Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Return to Doom Island - Dustin Brady - Trapped in a Video Game Book 4

Return to Doom Island
Trapped in a Video Game Book 4
Dustin Brady
Jesse Brady (Illustrator)
Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN 9781449495183
eISBN 9781449498757

We have now read four of the five books in this excellent series. And with each volume the series gets better. We picked up the first book in this series, Trapped in a Video Game, after my son started reading it with his cousins. They read every night before bed and he was hooked after the first few chapters. We picked up the eBook as soon as we were home, and my son devoured it. My son was enjoying them so much we picked up the whole series. He reads to me from his iPod and I follow on my iPhone. My son read this to me as part of his daily reading. He often reads well beyond the minimum 20 minutes a day, when reading this series, because he wants to finish the chapter, or find out what happens next. We are well into book four. Any book that inspires my son to keep reading when the timer goes off is a big winner in my opinion. And because of that it got a solid 5/5 stars from both of us.

This is the fourth installment in a five-book series. We are a late to the game, in that the whole series has already been released. It just means we can read them back to back. Without having to wait for the next volume. 

This is a story about friendship, about video games, and about survival. And in this one the video game elements have changed. And there is more action outside the game. This time they are in an old 8bit 2D game. And through their friend knows the game, Jesse and Eric have never even heard of it. This time instead of having the help of Mr. Gregory helping and guiding them, they are trying to find out where he is and how to rescue him. And they know that every move they make is being watched. Both in the real world and once they are inside the game. 

The story draws you in and keeps your attention. It is interesting seeing the mix of cutting edge and retro technology and how both kids and adults interact with it. The story is well written. The characters after 4 stories is like visiting old friends. And it ends on a cliff hanger leaving you desperate to find out what will happen with The Final Boss.

It is a great read in an excellent series. Our family gives it top marks and highly recommends the series and this specific book!

Books by Dustin Brady:
Superhero for a Day

Trapped in a Video Game Series:
Trapped in a Video Game
The Invisible Invasion
Robots Revolt
Return to Doom Island
The Final Boss

Leila & Nugget Series:
Who Stole Mr. T?
Bark at the Park
The Case with no Clues

Life Lessons Series:
A Marathon Is Really Long When You Have to Pee
Black Friday Is for Suckers
Dogs Ain't Dumb
How to Tell Off a Telemarketer

Escape from a Video Game Series:
The Secret of Phantom Island

Monday, 26 October 2020

In Conversation With God Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feasts July - September - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feasts July - September
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138632

It has been eight years since I have purchased this volume, I have now read this edition eight times. There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions direct from Scepter. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now I love these Kindle editions. It has taken me a while but this is the review of the 14th of 14 eBook volumes. If I could only have one book or series other than the Bible to read, this would be it. 

I have been reading this series for 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in the individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset, twice. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local schoolteacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love these eBook editions. And have read them every year since getting the eBook editions.

I have said it before, and will say it again, there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also always like having all the volumes on me. As mike Aquilina stated:

“Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria.”

And I always appreciate having them all on me. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally with my dual form of dyslexia. 

When these books were originally released in English this was the first half of the fourth volume. This volume consists of 54 meditations for Weeks 13 through to 18 of Ordinary Time. A sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year are:

“Embracing the Cross should lead us never to complain when confronting difficulties, and even to thank God for the failures, suffering, and setbacks that purify us. Such adversities should be additional occasions for drawing us closer to God.”

“Are you suffering some great tribulation? Do you have setbacks? Say very slowly, as if savouring the words, this powerful and manly prayer: ‘May the most just and most lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised, and eternally exalted above all things. Amen. Amen.’ I assure you that you’ll find peace.

“Joy and optimism during rough moments is not a fruit of temperament or of age. It is born of a deep interior life and the frequent consideration of our divine filiation.”

“Our Lady is always vigilant where her children are concerned. The Catalan poet continues his poem saying: Why, Most Holy Virgin, do you look at us with eyes so wide open? Create in our soul a holy fear. May the miracles of the past be repeated today, and may you free us from every sin and from vile cowardice.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. And as mentioned this is part of 1 volume 4 dedicated to Ordinary time weeks 13 through to 18. 

These books are incredible for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. As stated, this is my eighth time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

I would love to see what Francis Fernandez would do with a volume 8, focusing on modern saints like: Maria Goretti, John Henry Newman, Josemaria Escriva, John XXIII, John Paul II, Guadalupe Ortiz, … and many more. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books, I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. A few years ago I was asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. This is one of my all-time top Christian reads!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Through The Winds and Waves
The Day that Changed My Life
Life of Jesus

Friday, 23 October 2020

Prayer of the Day Marriage Consecration Prayer

Marriage Consecration Prayer

Blessed are You Lord God, Eternal Father. 
Our marriage comes from your goodness to us,
You are the one who brought us together and leads our life. 
We place the Most Sacred Heart of your Son Jesus
at the centre of our marriage:
a heart free from sin
a heart giving to the other
a heart burning of love
a heart open to the will of God
Dispel from our marriage Satan our enemy, the spirit of evil, 
and send your healing remedy, the Archangel Raphael, to guide us and defend us.

Note: from time to time I posts prayers that I say daily. That have had an impact upon me. That I have come across, usually I attribute them, but this specific one I liked so much I put a reminder in my calendar to pray it and never noted where it came from. 

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Fearful Symmetry - J.E. Mayhew - DCI Will Blake Book 2.0

Fearful Symmetry
DCI Will Blake Book 2.0
Obolus Books
ISBN 9781999840754

Where to begin. I am sure that is a question many authors start with, but it is seldom one I start with when reviewing a book. But in this case I find I must. This book came recommended to me by Alex Smith, author of the DCI Kett books. I had read all the Kett books and was awaiting the next Softley Softley book when Smith mentioned this one and gave it a plug. After reading this volume I discovered that the author publishes under two name, much like Smith. One for Adult crime novels, J.E. Mayhew and another for Young Adult and younger readers, Jon Mayhew. I am glad I gave it a try and will likely get around to reading the other two novels and the prequel to the series. These books are not as gritty and do not pack as much punch as the Kett novels but it is still a good British crime procedural story. When I reviewed a Kett story I stated I could see Jamie Bamber as DCI Kett, and while reading this I could not help but picture Karl Urban as DCI Will Blake. But let’s now focus on this book.

This is book 2 in a series that currently consists of 3 novels and a prequel novella. I picked it up before realizing it was book 2 but gave it a shot anyways. It is good as a British Crime Procedural store. Reminded me of the old TV series The Commander or even to some extent Wired in the Blood. The story takes places between 8th February and the 17th. 

DCI Will Blake is working on a case that proves more personal with each passing moment. It starts with a body found on Hilbre Grove a cul-de-sac. The murderer is leaving bodies and clues for and to Blake. Quoting a different Blake’s poetry, and leaving clipping about the DCI when he was a young office and has a small sport on a TV show. And as the day go on it becomes more and more personal. 

You will find yourself in Blake’s corner. With all he has already been through. Some of the officers he works with are relatable. And the crimes are dark, well planned out, and cost some money to set up and coordinate. Blake realizes he is up against a foe who knows a lot about him, and also seems to have deep pockets and plenty or resources. 

The plot moves at a quick pace. The characters are well written. And with dropping into the 3rd story in the series, the second novel. It holds up very well on its own.  

Overall a good read and I would give another story in the series a go. If you enjoy crime lit or British procedurals, I am certain you will enjoy this read. 

Books as J.E. Mayhew:
DCI William Blake Series:
1.0 A Poison Tree
3.0 The Bones of the Dead
4.0 A Poison Tree

Books as Jon Mayhew:
Death Road
The Spybrarian
Have a Go

Monster Odyssey Series:
1.0 The Eye of Neptune
2.0 The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
3.0 The Curse of the Ice Serpent
4.0 The Venom of the Scorpion

Mortlock Series:
1.0 Mortlock
2.0 The Demon Collector
3.0 The Bonehill Curse
Mr Grimhurst's Treasure: And other Ghost Stories

Collins Big Cat Series:
The Merchant of Venice: Band 16/Sapphire
Hamlet: Band 18/Pearl
Romeo and Juliet: Band 18/Pearl
Macbeth: Band 18/Pearl

Contributed to:
Beyond the Book: A Collection of Short Stories
Storycraft: How To Teach Creative Writing

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Cubing @ 50

Cubing @ 50

If you were to ask my wife or kids, and they would tell you I have become addicted to cubing. And it really was not anything I expected. I remember when the first Rubik’s Cube came out when I was released worldwide in 1980. And back then as kids we often solved it by popping it apart and putting it back together. And later I saw friends try and remove the stickers and put it back solved. With a dual form of dyslexia that affects both coordination and fine motor skills I never really expected to be able to solve these puzzles.

Then in 2020 there was covid 19 and social distancing, lockdown, … Fortunately working in IT I was able to transition to working from home. My son had several cubes and had always liked them but could not solve them. He had 2x2, 3x3, 4x4, the Void, and a few variations on the 3x3. I had tried learning a few times over the years via books or videos. But now I figured it was time to learn and at least help him get to solving the 3x3. 

I stumbled across the videos from JPerm, and had quick success. I used his videos and learned how to solve the 

Within a week I had taught my youngest two children, ages 9 and 12, at the time, the 2x2, 3x3, and 3x3 Pyraminx. And I was doing the 5x5. Soon we each had our own set. My wife was the next to learn and was happy to stop at the 3x3 and 2x2. Then my oldest at 13, wanted to learn. And she is getting fast. She can do from 2x2 to 5x5 now. And we have races. She wants to compete once events start happening again.

On my work desk I have:

2x2 to 9x9, 3x3 and 4x4 Pyraminx, a 2x2x3 and 2x3x3. And my latest addition is the Skewb. (since writing this I have added the Double Skewb, Square-1, 3x3 Twisty, a Fisher Cube, an Axis Cube, and a Windmill Cube.)

On my bedside Table I have Carbon fiber 2x2 to 5x5s. 

And on my personal desk I have 3x3 to 5x5.

I love working with a nice fresh new Carbon Fiber cube, but once the stickers start getting jagged, I do not enjoy it as much. My cubes are mostly QiYi which I love but they do not yet make really large cubes. My 8x8 and 9x9 are both YuXin. My kids think I should stop, but I really have my eye on 11x11 and 13x13 but waiting to see if they come down in price. My youngest daughter loves the QiYi Jelly Cubes, and my son prefers the Cyclone Boys cubes.

If you are in Canada the best prices, I can find are from Cubing Out Loud. Their prices and service are amazing. Not counting the larger cubes I already have a half dozen items on a wish list.

Now I know I will never be competition fast. But I love solving cubes. I do the ones on my bedside table and most of the ones on my desk at least once a day. Sometimes when working through IT problems I just pick up and play with a cube, either mixing and mixing it, or solving it over and over again. I love that it is something the whole family enjoys. So I would encourage you, if you have always wanted to learn but never have, give JPerm’s videos a try and if you become addicted consider purchasing from Cubing Out Loud. JPerm has a video comparing older and younger cubers, that is well worth checking out. Because if I can do it, I am certain you can as well.

(My oldest daughters and inje for when we compete. we do one set then switch.)

Note: I am not an affiliate or sponsored by Cubing Out Loud, I was just really impressed by their service, the prices, and that they are Canadian. And since writing this I have added a Double Skewb and a Square-1.