Friday, 31 July 2020

Infinite Space, Infinite God II - Edited by Karina & Robert Fabian

Infinite Space, Infinite God II
Edited by Karina Fabian and Robert Fabian
Twilight Time Books 

Over the years I have read several religious-themed science fiction stories. It is not a new genre, from classics like A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr., to nearly anything from Gene Wolfe. One of the best-known collections was edited by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley called Sacred Visions. And if it was not for Greeley’s name recognition I believe this anthology would far surpass it. 

This volume of 12 short stories in the genre of Catholic Science Fiction is a treat for the fan of either genres. The authors tackle themes of morality, science, and the role of religion in humanity's future in new and engaging ways. They compare and contrast religions of aliens. Belief systems and living out faith in difficult times. The contributors are:

Colleen Drippé
Karina Fabian
Barton Paul Levenson
Alex Lobdell
Alan Loewen
Derwin Mak
Ken Pick
John “Fish” Rundle
Andrew Seddon
J Sherer
Tamara Wilhite

And the stories are:
The Ghosts of Kourion 
An Exercise in Logic 
The Battle of the Narthex 
Tin Servants 
Cloned to Kill 
Frankie Phones Home 

There are many excellent stories in this collection. And the authors I have not read before are now on my radar to keep an eye out for. The story by Andrew M. Seddon, The Ghosts of Kourion, appears as part of a recent novel by him, Ring of Time. One of my favorite pieces is Antivenin by Karina Fabian. I really want to read more stories in this universe. And a novel is now out, Discovery, which has some of the characters. Another excellent offering was Basilica. But honestly all the stories in this collection are worth the read.

I read the first anthology with name 11 years ago. And loved it. I picked this one up and thought I had read and reviewed it but was mistaken. After reading a recent book by, The Old Man and the Void, Fabian I went back and read this collection. And what a wonderful collection it is. Infinite Space, Infinite God I was a fantastic anthology and this one is just as good. I only wished that the third anthology edited by Fabian and Fabian, Leaps of Faith, was available electronically. I would already be well into it before writing the review of this volume. 

This is an excellent collection for those who love great short stories. Those who appreciate Science Fiction. And those who enjoy good Christian or Catholic Fiction. It is a fantastic collection and I easily give it 5/5 Stars!

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

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:
DragonEye PI Novels:
3.6 Christmas Spirits
4.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
5.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)

DragonEye PI Short Stories:

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly

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

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Trapped in a Video Game Book 1 - Dustin Brady

Trapped in a Video Game
Trapped in a Video Game Book 1
Dustin Brady
Jesse Brady (Illustrator)
Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN 9781449494865
eISBN 9781449496104

We picked up this book after my son started reading it with his cousins. They read every night before bed and he was hooked after the first few chapters. We picked up the eBook as soon as we were home. My son read it to me as part of his daily reading. A few times he even read well beyond the minimum 20 minutes a day. And we are already halfway through the next volume. Any book that inspires my son to keep reading when the timer goes off is a big winner in my books. And because of that it got a solid 5/5 stars from both of us.

This is the first installment in a five book series. We are a little late to the game, in that the whole series has already been released. It just means we can read them back to back. The story was first self published in 2016, then picked up and published in 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

This is a story about friendship, about video games, and about survival. Jesse Rigsby who hates video games. His best friend is Eric Conrad loves games and can’t wait to play the latest and greatest. Eric sends a text to Jesse and begs him to come over. When Jesse arrives, Eric is no where to be found. He picks up a controller and soon finds himself sucked into the video game under development Full Blast.

Jesse instantly realizes he has been sucked into the game. And his life will never be the same. And hopefully he can figure out the game enough to find his way out and back home.

The book has a definite homage to Heinlien’s Starship Troopers feel to it, or at least the game that they are sucked into. The book is fun and very fast paced. The story is a lot of fun. It is a good clean read. The characters are great. And there are a few twists I did not see coming. My son kept reading and raced through the book, and even asked to order book 2 before we had finished. We both have the eBooks on our readers for the rest of the series.

