No Evil

Robert Southwell – CTS Saints of the Isles

Books as Fiorella Nash:
The Abolition of Woman: How Radical Feminism Is Betraying Women

Author Profile and Interview with Fiorella de Maria.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Abba Moses Notorious Robber, Desert Father - Andrew Votipka - Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 1

Abba Moses:
Notorious Robber, Unlikely Desert Father
Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 1
Andrew Votipka
ISBN 9780578738710

This book was a most excellent read. I have read a few books about Abba Moses or Moses the Black. One by Bishop Serapion tries to separate and distinguish between three possible different Moses’s. The one by Jared Zimmerer was suppose to be the first volume with a new one released each month but the follow up stories never happened. I hope that does not happen with this series. We are informed that this is the first book in a series called Mr. Baker’s Book Series. And if there are future volumes and they are as good as this we are in for some excellent reads. In some ways this story reminded me of the Chime Travelers series by Lisa M. Hendey but geared for an older audience. And in some ways it reminded me of the Douglings Adventures by Carissa Douglas. And fans of both of those series will love this book. Though this is geared more for an older reader, late middle grade, tweens or teens. And as stated it is an excellent read. 

The description of this volume is:

“Chris, Theo, and Laura have been forced to attend Sunday school classes for seven years. They get it! Read the Bible, go to church. But now their long tenured teacher has moved to Florida. Roger Baker is an oddball, but when no one else steps up, the pastor reluctantly lets him teach. Mr. Baker shows up to class with a thick book. This book isn’t just full of adventures, it transports the class into the adventures! Theo, Chris, and Laura suddenly find themselves in the year 350 A.D. in the deserts of Egypt. Join them as they battle highway robbers, visit a remote monastery, and meet the unlikeliest Desert Father, Moses. Bandit, monk, saint.”

And are the trio ever in for a shock this year. In their first class they have a journey through space and time, and the faith is brought to life right before their eyes. 

The chapters in the story are:

1. Mr. Baker 
2. Lost in Egypt 
3. Alone in the Desert 
4. Guests 
5. A Band of Robbers 
6. Party to a Crime 
7. A Traveling Caravan 
8. Across the Way 
9. Swimming the Nile 
10. Hidden in Plain Sight 
11. The Monastery 
12. A Place to Lay Your Head 
13. Seeing the Light 
14. Good News 
15. The Desert Mother 
16. Filling in the Gaps 
17. A Good Man is Hard to Fight 
18. The Grand Entrance 
19. The Last Chapter 
20. Class is Back in Session 
Afterword: The Religious Education Committee

The author states in the preface that:

“I’ve imagined this book as a family read aloud. The reader may feel free to add, edit, delete, and supplement. You can make the Egyptians sound like British villains or Irish leprechauns (those are my personal go-tos). You can talk about the differences between a cenobitic and an eremitic monk if you happen to know the difference. You can buy a prayer rope and teach your kids how to use it. Be creative!”

And further on he says:

“Many Christians, myself included, suffer from what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. We tend to think of Christianity in whatever modern and regional form we experience it. My hope for this book series is that it will act as a springboard for families to discover the fascinating people, places, and events that make up this 2,000 year old faith. It’s a religion that can at once conjure up images of casseroles and cathedrals. Hopefully by the end of this book you’ll also think of camels and the hot desert.”

And the preface concludes with:

“And finally, to answer the question, “Is this a book about a Catholic saint?” Catholics do call him a saint, though if anyone has a claim to Moses, it would be the Egyptian Copts or Eastern Orthodox. Moses lived when the church was still unified, so in a perfect world, he would be familiar to all Christians. I hope Mr. Baker helps make that a reality.”

This book delivers on all three of those things. It is a great story to be read or read aloud. It helps bring part of the long history of Christianity to life and bring awareness to a younger generation. I know that when I was young I never heard or read about the desert mothers or fathers. And Andrew introduces young readers to them in an amazing and very fun way. So pick it up and give it a try and join the three youngsters as they get transported back and experience the desert and some early saints in a fascinating first hand way.

