Saturday 30 March 2024

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2024

 Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2024


It has been a good year for reading so far. I am still averaging a little over a book a day. It was slower this year than the last few, but both work and home life have been much busier. This quarter I read 199 books, below is the comparison with the last 8 years:

     2024 - 119
     2023 – 160
     2022 – 145
     2021 – 97
     2020 – 96
     2019 – 123
     2018 – 91
     2017 – 100
     2016 – 52

But back to this quarter by the numbers:

Books Read: 119
First Time Reads: 103
Fiction: 48
Non-Fiction: 55
5/5 Stars: 90

A bit of a dip over the last few years but well with in range over the last 8 years. I can state again that looking back 2016 is a bit of an outlier as late that year I switched jobs and have since had much better work – life balance. In the spring of 2016, I worked through Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now (now available on ClaitasU). The year before that I removed all games from my phone and tablet and my reading had doubled. 

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the fourth quarter of 2023.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:

 1. Artificial Intelligence - Fr Andrew Pinsent, Sean Biggins, and Robert Seed - CTS Explanations
 2. Books by Benedict XVI
The Lenten Journey: Words for Lent and Easter
 3. 33 Days to Eucharistic Glory - Matthew Kelly
 4. Sunday Hoimilies Series by Father Mike Schmitz
Untroubled by the Unknown Trusting God in Every Moment
 5. Coached by Josemaría Escrivá - Fr. John Henry Hanson O. Praem.
 6. 30 Day Consecration to St Joseph - Fr Gerard Skinner - CTS Devotions
 7. CTS Biographies Series - Catholic Truth Society
Martyrs of Nagasaki - Lucian Hunt
Martyrs of Vietnam - Bob Bloomfield
 9. Miraculous II: Catholic Mysteries for Kids - Kathryn Griffin Swegart - Catholic Stories for Kids Book 4
10. How to Overcome Distraction in Prayer - Fr Ed Broom OMV - CTS Books

Bonus Books:
The Way of the Cross - Juliette Levivier - CTS Children's Books
The Way of the Cross: According to the Method of St. Alphonsus Liguori - TAN Books 

Top Ten Fiction Books:

 1. Raven Mistcreek Series - N.R. LaPoint
Dusklight
 2. The Matrioshka Divide - Isaac Young
 3. Missing, Presumed Lost - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Book 5
 4. Sumire Series - Cedar Sanderson as Lilania Begley
 5. Dinosaur Warfare Series - N.R. LaPoint
 6. Reservations - Richard Paolinelli - Jack Del Rio Book 1
 7. My Family and Others Skaters - Fiorella De Maria
 8. Seadragon - Richard Paolinelli - Seadragon Book 1
 9. Gun Magus - N.R. LaPoint
10. The Naturals Series - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals
Killer Instinct

Bonus Books:
Bluehills Series - Cedar Sanderson as Lilania Begley
Pinup Noir 3 - Edited by Kortnee Bryant - Raconteur Press Anthologies Book 22
Dead Ringer - Jude Hardin - Jack Reacher Experiment Book 1 

My reading has been up over each of the last few years, but it is staying pretty consistent at about a book a day over the year. I attribute in part to Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now, removing all games but 1 brain game from my devices. And I was commuting to work on a bus and read on the bus every day. Working from home reading took a little more discipline, and we are now back to a hybrid model with 5 days a month in the office, so things are changing again.    

In April of 2023 I wrote a piece called How I Read So Much? Because I get asked the question so often, read the piece linked above if you are looking for some ideas on ways to read more. 

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are sometimes in the bonus section.
 
But if you want more options check out my favourite books year by year list. Or this year not to flood the list with one specific author.    


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

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

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

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

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

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2020 
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2024
...   

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

119 - 2024 January-March
455 - 2023 
438 - 2022
365 - 2021
317 - 2020 
392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
 88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
 98 - 2008
 83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
 60 - 2004
 52 - 2003
 97 - 2002
 50 - 2001
 41 - 2000
 71 - 1999
 73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996



Friday 29 March 2024

Come to the Altar: Worshipping God with Your Whole Heart - Fr. Mike Schmitz - Homilies Collection

Come to the Altar: 
Worshipping God with Your Whole Heart
Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection
ISBN 9781954882225
eISBN 9781954882232
ASIN B0CSF3N8MC


This is the third of 6 volumes currently available in the ‘Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection’, that I have read, and it is amazing! Over the last several years I have read and listened to a lot of Father Mike Schmitz’s offerings. This is one of 6 volumes of Homilies that have been released by ascension press. The first four volumes seem to have had eBook releases in 2022 in a series called ‘The Curious Catholic’. They were then rebranded and rereleased in the fall of 2023 as ‘The Sunday Homilies with Fr Mike Schmitz Collection’. I believe there were four in the original collection and there are now 6 in the new editions released late in 2023 and early 2024, with this being the sixth volume. It is hard tracking down all the works published by Father Mike as they are published under a few variations of his name:

Mike Schmitz
Fr Mike Schmitz
Father Mike Schmitz
and even
Michael Schmitz

But back to this volume. The description of this book states:

“"The heart of our Faith is worship"

Throughout the history of the Church, God has continually invited his people back to the altar to worship.

But what does this actually mean?

Come to the Worshiping God with Your Whole Heart teaches Catholics how to fully worship the Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass instead of going through the motions.

This new addition to The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection takes Fr. Mike’s homily series “Come to the Altar” and transforms it into an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest booklet.

In five short chapters, this booklet shows readers how

Get more out of the Mass as they learn to worship at the altar Offer themselves fully to God in the Mass Embrace the authority given to them at Baptism as “kingdom priests” Let the Holy Spirit lead them in worship And more!

Complete with thought-provoking questions, prayerful meditations, and real-life challenges after each chapter, this booklet is perfect for individual devotion or group study.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Welcome to The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection
Chapter 1: Where Is Your Altar?
Chapter 2: Learning to Worship
Chapter 3: Kingdom Priesthood
Chapter 4: Hallowed, Not Hollow
Chapter 5: Come, Holy Spirit
Notes

We are informed that this booklet and I assume the others in the series as well are adapted from a series of Homilies given by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It would be nice is there was a list of the homilies so we could go back and listen to them either in the podcast, youtube, or now even the Ascension App. The welcome message in the booklet states:

“Each booklet in this series has been created to invite Catholics to grow closer to God through reflections from Fr. Mike.

These booklets are short and relatable, with features that will help you apply what you read to your own life.

Quotes and Bible verses throughout the booklets will help you zero in on the key points.

Questions after each section prompt you to reflect and help you to dive deeper into the topic being presented. We recommend that you pray or journal with these questions as you make connections to your everyday life. (They also make great prompts for small group discussion, while keeping in mind that not everyone in your group may feel comfortable answering those of a more personal nature.)
Meditations are provided after each reflection to help you take the topic directly into prayer. We recommend setting aside some time after each chapter to read the meditation and pray or journal with it.

Each reflection ends with a challenge to put what you have learned into action. These challenges invite you to enter into prayer, serve others, make a resolution for the week, and more.

It is our sincere hope The Sunday Homilies with Fr. Mike Schmitz Collection helps you along the way in your journey toward holiness. May God bless you!”

A sample Reflect, Pray and Act section from the end of the second chapter is:

Reflect
What is the most meaningful gift you have received? What made it so valuable to you?

Have you felt “empty” or “hollow” at Mass? Discuss your experience.

When has God been calling you to offer your firstfruits to him? What is an area of your life in which you could be more consistent in giving them to the Lord?

Discuss ways you can make your offering of firstfruits to God more intentional, consequential, and representational.

Pray
Seek to make your prayer today an altar of sacrifice to the Lord. Regardless of what your surroundings are at this moment, you can make it a time of holy worship. Hallowed, not hollow.

Begin by being intentional. You do not need to feel anything specific. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where in your spiritual life you have been unintentional and unfocused—and to help you to intentionally place yourself in an attitude of prayer.

Then, ask the Lord to show you one thing in your life that you can offer him as worship. Remember that worship requires sacrifice, so pray about what you can offer to God that will come at a cost to you. Allow God to make your worship consequential.

Lastly, think about what you can offer to the Lord that would represent your heart, which is what you are truly offering him. For instance, you might turn your usual morning coffee time into dedicated prayer time. Through this, you can say, “Father, you know how much I love my morning quiet time. My heart is there. So I am giving this time to you because I love you.” In this way, your act of sacrificial worship becomes a tangible representation of your heart for the Lord.

Act
Reflect on how you can bring your firstfruits—as well as your heart and the people on your heart—to God in Mass this week.”

Each of the chapters has a section like that at the end. Some longer some shorter. While reading this volume I highlighted a number of passages. Some of them are:

“The biggest thing God made us for is at the heart of our identity. It’s actually the heart of his identity. The biggest thing God made us to do is to love. We can experience love, and that is a gift, but to choose to love is at the core of who we are. The primary thing we’re called to do is to love.”

“The first way is something St. John talks about (see 1 John 4: 20–21). He says we can know we love God if we care for the people around us, including those who need our love, attention, or help. We love God by loving our brother or sister.”

“The second way we love God is by obeying him. As Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14: 15). We can’t claim to love God and not obey his commandments. We love God through obedience to his commandments, and so if I am ever questioning if I really love God enough, I have to look at how I am acting, not how I am feeling. I need to look at whether I am choosing to obey him.”

“And the third way I can love God is an extension of obeying him. We love God when we worship him as he has asked us to worship him, and this is key. We love the Lord our God with everything we have and everything we are through obedience and worship.”

“If we as Catholics don’t know how to worship, we don’t know what we have been made for. We don’t know how to love God as he has called us to love him.”

“If we’re going to understand how to worship—if we’re going to come to the altar—we need to know what the heart of worship is. The heart of worship is not singing a song. It is not saying a prayer. No, the heart of worship is sacrifice.”

“The altar is the place of sacrifice, where we offer the gift to God. The altar is the place where we worship.”

“At Mass, we hear the Word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures and hear it explained in the homily, then offer the sacrifice. We eat and drink in the presence of God. We are set free from all “rivals” so we can worship God in true and eternal worship. We get to come to the altar.”

“As we have seen, the heart of religion is worship—and the heart of worship is sacrifice. The place of sacrifice is an altar. It doesn’t matter how we feel in our worship. It matters where our altar is. Do we offer sacrifice to the Lord, or do we have an altar in our hearts to ourselves?”

“This is the only time in the Gospels when people stopped following Jesus due to one of his teachings. And it was over his teaching that he is truly present in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not just a symbol of Jesus. It actually is Jesus.”

“For the first 1,500 years of Christianity, all Christians—both Catholics and Orthodox—understood Jesus’ words in John 6 literally. That’s right. One hundred percent of Christians believed that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.”

“At the Temple, the sacrifice of the lamb was completed when the blood was poured out on the altar. At the Last Supper, Jesus is saying, “This is my blood poured out.” And then he commands his disciples, “Do this in memory of me.” In these powerful words, Jesus makes it absolutely clear how he wants us to worship him. Offer up the sacrifice. Offer up me, once for all, blood poured out, body given over.”

“As we are praying after receiving Holy Communion, we should reflect on the amazing reality that we have consumed the very love of God in the Eucharist. During Mass, we behold the love of God for us—and then receive this love in the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of his Son.”

“But the point of the Mass is not to receive Holy Communion. The point of Mass is to offer the sacrifice of the Son of God to the Father. The point of the Mass is to offer to the Father the sacrifice of the Last Supper and the sacrifice of Calvary, which are brought into one at every Mass.”

“The whole point is to love God. Sacrifice is the heart of loving God, and so the point of our lives is to worship God in the Mass by offering the greatest sacrifice any of us could ever possibly hope or even imagine we can be part of.”

“At our baptism, the priest (or deacon) anointed us with oil to give us a share in Christ’s ministry as priest, prophet, and king. So if we have been baptized, we have been consecrated and anointed, set apart to be priests of the kingdom.”

“My prayer is that no Catholics will ever show up to Mass and just watch but instead they will come and worship. My prayer is that they will never just show up to Mass and waste their kingdom priesthood but they will intentionally offer the sacrifice of the Son to the Father with the ministerial priest. My prayer is that, from now on, all will be the sacrifice along with Jesus—each time they come to the altar.”

“I think a lot of times we show up to Mass and leave unchanged. The Mass is supposed to make all the difference in the world, but it does not make a difference in our lives.”

“When what we are giving God is intentional, it is not an afterthought. It is not giving him whatever we have on hand. It is not pulling a random bill out of our pocket for the collection basket; it is having the check in the envelope before we go to Mass. It is planned ahead.”

“Giving our firstfruits also must be consequential—it needs to cost us something. It needs to be something that matters to us. In the ancient world, those who offered their firstborn male calf to the Lord truly were making a sacrifice. They were offering him their very livelihood. It cost them.”

“Firstfruits must also be representational. Sometimes, we offer God a time of prayer or work so we do not have to give him our hearts. It does not, then, represent any real sacrifice. In contrast, we can think of the example of the poor widow who gave the Lord all that she had, two copper coins, her entire livelihood (see Mark 12: 41–44). They represented her desire for a relationship with the Lord.”

“St. John Paul II pointed out that the opposite of love is not hatred; the opposite of love is use or indifference. A lot of us would be quick to say that we don’t hate anyone. But I think many of us are indifferent to others. Do we really believe that people are worth trying to save? What about the people who are closest to us?”

“As you begin your prayer time, let yourself be silent and allow the Holy Spirit to remind you of all the powerful things he has done in you. Think of all the times he has delivered you from fear. Think of the times he has comforted you in specific needs. Think of the times he has provided for you in your material needs. Allow him to do a play-by-play montage of his goodness in your life.”

I hope those few quotes give you a feel for this volume. This book really hit home for me. It is a volume I hope all three of my teenagers will read. And it is a book I wish was around when I was a teen or young adult, I would have greatly benefited from reading it. 

This is another very powerful little volume. It is one I will likely return to again and read again and again. 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. But to be honest any Christian would benefit from reading this book.

This is another excellent resource from Fr Mike, I have used his Bible in a Year Companions, and am currently using the Catechism in a Year Companion and read some of his other offerings. What I love about this book and this new collection is you can pick and choose. Read a booklet from beginning to end or jump around and read the different topics as you are inspired, or as they seem relevant. Because they are based on Father Mike’s actual homilies the text flows well, is engaging and keeps your attention. They would be great to work through as a group study or for personal reading, reflection, or spiritual reading. 

I can easily recommend this volume and look forward to reading others in the set. Another great resource from Father Mike and Ascension. An excellent resource for any Catholic or even any Christian!

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

Books By Father Mike Schmitz:
Made for Love: Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church
Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike


Contributed to:
Pray, Decide, and Don't Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God's Will
Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes to God! Pope Francis Speaks to Young People

Audio Talks by Father Mike Schmitz:
Living Life by Design, Not by Default
Love - Sacrifice - Trust He Showed Us the Way
From Love, By Love, For Love
True Worship
The Four Last Things
Jesus Is …
Changed Forever - The Sacrament of Baptism
We Must Go Out - The Sacrament of Confirmation

Are You Saved - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

Ordinary Time - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

Untroubled by the Unknown - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection

It's Personal - Fr Mike Schmitz Homilies Collection




Thursday 28 March 2024

Missing, Presumed Lost - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 5

Missing, Presumed Lost
Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 5
Fiorella De Maria
Ignatius Press
ISBN 
9781621646631
eISBN 9781642292909
ASIN B0CWTKPFG5

Missing, Presumed Lost - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 5

This was the seventeenth book by Fiorella de Maria that I have read. I stumbled upon her works a few years ago and I read nine of them in as many weeks. And now eagerly await each new offering from her masterful pen. I was eagerly anticipating this book, since she mentioned it on social media. I have tracked down and read everything by her under the name Fiorella de Maria. And this is the fifth book in her only series. I did not even read the description of the book prior to picking it up. I know that if Fiorella wrote it, it would be worth reading. It did not disappoint.

The description of this book states:

“Father Gabriel has finally returned to St Mary's Abbey, but all is not well in the sleepy Wiltshire village of Sutton Westford. Joseph Beaumont, a former village boy turned London property developer, has returned to build a row of houses on the grounds of a disused mine. A local opposition group - led by Joseph's boyhood nemesis - campaigns to stop the development, and Joseph finds himself the target of increasingly menacing threats. Then, workmen make a gruesome discovery on the building site: the skeleton of a child who went missing thirty years before, while the Great War was raging. Fr Gabriel is called in to investigate, but the task seems impossible. How can he uncover a secret that has been carefully hidden for three decades? Is the killer even still alive? Worse, as the tragic details emerge of a lost little girl's final moments, Gabriel is tormented by the memory of his own daughter and the life that was stolen from her many years before.

Missing Presumed Lost explores the themes of childhood innocence, guilt, and the responsibilities faced by society to protect the young. The book also delves deeper into Gabriel's own troubled past and the need to lay it to rest.”

In many of de Maria’s work she deals with moral topics. She has an uncanny ability to write in such a way that the read is drawn in and feels part of the story. And finds themselves reflecting on the moral questions at hand. And she does so without preaching, but really making readers think. In the last story we learned a lot more about Father Gabriel’s background. In this one the pain and impact of his wife’s and child’s murder comes home in powerful and moving ways. His own painful journey is drawn to the forefront as a body is found and it has the power to destroy the whole town. Father Gabriel is invited to cooperate with the inspector on trying to solve this cold case. Between Father Gabriel’s own pain from his past, and the case before them, will he pick up on the clues in time to prevent disasters. By the ends of the story there has been a suicide, a new murder and still the truth might now come out. Can the pains of the past finally come to light and maybe bring healing? To find out you will need to read this excellent mystery.   

As with the four previous novels, it was great to watch Father Gabriel put the pieces together. In this he knew early on who had key pieces of information, but it takes a long time and some tragic events to bring them to light. To see him work out the details of the cold case, and some to slowly to save other lives was moving. 

I have greatly enjoyed everything I have read from de Maria’s masterful pen. I still hold out hope that Ignatius will put back into print de Maria’s first two novels.

This is another excellent read in a great series. It is historical fiction at its best. A priest solving mysteries is not new; Father Brown by Chesterton, Bishop Blackie Ryan by Andrew Greely, but my new favourite is Father Gabriel by de Maria. I can easily recommend this book and series!

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


Books by Fiorella De Maria:
The Cassandra Curse
Father William's Daughter
Poor Banished Children
Do No Harm
We'll Never Tell Them
A Most Dangerous Innocence
I Am Margaret The Play
Father Gabriel Mysteries:
The Sleeping Witness
The Vanishing Woman
See No Evil

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Pinup Noir 3 - edited by Kortnee Bryant - Raconteur Press Anthologies Book 22

Pinup Noir 3
Edited by Kortnee Bryant
Raconteur Press Anthologies Book 22
ISBN 9798880452163
ASIN B0CW1JML7L

Pinup Noir 3 - edited by Kortnee Bryant - An Anthology Raconteur Press Anthologies Book 22

I enjoy reading anthologies for many reasons. First short form fiction is a very different art form than the novel. The writing needs to be tighter. The intent more purposeful, and the skill and craft needed is very different, at least for good short stories. Second I read a few anthologies a year to get introduced to new authors. In this case I was only familiar with one author prior to picking up the volume. I also love seeing short works by authors who series I have already read. I have picked up most of the anthologies from Raconteur Press, but have to date only read one of them. Once I found out that Declan Finn had a story in this volume I was immediately interested and when I found out it was a Saint Tommy, NYPD story I read it first and again as I read the book from front to back. 

I was intrigued by the collection, and the two previous volumes. I already had Volume I but had not read it and when about half way through this one I picked up Volume II. The description of this volume states:

“To mangle a quote, every now and then, in order for there to be justice, a being must walk down the mean streets who is not, themselves, mean. Whether those streets are hard-packed dirt, the metal of a space station corridor, or the slick cobblestones of an alternate San Francisco doesn't matter. And sometimes, the Dangerous Dames can do it themselves.

Join 10 authors as they explore what Noir looks like in the past, present, and future.”

The contributors are:

Samuel Nettles
Paul Williams
Michael A. Hooten
Robert McDonald
Seth Taylor
John D. Martin
Andrew Milbourne
Kimber Lin
Declan Finn
Lee Allred

The stories are:

Introduction
1. Takeout 
2. Behind Every Successful Man 
3. Blonde and Blue 
4. In The Kudzu 
5. Hot Time in Tomato Town 
6. Jared Thorne and the Tech Smuggles Son 
7. Lady Killer 
8. A Lady of Means 
9. Succubus Blues 
10. The Doll with the Peekaboo Bangs 
Also From Raconteur Press
Call To Action

In the introduction we are informed that:

“The Pinup Noir series of anthologies is one of the best examples of how we work at Raconteur Press. The prompt was a picture with a style and mood that inspired everyone at the company. A dark street at night, various lights highlighting a beautiful blonde in a Marilyn Monroe-style dress, a gun in her stocking, and a gust of wind showing more than she probably intended. It was a picture which evoked a story, and we told our writers to tell us that story.”

And that:

“Our cover artist, the lovely and talented Cedar Sanderson, took some inspiration from a few sources closer to home and modeled the Pinup covers off the Three Moms of the Apocalypse.”

If you are not aware who the three moms are you should check out their livestreams, and or their own writings. The Three Mons of the Apocalypse and their BroadCast. I have not read the other two yet but am a huge fan of Sanderson (no matter which name she is writing under). 

The stories are well written. A few were exceptional. Unlike most anthologies There was not really a weak link in this collection. It is usually easy to pull your top two or three stories, and usually 1 or 2 that are maybe duds. I can not think of a story in this collection that was not worth the price of the collection as a whole. There are several great stories in this collection, and I look forward to checking out some of the authors I had not encountered previously. I seldom highlight when reading fiction but I did highlight 2 passages in this volume, they were:

“I waved the cigarette away. Sure, all the doctors were telling us how healthy they were, but they used to say that about laudanum, too.”

And

“"Never get involved in any case that leads to finding the body of a child,” I said, repeating the words of Bendigo Strange, one of my mentors in the dark arts of private investigation. It was a rule I had always followed, but the promise I had made to the woman who blew a man's spinal column out through his chest with a twelve-gauge before he could park a .45 slug in my brainpan was making me break it.”

Some of the shows I remember watching with my father when growing up were Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Columbo (which I am currently re-watching now) Spencer for Hire. In the last year and a bit I have gotten back into the genera and the stories in this collection bring back strong sense of nostalgia and also a looking forward to more great reads. As mentioned this is volume 22 currently in the Raconteur Press Anthologies Series and the third Pinup Noir.

I really enjoyed the playfulness in Takeout by Samuel Nettles. The surprising twists in Behind Every Successful Man by Paul Williams was great fun. The rescuing of a damsel in distress even from  herself in Blonde and Blue Michael A. Hooten was a deeply moving story. And of course the amazing story by Declan Finn Succubus Blues reading a new Saint Tommy, NYPD story was like a visit with an old friend. One I had not realized I missed so much. 

The stories are in a wide range of interpretations on the Pinup and a surprising mix of roles in the stories. If you have not read the first two volumes it will leave you wanting to pick them up right away. I enjoyed each story, and can easily recommend the anthology. It was a great collection to read. And I am looking to track down other works from a couple of the contributors. This is a collection that I certain have something for almost every readers, and it is one guaranteed to entertain.

For reviews of other volumes by Declan Finn click here.

Raconteur Press Anthologies Pinup Noir 1-3

Raconteur Press Anthologies Series:
Knights of Malta
Saints of Malta
Space Cowboys
Space Cowboys 2: Electric Rodeo
Space Marines
Falcons of Malta
Pinup Noir
Space Marines 2
Moggies In Space
Your Honor, I Can Explain
Space Cowboys 3: Return of the Bookaroo
Or All Will Burn
Moggies Back in Space
PinUp Noir 2
You See, What Happened Was...
Space Cowboys 404: Cow Not Found
He Was Dead When I Got There
Or All Will Burn: Fierce Love
Full Steam Ahead!
Giant! Freakin'! Robots!
Space Marines III

Raconteur Press Postcard Stories:
Postcards From Mars
Steam-Powered Postcards
Fanta-Fly Postcards
Postcards from Foolz
Single Servings of Liberty 
Imagine THAT! 
Last Call

Raconteur Press Anthologies 1-23

Raconteur Press Postcards Series 1-7