--> Saving page now... https://www.bookreviewsandmore.ca/search/label/Anthology As it appears live September 27, 2020 2:30:22 PM UTC

Showing posts with label Anthology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthology. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Cracked An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories - Edited by Bokerah Brumley

An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories
Kydala Publishing, Inc.

I picked this up for three main reasons. First the concept really intrigued me. And I also picked this up because I am a big fan of two of the contributors. I have read and reviewed several works by both Karina Fabian and Jane Lebak. And finally, I love anthologies because I usually find an author or two to add to my reading list. The anthology did not disappoint. The description of the book is:

“Chickens Land on Mars...
But what happens when authors have too much free time on their hands?
A challenge. Craft a story featuring our favorite feathered raptors: the CHICKEN. B'gawk! Twenty authors deliver in some unexpected ways and live to crow about it. From chickens in space to cozy murder mystery farm yards to schools of magickal thought... Includes guardian angels, chicken shifters, aliens, and feathered matchmakers, Maybe even a non-fiction adventure or two... and more! These amazing chickens come from the minds of twenty cooped-up authors on the edge of cracking... Read CRACKED: An Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories.”

The twenty contributors are:

J. A Campanile 
Clair W. Kiernan 
David Millican 

I checked and other than the two contributors I was aware of I do not believe I have read anything from the 18 other authors. But this was a great collection of stories. To be honest when I read an anthology, I expect a few duds, but all the eggs in the basket were viable, and several have inspired me to look further into the works of the authors. The editor, Bokerah Brumley contributed three stories and book ends the collection. Both Grace Bridges and Karina Fabian have two contributions. 

And the 24 stories are:

Martian Chicken Man 
Frozen Chicken Master
Spacer Williams’ Chicken 
A Murder Most Fowl 
A Chicken for Miss Cuthbert 
Things with Wings 
Stray Thoughts 
Inspection Report 
Field Trip Chicken 
The Chicken of Doom 
Clucking in the Dark 
The Great Chicken Escape 
Chickening Out 
It Clucked 
PŪKEKO: The Blue Swamp Hen 
A Few Good Hens 
Home Improvements 
Barn Wars 
Chicken Dance A
Free Range 
Korion the Unclean 
The Great Chicken Escapade 
Chicken Magic

Some of these stories are more series than others. And some tie to other works. Both of Fabian’s offerings tie to different series she has written. And Lebak’s links to her Archangel series. A few of the stories are more of a hard science fiction. One almost Aliens like. A few made me laugh out loud. And all entertained. I was very surprised by the story of a chicken shifter, and her soul mate. It really made me smile. And the Field Trip Chicken. And chicken’s going up ladders in low gravity will surprise you. And I would love to see L. Jagi Lamplight’s Frozen Chicken Master expanded into a full-length story. I want to know what happens with the young man in the story next. 

After each story is an author’s biography. And an overview of their other works and links to their sites (for most of them). Everything you need to pursue a few or many of the authors who pique your interest.

A fantastic collection of stories. And who would have guessed Chickens for September of 2020, but this collection pulls it off. A great collection of stories to amuse, entertain and maybe even frighten. So, crack the cover and give this anthology a try. There are some wonderful tails, I mean tales. 

Note: For review of other stories by Karina Fabian and Jane Lebak follow the links.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Infinite Space, Infinite God II - Edited by Karina & Robert Fabian

Infinite Space, Infinite God II
Edited by Karina Fabian and Robert Fabian
Twilight Time Books 

Over the years I have read several religious-themed science fiction stories. It is not a new genre, from classics like A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr., to nearly anything from Gene Wolfe. One of the best-known collections was edited by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley called Sacred Visions. And if it was not for Greeley’s name recognition I believe this anthology would far surpass it. 

This volume of 12 short stories in the genre of Catholic Science Fiction is a treat for the fan of either genres. The authors tackle themes of morality, science, and the role of religion in humanity's future in new and engaging ways. They compare and contrast religions of aliens. Belief systems and living out faith in difficult times. The contributors are:

Colleen Drippé
Karina Fabian
Barton Paul Levenson
Alex Lobdell
Alan Loewen
Derwin Mak
Ken Pick
John “Fish” Rundle
Andrew Seddon
J Sherer
Tamara Wilhite

And the stories are:
The Ghosts of Kourion 
An Exercise in Logic 
The Battle of the Narthex 
Tin Servants 
Cloned to Kill 
Frankie Phones Home 

There are many excellent stories in this collection. And the authors I have not read before are now on my radar to keep an eye out for. The story by Andrew M. Seddon, The Ghosts of Kourion, appears as part of a recent novel by him, Ring of Time. One of my favorite pieces is Antivenin by Karina Fabian. I really want to read more stories in this universe. And a novel is now out, Discovery, which has some of the characters. Another excellent offering was Basilica. But honestly all the stories in this collection are worth the read.

I read the first anthology with name 11 years ago. And loved it. I picked this one up and thought I had read and reviewed it but was mistaken. After reading a recent book by, The Old Man and the Void, Fabian I went back and read this collection. And what a wonderful collection it is. Infinite Space, Infinite God I was a fantastic anthology and this one is just as good. I only wished that the third anthology edited by Fabian and Fabian, Leaps of Faith, was available electronically. I would already be well into it before writing the review of this volume. 