This book was a wonderful read. I greatly enjoyed it, and plan on rereading in with my younger children in the next week or two. I know I will pick up any future offering in this series. This book brought to life this specific saint and the reality of the life of the desert mothers and fathers. I highly recommend this volume. 

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

Books by Andrew Votipka:
Mr. Baker’s Book Series
Aloysius Gonzaga

Other books about Moses the Black:
The Strong Saint Abba Moses - Bishop Serapion Of Thmuis


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Woman in the Trees - Theoni Bell

The Woman in the Trees 
A novel about America's first approved Marian apparition
ISBN 9798665546919

This was an amazing novel for many reasons. First it is the debut novel from the pen of Theoni Bell, and if it any indication we are in for some amazing stories. Second it was a story I was unaware of. It is a Marian apparition that I was hardly aware of and the way the story is presented in this novel is incredible. I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down, and I stayed up much too late reading. I have a few contemporary Catholic authors that I cannot wait for them to release another book so I can read it. Theoni was added to that list based on the power of this story! 

Last year I read a book about Our Lady of Good Help by Father Edward Looney Our Lady of Good Help: Prayer Book for Pilgrims. And loved the prayers. This novel brings it to life in a very powerful way. This novel gives us much of the background and a very personal way. This historical fiction novel follows Slainie a Belgium immigrant in the 1800’s. It follows her immigration, her travels across America and her struggles with faith and family. It is a deeply moving story. 

As we find out about the Woman in the Trees and the mysterious seer. We follow Slainie and her family. He fathers embracing the apparitions, and her mother’s resistance and confrontational nature. The characters are masterfully written. The story will grab you and not let you go. 

This book would be an excellent read for a book club, youth group, or classroom. It could also be read and discussed as a family. Reading this book really made me think of my impact upon my children and their faith. About how much a parent’s actions can either help or hinder our children and their spiritual life. The book inspired me to pray in a new way for my own children, and their relationship with Our Lady. 

This is an excellent read for tweens, teens and adults. I can honestly say this is one of the best debut novels I have read in the last few years. I highly recommend this book!

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

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Virtues of Holiness - Juan Luis Lorda - The Basics of Spiritual Struggle

The Virtues of Holiness: 
The Basics of Spiritual Struggle
Juan Luis Lorda 
Juan Luis Lorda Iñarra
ISBN 9781594170904
eISBN 9781594171338
ASIN B0045Y26K4

This book is an amazing read. It is a book I really needed to read, and one I greatly benefited from reading. And I certain the same will be true for you also. This is a book all Christians would benefit from read. And a book that should be in all Catholic school and church libraries. The description of this book is:

“The Virtues of Holiness offers a road-map for navigating our everyday activities: work, family, leisure pursuits. It shows how we can reach the heights of Christian life in and through these activities. For many people this is unfamiliar territory, and the author has written this book just for them. Fr. Lorda offers his readers a daily spiritual plan and describes strategies for gaining the virtues needed for following Christ closely. The next steps are familiarity with the life of Christ and developing a deep interior relationship with Him. Although its path is challenging, The Virtues of Holiness leaves no doubt that the struggle to stay close to Christ lies within the reach of every Christian. The author draws on a wide range of Christian apologists from the Church Fathers to St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the 16th century Spanish mystics, John of Avila, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila. The result is a book that is accessible to readers of all ages, and especially young believers.”

And the virtues and mysteries Lorda examines are:

Part I Virtues
1. The Sense of the Presence of God
2. Self-Knowledge
3. The Ascetical Struggle
4. Fortitude
5. Detachment
6. Chastity
7. Humility
8. Simplicity
9. Cheerfulness
10. Prudence
11. Integrity
12. Living for Others
13. Work

Part II Mysteries
14. Identification with Christ
15. Love of God
16. Prayer
17. The Eucharist
18. The Sense of Sin
19. Confession
20. Death and Life
21. Love for the Church
22. Mary, the Mother of God

It was nearly impossible to put this book down. We are informed in the forward that:

