Saturday, 21 May 2022

Loving Christ Through St Josemaría Escrivá - Holly Melita Rodriguez

Loving Christ Through St Josemaría Escrivá
Holly Melita Rodriguez
ISBN 9798782289874

The author had indicated at the time of release of this book in December of 2021 that she was working on a digital edition. With my dual form of dyslexia I greatly prefer eBooks so I can change the font, font colour, and even page colour to make it easier to read. That digital version was delayed and still has not arrived. So I decided to read the book over Lent. The book is self-published it does not have any copyright information, nor does it have a table of contents, it would benefit from both. The author on social media admits to being on the spectrum. She has been discerning vocation and is starting a noviciate with the Carmelites in California. This volume was released I believe just prior to her acceptance. And She had travelled and is on her way there now. She had announced another volume her spiritual biography, or conversion story but I do not know a date or time for such a release. And her social media accounts have been disabled. But back to this volume. The description of this book is:

“Embark on a forty day journey through the desert with Christ and this book as your companion of reflections by St Josemaría Escrivá for each daily intention, along with prayers written by the Author, daily devotion to the Holy Rosary and contemplation on Sacred Scripture. As you journey through each daily exercise in prayer and contemplation, you will also witness the life of The Father of Opus Dei through a photographic biography.

You will strengthen your prayer life, grow in your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and find daily exercises for common struggles. If you’re looking for a fruitful yet challenging way to grow in holiness and renew your faith, with the spiritual guidance and wisdom of St Josemaría Escrivá, then look no further...

This is a devotional prayer book and contains an option for readers to consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ through the spiritual guidance of one of the greatest Catholic Saint’s of the 20th century, Josemaría Escrivá.”

The chapters in the book are:

A Prayer before a Crucifix
Our Lady as Mediatrix
Day One: A Peaceful Heart.
Day Two: The Christian Family.
Day Three: Charity.
Day Four: The Way of The Cross.
Day Five: Dedication.
Day Six: Hope.
Day Seven: Sainthood.
Day Eight: Detachment.
Day Nine: Sincerity.
Day Ten: Generosity.
Day Eleven: Chastity and Modesty.
Day Twelve: Obedience.
Day Thirteen: Mortification.
Day Fourteen: Plan of Life.
Day Fifteen: Poverty.
Day Sixteen: Fidelity.
Day Seventeen: Rest & Recovery.
Day Eighteen: Free Will.
Day Nineteen: Simplicity.
Day Twenty: Providence.
Day Twenty-One: Natural Law.
Day Twenty-Two: Maturity.
Day Twenty-Three: The Holy Rosary.
Day Twenty-Four: Conscience.
Day Twenty-Five: Prudence.
Day Twenty-Six: False Pride.
Day Twenty-Seven: Discipleship.
Day Twenty-Eight: Vocation.
Day Twenty-Nine: Ecumenism.
Day Thirty: The Magisterium.
Day Thirty-One: The Holy Eucharist.
Day Thirty-Two: Confession.
Day Thirty-Three: Divine Worship.
Day Thirty-Four: Divine Filiation.
Day Thirty-Five: Priesthood.
Day Thirty-Six: Redemption.
Day Thirty-Seven: Instruments of God.
Day Thirty-Eight: Unity.
Day Thirty-Nine: Reparation.
Day Forty: Jesus Christ.
Preparation for Consecration
Consecration to Saint Josemaría Escrivá

The introduction begins with these words:

“I wrote this book over the course of forty days from Christmas until Candlemas during the year 2020. The writings within these pages are from my personal diary as I journeyed for forty days in the desert with Our Lord, Jesus Christ in prayer and contemplation. Within these pages you will find reflections by St Josemaría Escrivá for each daily intention, along with prayers I’ve written and sacred scripture to contemplate on. Each day is devoted to Our lady through the Holy Rosary, as a way to grow closer to Christ through the guidance of St Josemaría Escrivá. I hope that you will find spiritual growth and a strengthened prayer life through these exercises. There is a consecration prayer at the end of the journey, which I have written for those who wish to consecrate themselves to St Josemaría Escrivá and adopt him as a companion for spiritual guidance and intercession.”

