Thursday 29 February 2024

Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Series An Overview - Richard Paolinelli

Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Series An Overview

When I started reading these books there were part of the Dreams of the Storyteller Series there were 18 volumes in the collection. Then it expanded to 20, and then it compressed to 14, as these six of the stories have been split off into a different collection called Sherlock Holmes Pastiches. After reading the 6 stories in this series I wanted to highlight them as a series. So here are the volumes in the Sherlock Holmes Pastiches in publication order.

The Woman Returns
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 1
ASIN B0CDR96VK8


It has been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. And did this one ever hit. This is a masterfully written story. It fits in perfectly with the other stories I have read years ago. Paolinelli has breathed new life into the characters and yet remained true to their original creation. Adler shows up asking for Holmes' help, and even promises to his condition. And they are immediately off on the chase.

This is a great short story. It draws you in quickly, it keeps your attention, and leaves you wanting more. Fortunately Paolinelli has written 5 other Holmes stories. The characters are masterfully written. I look forward to the other stories in this series and many of Richard’s other series.

This story would be great for fans of the original Holmes stories, or the recent BBC Series. It would be great for fans of mysteries. And adventure stories. And To be honest for anyone who just loves a great short story! 

A Lesson In Mercy
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 2
ASIN B0CDSQ4RWN


It was fascinating to read this tale of a young Churchill being rescued by Holmes and Watson. Both of whom provide invaluable service and lessons to the young man, that help to shape him into the leader he became.

This story was originally published in the anthology: Beyond Watson, from Belanger Books. If the other stories in that collection are as good as this, it will be one well worth tracking down, but back to this story. This is an excellent story and one I am very thankful I gave it a read!

Prior to reading the other Sherlock offering from Paolinelli it had been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. This one was another excellent offering. It is very well written story. Paolinelli’s stories fit in perfectly with the other stories I have read in both of official and unofficial Holmes canon. Paolinelli breathes new life into the characters and yet he remains true to their original creation.

The Misplaced Mystery Writer
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 3
ASIN B0CDSRHZD1


It was fascinating to read this tale of a young Holmes and Watson interacting with the author and scientist H.G. Wells. The story has a very intriguing principal. Wells approaches Holmes because he has misplaced another author in both time and space. The question is can Holmes and Watson help find and put the man back when and when he belongs. It also raises questions about if the timeline the story ends in was the original or if the time hopping has altered things. A masterful short story in the time travel genre. 

This story would be great for fans of the original Holmes stories, or the recent BBC Series. It would be great for fans of mysteries. And for fans of the works of H.G. Wells. And to be honest for anyone who just loves a great short story!

Nevermore or, The Mystery Of The Albino Raven
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 4
ASIN B0CDRB8GG6


This story was originally published in the anthology: Sherlock Holmes Adventures in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe, from Belanger Books. If the other stories in that collection are as good as this, it will be one well worth tracking down. But Back to this story. This is an excellent story and one I am very thankful I have read!

Prior to reading the other Sherlock offering from Paolinelli it had been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. This one was another excellent offering. It is very well written story. Paolinelli’s stories fit in perfectly with the other stories I have read in both of official and unofficial Holmes canon. Paolinelli breathes new life into the characters and yet he remains true to their original creation. 

The Substitute Thief
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 5
ASIN B0CDRB5R99


The case detailed in this work took place 2 years earlier in Darlington and focused around Lady Lymington and the Library she created as her father’s request when he passed. The case opens with: 

t had not been Lestrade, or some strange newcomer, that had set Holmes on the trail to Darlington that foggy London night. Rather, it came in the form of a letter. 

“It seems, Doctor,” he said, holding it up after reading it, “that our assistance is required on a somewhat delicate matter in Darlington,” he said. 

“Darlington?” I exclaimed. “What could possibly be of such a delicate nature up there?” 

“A rare manuscript has been stolen,” Holmes replied. “The theft hasn’t yet become public knowledge. Lady Lymington – ” He waved the note. “ – hopes that it can be recovered before news of the theft does get out. Her husband, Lord Lymington, has contacts that are useful to Her Majesty’s government.”

And the chase is afoot. This is an odd case involving a local football rivalry. A substitute baller, a substituted book, and a whole town talking about the past match and the rematch. And very few being informed about the missing object.  

