Sunday 31 July 2022

John Fisher - Eldred Willey - CTS Saints of the Isles

John Fisher
CTS Saints of the Isles
Eldred Willey 
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860822445
CTS Booklet B678

The CTS Saints of the Isles Series is one of my favourite series. I have tracked down what I believe to be all the books in the series, and this is my last to be read and reviewed. Each of the books in the series is a biography. Most, like this one, are biographies of specific individuals.  Also most in the series are biographies of martyrs, making it fitting that I end on a martyr. Over the last several years I have read over 300 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. This was the sixteenth I have read in the Saints of the Isles Series since 2018, and several have been read more than once. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Great Saints Series. There are many great stories about the lives of the saints. As mentioned, I believe I have a complete list of the volumes in this series. The description of the series is:

“The Saints of the Isles series brings together telling accounts of the extraordinary lives of men and women from the British Isles - lives of holiness, courage and true discipleship to Christ and the Gospel message.”

And the description of this specific book:

“John Fisher was the son of a prosperous cloth-merchant. His brilliant mind ensured that he rose quickly in the Church, and he eventually became Bishop of Rochester. As a Christian Humanist he was a friend of fellow Saint, Thomas More.

His Yorkshire roots ensured a plain-speaking loyalty to the truth that led to his martyrdom. He remains the only British Cardinal to be martyred and the  only bishop of England who held out against Henry VIII until the very end.”

The chapters in this volume are:

     Only one man 
     The people's pastor 
     Of wood and wainscotting 

Interlude: The Write
     A delightful gift of language 
     The wrath is not in God 
     A preview of Screwtape 
     Mary the dawn 

Valiant for truth 
     The sermon of a lifetime 
     Men mad with marvellous foolishness 
     The king 's matter 

The Onslaught 
     Divers new enormities 
     For this cause 
     Oranges and half a custard 
     The heart is a lonely hunter 

     The inventory 
     Truth itself 

Further reading

As someone who was raised Irish Catholic, I was taught in the family and school to hate the English and their oppression over hundreds of years. Reading this story and others in the series has opened my eyes to a vibrant, rich Catholic faith and tradition in England, and the Isles. It was a great surprise to me, and one that has fascinated me over the last few years. I have used many of the biographies from the CTS as starting points and gone on to read books, by and about many of the subjects of these books. Fischer will be one such persona. I found this volume hard to put down. And I greatly enjoyed it. I highlighted a few passages my first time through this work. Some of them are:

“On 22nd June 1535 John Fisher laid down his life for the flock of Christ which he loved so much. He was the only English Cardinal ever to be executed, and the only bishop who withstood, to the end, Henry VIII’s takeover of the English Church.”

“Fisher was already Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge University when he published his first book, a commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms. It was an instant success, and like any best-seller dramatic, passionate and hard to put down.” 

“If Fisher is Bible-based, he is also Spirit-filled. The most infallible sign of it is joy: what C.S. Lewis called “the serious business of heaven”.”

“By instinct Fisher was a pastor and teacher, not a controversialist. It was not until he was fifty - and then only reluctantly - that he turned to polemical writing. He did so “to confirm the faith of the weaker brethren” who for far too long had been “poised on the knife-edge between heresy and orthodoxy”. If the flock should perish through the negligence of the pastors, he argued, then “the blood shall be on our heads”.”

“By the time he was born, the great popes like Gregory and Innocent III were a distant memory. So neither did he spare the papacy, which Alexander VI (and son) had come close to turning into a family business. “Some may say,” said Fisher - and doubtless he included himself among them – “that nowhere else is the life of Christians more contrary to Christ than in Rome”, where the leaders of the Church “neither fast nor pray, but give themselves up to luxury and lust”.”

I hope those few quotes instil some interest in this wonderful volume. This is a fantastic read in a wonderful series. Reading about so many martyrs is not easy but it is important. And important that we know about them so we can call on their intercession in this day and age. 

Reading a book about a martyr was a fitting conclusion to the Saints of the Isles Series from the Catholic Truth Society. It was another profoundly powerful story. It is another excellent biography from the CTS it is a great read! 