“The spiritual life—or asceticism, it is sometimes called—is an experience of the life of faith that the Church has been accumulating and transmitting from the beginning. This book contains what I have received from others, especially the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá. The rest comes from classical authors—Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. ca. 386), Sts. Augustine and Cassian (d. 430 and 435), St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), and St. Gregory the Great (d. 604)—and writers such as St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of Avila, and St. John of the Cross (all sixteenth century), St. Francis de Sales (d. 1622), and many others. Among more recent authors I have made use of the writings of John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Ronald Knox, Romano Guardini, and Josef Pieper; I also owe something to spiritual writers such as Eugene Boylan, Georges Chevrot, and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, among others.”

And further on we are told:

“This book is divided into two parts. The first deals with the manner of acquiring virtues. The second presents more directly some features of the life of Jesus that a Christian should conscientiously try to imitate.”

This volume is not a step by step guide. Do these 6 things and grow in virtue. It is an examination of the virtues through the lives and writings of saints and other Christians. This book is easy to read. Any high school student could engage with the text. But it is not just a book to be read and put down. It is to be prayed over. To be worked through again. To be learned and lived. This is a book I wish I had read in my teens, even my twenties, or thirties. I would be a much better man today if I had. But I am starting where I am and working on living it out.

At the beginning of the second part of the book we are told:

“This second part of the book concerns aspects of the spiritual life more closely related to the action of God’s grace. The first chapter deals with the central mystery of grace, the presence in us of the Holy Spirit and “Identification with Christ.” From this arises the way of living described in the next chapter, “Love of God.””

This book was so good that I already put it back in my 'to be read pile' to be read again. And also picked up the only other book by Lorda available in English. I will state again this is an indispensable volume. I strongly encourage you to give it a read. I guarantee your life will not be the same!  

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

Books by Juan Luis Lorda:
Beyond Good Intentions: The Art of Christian Living

And he has many other books available in Spanish.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Prayer of the Day Prayer to Saint Agnes

Prayer to Saint Agnes 

St. Agnes, although you were only a child, you believed that Jesus was always with you; help us to remember that he is also with us, and to remain true to his presence. 

St. Agnes, you refused to give up your faith; help us to be proved of our faith, to love it, to be strong in it, and to give witness to it daily. 

St. Agnes, patron saint of children, watch over the children of the world; keep them safe from harm; be with them in their hour of need; and always pray for them. 

St. Pray for us. 

Note: Feast January 21st  

(The artwork is oil on canvas, in the backstairs at our parish.)

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

I Heard God Laugh - Matthew Kelly - A Practical Guide to Life's Essential Daily Habit

I Heard God Laugh
A Practical Guide to Life's Essential Daily Habit
Matthew Kelly
Blue Sparrow Publishing 
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635821383
eISBN 9781635821390

Over the last 6 years I have read books by Matthew Kelly 29 times, and that does not count some of his children’s books that have been read many times over.  I am always excited when a new volume from Matthew is coming out, and eagerly await its release. This was the second of two that released around the same time, the other being Coach 365 Days of Inspiration for Coaches and Players. Next to Rediscover the Saints, this is my favorite book by Matthew Kelly, that I have read to date. This is one of those books that every Catholic, nay every Christian could benefit from reading. It is a fantastic read, and as soon as I finished it, I put but in my 'to be read pile'. It will be a book I know I will return to again and again. The description of this volume is:

“Is Your Life Working? Most of us are trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle we call life without a very important piece. Over time this becomes incredibly frustrating. In this extraordinary book, Matthew Kelly powerfully demonstrates that we cannot live the life we have imagined, or experience the joy we yearn for, unless we learn to tend the soul. From there, with his classic style of practical wisdom, he teaches us how to remedy this problem.

When our bodies are hungry, our stomachs growl. When our souls are hungry, we become irritable, restless, confused, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, discontent, and tend to focus on the things that matter least and neglect the things that matter most.”

I highlighted several passages on my first reading of this volume and some of them are:

“We cannot live without the hope that things will change for the better, and we are not victims of our circumstances.”

