Wednesday 30 June 2021

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Second Quarter 2021

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Second Quarter 2021

It has been a good first half of the year. Many great reads. I have read just over a book a day. I have read 201 books so far this year and 104 of them this quarter.

This past year and a half have been different year for us all. Last year I had about a 15% drop in my reading totals. I am very happy with the first half of this year, and especially this quarter. Reading and reviewing books is my hobby, I am grateful to be able to do so. 

Back to this quarter. By the numbers:

Books Read: 104
First Time Reads: 95
Fiction: 33
Non-Fiction: 56
5/5 Stars: 85

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the second quarter of 2021.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
 1. Year of Mercy Series from the Catholic Truth Society
 4. Novena Collections by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston and Raymond Edwards - CTS Collections

5. Books by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby STD
 6. Finding God Series from the Catholic Truth Society
8. CTS Great Saints Series - The Catholic Truth Society

Bonus Books:

Top Ten Fiction Books:
 2. Dead Means Dead Series - Edwin Torr (aka J.E. Mayhew)
1.0 Demons
 4. Space Traipse: Hold My Beer Stories - Karina Fabian
 6. A DragonEye, PI Book - Karina Fabian
 7. McCracken - Mark Adderley 
 8. Elfling Books - Corinna Turner


This year was my fastest to 200 books read, it took me 173 days. There were so many great reads so far this year. It was very hard picking the top ten. You should check out my Favorite Books Year by Year list.

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists; they are in sometimes in the bonus section. It was not easy again this quarter, making my picks. 

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010

Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011 
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

201 - 2021 (January-June)
317 - 2020 
392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Elfling - Corinna Turner - An Elfling Story

Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806401
eISBN 9781910806395

I really love the works of Turner. And consider her to be an excellent writer. But I just did not like the original cover of this book, Elfling, and never got around to reading it, even though I had picked it up shortly after it was available. And even after it underwent a cover revision, I just never got around to reading it. I also had the short story, The Most Expensive Alley Cat In London, set in the same world. I had that story on my device for a while now, as well. These were the only published works from Turner I had not read and I was looking for a shorter read while waiting one day. That story was that read, and I devoured it and Elfling in under 24 hours. I could just not stop. And though she has many other series on the go, including one that has a second story that is ‘coming soon’ since 2016. I really hope she expands upon this world as well. That there will be more stories about Serapia Ravena and her pet Raven. But back to this specific story.

As mentioned once I started reading the short story story I could not stop. I had other things to do, and some things that needed to get done, but reading took precedence. I devoured both of these stories. It has amazing characters, a great story, and wonderful world building. The description of this volume is:

“She must find her father or die. 

Alone on the streets of London, young Serapia Ravena seeks her father, her only hope of survival. When the elusive Duke suddenly returns to the city, Serapia finds a loving father, who quickly thwarts her uncle’s murderous plans. But it soon becomes clear that he hides a dark secret, one that threatens his very life, and his very soul. The search for his salvation will carry Serapia hundreds of leagues, to the heart of the wild places, and to the fort of the elfin, bringing her face to face with her own mysterious heritage.”

And after reading it I can easily understand why the story won a CPA Award. These stories are masterfully told. They are set in a world unlike any other that Turner has created to date. Serapia’s world is a wonderful place. But for her it was also a very dangerous place. Living on the street, doing what she must to survive. But still learning her faith and visiting with a priest. Desperate to find her father, before her days run short. But her time on the streets were not easy on her. And once her life starts turning around it seems like she will lose it all again. But she believes in her Father and believes she can find a way to hear him. But will time run out on her this time?