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 in the Saints of the Isles Series:

Edmund Arrowsmith - John S. Hogan
Margaret Clitherow - Jean Olwen Maynard
Edmund Campion - Alexander Haydon
John Southworth Priest and Martyr - Michael Archer
Saint Thomas More - Alvaro de Silva
John Ogilvie - Eleanor McDowell
Frances Taylor - Eithne Leonard
Mary Potter - Elizabeth Gilroy
John Fisher - Richard L. Smith
Robert Southwell - Fiorella Sultana De Maria
Ignatius Spencer - Fr. Ben Lodge
Sr Elizabeth Prout - Dominic Savio Hamer
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh
Thomas Becket - J.B. Midgley


Books by Eldred Willey:
John Fisher – CTS Saints of the Isles
Generosity in the Family – CTS Family Matters 

Saturday 30 July 2022

That’s Pretty Clever! - Wolfgang Warsch - Ganz Schön Clever

That’s Pretty Clever!
Ganz Schön Clever

This is another game my brother and his wife introduced us to. He has an epic game collection (see photo at bottom). Every time we are at their place, or they are at ours several games get played each day. This is another one of our favourite games they have introduced us to. We have several iterations of this game both as physical games and on iPads. The versions on the iPads were excellent while we were in the hospital after my son had spinal surgery. My brother loves the games by Wolfgang so much they bought a German edition of the third in this series and used google translate to figure out the rules. We love all of the Clever games that we have played. Each new iteration gets more complicated. And some have extra packs or cards or cards with different layouts but I have yet to be able to track them down in Canada.

The contents of the box:

1 Scoring Pad 
6 Dice
4 Felt Tip Pens
1 Rule Sheet
5 Pack of Coloured Pencils

The set up and game play is easy. But there is a lot of options, and with completing different things in different coloured sections, you earn rewards. The rewards can be a reroll, an extra dice at the end of a round, a few dice of specific colours, or mark spots in zones. You have all 6 dice to  start your turn roll and pick. If you leave any lower than you pick they go to the silver platter. All remaining go to the silver platter. Opponents get to pick one from the platter.

This game is easy to learn. It does require strategy, but also a little luck on the rolls. It is an excellent Roll & Write game. We enjoy it and the others we have in the Clever series, both as a physical board game and on a tablet. You can also use the tablet as a score sheet.

A great game for a family game night or hanging with friends!

Note: If you are local to Kitchener Waterloo you can get this and many other amazing games, puzzles and more at J & J Cards and Collectables! And you can check out my brothers game related posts via Linktree.

Games by Wolfgang Warsch:
Clever Games:
Twice as Clever! (2019)
Clever Cubed (2020)
Clever 4Ever (2022)
Auch schon clever (2022)

Quacks of Quedlinburg Games:
The Quacks of Quedlinburg (2018)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg: Wolfgang's Exchange Office (2018)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg: The Herb Witches (2019)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg: The Alchemists (2020)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg: Big Box (2020)
The Quacks of Quedlinburg: MegaBox (2021)
Quacks & Co.: Quedlinburg Dash (2022)

Other Games:
Blue Banana (2019)
Brikks (2018)
Dream Team (2015)
Fuji (2018)
The Fuzzies (2021)
Illusion (2018)
The Mind (2018)
The Mind: Level 13 (2018)
The Mind Extreme (2019)
On a Scale of One to T-Rex (2019)
Shadow Master (2016)
Subtext (2019)
The Taverns of Tiefenthal (2019)
The Taverns of Tiefenthal: Open Doors (2021)
Wavelength (2019)

Friday 29 July 2022

Space Traipse Hold My Beer Season 5 - Karina Lumbert Fabian

Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 5
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781956489057

An amazing addition to the Space Traipse stories! I have read many books by Karina Fabian. I love her wit, her witticisms, and her wisdom. He stories are in a wide range of genres. And her list of Series every growing. This is the fifth in the Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Series. I have read the previous 4 and a standalone side story. In the last month she has published 4 short stories, three previously in anthologies, and now this book. I cannot seem to put her books down, and have devoured the 5 new offerings. The only think in my reading queue are some older works in a series I never got around to starting. And 1 or 2 stand alone works. I have read some of her contributions in anthologies and love her short form fiction. I love her religious themed fiction. However the Space Traipse books are completely different than any of her other works. Well maybe not completely different, the humour infuses much of what she writes. In some ways her works are like a Catholic version of Douglas Adams, Robert Asprin, or Tom Holt. All of whom I enjoy but Fabians works have eclipsed them in my list of favourites. 

I grew up watching reruns of Star Trek the Original Series, and the animated series during its original run. I have long been a fan of the shows and when much younger read many novelizations. I loved reading the old James Blish Star Trek stories. Reading the stories in this series take me back to that early stage in my reading, but with a much more humorous slant. These stories are part homage, part satire, part commentary, part parody, and they are a whole lot of fun! The dedication to this book states:

“Who was a great fan and a good friend. Tamara was the epitome of a writer who supported her fellow writers. The Internet is a lonelier place without her.”

The tag line for the series is:

“Space: By Keptar, there’s a lot of it. And it’s chock-full of stuff to do and people to meet. These are the adventures of the HMB Impulsive. Its mission: to explore worlds, to seek out anomalies, and to boldly do what no one else has the guts to do! And you know that we’re the ship to do it.
Don’t believe me? Hold my beer!”