This is an excellent collection for those who love great short stories. Those who appreciate Science Fiction. And those who enjoy good Christian or Catholic Fiction. It is a fantastic collection and I easily give it 5/5 Stars!

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

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten

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:

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem 
Live and Let Fly
Greater Treasures: A DragonEye Novella
Murder Most Picante

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2

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

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens - Catholic Teen Books

Gifts: Visible & Invisible 
8 Christmas Stories for Teens 
From Catholic Teen Books
ISBN 9780997971859


Wow! What an amazing collection of Christmas stories! I know not everyone likes short stories, but I love them, and this collection is amazing! Short stories are a different art form than novels. For a short story to be good, the writing needs to be tighter and crisper. And each of the 8 in this collection are very well written. One of the things I normally love about reading anthologies is discovering new authors. But that was not the case this time. I have read books by all of the contributors and had high expectations for this collection. I loved the anthology Secrets Visible & Invisible from the authors at Catholic Teen Books.

Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

In this collection we have one Christmas short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you may encounter in novels by the authors, and one has characters in a forthcoming novel. I have read this anthology once and I have listened to it a second time. It is one of the best anthologies I have ever encountered for Catholic or Christian fiction!

The Outlaws’ Friend - Susan Peek
In The Steps Of A Saint - Katy Huth Jones
A Perfect Christmas - Carolyn Astfalk
Operation Gift Drop - Theresa Linden
Christmas Angel - Leslea Wahl
Signs Of Christmas - Cynthia T. Toney
Just Jesus - T. M. Gaouette
A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve - Corinna Turner

As I have mentioned, this is a great collection of short stories. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. In the collection, we encounter 2 Historical stories, 2 Dystopian, and 4 Contemporary. Though I might argue that the last is Science Fiction and not Dystopian, but that would just be my classification of the tale. And here is a summary of each story.

The Outlaws’ Friend

This story took me completely by surprise. It is truly a gem. Susan Peek specializes in writing historical fiction around the lives of the saints, and the subject of this story, the most current hero of the faith she’s written about, is on his way to being canonized. It is a story that starts in a snowstorm just before Christmas and tells of a life of service.

In The Steps Of A Saint

Katy Huth Jones has written about the good King Wenceslas in her novel Treachery and Truth. But this is the story of a young man named Andrew who figures out the meaning of the song and starts to live it out. And because of his passion, his new youth group and parish are doing something more to be good and kind. I love that the story is written around the carol, the meaning of the song, and the life that inspired it.

A Perfect Christmas

Christmas expectations unmet? How many of us have not been here before? But this year, it seems like everything that can go wrong does. Dad is away and Mom is dealing with a newborn—on top of the other kids. But fifteen-year-old Marigold had so many plans for this Christmas and they all seem to be falling short. However, after a first-time Christmas Eve visit to the neighbours, she has a new perspective on things. The characters are great. And if we are lucky, they will appear in a new novel from the author in 2021.

Operation Gift Drop

This is a new story set in the world of the Chasing Liberty novels. There are 3 novels and several short stories set in this near future dystopian world. Liberty does not make an appearance in this story but one of the main characters, Dedrick, did. If you are not familiar with the stories, this is a great introduction. And if you are, it adds to a world I am sure you know and love. This is a great story!  ... I was hoping for a West Brothers story, oh well maybe in the next anthology.

Christmas Angel

This story is about experiencing Christ in Christmas. It is also about sacrifices and giving. Read and discover how Meg put Christ in Christmas and how her own actions start to inspire others. It is a wonderful tale of growth. We do not always get to see the results of our charity, but in this story, we get a glimpse.

Signs Of Christmas

Christmas 1925 and it’s the first that 14-year-old Antonina will spend apart from her best friend Salvatore. But while missing her old friend, she makes a new one, and she’s a friend in need. As Antonina listens for God to guide her to help where she can, she gets a surprising answer to a Christmas prayer. This story is set after the events of The Other Side of Freedom. It was great to revisit the characters. And Toney has crafted a moving Christmas tale. 

Just Jesus 

The theme in this story is around a class of students and their expectations of what is needed for Christmas. It is a mix of experiences and expectations. This is an excellent little story. But to be honest it really left me wanting more. I want to know more of Luke's story, both before and after this event. I also wish to know more about Vanessa. I love the story and the message. It makes me want to get carved baby Jesus for my three kids and to read the story with them.

A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve

I have read the three novels in the unSPARKed world. I love the world Turner has built. And this Christmas story gives us another glimpse into it. The sentence that really got me was:

“What was it like in the old days, before the crazy scientists and their arrogant assumption that they could contain the creatures they’d bred? Hard to imagine, and I don’t waste time trying. So what if the world outside the fenced cities is harsher and more dangerous than it once was? It’s my home, and I like it as it is.”

It is a story about the gift of time. And the gift of compassion. And an allosaur and her brood. In this story we encounter again Darryl and Joshua. And it is all wrapped up like Christmas with family, faith, and friends.

For fans of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contribution. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is also for you. If you want some great reads that are clean Catholic\Christian fiction focused around the holidays, this is the book for you.