This is a great beginning to what looks like an excellent series. This family gives it top marks and highly recommend it.

Books by Dustin Brady:
Superhero for a Day

Trapped in a Video Game Series:
Trapped in a Video Game
The Invisible Invasion
Robots Revolt
Return to Doom Island
The Final Boss

Leila & Nugget Series:
Who Stole Mr. T?
Bark at the Park
The Case with no Clues

Life Lessons Series:
A Marathon Is Really Long When You Have to Pee
Black Friday Is for Suckers
Dogs Ain't Dumb
How to Tell Off a Telemarketer

Escape from a Video Game Series:
The Secret of Phantom Island

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Author profile and Interview with Glynn MacNiven-Johnston

Author profile and Interview with Glynn MacNiven-Johnston

I have read several books by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston and have picked up a number of others to read. I reached out to her through The Catholic Truth Society, which has published all her works to date. When I reached out across the pond to see if she would do an interview, she made an off hand remark about not really being an author. But I have found the books of hers that I have read to be of great spiritual value. And Wished to proceed with the interview to highlight this woman and her works.

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

To be honest I never thought of becoming a writer, but I wrote a lot of letters when I was a child - to family, and to pen pals which was popular in those days.

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

The CTS encouraged me in that they commissioned me several times.

3. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

I was really influenced by being a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. 

I try to be clear and concise. Raymond Edwards (a real author) with whom I collaborated on some prayer books has always helped with editing my work and lamenting my horrible punctuation.

4. Your books are mainly in two genres, prayer books and biographies. What caused you to focus on those two types?

I was working as manager of the CTS Bookshop (a long story). The CTS had a work experience student doing a project who suggested a biography of Maria Goretti. The CTS asked me to write it. (Why me is another long story). I wasn’t too keen at first as I thought Maria Goretti really mushy but discovered that her story is not only inspiring but surprisingly modern. I was surprised at how helpful biographies were. 

So, I went on from there trying to make things relevant to a modern audience. Some I was asked to write. Some I chose. St Damien de Veuster is a hero of mine - for his good works and energy of course but also because he started out rough and impatient which is helpful to those of us who are not by nature saintly.

From there I saw the kind of books my customers were buying and thought the CTS could do better ones- the Infant of Prague for example. I also learned not to dismiss all the old devotions and tried to make them accessible to the less pious.

5. Writing is not your day job, what is it that keeps you busy when you are not writing? 

Last year I started work at Westminster Cathedral Shop but then lockdown happened. My day is taken up with Zoom meetings, praying on the phone etc.

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

I try to read everything I can about a person and then ask myself - Why should I care about this person? Then I do several drafts and hope it comes together. I have only written short booklets, so I try to keep to the main points. If I am writing a novena to a saint, I look at the problems and experiences they had in life and ask their intercession in those areas.

7. What is your favorite book that you have written and why?

Fr Damien. As I said he is a hero of mine. When I was about 4 years old my Presbyterian grandmother took me to church and in the children’s Sunday School, I saw a slide show of his life and I’ve been devoted ever since. Odd, I know, that I should meet him there, but Robert Louis Stevenson introduced him to the Scottish public.

8. What books are currently in progress for you? Writing, researching, planning or even just ideas that you would like to work on?

I am not writing anything at the moment.

9. If you could write only one more book, what topic would you want to write on? 

I have nothing in mind.

10. You have written about several novena’s, what is your favorite novena?

I like A Handbook of Scriptural Novenas that Raymond Edwards and I wrote. I am happy we were able to pray using lives of biblical characters I think I like the novena to St Martha best though to be honest i can’t remember if it was me that wrote it!

11. Of all the devotions you have written about what is your favorite devotion?

As above.

12. If there was a single prayer you could recommend to my readers that they might not know what prayer would you recommend?

I pray the Jesus Prayer every day: 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me a Sinner.

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

The copyright of my work is retained by the Catholic Truth Society, so I leave it to them.

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

See above.