To find out you will need to read this incredible novel. Both the stories in this world are fascinating reads. If you have read the short story, you will love this novel. And If not it is still a great place to begin. An amazing fantasy tale with elves, dragons, and magic. It is very well written. The story has excellent characters. A fantastic read, from a master wordsmith. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 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

Monday 28 June 2021

Handbook of Scriptural Novenas - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston and Raymond Edwards - CTS Devotions

Handbook of Scriptural Novenas
For Various Needs and Intentions
Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Raymond Edwards
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784690663
eISBN 9781784694302
CTS Booklet D798

I picked this up after reading and preparing reviews for the companion volumes:

All three Hanbooks of Novena’s are great booklets. It is the eighth volume from Glynn MacNiven-Johnston that I have read, and the sixth from Raymond Edwards. Over the last several years I have read almost 200 books from the Catholic Truth Society. They have many great series, and books. And the CTS Devotions is among my favourites. The description of this booklet is:

“These newly composed novena prayers present figures from Scripture form whom we learn lessons in faith and prayer. The situations and difficulties they faced frequently mirror our own worries and concerns. Thus Hannah prays for the gift of children, Job learns to be honest with God, Martha complains that she does all the work, Deborah and Barak learn what to do when overwhelmed, and Jonah too when God's plan doesn't seem to make sense. These and other figures open the Scriptures to us, and we learn more of the Novenas as a form of prayer.”

The chapters in this booklet are:
Immaculate Conception
Sacred Heart
Exaltation of the Cross
Christ the King

In the introduction we are told:

“The novenas in this book are slightly different. They focus on particular figures from the Bible, most from the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures) because from the start, the Christian life has been lived after the model of the Old Covenant. 4 Scripture is a record of God’s mighty deeds with his people, which are the pattern for his deeds with us today. Biblical figures are not given to us for our imitation, not in all the details of their lives (King David was a murderer and an adulterer, Jacob deceived his father and cheated his brother, Jonah was grumpy and rebellious) but rather in one particular - their ability to accept, often after a struggle, the action of God in their lives, and his will for them. This acceptance, however it was mediated and however it played out, allowed their lives to assume a particular shape and conform to the providential pattern God intended.”

We are also informed in the introduction that:

“There are many different sorts of novena; you can make a novena using any prayer you want: the main thing is to pray it regularly for nine days in a row. Nevertheless most people will make a novena using a prayer composed for the purpose. Some novena prayers are long, and may include litanies, or meditations; others are short. You can make a novena using the same prayer nine times, or nine different prayers, one for each day. There are no rules; what follows are only suggestions.”

And they are some wonderful suggestions. I have set calendar reminder’s to do a few of these Novena’s over the next year. There is also a companion volume we are informed:

“Many novenas (including those in the companion volumes Handbook of Novenas to the Saints (CTS, 2010) and Handbook of Scriptural Novenas (CTS, 2015)) ask the intercession of a particular saint or biblical figure for whatever our intention may be. As well as interceding (praying) on our behalf, the saints are also examples of how the Christian life has been lived.”

At the end of the introduction is a section called How To Use This Booklet and it states:

“Each novena in this booklet focuses on one or more figures from the Bible. You may want to read the relevant passages from Scripture, so at the start of each novena we have said where these can be found. You do not have to read these passages before making a novena; but you may find it helpful. Then each novena is arranged into nine days. For each day, there is a short passage of Scripture, then a short reflection and prayer. 

On each day of the novena, say these, and add your particular intention, if you have one; then say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Do this on each of the nine days. 

You may find it helpful to keep a short time of silence after reading the passage from Scripture. Scripture is the Word of God; God speaks to us through it. But to hear what he wants to say to us, we need to be quiet and listen. We may have much to say to God; he surely has something to say to us.”

The novena’s included are:

Moses - discerning and accepting our vocation 
Elijah - finding strength in God 
Tobit - Marriage Hannah - the gift of children 
Joseph & his brothers - for peace in the family 
David & Absalom and the Prodigal Son - estranged children 
Martha - being the one that does all the work 
Ruth and Naomi - feeling abandoned and forgotten 
Deborah and Barak - when things seem too much for us. 
Jonah - when God’s plan doesn’t seem to make sense 
Job - being honest with God
Abraham - old age

We have 11 excellent novenas. This is an wonderful little volume. A great book to have in your collection. And pray the novena’s around specific needs. It is an excellent resource that I highly recommend. And you will likely want to pick up the companion volumes as they are just as good.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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

A Book of Novenas

Books by Dr Raymond Edwards:
Catholic Traditionalism
The Dowry of Mary 
Handbook of Novena to the Saints
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas for Various Needs and Intentions
J.R.R. Tolkien - His Life, Work & Faith
Prayer on the Go
A Simple Glossary of Catholic Terms
Stories of World War I
The Miraculous Medal
The Reformation in England
A Book of Novenas

Sunday 27 June 2021

Following this Blog Via Email

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Saturday 26 June 2021

Hope's Embrace and Other Poems - A.K. Frailey

Hope's Embrace & Other Poems
A.K. Frailey
A. K. Frailey Books

I have read several books from the pen of A.K. Frailey, in fact this is the 6th volume from her pen that I have read. Or maybe I should say quill, as this is the first volume of poetry. Last year she had two collections publish, they were, It Might Have Been: And Other Stories and Heart Beats: Spiritual Being Human Journey, I loved both of those volumes and consider this a perfect third companion. I do not read as much poetry as I did in my 20’s and even 30’s but from time to time I do pick up a volume to skim or pursue some favourites. But as soon as I say that Frailey had published a volume I picked it up and dropped both the books I had on the go and red it over two days, and a few mugs of coffee. The description of this collection is:

“Spiritually uplifting poems, reflecting life's trials and tribulations in nature and in our shared human experience. Grace shines the light of hope in the details of our lives, helping us take the next journey-step. Keep going. Hope's embrace awaits.”

It is a wonderful collection of 27 poems. The poems are:

Where Life United 
Your eyes record a different world than mine, 
Without my music, books, or time. 
Declining years loom ahead, 
Your face lights with futuristic hope instead. 
Joking, you say, go back to days long past, 
But no return would I gladly clasp. 
Childhood bittersweet, 
Adolescence confusion reaped. 
Love and marriage replaced dreamland, 
Hard work on every hand. 
Lonely passages and dangerous curves, 
This present life, opportunity serves. 
So many have gone before, 
Some certain few stand at the door. 
Tree branches end in buds to bloom, 
No matter the change, it comes too soon. 
Young eyes with wonder see and decide, 
Old vision dims with ancient grief abide. 
Hardly knowing what you don’t know, 
Ever and anon, it’s ever so. 
Look and see, 
Live and be. 
One day plighted, 
Where life united. 
Love dares, 
Vision share.

I can say there was not a single poem that I did not enjoy, but in all collections and anthologies there is a favourite, and mine in this volume is:

For Goodness Sake

Photos speak what words no longer say,
Who once lived, loved, shaped each day.
Childhood memories,
Sweet baby fresh,
Life’s possibilities,
Hope, fears mesh.
Young mother held and rocked,
Against all monsters locked.
Rustic Dad with kids did roam,
Always return, safe haven home.
In youth’s mighty grasp,
The world did clasp.
Joy over thrown,
Disappointment did own.
But down the lane,
Return hope sane,
As world jolts,
And reason bolts.
Faithful siblings clash,
Memories, tears dash.
Relentless fail,
Laughter hail.
New vision dear,
Selfless cheer,
For others,
Brothers, Sisters
Beyond touch, memories clutch.
Hearts swell and break,
Love—for goodness’ sake.

This is a wonderful collection and I know I will return to it again, form time to time for a spiritual pick me up or encouragement. Or even just to put a smile on my face. 

This is another wonderful offering from A.K. Frailey. If you have read her other collections I am certain you will enjoy this volume. It is a wonderful collection of poems infused with faith. If you enjoy her fiction I encourage you as well to pick this up and give it a try. 

An excellent volume of poetry from the quill of A.F. Frailey.

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

Books by A.K. Frailey:
Melchior: Vengeance is Mine
The Adventures of Tally Ho
It Might Have Been: And Other Stories
Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories and Novella

One Day At A Time And Other Stories
New Earth Series:
The Last of Her Kind
NEWEARTH: Justine Awakens

Deliverance Series:
Ishtar's Redemption: Trial by Fire
NEB the Great: Shadows of the Past

Hidden Heritage Series:
Georgios II - A Chosen People

Old Earth Series:
OldEarth ARAM Encounter
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter
OldEarth Neb Encounter
OldEarth Georgios Encounter

The Road Goes Ever On: A Christian Journey Through the Lord of the Rings
Heart Beats: Spiritual Being Human Journey
Hope's Embrace & Other Poems