This anthology is amazing! And I can only hope the Catholic Teen Books releases another collection soon. I cannot imagine what they would come up with in a collection focused on Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. If you love great short stories you owe it to yourself to give this collection a try! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Links to other reviews of books by the contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette

Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

Anthologies from the Catholic Teen Books Authors:
Secrets Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories 
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The Substance of Things Hoped For Short Fiction by Modern Catholic Authors - John B. Breslin, SJ Editor

The Substance of Things Hoped For:
Short Fiction by Modern Catholic Authors
John B. Breslin, SJ Editor
Doubleday Religion
ISBN 9780385234283
ISBN 0385234287
ISBN 9780307590992
ISBN 0307590992


Father John B. Breslin, SJ, was a priest, a professor, and a writer. He was the editor of this collection. In the introduction he states:

“In a self-consciously ecumenical era, it may seem invidious to publish a “Catholic” anthology of short fiction. Surely, a Christian collection would be more in keeping with efforts to break down ghetto walls and remove the scandal of division that has undercut the credibility of Christ’s followers for the past four and a half centuries—-and more. Twenty years ago, as the effects of the Second Vatican Council began to seep down into the lives and imaginations of Catholics, such considerations would have made this anthology an instant anachronism, perhaps even an embarrassment to the bien pensants of the day.”

He also stated:

“As for the stories themselves, the choice was ultimately and inevitably personal, for which I assume full responsibility, taking the blame for omitting a reader’s favorite story while hoping to get occasional credit for introducing the same reader to a new author or a hitherto unknown tale.”

I recall picking up this collection in hardcover on a bargain table at a book store shortly after the paperback edition came out. At the time I was a student at Queen’s University and love the collection. For many of the contributors it was my introduction to their works. I read the book twice that year I believe. Later that year wile living in a rectory I loaned the book to a seminarian and never got it back.

But there was one story in the collection that came back to me often. In 2006 I wrote these words about that story and this book:

Haunting, that is the only way I can describe the short story. I read a short story years ago, back in the late 80's I had a collection of short Catholic Fiction, I read it ad enjoyed it, but there was a particular story that has haunted me. I can only describe it that way. Yet I no longer had the book. It was lent out and not returned back in the early 90''s and yet this story would come to mind again and again over the years. I did not know the author of the story, the editor of the book, all I could remember was that the book had a black cover with yellow writing.

A few weeks ago I was at a retreat at Mount Carmel Monastery in Niagara Falls, and this story came to mind again. So I decided to try and find it. I did searches on Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca and tried to find the book. I searched '`Catholic'' and 'fiction'' also 'Catholic' and '`Short Story'' and tried many other searches. Nothing matched what I remembered but there was a book from 1984 that they did not have a cover image for The Substance of Things Hoped For edited by John Breslin S.J. so I interlibrary loaned the book at school and found the story I was looking for. It was called, The Warm Sand by J. F. Powers and was very much what I remembered. I also found out that it had been made into a novel that won the National Book award in 1968 so I am now reading the book Wheat That Springeth Green of which the short story is chapter 6 in the book almost exactly. I have posted the Short Story as the post before this one and would love your take on it. I have my prie-dieu and at times it has been used, but not as much as it should. Check out the story and tell me what you think.

And in the almost twelve years since tracking the book down I have read it several times. When researching this review, I was surprised to discover that the paperback edition is still in print. It was a happy surprise as I can think of many people, I would want to share this volume with. The sections and stories in this collection are:


The Beginnings Of A Sin - Bernard Maclaverty
Delia - Mary Gordon
A Christmas Tale - Francois Mauriac
Alice Long’s Dachshunds - Muriel Spark
The Liar - Tobias Wolff

The Enduring Chill - Flannery O’Connor
Hot Ice - Stuart Dybek
Life After Death - Elizabeth Cullinan
Polikushka - Ignazio Silone
The Salvation Of Me - Breece D’J Pancake

A Father’s Story - Andre Dubus
Mothers - Shusaku Endo
Candles For The Madonna - Heinrich Boll
The Warm Sand - J.F. Powers
The Recruiting Officer - John Mcgahern
The Promiscuous Self - Walker Percy
Crucifixus Etiam - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Comedian- John L’heureux

A Visit To Morin - Graham Greene
Absolution - Morley Callaghan
Jack Frost - Josephine Jacobsen

Profiles of the Authors

There are some very powerful stories in this collection. The Warm Sand by J.F. Powers as mentioned has stuck with me for years. Other stories that stick out to me in particular were Mothers, by Shusaku Endo and The Enduring Chill by Flannery O’Connor which were both about the power of Mothers over sons. There are some that were a shock, both when I first read the collection and again rereading it now for example Hot Ice by Stuart Dybek.

Today I make a distinction between Catholic writers, Catholics who write Catholic stories, and authors who write Catholic stories. To some extent all three are represented in this collection. And some authors may even have works in more than one of the three categories.

Another interesting piece of this collection is the author biographies. These biographies provide some interesting information and also serve as a time capsule. As of the writing of this review in 2019 only 5 of the 21 contributors are still alive. For Powers it states he has 3 collections of short stories, the years after this collection was published, he published his second and final novel both of which won the national book award.

This collection has a wide range of stories, from a diverse group of authors. It does a great job of providing a snapshot of Catholic fiction from the last century. It is worth the time to pursue and if you do give it a read I would love to know what stories have an impact on you.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Secrets Visible & Invisible 
7 Amazing Stories
From Catholic Teen Books
ISBN 9780997971828


One of the things I love about reading anthologies is discovering new authors. But that was not the case this time. I have read books by 6 of the seven contributors. In fact, at the time of writing this review I have read 33 books, novellas, or published short stories across the 6 authors. And I already have 3 eBooks by the author I have not read in my to be read list. So, I knew I was in for some great reading when I picked up this collection. What I was not prepared for was how exceptional this collection was. Often when I read an anthology there are a few great reads, some good reads and some okay reads. That was not the case this time. Every story was a remarkable story. Some of the stories were so good, I immediately went back and reread just that story. And then when I finished the book I reread the whole thing again a few days later.

Mark Hart in the forward to this collection states:
“We call Him Savior, Teacher, Wonder Worker, and Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Bread of Life and the Light of the World. He is the Messiah, the Promised One, the Divine Physician…the Good Shepherd. Jesus Christ is all of these titles and an endless list of more. Yet, there is one title that I’ve rarely – if ever – heard used to describe Jesus of Nazareth, and I feel it is a glaringly myopic omission on our part.Almost never have I heard Jesus Christ described as “Master Storyteller,” though He most certainly was.”
And many of the contributors to this collections in their own way imitate Christ and are master storytellers in our own generation. I have a great deal of respect for the seven authors who contributed to this series. And even more so after reading their pieces in this collection.

Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

In this collection we have one short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you can encounter in novels by the authors. One combines characters for different novels from the author.

The Underappreciated Virtues Of Rusty Old Bicycles - Corinna Turner
Recreation - Cynthia T. Toney
The Portrait Of The Fire Starters - Theresa Linden
On The Brink Of Hell - Susan Peek
Sister Francesca - T.M. Gaouette
Behind The Wheel - Carolyn Astfalk
More Precious Than Gold - Leslea Wahl

As mentioned this is a great collection of short stories. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is very well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. And here is a summary of each story.

The Underappreciated Virtues Of Rusty Old Bicycles

This story is a peek at Bane and Margo before the sorting in I am Margaret. It highlights the strength of their friendship. The risks in day to day life in a totalitarian regime. It also has some great characters that we do not encounter again in the books. There is a very interesting twist in this story.


This story took me by surprise. It is a story of service and giving. It is a story about friendship. It is the friendship of Elijah and Darrell-teens of African and Vietnamese heritage-growing up in the south. It is the story of seeing a need, and stepping up to do something about it. It also reminds readers that not all things are as they appear.

The Portrait Of The Fire Starters

With four young adult novels and one adult novel centered around the West Brothers, Theresa Linden returns to tell a story about the youth group from church that meets at the high school. I believe this story falls between Roland West Loner and Life-Changing Love. If you are fans of the books this story sheds some new light on several of the characters from the series. It speaks to questions about how we see ourselves, and how others see us. And it will likely pull on your heartstrings.

On The Brink Of Hell

This story jumps back to the 16th Century in Italy. It is the story, of a soldier wounded in battle. Dario has done much he is not proud of. And after being severely injured in battle, this story tells of his treatment. He's also reflecting on  past events, fading in and out of memories, while enduring present-day pain in the hospital.

Sister Francesca

I have read the three published novels by T.M. Gaouette. And I enjoyed them a lot. But this story is something very different. It has a touch of the mystical, and a touch of the contemplative in it. It reminds me a lot of some of the stories by J.F. Powers. It is the story of a young man's love; love that brings out the best in a person, even if it does not become a relationship. Of the authors I had read before this story was the biggest surprise.

Behind The Wheel

I have been hearing about the writings of Carolyn Astfalk and I have picked up three of her novels. I just have not got around to reading them. But after reading this short story the novel Rightfully Ours, with the same characters jumped to the top of my reading list. This story is about taking a risk and breaking rules. But when the moment comes, will character come through or will it self-preservation win out? It was a great story and I look forward to reading more by Astfalk.

More Precious Than Gold

I have read both published novels by Wahl, and they are excellent. This book takes the couples from both of those stories and drops them into a new environment together. From The Perfect Blindside we have Jake and Sophie. And from An Unexpected Role we have Josie and Ryan. But in this story, they are volunteering for a week at a Christian camp for disadvantaged children. It's a story of being stuck between a rock and a hard place; or is it a hard case. A wonderful story, and great conclusion to the collection.

For fans of any of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contribution. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is for you also. And if you want some great reads that are clean Catholic fiction this is the book for you. This anthology is Amazing!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Links to other reviews of books by the contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

Anthologies from the Catholic Teen Books Authors:
Secrets Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories 
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens

Friday, 9 March 2018

Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Image and Likeness
Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Erin McCole Cupp (Editor)
Ellen Gable (Editor)
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915351

I am a big fan of anthologies. First I find they are a great way to meet new authors. Second I find the skill needed for shorter prose is greater. Third it is a great change of pace from non-fiction, and fiction. And this one was excellent on many levels. I had read 4 books by Full Quiver authors over the last year and decided this Anthology might be a great way to be exposed to some other authors to explore. Now to be honest I was familiar with a number of the authors and had read books by three of the seventeen. 

The contributors are:

Michelle Buckman  
AnnMarie Creedon  
Karina Fabian 
Anne Faye 
Ellen Gable (Hrkach) 
Barbara Hosbach 
Dena Hunt 
Katy Huth Jones 
Antony Barone Kolenc 
Theresa Linden 
Leslie Lynch 
Erin McCole Cupp 
John D. McNichol
Damon Owens 
Arthur Powers
Gerard D. Webster 
R. Elaine Westphal 

And the contributions are:

Foreword by Damon Owens
Venus if You Do by Arthur Powers
Thou by Gerard Webster
No Turning Back by Leslie Lynch
Purple Hearts by Tony Kolenc
Cries of the Innocents by Karina Fabian
Victorious by Katy Huth Jones
Movements by Michelle Buckman
Full Reversal by Theresa Linden
In the Death of Winter  by Arthur Powers
Guess Who's Coming to Sunday Brunch by Erin McCole Cupp
Nice by Gerard Webster 
My Pot of Gold by R Elaine Westphal
Claudio by Arthur Powers
This is My Body by AnnMarie Creedon
Good For Her by Erin McCole Cupp
Pear Trees by Dena Hunt
The Walk by Anne Faye
Two Kinds of People by John McNichol
Hard Choices by Barbara Hosbach
MS by Arthur Powers
Made For Love by Theresa Linden
The Death of Me, The Life of Us by Ellen Gable

But this is more than just a collection of stories with a theme, or unifying thread running throughout them. As Damon Owens in the introduction states: 
"The power of stories on people is a fascinating phenomenon. A poem, anecdote, short story, biography or novel can engage our imagination, intellect, emotions, and memory in transformative ways. We truly are "hard-wired" for story. As a Catholic speaker and evangelist for over twenty years, I have witnessed how a well-told story can build rapport, engender trust, and influence even the most reluctant listener."
C.S. Lewis in On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature stated: "It is very rarely that a middle-aged man finds an author who gives him, what he knew so often in his teens and twenties, the sense of having opened a new door." But this book did that. This book is not just a great collection of stories and it is that. Because the theme central to the stories is The Theology of the Body, the stories have incredible impact. I have already started reading through this a second time, taking a slower pace, and just one story every other night. I also have plans to read books by a number of the contributors, the ones I was already familiar with and some new authors to check out.

This book has punch, from the first story by Arthur Powers, which literally has a fist fight. And it is the not the only story to see actual punches thrown. These stories included unexpected pregnancies, the military's don't ask don't tell, vigils at abortion clinics, cancer. There are stories about living in a fallen world, but also stories about a redeemer, and the church that holds his banner high. I especially appreciated Theresa Linden's first contribution Full Reversal, which continues, sometime after her Chasing Liberty trilogy. And Ellen Gable's The Death of Me, the Life of Us is an incredibly moving piece dealing with guilt. And the poem MS by Arthur Powers simply masterful. 

Damon Owens in the introduction also stated: 
"I am indebted to the authors and poets of Image and Likeness for their gifted storytelling of real life "ugly." This book isn't afraid to hold our gaze into the darkness of sin, doubt, and brokenness before the resolution of redemption. Some of these stories are heartbreaking to read precisely because I know this is true. Some of them I will never forget because of their unexpected turn to redemption. Through and through, this is an artistic instruction in TOB that shows us the wounds needing the balm, the balm applied, and the health and wholeness of men and women healed. And, like every well-told story, its penetrating TOB truths will influence even the most reluctant reader."
And I completely agree. And I hope that the editors are considering adding a second volume. This is an incredible collection that I know everyone who gives it a try will be blessed, and likely a little challenged. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Road We Must Travel - Francis Chan, Eugene Paterson, Bill Hybels, and many more

The Road We Must Travel
Francis Chan, Eugene Paterson, Bill Hybels and more
Worthy Publishing
ISBN 9781617952913

I read a lot of books and I have read a number of books by authors in this collection going back many years. Few books really captivate me from the beginning these days. This book did, from starting to read the introduction I could hardly out the book down. The book beings with this example:

"It's all about the blue highlight.
The paper roadmaps earlier generations used to fold, crease, scribble on, repair with Scotch tape, and spread out on kitchen tables, shady picnic benches, and the front seats of station wagons and minivans have mostly faded from view.
It's all digital now.
The new maps are bright, intuitive, up-to-date, high-definition depictions glowing on the screens of smart phones, tablets, laptops, and sleek GPS units. These are maps that don't tear along the folds, wedge themselves between car seats, or soak up spilled coffee. You don't have to turn the glove compartment inside out to find them, and it doesn't take an engineering degree to refold them. You simply type in where you are, where you want to go and . . . voilà. There it is. The sweet certainty of what you wanted to know.
The blue highlight.
That calming, comforting, unmistakable sapphire line overlaying your course, illuminating your way, boldly directing you from Point A to Point B by the most efficient route.
Now . . . if only we had a blue highlight in life.
Wouldn't that be something? Key in where you are right now, enter "Heaven" as your final destination, and push the button. And there before your appreciative eyes is the course for the rest of your life-from now until you step across the threshold of glory.
But it doesn't work that way, does it? It's good and it's comforting to have a Point A and a Point B in our lives, but where is the line marking our route? What's around the bend? Where are the intersections?
What's the mileage? Will it be an eight-lane freeway or a winding, backcountry road with a few bridges washed out along the way?
How long will it take? Where are the exits, vistas, scenic byways, and rest stops?
We can ask all the specifics we like, but it really won't help. No one knows the precise route each of us will take to the other side.
There may be a clear destination-and thank God for that-but there is no blue highlight marking the course from here to there.
Sometimes that's okay, and sometimes it is not. We might even identify with Thomas who, in the grip of sorrow and fear, blurted out, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"1
Jesus, of course, told his anxious friend, "I am the way."
And he is! But he doesn't show any of us a highlighted route.
That remains a day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment proposition.
As Solomon noted: "The mind of man plans his way, but the
Lord directs his steps."2
We can, however, do this much: We can make sure we are prepared for the journey, no matter what the route might be. This book is all about that. It's not a road atlas, it's more like a travelogue, with strong ideas and helps for navigating life. No, it's not exactly like Rick Steves Does Europe, but here are twelve wise, seasoned, and companionable travelers who offer thoughtful, biblical counsel for our problems, solutions to common roadblocks, and welcome encouragement for the highway that lies ahead.
Yes, like it or not, we're all on the same road trip.
But not all of us travel with peace and perspective.
With a little help from these friends, maybe we can."