As a Canadian I love that the all-powerful being in this series is called Eh! Instead of Q. There is just something smugly fitting about that. And the predicament he and the cred end up in, in this volume.

These stories follow the further adventures of the captain and the crew of the HMB Impulsive. The descriptions of the main crew members are: 

• Capt Jeb Tiberius: A good ol’ boy from Texas whose religion requires firm buttocks.
• First Officer Commander Phineas Smythe: His uncanny ability to win Rock-Paper-Scissors-Redshirt-Alien means he can pick his away missions.
• Chief Engineer Commander Angus Deary: The first person to reverse the polarity by 90 degrees.
• Chief of Security, Enigo Guillermo Ricardo Montoya Guiterrez LaFuentes: Raised on the UGS The Hood, where gang war is a cultural right, he’s not afraid to shoot a fellow crewman. That’s what stun is for!
• Ops Officer Ensign Ellie Doall: Fresh from the HMB Mary Sue, she can so just about anything all on her own – and often does.
• Transporter Chief, Dolfrick Dour: By the manipulations of technology, he reduces people to their most basic elements and rematerializes them elsewhere. Is it any wonder he’s 23rd Century Goth?

The stories in this volume are:

Journey to Belon
Day Before Tomorrow
They Left the Duck Blind On

Being caught up on all the volumes in this series, I can easily state it is getting even better with age. Being stuck in a time look can have some serious side effects. Especially if you are engaged and being counselled by an Eh!.  Or a contentious journey when your parents are diplomats and your ship is now transporting them. Your tensions are almost always high with them, and add in a suiter you dearly love … there are bound to be fireworks and not necessarily of the romantic kinds. And the final bonus story, … pure genius. But to find out how you will need to pick up the volume and give it a read.

Join once again the unique crew as they navigate the minefields of space, time, place, and relationships. This volume contains three excellent stories or episodes. 

Another great read in a terribly fun series. And one that leaves you hanging absolutely desperate to find out what happens to the Impulsive and her crew next. And that surprising voice from the past!  

It is another wonderful collection of tales. I said it before and even more so after this volume, it is great for fans of trek, fans of parodies, or people who just love great science fiction stories. The tales reminded me of Spider Robinson’s Cross Time Saloon books in many ways. It is a great ensemble crew, with interesting adventures, and a whole lot of fun.
Many of Fabian’s earlier works and Anthologies are out of print, but they are well worth tracking down. I suggest you grab these new stories I am sure you will be entertained. Give this book or series a try; I am certain you will be entertained. It is a lot of fun in a small package.    

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 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:
?.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
?.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 28 July 2022

FEAR - Corinna Turner - unSPARKed Book 7

unSPARKed Book 7
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806340
eISBN 9781910806357

FANtastic, that is my first thought about this volume, it is totally AWEsome! I have said it before, and I say it again, this series keeps getting better and better. I first read a story by Turner in 2015, and read the first in this series in 2017. Since then I have read book by her a total of 55 times, and unSPARKed stories 28 of them. When this book released the eBook came out on Friday and I started reading it, the paperback was released on Saturday and I ordered a copy for my son. He saw I was almost done it on Sunday, and was terribly upset that I could not wait one more day to start reading it with him. So as I write this review he has started reading it to me a second time. My son is a reluctant reader, but he has read most of the stories in this series more than once. Some he has read to me twice, and read a third time on his own. This is a great read and the whole series are excellent stories for teens, young adults and adults. And the series keeps getting better and better! It has real staying power.

When I recommending the series, which happens frequently, I often describe it as a mashup of Mad Max, Lost World, and Jurassic Park, and I have recommended it to many, all who have enjoyed them. We have even bought a full set for my son’s school library.

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

The description of this volume is:

“We Have To Reach The Habitat Vehicle—Or Die.

After breaking into Jason’s illegal rex farm to hunt for their kidnapped dad, farm-teens Darryl and Harry, along with young hunter Joshua, have taken extreme measures to escape capture by Jason. But with Darryl now lost in the dark mountains and Josh badly injured, their troubles are far from over. Yet the greatest threat to their survival may be the fears they carry within.

FEAR is the seventh quick-read in award-winning author Corinna Turner’s unSPARKed series. If you like Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, and Mad Max, you’ll love this pulse-pounding, futuristic, dino-dystopian series with a western twist.
Continue the adventure today!”

The story is told in a series of first person narrative chapters. And there is a wide range in chapter length. The chapters alternate between Joshua and Darryl.
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 ethic. 

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.

The story is told in first person narrative from the three main characters points of view. The chapter allocation is:

Darryl 14
Harry 9
Joshua 7

This story picks up before the last one left off, but this time from Darryl’s perspective. The three of them are unSPARKed, with fifty or so juvenile t. Rex on the loose for the first time. And with them separated, josh injured and Darryl facing her own challenges things are pretty dire. Add to that not knowing where Jason is and if he is hunting for them or his freed Rex. And Josh in a bad way. They need Saint Desmond’s intercession like never before. 