Each of the days follow the same format:
Day Number: Title
Quote from Saint Josemaría Escrivá
Prayer Intention
Bible Verse
Prayer to St Josemaría Escrivá
Bible Verse
Rosary (Prayers and over view of Mysteries)
Hail Holy Queen
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

And on everyday there is a cropped version of the cover photo before the Prayer to St Josemaría Escrivá, and the day ends with a photo of Saint Josemaría Escrivá with caption and date. After the Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe there is a drawing of the Tilma, I believe by the author. I used a random number picker and a sample day is:

Day Twenty-Five: Prudence.

“Such wisdom of the heart, such prudence will never become the prudence of the flesh that St Paul speaks of, the prudence of those who are intelligent but try not to use their intelligence to seek and love Our Lord. A truly prudent person is ever attentive to God's promptings, and, through this vigilant listening, he receives in his soul the promise and reality of salvation: I glorify Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for having hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to little ones.”
-St Josemaría Escrivá

Prayer Intention

Lord Jesus Christ, I desire to exercise genuine prudence which is not self-serving or cunning, but discerning and helps me to grow in my faith. Through attending the sacraments, Mass, and praying the Holy Rosary, I can learn to be more prudent and discerning so that I make the right choices which are focused on serving You and putting my trust in You, dear Lord
“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. The wise person fears and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and overconfident. A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and a devious man is hated. The naive inherit folly, but the careful are crowned with knowledge.”
- Proverbs 14:15-18

Dear Lord, I humbly beg You, through the intercession of St Josemaría Escrivá, for the grace to fill my spirit with prudence so that I may carefully discern each step I take down the path which You have laid out for me to follow. The path to Sainthood and sanctifying my every day ordinary life, is greatly enriched by exercising prudence, not being overindulgent or impulsive but by following You, Lord Jesus.

Prayer to St Josemaría Escrivá

Most loving God, through the mediation of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin, You chose St Josemaría Escrivá to serve You and honour you. You have gifted St Josemaría Escrivá the wisdom and grace to form Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfilment of the Christian’s ordinary life and duties. Grant that I too may learn to turn my everyday life into one that serves You God, and imitates the way of St Josemaría Escrivá with a zeal for loving all souls and striving for sanctification. Grant unto me God, through the intercession of St Josemaría Escrivá the favour of (intention).

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
- John 16:13

Holy Rosary of Joyful Mysteries

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Five Joyful Mysteries are prayed
Monday and Saturday.

The Joyful Mysteries remind the faithful of Our Lady’s Fiat and Christ’s birth:
The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38); The Visitation (Luke 1:39–56)
The Nativity (Luke 2:1–21); The Presentation (Luke 2:22–38) The
Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52)

Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord.

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for the Holy Church, protect the Sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke thee in their necessities, and since thou art the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Mother of the True God, obtain for us from thy most holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, of burning charity, and the most precious gift of perseverance so that we may carry our cross cheerfully.”

Each day is 6 pages including the photo at the end of the chapter. Many of the photo’s in this volume I had not seen before. Or at least do not recall doing so. I have read many books by and about Saint Josemaría Escrivá, and consider this a worthwhile read. This volume was a good book to work through during Lent. It can easily be done over any 40 days in the year, or even over 40 weeks. It there was a table of contents, or index it could be used for specific needs from time to time in a more accessible manner. 

Overall I would say this a good volume, and with a little polish could be excellent. I would not hesitate to pick up the authors announce book if it ends up being released. I was blessed by reading this book, It was wonderful to spend 40 days reading quotes by, praying to, and reading reflections on Josemaría Escrivá.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Volumes in the St Josemaria Escriva's Collected Letters:
Letters 1: Singuli dies, 24 March 1930
Letters 2: Videns eos, 24 March 1931
The Burgos Letters (1938-1939): Three Circular Letters

Friday, 20 May 2022

Lourdes Love is the True Cure - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Devotions

Love is the True Cure
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860825507
CTS Booklet D698

Over the last few years I have read over 275 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. While researching a different book to review it I stumbled across several older titles from the CTS by Pope Benedict XVI. This is one of about a dozen that I added to my ‘to be read’ list when I found them. Because they are out of print they can be harder to track down. The few I have obtained were well worth it. The description of this book is:

“In his celebrated visit to the Shrine of Lourdes in France, Pope Benedict XVI took occasion to explore and explain the heart of the Christian message as presented through the experience of Lourdes. Through the liturgies, celebrations, history of the Shrine, and above all the dialogue that took place between the simple young Bernadette Soubirous and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict lucidly and beautifully explains the many profound lessons Lourdes has to teach the people of today: principal among them that Love is the true cure for all illnesses, sorrows, sufferings and despair, and that Christ alone is our only true hope and liberator.”