15. What were some of your favorite books and authors when you were younger?

When I was a child, I read all the children’s and other classics - thanks to the local library endowed by Andrew Carnegie and to Blackie, a publisher who produced simplified forms of Dickens, the Brontes etc.

I was very fond of Anne of Green Gables and read the whole series several times. 

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

In my teens I read translations of foreign classics but also a lot of things about misery especially Thomas Hardy.

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

I like to relax by reading detective stories, but I prefer those where I learn something too but not ones with interminable opinions from the author. At the moment I am reading books by Jonathan Dunsky set in 1950’s Israel and Cay Rademacher set in 1940’s Berlin.

As for religious books I am very taken with Brand Pitre and Scott Hahn (despite the annoying puns). I have also found Caryl Houselander very inspiring.

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

I am shocked by the shutting down of debate and the totalitarian persecution of dissent. I think students should learn to put ideas in context, think round them, see how they work in practice and only then decide whether they want to take a position.

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

I am assuming we already have the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. That’s usually in the rules.

I am not a patient person so I like short books but then I might have a lot of time on a desert island so long ones would be better! I certainly want to choose hopeful ones a mixture then of long, short, hopeful and helpful in no particular order.

1 Tolkein - Raymond Edwards
2 The Eternal Woman - Gertrud von le Fort
3 The Reed of God - Caryl Houselander
4 Grimms Fairytales 
5 The White Ram - Isaac Beshevis Singer
6 Poems and Fables - Robert Henryson
7 A Father who keeps his promises - Scott Hahn
8 Persuasion - Jane Austen
9 Enchanted April - Elizabeth Von Arnim
10 The Hidden Face - Ida Görres

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

Decide why you are writing and then follow through.

There you have Glynn MacNiven-Johnston in her own words. If you have not read one of her biographies or her devotional booklets you owe it to yourself to check them out. 

Books by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston:
Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr
Pier Giorgio Frassati Inspiration for Students
Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Martin de Porres

Rita of Cascia 

Prayer Books:
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Infant of Prague
Handbook of Novenas to the Saints: Short Prayers for Needs & Graces
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas: For Various Needs and Intentions
Devotion to St Jude: Patron of Hopeless Cases

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 3 Part 2 Weeks 7-12 Ordinary Time - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 3 Part 2 Weeks 7-12 Ordinary Time
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138892

It has been four years since I have purchased this volume, and I have now read this edition four 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. 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.

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 like having all the volumes on me at all times. 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 second half of the third volume. Ordinary time Weeks 7-12. For each of the volumes in this series, and each reading in this book is about 6 pages long. Each Day is broken into three sections. And there are 49 reflections I this volume. There are numerous references. But I want to give you a sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year. This year when I read it, I highlighted 32 passages. 

“They all continue to be children of God, capable of conversion and of reaching eternal life. Trusting in everyone’s capacity to rectify his errors, charity will impel us to devote ourselves to prayer, to give good example and to do apostolate and practise fraternal correction. If at some time we suffer through particularly painful offences, injustices or calumnies, we should ask for Our Lady’s help.”

“What a good act of faith this is for us to pray many times!: Jesus, I believe, but grant firmness to my faith! Teach me to back up my faith with deeds, to weep for my sins, and to trust in your power and mercy!”

“Faith is a gift of God, and only He can increase it in the soul. He is the one who opens the heart of the believer so that it can receive supernatural light, and that is what we should be praying for. But at the same time, certain interior dispositions are necessary: they are dispositions of humility, of purity, of openness ... of love which opens the way to a greater and greater security.”

“What care ought we to take of the frequent confession of our faults and sins, if this sacrament cleanses us and disposes us to see the Lord more clearly already here on earth!”

“The Cross in our mind, on our lips, in our heart, in all our works: this is the weapon of conquest – a sober and mortified life lived without fleeing from the lovable sacrifice that unites us with Christ.”

“Mortifying the imagination in order to live in the present: hic et nunc.”

“If we live in the present, we will succeed in rejecting unreal fears of imagined future dangers which our fantasy enlarges and distorts. At times, too, the conjectured crosses our imagination depicts put us out of touch with reality. Then we suffer uselessly, instead of joyfully accepting the little crosses God offers his children to carry each day, crosses that can fill them with peace and joy.”

“God’s plans do not always coincide with ours, with those we forge in our imagination, in our dreams. God’s plans, in one way or another, always demand detachment from everything that enchains. If we are to follow Christ, our soul must be free.”

“We should eliminate all useless expenditure, avoiding what can be called impulse spending. We will require to use our time well and generously in the affairs of God. We must be generous also in supporting works of charity, taking good care of clothes, furniture, household utensils and so on ...”

“If we give attention to little things, we will live each day to the full, and will know how to fill each moment with the sense of preparation for eternity. To do this, let us frequently ask Mary for her help: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us ... now, in every ordinary little situation of our life.”

“Beside Mary we will always find Joseph, her most faithful spouse, who knew how to carry out especially well and so promptly what God manifested to him by means of an angel. We can turn to him throughout the day, and ask him to help us to hear clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the many details of our workaday life that are sometimes so very small, and ask for the fortitude to put these divine promptings into practice.”

“Sanctity requires a fight against conformity, against lukewarmness, against an easy-going worldly attitude. It demands heroism – not in extraordinary situations that we are unlikely to encounter, but in continual fidelity to our task in the unremarkable duties of each day.”

“To share the Redemption, to co-operate in the sanctification of the world, to save souls for eternity: could there be a greater ideal to fill one’s life?”

“To celebrate or attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar properly is the best service we can offer Jesus, his Mystical Body and the whole human race. Next to Mary, in the Holy Mass we are particularly united with the whole Church.”

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. There are also 2 volumes dedicated to specific feasts, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food 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. This is my fourth 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:

Monday, 27 July 2020

Lily Lolek, Future Saint - Katie Warner and Amy Rodriguez

Lily Lolek, Future Saint
Katie Warner (Editor)
Amy Rodriguez (Illustrator)
TAN Books
eISBN 9781505116588

This was the second Katie Warner book we have read. A few years ago we read Cloud of Witnesses: A Child's First Book of Saints and loved it. Both my daughter and I loved this book. She read it to me three days in a row. And has already shared it with her friends down the street. It is a fantastic read, and we will be tracking down other works from Katie to read. The description of this volume is:

“Your little one will love the story of this spirited young girl and her bold dreams to become a saint, book and broom in hand. Filled with bright and colorful illustrations, whimsical rhyme, and a powerful lesson, you and your child will want to read this book again and again! 

This is the story of Lily Lolek.
There was nothing that she wanted more
Than to love with her might
And to burst with God’s joy
Til the day she reached heaven’s big door. 

But is being a saint as tough as it seems?
Lily wonders inside of this book.
Hear what this priest says about Lily’s bold dreams...
There’s a lesson we shan’t overlook.”

The story follows Lilly. She dreams of being a saint. But when a friend makes a comment about not being able to be a saint. She loses some of her shine. But after a priest comes for dinner her goal of becoming a saint is stronger than ever. The book gives a lot of examples of different saints. And also reminds us that we are all called to be saints. The saints highlighted in the volume are:

Damien of Molokai
Thomas Aquinas
Mary, The Mother of God
Bernadette of Lourdes
Elizabeth of Hungary
King David
Philip Neri
Joan of Arc
Francis of Assisi
Maria Goretti
Augustine of Hippo
Dominic Savio
Martin de Porres
Jane Frances de Chantal
Therese of Lisieux

The book is an excellent read. The illustrations are wonderful. The style is both bright and vibrant. The book ends with a litany that is great to pray and use to help your child create their own. This book was an instant family hit. It is great for the young ones in your life. And as a reminded to all of us, to strive to be saints. We highly recommend it.

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

Books by Katie Warner:
Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family
Gaze Upon Jesus: Experiencing Christ's Childhood through the Eyes of Women
A Grandparent Who Prays: A Journal to Guide You in Praying for Your Grandchildren
A Parent Who Prays: A Journal to Guide You in Praying for Your Children

A Sponsor Who Prays: A Journal to Guide You in Praying for Your Confirmand
A Godparent Who Prays: A Journal to Guide You in Praying for Your Godchild

For Children:
I Went to Mass: What did I See?
Cloud of Witnesses: A Child's First Book of Saints

Lily Lolek, Future Saint
Let Us Pray: A Child's First Book of Prayers 
The Word of the Lord: A Child's First Scripture Verses 
Kiddie Cat: A Child's First Catechism Lesson 
Father Ben Gets Ready for Mass 
This is the Church

Friday, 24 July 2020

The Case of the Missing Novice - Karen Kelly Boyce and Sue Anderson Gioulis - Sisters of the Last Straw Book 2

The Case of the Vanishing  Novice
The Case of the Missing Novice
Sisters of the Last Straw Book 2
Karen Kelly Boyce
Sue Anderson Gioulis (Illustrator)
TAN Books
eISBN 9781505111880

Note this book was originally published as The Case of the Missing Novice and has since been republished as The Case of the Vanishing Novice. With each book I read in this series, I appreciate it more. Late last year I read the fifth book in this series, The Case of the Christmas Tree Capers, a Christmas story. I enjoyed it and appreciated the concept. Last week I read The Cause of the Haunted Chapel, I previously stated that the series reminds me of Tales of a Magic Monastery by Theophane the Monk. And that feeling grows with each volume. These are fun reads. But they also have good lessons. Lessons that kids will pick up on and lean from, but also lessons that we as adults can appreciate and be challenged by. I have picked up the rest of the books in the series, and plan on reading 1 a week until I have finished the series. I am prereading them prior to reading them with my youngest two children. Another great story in an entertaining series.

In this volume we find out more about Sisters of the Last Straw. We seem them end up in a few more awkward circumstances. They still have a grouchy neighbour. And in this story, we meet Novice Kathy who has yet to make final vows. And as the title hints at goes missing.  

The sisters in this story are fun, and the tale is often funny. The sisters are:

Sister Krumbles
Sister Shiny
Sister Lovely
Sister Wanda
Sister Lacy
Mother Mercy

The black and white illustrations by Sue Anderson Gioulis continue to add to the story. The book teaches us about human nature, about living the gospel, and about trusting God. It also teaches us about the different strengths and weakness in different characters, and how to live in community. The nuns seem to end up in a lot strange situations, but with faith, hope, and prayer they usually come to a solution. From the chapter titles you always have a preview of what is about to happen next:

Stepping in It  
Hammer & Nails   
Whistles and Books  
A Trip to Town   
The Big Search   
A Barking Miracle   
A Wild Ride  
Part of the Family

The fowl incident is especially humorous. And the end of this story leads directly into the next volume. The nun's and those around them seem to learn lessons in each adventure. These lessons can and do serve as examples to us, especially living in larger families. There are excellent lessons for the young readers of the series for whom it is written for, and also for us older folks who might read it with or to them. Or even just on our own. It is another fun story in an excellent series. And we look forward to reading the rest of the stories, and hope there are yet more to come.

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

Books by Karen Kelly Boyce:
A Bend in the Road: A Year's Journey Through Breast Cancer
Down Right Good
According to Thy Word
Into the Way of Peace
In the Midst of Wolves

Sisters of the Last Straw Series:
The Cause of the Haunted Chapel
The Case of the Missing Novice
The Case of the Stolen Rosaries
The Case of the Flower Phantom
The Case of the Christmas Tree Capers
The Case of the Easter Egg Escapades
The Case of the Campground Creature
The Case of the Missing Maps

The Hope Trilogy:



Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Old Man and the Void - Karina Fabian

The Old Man and the Void
Dex Hollister Book 1
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781733447126
ASIN B08619XMH8 

I find it hard to believe that it has been 8 years since I read a book by Karina Fabian, but when I check my list of books read. That is what came up. I have read her contributions in a couple of anthologies. And had picked up a few of her books. They were just all still in my ‘to be read pile’. After reading this excellent work I have already bumped a couple of the others to the top of my to be read list. This was an excellent story. It was the first story by Fabian that I have read that was not religious themed. It is pure science fiction. And in a very classic style. The story is written in homage to The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. But set in space, and with Fabian’s unique twist on the hunter prey quest.