The Assassination Of Alan Pinkerton
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 6
ASIN B0CJ654M14


Prior to reading the other Sherlock offering from Paolinelli it had been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. This one was another smashing good story. It is masterfully written story. It fits in perfectly with the other stories I have read in both official and unofficial Holmes canon. Paolinelli breathes new life into the characters and yet he remains true to their original creation. A man shows up at their door asking for an investigation of a murder, and reveals it is he himself who has been killed. Soon Holmes disappears for a few days and gets the ball rolling. But can he solve this case of two men murdered continents apart?

This is an excellent short story. It draws the reader in quickly, it keeps your attention, and leaves you wanting more. Fortunately Paolinelli has written 5 other Holmes stories. The characters are wonderfully written. I look forward to the other stories in this series and many of Richard’s other series. 

The Woman Returns
The Art of Sherlock Holmes #25
Christina Major (Artist)
ASIN B0C4TC8DWN


Prior to picking this up, I had already read a different edition of this story, published as part of Sherlock Holmes Pastiches by Paolinelli. This story was originally published in The Art of Sherlock Holmes USA Edition, where each story was paired with an artist. And the works and prints sold off of the artwork.

When I read the other edition of this story it had been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. I started that it really hit. This is a masterfully written story. It fits in perfectly with the other stories I have read years ago. Paolinelli has breathed new life into the characters and yet remained true to their original creation. Adler shoes up asking for Holmes help, and even promises to his condition. And they are immediately off on the chase.

I absolutely love the cover of this edition. The feel of the story from the art by Major is intense and visceral. I found myself on several occasions returning to the cover and just staring at it, into her eyes, deciphering the words. Just feeling the work. And the painting works perfectly with Paolinelli’s story. 

Note: These books were read as part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan, with the exception of the final one it was part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

For reviews of all books from Tuscany Bay click here.

Books by Richard Paolinelli:
Maelstrom
When the Gods Fell
The Calling
The Last Lonely Trail
A Zombie Christmas Carol

Infinity Series:
Escaping Infinity
Exploring Infinity

Starguest 4th Age Series:

Timeless Series:
The Timeless
Secret of the Sphinx

Jack Del Rio Series:
Betrayals
Endgames
Del Rio Omnibus Edition

Divine Trolls Comedies:
The Fall Of The House Of 770 Vile Aromas 
The Corvo

SeaDragon:
SeaDragon 1 May 1986
SeaDragon 2 June 1996

Sherlock Holmes Pastiches:
...


Non Fiction:
Perfection’s Arbiter
From The Fields
The Space Shuttle: 1981–2011 

Contributed to:
To Be Men 
Places Beyond The Wild
Space Force Building The Legacy
Secret Stairs 
A Tribute To H.G. Wells (2019 Edition)
Beyond Watson 
Holmes Away From Home, Vol. 2 
Sherlock Holmes Adventures In The Realms Of H.G. Wells 
Sherlock Holmes Aventures In The Realms Of Edgar Allan Poe
The Art Of Sherlock Holmes 
The Mx Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, Part Xxii

Planetary Anthology Series:
Sol
Earth
Luna
Jupiter
Saturn
Uranus
Neptune
Best Of Planetary Anthology Series


Wednesday 28 February 2024

My Family and Other Skaters - Fiorella De Maria - Skaters Book 1

My Family and Other Skaters
Skaters Book 1
Magnificat
ISBN 9781621644415
eISBN 9781639679997
ASIN B0CHZ6KTVT

My Family and Other Skaters - Fiorella De Maria - Skaters Book 1

This is the sixteenth time I have read a work by Fiorella De Maria. I have read all of her works but one of her non-fictions and I have read a couple of them more than once. This is the first in a new series jointly published by Ignatius Press and Mangificat. The category lists it as good for readers 9-18 making it tween, teen and young adult. But to be honest it is a great novel for readers of any age. It is the first in a series and if the offer offerings are as good as this one we are in for some excellent reads.

The description of the book is:

“With both realism and humor, this compelling and heartwarming novel describes, in first-person narrative, the joys and the challenges of a modern English family.

They are unique in many ways--for one thing, all of the six children are competitive figure skaters, and for another, they have a pet alpaca. Yet, they weather the storms of life with the same, sometimes clumsy attempts at patience and understanding found in most families.”

And the author bio states:

“Fiorella De Maria, an Anglo-Maltese writer living in Surrey, England, studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge. A winner of the National Book Prize of Malta, she has published eight other books with Ignatius Press, including A Most Dangerous Innocence, We'll Never Tell Them, and the Father Gabriel Mystery series.”

This story tells the tale of a family of figure skaters. They live walking distance to the rink, where they practice, are tested and put on shows. They family is close knit. They do not have a lot of extra money but they get by and live in a large home that was willed to them because of the kindness of their mother. You find out about that story in the story. We follow the family through the year from practice to nation testing, to competition to showcase. We spend the holidays with the family, including an unexpected guest that Rose invited. We witness ups and downs, successes and failures. We encounter Paddington their pet alpaca. We encounter their friends and even some adversaries. 

The characters are masterfully written. You will fall in love with this family and rejoice in their victories and feel sorry for their difficulties. The family and family dynamics are wonderfully written. As the oldest of three there was much I could relate to. Except for 2 of us were the hockey players on the ice before the figure skaters. But I have known many skaters over the years and this book captures many stories I heard from friends.

This novel really reminded me so much of Madeleine L’Engle’s Chromos novels. In that it is realtime, realistic experiences of the somewhat old-fashioned family. This could be a family you know from school, church or the rink. It could also be your family or part of your extended family. 

My only complaint is the 6 months gap between the release of the print edition and digital edition. I have a dual form of dyslexia and my son had eye tracking issues and we both greatly prefer digital books. I had a physical edition but kept putting of reading it, once I had the eBook I read it in 2 days.

This is an excellent novel. I gave away a copy to my boss and his family, for his daughter is a skater. I plan on giving a copy to our youngest daughters school library as well. This is a volume that would be great on any church, school, or home library. It is story that I can easily recommend. And it will leave you wanting more. When I checked with Fiorella she indicated book 2 will be out later this year it has a working title of The Second Skater of the Apocalypse. I cannot wait! I can easily recommend this book. And keep your eyes out for future books from the pen of Fiorella. 

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


Tuesday 27 February 2024

Seven Daily Habits for Faithful Catholics - Father C. John McCloskey

Seven Daily Habits for Faithful Catholics
Father C. John McCloskey

Seven Daily Habits for Faithful Catholics - Father C. John McCloskey

I stumbled across this booklet while doing research for another review. I was a big fan of Father McCloskey back when I first started blogging I have been referencing back to his Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan since 2006. This little booklet is an excellent resource. The description of the booklet states:

“The most popular Catholic booklet of its kind in America, Seven Daily Habits for Faithful Catholics was adapted from an extremely popular article by Father C. John McCloskey, "the convert maker."

It provides seven traditional ways to spend more time with Jesus on a daily basis, along with practical advice on how to approach and implement spiritual habits amidst our distracting secular culture.

Its power to transform lives is profound and simple. Any person who adopts one or more habits will grow closer to Christ in short order. Our Lord does the transforming. Even the most devout Catholics will discover principles to incorporate to their daily routine.”

The chapters and sections in the booklet are: 

A Realistic Approach to Changing Your Life
     The Only True Happiness
     What Are the Seven Habits?
     More Important than Meals, Sleep, or Work
1. The Morning offering
2. Fifteen Minutes of Silent Prayer
3. Receiving Holy Communion
4. Fifteen Minutes of Spiritual Reading
5. Pray the Angelus
6. Pray the Holy Rosary
7. Examine Your Conscience
The Time is Already There
Do Not Be Discouraged
Helpful Prayers
     Morning Offering
     The Angelus
     Prayer Before Study – Saint Thomas Aquinas
How to Pray the Rosary

I highlighted a number of sections my first time through this booklet, some of them are:

“First, remember that growing in these daily habits, just like taking on a diet or a physical exercise program, is a gradual work in progress. Do not expect to insert all seven (or even two or three) of these into your daily schedule immediately. You would not attempt a marathon without training beforehand or try to play Mozart after your third piano lesson. Haste will invite failure and God wants you to succeed at both your pace and His.”

“Gradually incorporate the habits into your life over a period of time in a way that fits your particular situation. For example, you may not be able to adjust your schedule right away to be able to attend Mass every day due to geographical or professional limitations.”

“Next, with the help of the Holy Spirit and your favorite saints, you must make a firm commitment to make the seven habits the priority of your life—more important than meals, sleep, work, and recreation.”

“I have never met a person who lived the seven habits on a daily basis who became a less productive worker, a worse spouse, who had less time for his friends, or could no longer grow in his cultural life. Quite the contrary, God always rewards those who put him first.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for the quality of this little volume. When I was in university, I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, there was a series of booklets by the founder Bill Bright, called Transferable Concepts, and by reading them many times you could almost memorize them and the message so that you could share it. This volume reminds me a lot of those books, but specifically geared for Catholics. I could easily see rereading this every month for a year. Picking one of the 7 to focus on that month then circling back. I can state easily this is a booklet that can be read over and over again and each time you read it you will benefit from the reading. This little volume left me wishing I could track down more of Father’s works.

This is an amazing little resource. You can order them in bunches for a reasonable price or download the PDF for free. It is a tool that is guaranteed to help you grow in your spiritual life. I highly recommend this booklet for all Catholics!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by C. John McCloskey:
Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith
Priests for the New Millennium

Contributed to:
Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God (Forward)
How to Get to 'I Do': A Dating Guide for Catholic Women (Forward)
Remembering Belloc (Forward)
Lord of the World (Introduction)
The Essential Belloc: A Prophet for Our Times (Editor)
The Mississippi Flows Into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Converts to the Catholic Church (Afterward)
Winning Converts (Contributor)

Magazine Articles:
(Free to circulate)
Recovering Stray Catholics
Evangelization in the United States

Monday 26 February 2024

Catholic Joe Superhero - Steven S Thomas

Catholic Joe: Superhero
ISBN 9798863507170
ASIN B0CPDJP5J5


I kept hearing about this story before I picked it up. I had heard so many good things; I was worried I would be disappointed because of the hype. That concern was unfounded. I absolutely loved this novel and look forward to future stories in the series. While reading this I could not help by think about the Pius Man series and St Tommy NYPD series by Declan Finn. The description of this story states:

“This is the first in the Catholic Joe series. Lieutenant General Joseph Salvatore, Husband and Father of a large family, is a man’s man. At age 48 he is still one of the deadliest men on the planet, able to kill an enemy with his bare hands, and with the same hands tenderly caress his wife and children. Joe brings that same lethal intensity as he fights to save his youngest brother Vinny’s marriage.
In fighting for his brother, Joe, later deemed Catholic Joe by a reporter, uncovers corruption in the government and his church. You will feast on courage while you accompany Joe as he is targeted in a raid on his home by the FBI, secretly placed in Cook County Jail to be Epsteined, and targeted by Freemasonic assassins before he can share with the world what he has uncovered.”

The pace of this story ebbs and flows. But it does build towards a clear climax. There is some serious action both spiritual and with weapons. The story is a high octane thriller. It is a story about faith, family, and faithfulness to traditional Catholic teachings. It is a story about changing society by fortifying the family. 

The novel represents one man who has built up a wide network of friends and family who know and trust each other. He has several circles of influence; the military, governmental agents across agencies, priests and pastors at all level of the clergy. He is not willing to back down but has taken precautions to protect his family. He is set on standing up against a growing woke agenda; and also corruption within the hierarchy of the church. He knows when to ask for help, and he listens to advice from his brothers in arms, from priests and from his wife. He is using technology to trace and make links and establish evidence as needed. And he knows when to step away from the technology so that things will be private.

The writing for a first novel is exceptional. The characters are well developed and crafted. In some ways it reads like a Reacher novel or Jason Bourne but where Catholicism and living his faith is central to his character. The main difference is Joe Catholic knows he cannot do it on his own, he turns to his friends, and seeks heavenly help. 

I will be honest there were times while reading this I stopped and prayed. I prayed for friends and family. I prayed for the state of our world. The main character mentions box of prayer books at the back of a parish and he picks up one. I asked the author and he said it is the Daily Prayers to Save America prayer book, I picked up the digital copy and am currently praying my way through it. 

This story is a great example of Catholic fiction. Overall an impressive first novel that leaves you desperate to read about what happens next. I cannot wait to see where the story will go. I can easily recommend this book. So pick it up and give it a try I am certain you will appreciate the story.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan

Friday 23 February 2024

Our Lady Came to Fatima - Ruth Fox Hume and Christopher J. Pelicano - Vision Book

Our Lady Came to Fatima
Ruth Fox Hume
Christopher J. Pelicano (Illustrator)
ISBN 9781586170370

Our Lady Came to Fatima - Ruth Fox Hume and Christopher J. Pelicano  - Vision Book 19

Reading this marks the thirteenth work I have read in the Vision Books for Young Readers Series, 10 in the currently in print books from Ignatius Press and three of the older out of print volumes. This one is book 19 in the original series. A few years back I did some research on the Vision Books for Young Readers and from the books I have read can state that they are great reads for teens, young adults and adults. This was another excellent read and I understand that Ignatius has several other titles in the work to expand the series. But let us return to this specific volume. The description of the book is:

“Who would have thought that the Blessed Mother would choose to come to Fatima, that remote farming village on a rocky slope in Portugal? No one was more surprised than Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, the little shepherds to whom she appeared in 1917. In this 27th volume of the acclaimed Vision Books series for youth, readers will be enthralled by the story of the village and its people, of the scornful neighbors and the puzzled parents. Above all, it is a warm story of three little ones who insisted that Our Lady had indeed come to Fatima, and from whose faith grew one of the greatest spiritual movements of our time. Illustrated. "A series which should be found wherever there are young Catholic readers.”

And the author bio states:

“Ruth Fox Hume was a graduate of Catholic schools, a teacher, and a mother. She is also the author of Great Men of Medicine and Milestones of Medicine.”

The chapters in the book are:

A Guide to Pronunciation
Prologue
1. A Lady from Heaven
2. A Crisis in the Family
3. A Message for Maria Rosa
4. A Case of Mistaken Identity
5. A Queen of Politics
6. A Sentence of Death
7. A Delayed Meeting
8. A New Friend
9. A Sign from Heaven
10. A Promise to Francisco
11. A Journey for Jacinta
12. A New Life for Lucia
13. A Mission Accomplished
14. A Pilgrimage to Fatima
Author’s Note
Afterward

I have read a number of volumes about Fatima, the three visionaries, and in general about Mary’s apparitions. This is an excellent volume on the topic for young readers. It is written in a clear and engaging manner. Once I started reading I had a hard time putting it down.  

It will inspire and challenge readers of all ages. I plan on reading all the books in this series that are in print and as many of the out of print that I can track down. This is another great volume in a wonderful series. My only complaint is that only about a third of the books are available in digital formats, with my dual form of dyslexia and my son’s eye tracking issues eBooks are our preferred format. I have had a physical copy of this for a few years but had not get around to reading it, I decided to take it on a recent trip and read it while travelling. These books are written for Middle Grade Readers, and with Teens and Young Adults in mind, but this one and the others I have read are great for readers of all ages. 

I can easily recommend this book and series for any home, church, or school library. An excellent volume in an amazing series!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!   

For all books about Fatima click here.

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Maria von Trapp and Her Musical Family 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 

Out of Print books in the Series:
Brother Andre of Montreal 
Catholic Campuses, Stories of American Catholic Colleges 
Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Children Welcome: Villages for Boys and Girls 
Christmas and the Saints 
Columbus and the New World 
Dear Philippine: Mission of Mother Duchesne 
Edel Quinn: Beneath the Southern Cross 
Frances Warde and the First Sisters of Mercy 
Good Pope John b
Governor Al Smith 
In American Vineyards, Religious Orders in the United States 
Irish Saints 
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot
John Neumann, The Children's Bishop 
Kit Carson of the Old West 
Lydia Longley, the First American Nun 
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pioneer Teacher 
Martin de Porres, Saint of the New World 
Modern Crusaders 
More Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Mother Barat's Vineyard 
My Eskimos: A Priest in the Artic 
Peter and Paul: The Rock and the Sword 
Peter Claver, Saint Among Slaves
Pope Pius XII, the World's Shepherd 
Rose Hawthorne: The Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter 
Saints of the Byzantine World 
Sarah Peter: The Dream and the Harvest 
St. Augustine and His Search for Faith 
St. Francis de Sales 
St. Gregory the Great, Consul of God 
St. Jerome and the Bible 
St. Margaret Mary, Apostle of the Sacred Heart 
The Bible Story, The Promised Lord and His Coming 
The Cross in the West 
The Ursulines, Nuns of Adventure 
When Saints Were Young 
...








An American Little Flower Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich - GinaMarie Tennant - Vision Book

Louise and Zélie The Holy Parents of Saint Thérèse - GinaMarie Tennant - Vision Book


Thursday 22 February 2024

Saints of Empire Saints Alive! Volume 1 - Andrew M. Seddon - News Stories of Old Saints Second Edition

Saints of Empire
Saints Alive! Volume 1
News Stories of Old Saints 
Second Edition
Far Wanderings
ISBN 9798851917714
ASIN B0CKSBRJWJ

Saints of Empire Saints Alive! Volume 1 - Andrew M. Seddon - News Stories of Old Saints Second Edition

I am so glad to see this book back in print in a revised or second edition. I have recommended the two volumes in this series many times over the years. I absolutely love the books, and still hope that someday Seddon might expand the series. When I found out they were back in print I picked up the eBook of both the volumes and the new edition that has both in a single edition. I can easily recommend this book and series!

In the forward to the second edition Seddon states:

“Pope Benedict XVI declared the year beginning in October 2012 to be the “Year of Faith”: A year for Christians to examine, deepen, express, and share their faith—the Faith of the Church, the Faith of the saints, the Faith that the world desperately needs. Although that year has passed, yet the need for modern Christian saints remains. I pray that this book may be some small inspiration to those seeking to follow in the footsteps of our Savior.”

The description of this book is:

“Saints Of The Early Church Come Alive!

These stories of saints of the early Christian Church bring the humanity, as well as the sanctity, of early Christians to life. Drawing his inspiration from traditional hagiography, Andrew Seddon shows that these early Christians were people like us, who had to struggle as we do to live out their faith. Each story focuses on a defining moment in the saint’s life that illuminates the nature of that holy man or woman’s Christian walk, in a way that can challenge modern readers.

You’ll get fresh insights into saints still known and loved today, such as the early martyrs St. Cecilia and St. Ignatius of Antioch, and you may find yourself inspired by others you’ve never heard of before, such as the diminutive desert monk, St. John the Dwarf, or the reformed harlot, St. Pelagia. The engaging stories of Saints of Empire will delight young and old alike.”

I read an advanced copy of Saints Alive Volume II - Celtic Paths a number of years ago and loved these books ever since. After reading the first story in the new volume I went back and purchased the first edition of this volume and alternately read chapters in each book. I have read each of the two volumes at least three times.

Now let us focus on Saints of Empire, Saints Alive Volume I. This wonderful little volume with take you many places and give 12 examples of faith. The stories are written around legends of saints, to quote the introduction: "Edification was their reason for existence. The hagiographers were concerned that the lives, deeds, words, and examples of the saints would endure, encouraging and inspiring later generations of Christians." The saints who's stories we evaluate in this volume are:

1. Wheat of Lions - St. Ignatius of Antioch - Rome, c.107
2. Ariadne's Angels - St. Ariadne - Phrygia, c.117-161
3. The Informer - St. Cecilia - Rome, c. 177-250
4. The Governor's Eyes - St. Sabinus - Etruria, c.303
5. A Vision of Theodota - St. Anastasia - Illyricum, c.304
6. The Sword of Dioscorus - St. Barbara - Heliopolis in Syria, c. 304
7. Relics - St. Boniface of Tarsus - Rome, c. 306
8. The Fortieth Martyr - The Forty Martyrs of Sebastea - Armenia, 320
9. The Lure of Terenuthis - St. John the Dwarf - Egypt, c.390
10. The End of the Games - St. Telemachus - Rome, c. 404
11. Bishop Martin's Cloak - St. Martin of Tours - Gaul, c.407
12. The Penitent Pigeon - St. Pelagia & St. Nonnus - Antioch, Late 400s.

Some of the Saints will be familiar but others will likely not be. Seddon has chosen to present lesser known stories for some saints and some he focuses on other characters. Each story entertains, and will also challenge readers. Even reading this volume for the fourth time, I found myself praying and pausing to reflect on some of the incidents in the stories. Is that not what the Saints are supposed to do. Seddon also states: "These stories are not strict retelling of the lives of the saints involved and should not be read as such. They are, rather, literary creations, tales based upon an incident in the life of a saint. They do, however, contain as much factual detail as could reasonably be accommodated." This book was an amazing read and left me wanting to read more. Thankfully Seddon provides extensive notes and list of resources at the end of the book. I loved this book and have already read it twice and know I will read it again. I cannot give it a higher recommendation.

I love this book and series and am very thankful it is back in print, I can easily recommend them. It is great for readers of all ages. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew M. Seddon:
Non-Fiction:
Walking with the Celtic Saints (with Neil & Gerlinde Kennedy-Jones)
Dr. Andrew's Curious and Quirky Compendium
...

Historical Fiction:
Imperial Legions
...

Saints Alive Series:
...

Saints Alive Second Editions:
...
...

Stories Of The Supernatural:
What Darkness Remains
In Death Survive
… 
 
Science Fiction:
Red Planet Rising
Iron Scepter
The DeathCats of Asa’ican and Other Tales of a Space-Vet
Farhope
Wreaths of Empire

German Shepherd Wanderings Series:
Bonds of Affection
Ranger's First Call

Contributed to:
Sky Songs
Sky Songs II
Fungi #20
Unintended Consequences
Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction
Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back in Lovecraft
Tails from the Front Lines
Rejected
Misunderstood
Incarceration
Legends of Sleepy Hallow
Wolf Wanderings

Saints of Empire Saints Alive! Volume 1 - Andrew M. Seddon News Stories of Old Saints  Second Edition

Celtic Paths Saints Alive! Volume 2 - Andrew M. Seddon News Stories of Old Saints  Second Edition

Saints Alive! Volume 1 and 2 - Andrew M. Seddon News Stories of Old Saints


Wednesday 21 February 2024

Slugfest - Gordon Korman

Slugfest
Gordon Korman
ISBN 9780063238091
eISBN 9780063238114
ASIN B0C2482YQT

Slugfest - Gordon Korman

This is the 40th volume I have read from the pen of Korman. Which is still less than half of his works. Mid-summer 2 years ago, in the summer of 2022, Korman published his 100th book. Yes you read that correctly, his hundredth book. My introduction to Korman’s works was the 39 Clues back in 2009. With each one I read I am entertained and often challenged, and I appreciate Korman’s skill even more. My son often reads these books to me or with me. I picked up this to read near my birthday. This is an excellent offering from Korman’s masterful pen.

My son and I started reading Gordon Korman books together a few years ago, when he was given one as an end of year gift by his teacher. She gave the whole class the same Scholastic edition and wrote a note to each student in their copy of the book. Prior to that I had a read a few of his contributions to the 39 Clues series and had enjoyed them. My son and I have mostly been reading his more recent titles. I do not read what Korman’s books are about anymore. Now I am alternating between his oldest I have not read and the current releases. 

The description of this volume states:

“From Gordon Korman, the New York Times bestselling author of Restart, comes a hilarious new story about a group of underdogs who come together when they are forced to attend summer school—for failing PE.

Yash is the best athlete at Robinette Middle School—so good, in fact, that he’s already playing on the high school’s JV sports teams. Imagine his shock when he learns that his JV practices have kept him from earning a state-mandated credit for eighth-grade PE. To graduate, he has to take Physical Education Equivalency—PEE, also known as “Slugfest”—in summer school.

Yash gets to know his fellow “slugs”: Kaden, an academic superstar who’s physically hopeless; twins Sarah and Stewart, who are too busy trying to kill each other to do any real PE; Jesse, a notorious prankster; Arabella, who protests everything; and Cleo, a natural athlete who has sworn off sports.

But when one of them tries to blow the lid off a scandal that could make all their time in summer school a waste, Yash is forced to take drastic action.

Teaming up with the most hapless crew in school can really surprise a person. And their teacher might be hiding the biggest surprise yet. ...”

A different description is:

“Yash is the best athlete at Robinette Middle School. So good, in fact, that he’s already been playing on the high school’s JV sports teams. Imagine his shock when he learns that his JV practices have kept him from earning a board-mandated credit for eighth-grade PE. To graduate, he has to take Physical Education Equivalency ― PEE ― which is also known as “Slugfest,” in summer school.

At Slugfest, Yash meets the other students. Kaden is an academic superstar who’s physically hopeless. Twins Sarah and Stuart are too busy trying to kill each other to actually pay attention in class. Jesse is a notorious prankster. Arabella protests just about everything ― including mandatory PE. And Cleo is a natural athlete who has sworn off sports. Then there’s their “coach,” Mrs. Tamara Finnerty, a retired teacher whose idea of physical education seems to have frozen in preschool. But Yash doesn’t care ― as long as he gets the credit. Too bad one of his fellow “slugs” is determined to blow the lid off a scandal that could make all their time in summer school a waste. And if that weren’t bad enough, Yash is in danger of losing his star spot on the JV football team.

So Yash recruits his fellow PE rejects to train with him. Spending the summer with the most hapless crew in school can really surprise a person. And their teacher might be hiding the biggest surprise yet ...”

Gordon is one of the masters of the middle grade school story. And this latest offering is another excellent read. The story focuses on Yash the school’s super athlete. He played up and played JV for three sports, unfortunately because of this he missed his grade 8 gym credit and is stuck in summer school. He is stuck doing Slugfest with all the students who failed Physical Education, some because of effort, some because of absences, and one because of a ski injury and surgery that kept them out of the class. 

But as the semester goes on things change. For Yash and others in summer school things have been changing. Yash is leaning that even if you are not a jock you could be a great friend. The Slugs are learning to believe in themselves. And They are all growing and changing. 

This is another excellent story from Korman. A story about school friendship, sports and finding out what really matters to you and in life. It has lessons for all of us if we are willing to see. A wonderful book I can easily recommend.  

Books by Gordon Korman:
MacDonald Hall Series:
The Wizzle War (1982)
         (formerly The War With Mr. Wizzle)
The Zucchini Warriors (1988)
Light’s Camera, Disaster (1991)
          (aka Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood)
The Jokes on Us (1995)
          (formerly Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall)

Bugs Potter Series:

Jeremy Bloom Series:
The D−Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1992)
The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1996)

Monday Night Football Series:
The Quarterback Exchange (1997)
Running Back Conversion (1997)
Super Bowl Switch (1997)
Heavy Artillery (1997)
Ultimate Scoring Machine (1998)
NFL Rules! Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns (1998)

Masterminds Series:
Masterminds (2015)

Slapshots Series:
The Stars From Mars (1999)
All-Mars All-Stars/The Dream Team (1999)
The Face-off Phony (2000)
Cup Crazy (2000)
Ouch I got slapped (2023)
4-in-1 Slapshots: The Complete Collection (2008)

Nose Pickers Series:
Nose Pickers from Outer Space! (1999)
Planet of the Nose Pickers (2000)
Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker (2000)
Invasion of the Nose Pickers (2001)
4-in-1 The Ultimate Nose-Picker Collection (2006)

Island Series:
Shipwreck (2001)
Survival (2001)
Escape (2001)
3-in-1 Island Trilogy Collection (2006)

Son of the Mob 2: Hollywood Hustle (2004)

Everest Series:
The Contest (2002)
The Climb (2002)
The Summit (2002)
Everest Trilogy Box Set (2002)

Dive Series:
The Discovery (2003)
The Deep (2003)
The Danger (2003)

On the Run Series:
Now You See Them, Now You Don't (2005)
The Stowaway Solution (2005)
Public Enemies (2005)
Hunting the Hunter (2006)

Kidnapped Series:
The Search (2006)
The Rescue (2006)

Swindle Series:
Swindle (2008)
Zoobreak (2009)
Framed (2010)
Showoff (2012)
Hideout (2013)
Jackpot (2014)
Unleashed (2015)
Jingle (2016)

Titanic Series:
Unsinkable (2011)
Collision Course (2011)
S.O.S (2011)

The 39 Clues Series:
Vespers Rising (2011)
The Medusa Plot (2011)
Flashpoint (2014)

Hypnotists Series:
The Hypnotists (2013)
Memory Maze (2014)
The Dragonfly Effect (2015)

Ungifted Series:
Ungifted (2012)
Supergifted (2018)

Slacker Series:
Slacker (2016)
Level 13 (2019)
...

Non Series Books:
Radio 5th Grade (1989)
Losing Joe's Place (1990)
The Twinkie Squad (1992)
The Toilet Paper Tigers (1993)
Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road (1994)
The Chicken Doesn't Skate (1996)
No More Dead Dogs (2000)
Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America (2003)
Jake, Reinvented (2003)
Born To Rock (2006)
Schooled (2007)
Pop (2009)
Slacker (2016)
Restart (2017)
Notorious (2019)
War Stories (2020)
Game On (contains The Chicken Doesn’t Skate and The Toilet Paper Tigers (2021)
Unplugged (2021)
Linked (2021)
The Fort (2022)

Some Gordon Korman Books