The chapters in this book are:

Lourdes – Love is the Cure
Lourdes in Faith and Love
Keep your lamps Burning: Lourdes Torchlight Procession
The Message of Lourdes: Holy Mass at Lourdes
Come in Truth and Simplicity: Praying the Angelus
Lord Jesus We Adore You
     Blessed Sacrament Procession and Meditation
Seeking the Smile of the Virgin:
     Holy Mass for the Sick at Lourdes
Last Work

I picked this book up and took it to me for a Holy Hour. It was an excellent little volume for spiritual reading before the Blessed Sacrament. We are informed that this booklet was drawn from homilies and addresses of Pope Benedict XVI taken from his Apostolic journey to France on the 150th Anniversary of Lourdes, September 12-15th 2008. This volume is drawn from 6 pieces by Pope Benedict XVI and the introduction is taken from an interview during the flight to France. That introduction states:

“The day of St Bernadette’s Feast is also my birthday. This fact already makes me feel very close to the little saint, this little girl, young, pure and humble, with whom our Virgin spoke.

To encounter this reality, this presence of the Blessed Virgin in our Times, to see the traces of this young girl who was a friend of the Virgin and moreover, to meet the Virgin, her Mother, is a very important event for me. Naturally, we are not going to Lourdes in search of miracles.

I am going in order to find there the love of our Mother which is the true cure for all illnesses, all sorrows. I go to be in solidarity with all those who are suffering: I go in a sign of love for our Mother. This seems to me a very important sign for our epoch.”

This is a wonderful little volume. We see Pope Benedict’s simple faith, and yet deep theological understanding. The faith that is seen in these pieces is inspiring and also challenging. It is a book I could easily return to and one I wish was still in print to be able to give copies to others. I highlighted several passages my first time through this booklet, some of them are:

“The principal reason for my visit is the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. It is my desire to join the multimedia of countless pilgrims from the whole world who during this year are converging on the Marian shrine, filled with faith and love. It is this faith and this love that I will celebrate here in your land during these four days of grace which have been granted to me.”

“Mary teaches us to pray, to make of our prayer an act of love for God and an act of fraternal charity. By praying with Mary, not heart welcomes those who suffer. By praying with Mary, our heart welcomes those who suffer. How can out life not be transformed by this? Why should our whole life and being not become places of hospitality for our neighbours? Lourdes is a place of light because it is a place of communion, hope and conversion.”

“As night falls, Jesus says to us: “Keep your lamps burning” (Lk 12:35): the lamp of faith, the lamp of prayer, the lamp of hope and love!”

“The prayer of the Rosary, so dear to Bernadette and to Lourdes pilgrims, concentrates within itself the depths of the Gospel message. It introduces us to contemplation of the face of Christ. From this prayer of the humble, we can draw an abundance of graces.”

“Nevertheless, she said “Yes” without hesitating. And thanks to her “yes” salvation came into the world, thereby changing the history of mankind. For your part, dear young people, do not be afraid to say yes to the Lord’s summons when he invites you to walk in his footsteps. Respond generously to the Lord!”

“Mary, the holy Virgin, is with us this evening, in the presence of the Body of her Son, one hundred and fifty years after revealing herself to little Bernadette.

Holy Virgin, help us to contemplate, help us to adore, help us to love, to grow in love for him who loved us so much, so as to live eternally with him.”

“To seek Mary’s smile is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality, but rather the proper expression of the living and profoundly human relationship which binds us to her whom Christ gave us as our Mother.”

“Lourdes is like a light in the darkness of our groping to reach God. Mary opened there a gate towards a hereafter which challenges and charms us. Maria, porta caeli! I have set myself to learn from her during these three days.”

Those few examples will show you the faith, devotion, and practicality of the writing in this wonderful volume. The book concludes with a small selection of prayers which includes:

Jubilee Year Prayer
Prayer of St Bernadette
Your Cross
The Angelus
The Regina Caeli
The Memorare
Apostles Creed
The Holy Rosary
The Hail Holy Queen
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Anima Christi

This book an excellent resource from the CTS and Pope Benedict XVI. Even 14 years after the anniversary I was greatly blessed by reading this. It works very well as a whole considering it is drawn from 6 homilies and addresses. I am thankful I tracked it down, and I am certain you would be blessed by tracking it down and reading it as well.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI:

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Dream On - Sarah Mlynowski - Whatever After Book 4

Dream On
Whatever After Book 4
Sarah Mlynowski
eISBN 9780545633659

Six years ago I read a few of these stories with my oldest. Now my youngest is reading them to me, and her sister has handed down the first several stories in the series. We had started reading them in 2016 but my oldest skipped around a bit and read a couple of volumes to her Aunt and Grandma while on a road trip. So this was my first time encountering this specific story. My youngest insists we review everything that we read togtehr, so this review from 2022 is part of that effort. Between reading with my oldest and youngest this is the eleventh time I have read a book in this series. The stories have great staying power. Even as an adult I can enjoy these books, not only the first time but rereading them again and again.