I was part way through reading this and stopped and read it out loud to my wife. We both thought of people who would love it. And the book goes on from there and just keeps getting better. This book was an amazing read. It is a wonderful collection of articles to help you on the journey of life. The contributors are:

Francis Chan
Eugene Paterson
Bill Hybels
Ruth Barton
Gordon MacDonald
Mark Buchanan
Nathan Conrad
Steve May
Tullian Tchividjian
Skye Jethani
Mark Labberton
Donald Sunukjian

And the chapters are:

Part I: Roadworthy
1. The Need for Honest Self-Assessment - Gordon MacDonald
2. Look at Yourself First - Bill Hybels
3. Avoiding Cultural Contamination - Mark Buchanan
4. The Fall - Nathan Conrad
Part II: Necessary Repairs
5. Tuning Your Engine - Francis Chan
6. Sharpen Your Sixth Sense - Bill Hybels
7. Reading the Bible Spiritually - Eugene Peterson
8. Tame the Restless Evil - Steve May
Part III: Washouts and Detours
9. Trouble Happens - Tullian Tchividjian
10. The Art of Managing Conflict - Gordon MacDonald
11. Bad Situations Are Great Opportunities - Mark Buchanan
Part IV: Traveling Light
12. A Steady Rhythm - Ruth Haley Barton
13. The Crucial Need for Regular Rest - Gordon MacDonald
14. Striving for Simplicity - Mark Buchanan
Part V: Peripheral Vision
15. Mentoring Others to Spiritual Maturity - Gordon MacDonald
16. Yield the Right-of-Way - Skye Jethani
17. The First Rule of the Road: Love - Mark Labberton
18. See with the Eyes of a Doctor - Donald Sunukjian

I think my favourite chapters was Mark Buchanan's - Avoid Cultural Contamination. This was an awesome read and I highly recommend it!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bones - Terrifying Tales to haunt Your Dream - Edited by Lois Metzger

Terrifying Tales to haunt Your Dream
Edited by Lois Metzger
ISBN 9780545158916

This collection of seven short stories is all about the strange, the unusual and haunting. It is at times funny and at times frightening. From a story about a cell phone that seems possessed but wants to make its owner a better person, to a box of bones that speaks to a young boy about the same age as the skeleton within, this collection is the companion to Bites Scary Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into and both are excellent reads. The contributors are:

Todd Strasser
David Levithan
Elizabeth C. Bunce
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Richard Peck
R.L. Stein
Margaret Mahy

This was a fun collection to read. Much like children telling ghost stories at camp or during a sleepover, these stories are intended to stir up the imagination and they do just that. Lois Metzger does an amazing job of compiling a collection that can be read again and again.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sideshow: Ten original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical - Ed. Deborah Noyes

Ten original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical
Deborah Noyes (Editor)
ISBN 9780763637521

In the last few years I have become a huge fan of anthologies. I usually pick them up because I know an author or two in the collection, but usually find a few new authors to look into deeper. This book was no different. I picked it up for three reasons: first, it was from Candlewick and I have yet to read anything from them that was not enjoyable. Second and third, Cecil Castellucci and Cynthia Leitich Smith both had stories in the collection, and I have read almost all of their respective works. The contributors are:

David Almond
Aimee Bender
Cecil Castellucci
Shawn Cheng
Annette Curtis Klause
Margo Lanagan
Danica Novgorodoff
Matt Phelan
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Vivian Vande Velde

The subtitle of this book is Ten original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical. It lived up to that title. These stories are great, from circus freaks to family secrets. Some stories will haunt, some will disturb and all will entertain.

The individual stories are:

The Bearded Girl - Aimee Bender
Those Psychics on TV - Vivian Vande Velde
Year of the Rat - Danica Novorodoff
The Mummy's Daughter - Annette Curtis Klause
When God Came to Kathleen's Garden - David Almond
The Shadow Troupe - Shawn Cheng
Cat Calls - Cynthia Leitich Smith
The Bread Box - Cecil Castellucci
Living Curiosities - Margo Lanagan
Jargo! - Matt Phelan

This was a great collection. Pick it up and maybe you also will discover some new authors from which to read.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Vacations From Hell - Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Mlynowski

Vacations From Hell
Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Mlynowski

Harper Collins
Browse Inside
ISBN 9780061688720

ISBN 9780061861673 eBook

This year I have found a renewed interest and love for short fiction. I like anthologies for the opportunity to discover or experience different authors in a short time frame. I had encountered two of the authors in this collection in Geektastic, and enjoyed their work, the other authors in this assortment I had heard fabulous things about, so I wanted to give it a try, I was not disappointed. There are five amazing stories by five gifted authors in this collection and it will wet your appetite to read more by these writers. So come and take a journey through 5 vacations from hell. I am also looking forward to the sister volumes from this one, Love is Hell and Prom Nights From Hell. So let's take a look at each of our contributors and their contribution.