“You are who and what you are still capable of becoming. You are your realized and unrealized potential. God sees you and all your potential, and he aches to see you embrace your best, truest, highest self. He yearns to help you and to accompany you in that quest.”

“Wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, however life has surprised and disappointed you, I want to remind you of one thing: The best is yet to come! There are times in life when this is easier or harder to believe, but the best is truly yet to come.”

“The essential piece most people are missing is a vibrant spirituality.”

Nothing will change your life so completely, absolutely, and forever like learning how to really pray. In prayer we learn who we are and what we are here for, what matters most and what matters least. Through prayer we discover the-best-version-of-ourselves, and are given the courage to celebrate and defend it in each moment of each day. In prayer we learn how to love and be loved, because we discover that we have been loved, are loved, and will continually be loved by God.”

“If you truly want to seek and find these answers, this is work for the soul. These are matters that are between you and God.”

“The essential practical virtue of prayer is patience—which is also the essential practical virtue in all relationships.”

“I am often asked: “Why do you pray?” I pray because I cannot thrive without it.”

Those few samples will give you an idea of the worth of this volume. This is a book about making prayer central to your whole life. It teaches, it encourages, and it challenges it. Matthew outlines:

The Prayer Process:
1. Gratitude
2. Awareness
3. Significant Moments
4. Peace
5. Freedom
6. Others
7. Finish

The book also contains the prayer of surrender. The chapters in this volume are:

Part One: The Unexpected Life 
A Question to Begin 
The Missing Piece 
The Habit 
The Promise of This Book 
Finding Your Reason 
Habit and Potential 
The Challenge 
Soul Note 

Part Two: My Spiritual Journey 
The Invitation: Ten Minutes a Day 
The First Surrender 
The Day My Life Changed Forever 
My Hope for You 
Soul Note 

Part Three: Life’s Essential Habit 
Teach Us to Pray 
Sharing the Joy 
The Prayer Process 
Your Best Days 
The Basics What Is Your Image of God? 
There Is Power in a Name 
Begin Today 
Soul Note 

Part Four: Six Powerful Spiritual Lessons 
The Longest Journey 
Six Seismic Shifts 
The First Shift: Begin the Conversation 
The Second Shift: Ask God What He Wants 
The Third Shift: Give Yourself to Prayer 
The Fourth Shift: Transform Everything into Prayer 
The Fifth Shift: Make Yourself Available 
The Sixth Shift: Just Keep Showing Up! 
Six Life-Changing Awakenings 
Soul Note 

Part Five: The God Who Gave Us Laughter 
Does God Have a Sense of Humor? 
I Heard God Laugh 
The Deep Waters 
The Delight of God 
Busy Is Not Your Friend 
Soul Note 
Epilogue: Do You Hear That?

This is one of those books I wish I could put in the hands of all my friends. A book I would love to have given to my daughter’s grade 8 graduation class last year. And especially in 2002 it is a book many of us would benefit from reading. I strongly encourage you to order 2 copies of this book, one for yourself and one to pass on.

This book is one of Kelly’s best and one all Christians should read!

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

Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
Beautiful Hope
Beautiful Mercy
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
Good Night, Jesus
In a world where you can be anything ...
I Heard God Laugh: A Practical Guide to Life's 

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon - Corinna Turner - Mandy Lamb Book 1

Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon
Mandy Lamb Book 1
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806524
eISBN 9781910806517

I have greatly enjoyed all the books by Corinna Turner that I have read. I picked this one up when it was released but did not get around to reading it. The original cover just did not do it for me, and it sat in my ‘To Be Read’ pile for a long time. Then it was rebranded, and the new cover intrigued me, and I picked up the book and devoured it in a single sitting. I just could not put it down. And I eagerly await the next story: The Wolf, The Lamb and the Air Balloon. The description of this volume is:

“Mandy Lamb is the world's only half-sheep girl, thanks to a spot of well-meant but ill-advised genetic tinkering. She's grown up happily in the Valley of Worth with friends both ovine and human—and one who is neither.

Now she's off to senior school in the nearby town. And she's about to meet James, a rather strange orphan who smells, to Mandy, distinctly like a dog, and who has a bad habit of running off at the full moon.

With danger on the way, will James prove friend or foe?”

This book took me completely by surprise. Set in a valley on the border of Wales and England this story has a few twists. Some great surprises. And Breaks a lot of stereotypes. First, I never expected a story with a half lamb half human. And one that is a little uncomfortable in the human world and school, and very comfortable on the fields and in the woods and with the animals. Or at least most of them. Our first encounter with her she takes on a dog and protects a lamb and her ewe. There is a vampire hermit, who is fond of crosses, and has a deep devotion to Jesus. And a new boy at school. James. And James has more secrets and surprises in store. Mandy seems to keep ending up in trouble, eating the head’s garden, sneaking out to warn James of trouble. Standing up for James after he saves her from three bullies. 

This is a story about friendships, faith, and hope. The friendships are both old and new. And the dangers come from expected sources and some not so much. This is not your typical coming of age story. The pace of the story is excellent. But what makes it a truly great story are the characters. You cannot help but want to know more about Mandy, James, and Vincent. And fortunately there is at least one more story that has been announced. 

A fantastic read and great beginning to a new series by award winning author Corinna Turner. Mandy Lab really did surprise me. I should have just read it because of the author. It is an excellent read and yet another series by Turner that I am completely hooked on! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 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:
0.0 Breach
0.5 A Mom with Blue Feathers
1.0 Drive!
2.0 A Truly Rapror-Ous Welcome
3.0 Panic! 
4.0 Farmgirls Die in Cages
5.0 ???

Mandy Lamb Series:
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon
The Wolf The Lamb and the Air Balloon

(Original Cover)

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Cracked An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories - Edited by Bokerah Brumley

An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories
Kydala Publishing, Inc.

I picked this up for three main reasons. First the concept really intrigued me. And I also picked this up because I am a big fan of two of the contributors. I have read and reviewed several works by both Karina Fabian and Jane Lebak. And finally, I love anthologies because I usually find an author or two to add to my reading list. The anthology did not disappoint. The description of the book is:

“Chickens Land on Mars...
But what happens when authors have too much free time on their hands?
A challenge. Craft a story featuring our favorite feathered raptors: the CHICKEN. B'gawk! Twenty authors deliver in some unexpected ways and live to crow about it. From chickens in space to cozy murder mystery farm yards to schools of magickal thought... Includes guardian angels, chicken shifters, aliens, and feathered matchmakers, Maybe even a non-fiction adventure or two... and more! These amazing chickens come from the minds of twenty cooped-up authors on the edge of cracking... Read CRACKED: An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories.”

The twenty contributors are:

J. A Campanile 
Clair W. Kiernan 
David Millican 

I checked and other than the two contributors I was aware of I do not believe I have read anything from the 18 other authors. But this was a great collection of stories. To be honest when I read an anthology, I expect a few duds, but all the eggs in the basket were viable, and several have inspired me to look further into the works of the authors. The editor, Bokerah Brumley contributed three stories and book ends the collection. Both Grace Bridges and Karina Fabian have two contributions. 

And the 24 stories are:

Martian Chicken Man 
Frozen Chicken Master
Spacer Williams’ Chicken 
A Murder Most Fowl 
A Chicken for Miss Cuthbert 
Things with Wings 
Stray Thoughts 
Inspection Report 
Field Trip Chicken 
The Chicken of Doom 
Clucking in the Dark 
The Great Chicken Escape 
Chickening Out 
It Clucked 
PŪKEKO: The Blue Swamp Hen 
A Few Good Hens 
Home Improvements 
Barn Wars 
Chicken Dance A
Free Range 
Korion the Unclean 
The Great Chicken Escapade 
Chicken Magic

Some of these stories are more series than others. And some tie to other works. Both of Fabian’s offerings tie to different series she has written. And Lebak’s links to her Archangel series. A few of the stories are more of a hard science fiction. One almost Aliens like. A few made me laugh out loud. And all entertained. I was very surprised by the story of a chicken shifter, and her soul mate. It really made me smile. And the Field Trip Chicken. And chicken’s going up ladders in low gravity will surprise you. And I would love to see L. Jagi Lamplight’s Frozen Chicken Master expanded into a full-length story. I want to know what happens with the young man in the story next. 

After each story is an author’s biography. And an overview of their other works and links to their sites (for most of them). Everything you need to pursue a few or many of the authors who pique your interest.

A fantastic collection of stories. And who would have guessed Chickens for September of 2020, but this collection pulls it off. A great collection of stories to amuse, entertain and maybe even frighten. So, crack the cover and give this anthology a try. There are some wonderful tails, I mean tales. 

Note: For review of other stories by Karina Fabian and Jane Lebak follow the links.

Monday, 7 September 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13 - 18 - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13 - 18
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138908

It has been eight years since I have purchased this volume, I have now read this edition eight times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions direct from Scepter. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these newer eBook editions. And have read them every years since getting the eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also always like having all the volumes on me. As mike Aquilina stated:

“Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria.”

And I always appreciate having them all on me. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia

When these books were originally released in English this was the first half of the fourth volume. This volume consists of 54 meditations for Weeks 13 through to 18 of Ordinary Time. A sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year are:

“So many people have their own plans for their own well-being that only too often they look on God simply as someone who will help them to carry out those same plans. The true state of affairs is just the opposite. God has his plans for our happiness, and He is waiting for us to help him accomplish them – and let us be quite clear about it: we cannot improve on God’s plans.”

“Simplicity means having rectitude of intention and behaving with firmness and consistency. Prudence always points out to us the most appropriate means of achieving our end.”

“In the society in which we live we will have to speak out with the certainty and firmness that truth unfailingly gives. We will have to talk about many subjects which are of transcendent importance for the family, for society and for the dignity of the human person. Take the indissolubility of marriage. Freedom in education. The Church’s teaching on the transmission of human life. The dignity and beauty of purity. The excellence of virginity and celibacy for love of Christ. The consequences of social justice in relation to thoughtless spending or unjust wages ... There may be occasions when out of prudence or charity we should keep quiet.”

“The prayer of the Liturgy on this day invites us to exclaim: Lord, may our voices, our spirits and the whole of our lives be a continual praise in your honour ... May our conversations be always truthful, proper to a child of God.”

“When one freely decides to follow Christ completely it takes preference over other plans: one’s father or mother, one’s boy-friend or girl-friend. God’s call comes first, and everything else has to take second place to this.”

“To follow Our Lord properly calls for a completely unfettered detachment, a freedom of heart that is not hampered by sadness or regret, which would only lead to a half-hearted self-giving; the person concerned also needs to have the necessary autonomy to fulfil God’s will. Nothing is gained by half measures, by a decision made with a divided heart.”

“Good parents always want the best for their children. Since they are capable of making great sacrifices for their material welfare, why not too in the case of their supernatural well-being? They sacrifice themselves so that their children grow up healthy, and do well at their studies, and have good friends; and likewise so that they live as God wants them to, leading a life that is Christian and honourable. This is the mission that God has called parents to in matrimony – the education of their children. It is the express will of God for them, and a consequence of the Natural Law.”

“What are the acts of penance that are pleasing to God? They are: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, small mortifications, putting up patiently with the disappointments and difficulties of life, being ready to accept the monotonous aspects of our job and the tiredness that is part and parcel of work.”

“God wants us to bear difficulties peacefully and firmly, being happy to place our trust in him. He never lets his friends down, especially when their only care is to do his will.”

“Denying oneself means refusing to be the centre of one’s own attention. The true disciple must be centred on Christ, to whom must be directed all thoughts and cares, so that our entire day truly becomes an offering to God.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. And as mentioned this is part of 1 volume 4 dedicated to Ordinary time weeks 13 through to 18. 

These books are incredible for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. As stated this is my eighth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!

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

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Through The Winds and Waves
The Day that Changed My Life