Mlynowski does a wonderful job with this book and the whole series so far. My oldest was a reluctant reader. Back then when we read, I would read two pages for every page she read to me. The whole family loves these stories from 8-years old to 80 years old. It is a great series. The stories are fun and entertaining, but also have some valuable lessons and insight. 

My youngest daughter and I give this story a solid 5/5 stars. We always enjoy Mlynowski’s twists on the old tales. And the lessons of appreciating what you have and is in front of you, as opposed to just hopes for a different future really hit both of us. In this story it was less about Abby learning a lesson and the princess. It is a story that will foster a spirit of appreciation and thankfulness. There is a little more action in this story than some of the others, including a fake birthday party for Jonah. And avoiding curses from scary or angry fairies. And finding a prince to wake up Robin whose sleep walking during a slumber party launched this adventure.

The story is another amazing take on a familiar tale. The writings in these stories is wonderful. My daughters and I love reading them together. And the retelling of this story surprised both of us. It is a great book in a wonderful series. 

Books by Sarah Mlynowski:
Magic in Manhattan Series:

Bras & Broomsticks
Frogs & French Kisses
Spells & Sleeping Bags
Parties & Potions

Whatever After Series:

Fairest of All
If the Shoe Fits
Sink or Swim
Dream On
Bad Hair Day
Cold As Ice
Beauty Queen
Once Upon a Frog
Genie in a Bottle

Sugar and Spice
Two Peas in a Pod
Seeing Red
Spill the Beans
Good as Gold
Just Dance 

Whatever After Special Editions:
Abby in Wonderland
Abby in Oz

Upside-Down Magic Series:
Upside-Down Magic #1
Sticks and Stones #2
Showing Off #3

Other Books by Sarah:
Monkey Business
As Seen on TV
Me Vs. Me
Gimme a Call
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Don't Even Think About It
Think Twice
Know It All
A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
A Little Bit Broken
Party Girls
The Two-Month Itch

Books Coauthored:
See Jane Write (with Farrin Jacobs)
How to Be Bad (with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle)

Books Contributed To:
Girls' Night In
Girls Night Out
American Girls About Town
Vacations from Hell


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Sword of the Spirit - Theresa Linden - Armor of God Series Book 6

Sword of the Spirit
Armor of God Book 6
Theresa Linden
Silver Fire Publishing

ISBN 9781734992946
eISBN 9798201578725

My son and I greatly enjoyed this series. In fact, we are very sad that it has come to a conclusion. We are hoping that Linden will in some way continue these stories. I have now read books from Linden’s masterful pen 29 times, and her contributions to anthologies several times each. I can easily state that Theresa Linden is one of my favourite contemporary Catholic and Christian authors. Everything I have read from her has been impressive. I have reread several of her books myself, and reread others with one or more of my children. My children are all through their first communion, but even so we loved this book and this excellent series. I am a fan of all of Linden’s writings, but this series geared for a younger audience than most of  her other works is excellent and it is a great addition to the canon of her work. This is the final volume that was planned for series.

From the title of the series, it is obvious that it is based on the Armor of God:

“Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So, stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
~ Ephesians 6:13-17

The description of this volume is:

“Thanks to George, a handful of other pages, and the squires from Knight School, everyone from nearby villages remains safe in the underground shelters—or do they?

George and friends bravely investigate a strange noise down a tunnel they've never explored before. They soon discover two knights have different plans for solving the dragon problem, and fear has caused some of the townsfolk to develop a plan of their own.

The dragon threat is even greater now, as George and Robyn soon discover with an up-close encounter. How can the pages keep a courageous, peaceful spirit amidst such chaos, all while working to earn the Sword of the Spirit?”

The chapters in the story are:

1 Scraping & Clanking
2 Too Close
3 Greenscale
4 Courage
5 Shook Up
6 Like A Sword
7 Weapons
8 Food For A Dragon
9 Sir Crewe’s Plan
10 No Time To Waste
11 Mud Puddle
12 Catching A Dragon
13 Sir Lucian’s Story
14 Truce
15 Sword Of The Spirit

At the beginning of the book is a note ‘Dear Reader’ And at the end a section about the author and about the series. All three are worth reading. Between many of the chapters are Brother Coll’s Catechism Lesson, there are 8 of these one of themas a sample is:

Brother Coll’s
Catechism Lesson

Have you ever lost your temper before?
Have you ever shouted at someone else or blamed them for something that went wrong?

God wants us to be kind to another, to talk peacefully when we disagree, and to forgive. 

Maybe this verse can help you in the future:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
—Ephesians 4:31-32”

This is the conclusion of the story of George Pennington. He is a young lad who is attending knight’s school. To graduate they must obtain the 6 pieces of the armor of God. Six levels of training to become a squire. In the first volume, Belt of Truth, only some of the classmates do not get their belt. And it was very close for George. George learned the value of truth, even if you need to admit to lies, and mistakes you have made. Robyn Haylan and Erik, Georges younger brother continue to be good influences. In the second they must earn the Breastplate of Righteousness. In the third volume they must earn the Boots of Peace. And in this they strive for the Sword of the Spirit. 

Last time the action was heating up. This time George and his friends even have a close encounter with a dragon. They find out that not all they assumed about the dragons was true. And even what they thought about some of the Knights was misinformed. In this one George and his friends need to stop and listen to the Holy Spirit. And even disobey an order they have come to believe is wrong. In doing so they risk wrath. And even end up in a battle of wits quoting versus back and forth to support arguments being made.

Some want revenge, some seek peace, and others are not really sure what is the best path forward. But with faith and hope a way can be found.

To find out if George earns his sword you will need to read this excellent story. It is a fun read in a great series. It is fantastic for the youngsters in your life or for some of us that are young at heart. But I must admit I hope Linden finds a way to continue on with the story of George and his friends. For it would be fun to visit with them again and on other adventures.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Theresa Linden:
Anyone But Him
Tortured Soul

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story


West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong
Roland West Outcast
Fire Starters
Fire Starters

Armour of God Series:
Belt of Truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Boot of Peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)


Books contributed to:
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
Treasures: Visible & Invisible 8 Stories for Teens

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

More Precious Than Gold - Leslea Wahl - All For 1 Episode 2

More Precious Than Gold
All For 1 Episode 2  
Leslea Wahl
Ministry Thru Mystery
ISBN 9781732903739

I believe I have read everything that Leslea Wahl has published. That includes 5 novels, short stories and contributions to anthologies and a piece in a progressive story also. Many of the characters in this story overlap with other works of hers. So, in some ways it was like returning to visit old friends. This story was previously published in the Catholic Teen Books anthology, Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories. Even though I had read this story in the Anthology I tend to pick them up as Singles because you experience it differently reading it as a stand along. And I enjoyed this the first time, but appreciated it even more this time through. Wahl informs us in a preface to this story that:

“Years ago, when I was waiting for my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, to be published, I started working on my second novel which became Into the Spotlight (formerly An Unexpected Role). My husband suggested that I should somehow link the two stories. That idea intrigued me, and I decided Sophie from The Perfect Blindside and Ryan from Into the Spotlight could be cousins. Not sure what I would ever do with this connection, I included two tiny hints in the new book. 

A few years later, authors from the joint website I belong to, CatholicTeenBooks.com, decided to create an anthology. I thought this might be a great time to finally bring these characters together for a new adventure. I had so much fun writing that short story and over the years, new ideas for these characters have popped into my mind. I have finally combined all these stories together in my all for One series. The title is a reminder that God should be at the center of our lives—as everything we do is for Him.”

She also provides a chronological order to the stories:

One Blessing at a Time
Into the Spotlight (formerly An Unexpected Role)
More Precious Than Gold 
Ultimate Blindside
The Master Plan 

The last two of which must be forthcoming, at the time of writing this review. The description of this volume is:

“While helping at a summer camp, four friends discover an old tale of murder and forbidden love which leads to a modern-day treasure hunt.

Ryan’s invitation to his girlfriend Josie, his cousin Sophie, and Sophie’s boyfriend Jake to help at a summer camp for disadvantaged youth, seems like a wonderful opportunity for the two couples to get to know each other while sharing Christ’s love with others. But when they uncover a mystery at the camp, their summer adventure becomes a week of intrigue.”

I freely admit I absolutely loved this story. It is well written. The characters are wonderful. The competition between the boys over everything reminds me of my brothers and I. And having a short story with Jake, Sophia, Ryan, and Josie is like a visit home with old friends. 

If you are a fan of other stories that include these characters this is a must read. If you haven’t given them a try yet, it is a good place to start. You will enjoy the characters; the story is wonderful, and it will leave you wanting the books so you can keep reading. A great offering, in a fun series by a skilled writer. I am really looking forward to where the stories go in the All for 1 collection of short stories or episodes.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Leslea Wahl:
The Perfect Blindside
An Unexpected Role
Where You Lead
Unlikely Witness

eXtreme Blindside
Christmas Angel 

Monday, 16 May 2022

A Right Rex Rodeo - Corinna Turner - unSPARKed Book 6

A Right Rex Rodeo
unSPARKed Book 6
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806883
eISBN 9781910806890

This series keeps getting better and better. I first read a story by Turner in 2017, and read the first in this series in 2015. Since then I have read book by her a total of 52 times, and unSPARKed stories 25 of them. My son who is a reluctant reader has read most of the stories in this series more than once. The day this one released I picked up the eBook for myself and a physical copy for my son. The day it arrived he wanted to ditch the book he was on and start this right away. These are excellent stories for teens, young adults and adults. And the series keeps getting better and better!

This is another amazing story in a FANtastic series. The series currently is comprised of 6 main novels and a seventh announced. Three prequel stories, 1 yet to be published, A Mom With Blue Feathers, and a story set 59 years before the main series. Recently the original story, Drive!, and one of the prequel stories A Dino Whisperer at the Zoo, was rewritten into Please Don't Feed the Dinosaurs. Doing so Turner has merged the two main story arc’s right from the beginning. When recommending the series I often describe it as a mashup of Mad Max, Lost World, and Jurassic Park.

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

The description of this volume is:


Desperate for some clue about their father’s fate, Darryl and Harry risk attending the Midwinter Hunter Fair with Josh. But after the rodeo, bonfires, and storytelling are over, a dangerous expedition in search of answers may be their only hope. Even though it means venturing into enemy territory—alone.

Should they risk all on one last attempt—or admit defeat and flee?”

The story is told in a series of first person narrative chapters. And there is a wide range in chapter length. The breakdown is

Darryl 12
Harry 12
Joshua 7
Our main characters are:

Darryl: 16 and a half years old. Raised on a farm. Does not enjoy the city. And Harry’s big sister. Devote Catholic. Deep faith. A brave strong young woman.

Harry: Darryl’s younger brother. Eager to learn. A farm boy at heart. A youngster of faith, and strong work eithic. 

Joshua: He was raised unSPARKed, lived his whole life from the day he was born in a Habitat Vehicle. He was raised by his father and uncle. Both deceased. Can’t stand being in city. 

Missing from this story, other than a few mentions was Father Ben: Father Benedict was once a city priest, but trained to be a rural priest. 

City folks are still hunting for the trio. At has been almost a year since they went into hiding. To try and find out what really happened to Darryl and Harry’s dad. And if possible ransom or rescue him. They decide to take a risk and attend the ‘Midwinter’ that takes place across Saint Desmond’s Day. The risks of them getting caught or worse has grown the long they have been on the run. At the Fair there is fun, games, family, friends, and a lot of surprises. Even things the farm kids thought were just rumours proved far truer than they ever expected. They also have a run in with an old enemy of Joshua’s dad’s and uncle. And that encounter sets them on a new path, which is their biggest risk yet.

In this instalment in the story focuses around what the trio’s next steps should be. They have not been able to find out anything about their dad. And the risk’s keep growing. Should they give up and head out of state? But at the Fair they get an idea, and it leads them in a completely different direction. 

This is an excellent instalment in an amazing series. But you be warned you will be desperate for the next volume Fear, which is announced. This one ends on a terrible cliff hanger. These are my son’s favourite fiction books. He loves them tremendously. We have read all the previous ones at least twice together. And he gave a full set to his school library. This is another great read. I highly recommend this series, and to be honest any of the books written by Turner!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 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:
Prequel Short Stories:
Liam and the Hunters of Lee'Vi
0.1 Breach
0.2 A Mom with Blue Feathers
1.0 Drive!
1.0a Please Don't Feed the Dinosaurs
7.0 Fear

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