Crusin' - Sarah Mlynowski
What would you do if you were on a cruise ship with a close friend and a new friend, and the newspaper has stories about passengers going missing. What About if you started noticing people were missing from your ship. What is the newspaper says 'Vampires Attack Cruise Ships'. Would you be scared, or whould you think it is a joke. In this very interesting twist on vampires, and girls just looking to have fun read and find out. Sarah Mlynowski has written numerous novels, Bras & Broomsticks, Frogs & French Kisses, Spells & Sleeping Bags and more. Originally from Montreal, Sarah now lives and writes live from New York City.

I Don't Like Your Girlfriend - Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray is the author of Evernight, Stargazer and Hourglass. Prior to being a fulltime writer she worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and an extremely poor waitress. She lives in New York City. In this story, Claudia Gray in this story weaves a tale of a women's fraternity of witches, it is a reunion of a coven from university, a group of women who get together every summer with their families, and practice their arts. Their husbands have grown close through these yearly trips but know nothing about their true or ultimate purpose. Cecily Harper hates the annual trips or more importantly she hates her arch nemesis Kathleen Pruitt. Kathleen is prettier, has more money and always puts Cecily down. But these young witches are not suppose to be working major magic on their own. But rivalry can either bring out the best or the worst in a person. Find out what happens in this case.

The Law Of Suspects - Maureen Johnson
In this story two sisters from the states are visiting France and some distance relatives. They meet strange men and their life starts to go sideways. Unlike Vegas what happens in France may not always stay in France. Maureen Johnson is the critically acclaimed author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Key to the Golden Firebird, Girl at Sea and Suite Scarlett. She lives, writes blogs and tweets from New York City.

The Mirror House - Cassandra Clare
Mixed families can be bad at the best of times, but what if step brother and step sister kind of have the hots for each other? What if Stepdad starts verbally and physically abusing the mom on the honeymoon? Then what if the natives are warning you about the woman next door, that she has dark magic? This is a tremendous story by Cassandra Clare is the bestselling author of City of Bones, City Of Ashes, and City of Glass. City of Bones was a Locus Award finalist for Best First Novel and an ALA Teens' Top Ten winner. She is also the author of the upcoming YA fantasy trilogy The Infernal Devices. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her boyfriend and cats.

Nowhere Is Safe - Libba Bray
Four friends are touring through Europe before starting college in the fall. They decide to visit a small town with a festival in a town of Necuratul, a town legend has it made a deal with the devil for protection and prosperity. But with hard times and the town slated to be wiped out for a powerplant, maybe they are looking to return to the old ways. A fantastic story and maybe we will see more. Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far. She also currently resides in New York City.

These five authors from New York has cast spells, told tales, brought luck and hopefully they will entertain you as much as they did me, in this incredible collection.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For - Edited by Lois Metzger

Be Careful What You Wish For
Ten Stories About Wishes

Edited by Lois Metzger


ISBN 9780439933346

This collection of ten short stories is all about wishing. It is also a warning about wishes not always going the way you expect no matter how careful you think you are being. It is also about real wishes, when you are desperate and need help and sometimes it comes through, often from unexpected people. It is a good collection. The contributors are:

Louise Hawes
A. LaFaye
Gail Carson Levine
Patricia McCormick
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Liz Rosenberg
Catherine Stine
Rachael Vail
Deborah Wiles
Jane Yolen
Heidi E.Y. Stemple

And now for a look at each of these pieces and see where a simple wish can take us.

Wish Week
Gail Carson Levine
What would you wish for if you went to a school and everybody in the 6th grade got a wish and knew it would come true? Now you know you need to be careful because you do not want Post Wish Trauma, and your wish will only come true for the week. Or what if you cannot decide on a good safe wish. That is the situation for Tam.

That's the Way the Fortune Cookie Crumbles
Louise Hawes
You think your life stinks. Your older sister got the looks, the brains and the talent. Then one night at dinner you get a fortune cookie different than everybody else's. The owner says it is like a scroll fragment monks use. You think you might have a real wish. What would you wish for - to trade places with your sister, to make her pay? … read and find out.

Our Pig, Satin
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Every day you wish for a pet pig. You dream of the pig, you have conversations with it. Your mother and grandmother mock your dreams and consider you sour when you sit and wish and dream. But maybe wishing isn't so bad after all, especially if you share your wish with a new friend.

Five Djinn in a Bottle
Liz Rosenberg
Five little genies trapped in a jar. One grumpy man trying to make careful wishes. But maybe one genie would be bad enough but trying to outwit five? Heaven help the man.

Black Sheep of the Family
Patricia McCormick
Ever wish one day you would wake up and be told your family wasn't your family? There was a mistake at the hospital, you were adopted. What if it happened your cousin told you that you were, and you started to believe it? How would you determine the truth? Would you try the scientific method?

The Fashion Contest
Catherine Stine
You and your arch rival at school end up in a fashion-walk off for history class. How did you let that happen to your tomboy self? Read and find out.

The Reason I will Love John MacFarlane Jr. Until the Day I Die
Rachael Vail
This is an incredibly moving story. It almost brought me to tears. Who has not been touched by cancer? Best in the bunch.

Be Careful What You Wish For
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
How would you react if, when you hit a rock with a Karate punch you woke a Genius Loci? You ask him to fix your family because you just learned that your parents are splitting up. He laughs at you and tells you it isn't his department. But maybe he sends his friend to visit you - a fairy godmother. You know wishes in stories don't often work out the way you expect, so you are very careful about the wording you use. So how come everything seems to be going sideways?

Beggar's Ride
A. LaFaye
You wish your twin brothers would be quiet, or considerate or even just less obnoxious. But then they go missing at a truck stop. Would you really wish them gone?

Star Light, Star Bright
Deborah Wiles
You are poor, at a new school and in a new town. You wish for just one friend, a real friend. What if it seems your wish is coming true? And yet things are not always what they appear. But sometimes, just sometimes, we do realize our wishes. Read and find out how.

This collection was a good collection of short stories, but not really my favorite. I had read another collection Bites! Stories to Sink your Teeth Into, by the same editor. This one is a little too much Chick-lit for me. But good stories overall and would definitely be good for younger female readers. Again, as a tribute to Metzger's editorship, there was not a story that I really didn't enjoy.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Bites! Scary Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into - Edited by Lois Metzger

Bites Scary
Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into

Edited by Lois Metzger

ISBN 9780545158909

This collection of seven short stories is all about the creatures of the night, from vampires, to werewolves to Ghosts or at least spirits. It is at times funny and at times frightening. It presents the creatures of the night in many new lights. This will entertain and surprise and maybe just cause you to reflect on the stereotypes you hold about creatures, though different from still creatures with feelings and their own outlook on life, afterlife or undead depending on how you look at them. The contributors are:

Neal Shusterman
Terry Black
Ellen Wittlinger
Christopher Paul Curtis
Douglas Rees
Kevin Emerson
Joshua Gee
Peter Lerangis

And now for a look at each of these morsels to give you a sampling of the flavor of these Bites.

Perpetual Pest
Neal Shusterman and Terry Black
Neal is an award winning author of more than 30 books for young adults. This is his first collaborative effort with Terry. Terry writes books, movies, TV and cartoons. He won an award for his work on Tales from the Crypt. Neil is best known for his novels Unwind, Full Tilt and The Shadow Club. In this tale two brothers break into the Perpetual Rest Cemetery to rob graves of their riches. But they find something they had not been expecting.

Ghost Dog
Ellen Wittlinger
Sometimes things are not always what they appear to be. In this wonderfully crafted tale, Jack had to move to the middle of nowhere after his parents divorce, and being summer break, he has met few people. The one friend he has tells him a story about a ghost dog. But maybe that isn't the only ghost in the story. Ellen has published 14 novels and won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award. Her most popular works included Sandpiper, Blind Faith, Parrotfish and Love and Lies.

Going Old School In The Age of Obama
Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher, a former auto worker from Flint Michigan, has both a Newbery Honor and Medal book in The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy. He has written numerous books for young adults. In the Age of Obama the vampires have come out of the woodwork and are accepted. They are the double hyphens - Vamp-Afro-American is the tag our hero wears. Maurice is a nice young vampire; he gets his blood from the bank, and would never imagine biting someone's throat … or that is until he has a vision from his grant grandpa.

Anasazi Breakdown
Douglas Rees
You are on a road trip with your mother after your father passes away. His dying wish was for you and your mom to make the trip the three of you had always planned. When in an Anasazi ruins, you see a piece of pottery, and even though you know you shouldn't, you snatch it up. But that is just the beginning of your problems - soon you twist your knee and the car breaks down. Is it all related? Douglas is a man of many talents, most known for his Vampire High, Smoking Mirror and Uncle Pirate. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 12 but it took him until he was 50 to publish his first novel. Both his Biography and his alternative biography are worth a read.

The Coffin Deliveries
Kevin Emerson (blog)
As the author of the immensely popular Oliver Nocturne, Kevin is no stranger to writing about the supernatural. You have witnessed 5 coffins being delivered to a house on your way to school. Pets are missing from all over the neighborhood. What would ever cause you to check out the back of the house? Could you end up becoming a guest of honor at a vampire dinner?

Where Wolves Never Wander
Joshua Gee (blog)
Joshua is the author of the award-winning book Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying TRUTH About Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters and More. This is a horror story told by wolves to young wolves to protect them and help them avoid a fate worse than death. Read and find out what the wolves are afraid of.

I, Blooder
Peter Lerangis
This was a fantastic story, about a young vampire who is different from all the others. First he is pink not pale white, second he does not have the powers the others have, but he also has strength they do not. He can tolerate the sun, and he can stay awake during the day. Written in part as a story and in part as a research paper with extensive footnotes, this was a great tale and could be worked into an excellent novel. Peter is an award-winning author with more than 160 books to his credit, including 2 of the 10 books in the immensely popular 39 Clues series.

All in all this was a fun collection presenting some very new twists on old tales and legends. Each author presented a convincing piece that was enjoyable to read. Usually when I read an anthology or collection like this one, there is often one that sticks out as the strongest or the weakest. That was not the case this time around. That would be a credit to Lois Metzger's editing.