The story reminds me of some of Frank Herbert’s on Dune books, like The Eye's of Heisenberg and The Green Brain. It also brought to mind the works of Alfred bester, specifically The Demolished Man or Tiger, Tiger. The story is well written and deeply moving. You find yourself rooting for the hero, and the AI on his ship. The story follows Dex Hollister as he hunts relics in the accretion disk of a black hole. He has set his eyes on a battleship. It will it only be his biggest score, but the biggest yet. But As the battleship pulls them across the event horizon it becomes a battle not only to land the ‘catch’ but one for life.

Follow Dex across the event horizon. Watch him battle with an automated defense system. Restore his own ships AI. And in conjunction with the AI try to survive. He is caught between automated ships from two different ancient civilizations fight a never-ending war. He must outwit the automatic systems, and escape this place where time is warped.

Something that makes this story so great is the dialogue. The Dialogue between Dex and the AI, and Dex’s internal dialogue. His remembrances add an interesting element. The dialogue reminds me of Doc Holliday in Tombstone, and I cannot help but picture Dex as a younger Val Kilmer. The interactions the god and his consort add an interesting twist to the story. Much like the movie 12 Moneys and the book A Scientific Romance there is a point where we question what is real, and what is not. And even the epilogue leaves us with more questions than concrete answers. And that is part of what makes it such a great story, I know I will be thinking about it for days to come.

The story is not implicitly Catholic like many of Fabian’s other works I have read. But it does deal with questions around the meaning and purpose of life. It is a great story and I highly recommend it. 

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

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:
DragonEye PI Novels:
3.6 Christmas Spirits
4.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
5.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)

DragonEye PI Short Stories:

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly

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

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Mission of Joan of Arc Issue 1 - Philip Kosloski, Alexandre Nascimento and Jesse Hansen

The Mission of Joan of Arc
Issue 1
Philip Kosloski
Alexandre Nascimento (Illustrator)
Jesse Hansen (Illustrator)
Voyage Comics & Publishing
ISBN 9780578578606

Over the years I have read a lot about the maid of Orléans. At one of the church collages at the university I attended there was an entire course offered as both Religious Studies and English Literature on books about Joan of Arc. Unfortunately, the course never fir my schedule, but I did get the syllabus from the professor one year and read through much of it. So the story hand how Kosloski and crew would handle it was of much interest to me. I have been very impressed with Kosloski’s nonfiction works, and have been enjoying the stories he is bringing to life through the comic book format. I will admit I am not much of a comic book or even that much of a graphic novel guy. I have a few authors who have done cross overs that I have enjoyed. And a few stories I have followed. I know I will pick up the other offerings in this story line as they come available.

This first installment in the story follows Joan from a young age as a simple peasant girl. Through her calling by the Archangel Michael, to the battle to reclaim Orleans. The story is well told. But the artwork is more hit or miss for me. Some of the artwork I love. And some just does not work for me. The frames with oversized mouths and teeth are in a style that does not appeal to me. But some of the other pages and frames are stunning. The overall story is well executed between the text, the lettering and the artwork.

A good beginning in what looks like it will be a fun comic book run. Looking forward to the next installment.

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

Books by Philip Kosloski:
Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice
3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II's Visit to Wisconsin
Star of the Sea: A Mariner's Journey
A Practical Guide to Discern God's Will
Serviam: A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Distractions: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer
The Horarium: A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer Schedule That Will Change Your Life
The Last Monks of Skellig Michael

The Tale of Patrick Peyton

Finnian and the Seven Mountains:
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3

The Mission of Joan of Arc:
Issue 1