This is the first in sort a sub trilogy within the series. The next two volumes, A Different Kind of Camouflage and Soil and Leaf continue this story arc. But I honestly have no idea where this story is going next. The fate of Father Benedict, Josh, Darryl and Harry are all up in the air. We can only hope the next volumes drop sooner rather than later. What a cliff hanger this story ends on. A higher drop and more at stake than any so far in the series. 

This is an excellent read in a masterfully written series. But be warned you will be desperate for the next volume. It is a great book by a gifted and talented author. 

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:

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

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Too Close to Home - Andrew Grant - Paul McGrath Book 2

Too Close to Home 
Paul McGrath Book 2
aka Andrew Child
ISBN 9780525619642
eISBN 9780525619635

I have now read nine volumes from Andrew Grant. The first two in each of his series, the stand alone novel Run, and the two he co-wrote with his brother, Lee Child, under the name Andrew Child. When I started reading his works I was not sure if I would read each series sequentially or in parallel. It has worked out that I am reading them in parallel. Currently this is the last volume in this series, but Grant has indicated he is likely to return to the character, which is a blessing to fans of these two books. I enjoyed each of his books that I have read, but to date this is my favourite. I believe Grant has 9 books published under the name Andrew Grant, and two contributions to anthologies. He has also contributed to one anthology as Andrew Child. I have picked all of his books and just have the two book 3 in two trilogies left to read. I have enjoyed his contributions to the two books in the Reacher series, but I greatly enjoy his solo works as well. He has not published any solo works since he began his collaboration on the Jack Reacher books with his brother. But he did respond on social media indicating a possibility of more stories in this series.

The description of this book is:

“An intelligence agent-turned-courthouse janitor, Paul McGrath notices everything and everyone—but no one notices him. It’s the perfect cover for the justice he seeks for both his father and the people who’ve been wronged by a corrupt system. Now he’s discovered a missing file on Alex Pardew—the man who defrauded and likely murdered McGrath’s father but avoided conviction, thanks in large part to the loss of this very file. And what lies behind its disappearance is even worse than McGrath had feared.

Meanwhile, at the courthouse, he stumbles on the case of Len Hendrie, a small businessman who’s been accused of torching a venture capitalist’s mansion. Though Hendrie admits starting the fire, McGrath learns how the VC has preyed on average Joes to benefit himself—and his extensive wine collection. McGrath can’t resist looking deeper into this financial predator and soon finds himself in a gray area between his avenging moral compass and the limits of the law.

Then, just as the Hendrie case is heating up, McGrath receives word of the death of his father’s former housekeeper, sending him back to his family home to confront unfinished business from his past. And he’s about to find some unwelcome truths about the mother he lost as a child—and the father who hid even more secrets than he realized.”

I have not read the description of any of Grant’s books before starting them. An author friend calls me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find authors I like I tend to read everything they publish. For example I read the first 23 Reacher novels in under a year, after reading my first. Grants writing is. When I started the first in this series, I assumed it was going to be a spy novel. Boy was I wrong. In Some ways it feels like The Equalizer, and others like Jack Reacher if he settled down in one place. 

In this story Paul is still trying to track down the man he believes is responsible for his father’s death. He continues to work as a janitor at the court house. Here he encounters many people, some need his help and advice, and some need his judgement and punishment. He has several investigations on the go. And sometimes just does a job to help out a friend. He has a very strong sense of moral justice, what is right and wrong. And if someone abuses their power he has a knack for getting them back. But he always seems to give them a choice to do the right thing before facing consequences. He finds the work as a janitor contemplative, and uses the time doing the manual and sometimes menial labour to reflect and think, and work out the pieces he has put together. He cleans upo the trash at work. And in New York City he is cleaning us things a little bit here and there. The twists and turns in this plot were masterfully written!

This second Paul McGrath book was a great read. I mentioned it has a bit of an Equalizer feel to it, but also a Spencer for Hire. I loved the Spencer TV series when I was young, watching it with my dad, and reading several of the Robert B. Parker books when in university. Reading this was a like a trip back to those days, reading just for the pure joy in the story and the characters. Paul McGrath is an excellent character and the stories are great. A fantastic read.

I have said it before, but I am certain fans of Reacher, Bourne, Jack Ryan could all appreciate McGrath and how he gets the job done. It is a great read from Grant’s pen a fun story on many levels! And I hope there will be more in this series, sooner rather than later. 

Books by Andrew Grant:

David Trevellyan Series:

Detective Cooper Devereaux Series:

Paul McGrath Series:

As Andrew Child with Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Series:

Books Andrew Grant Contributed To:
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego