A Review of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I read this in 2016 when it came out and it was one of my favorite books of that year. It is also a Jimmy Patterson Presents book. Yes, James Patterson has an imprint, and no these books are nothing like his books. If you haven’t read this I highly recommend that you do. Just go to the library or go onto Amazon and buy it. You will thank me later for the recommendation either that or you will think I’m really crazy for liking it. I don’t know. What I do know is that this book is a wonderful story which reimagines the Jack the Ripper murders and who and why they happened.

The story begins with 17 year old Audrey Rose Wadsworth, who is a daughter of a Lord in England, and hates everything about that fancy lifestyle and prefers to cut open dead bodies and study forensic medicine in her uncles Laboratory, against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations. During her time with her uncle they come across what looks like women killed by the same person and if so they are dealing with a serial killer. Thus with the help of Thomas Cresswell, a charming young man, Audrey tracks down the serial Killer and is in for quite a shock.

Kerri Maniscalco is a great writer and storyteller. This book was her Debut, and she came out with ripping good story.  She captured my attention with the very first line, and I knew I was going to love this book.

 

A Review of The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

With elegant writing and vivid imagery, The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi’s first debut novel, is sure to become a favorite among fantasy lovers everywhere. It is a story about Mayavati, a princess of the Raja of Bharata, who has been cursed. She is swept away by a mysterious man named Amar who brings her to a land between the real world and the Otherworld. A Land full of mysteries. Maya has no idea whether she can trust this mysterious man. She discovers things about herself and about the palace. She makes mistakes and has to fix them.

This story is a magical tale. Loved it. Roshani Chokshi brings Indian Folklore and Mythology to life in a great Debut Novel. There were a couple of make out scenes thoughout no sex scenes. So a clean book in that regard, which I was supper happy about. It drives me nuts when an author just throws in a sex scene for no apparent reason. Although this book is Fantasy it is also Romance. It stays clean though. So, thank you Roshani Chokshi. I can actually recommend this to my nieces and nephews.

On Goodreads you get a lot of naysayers who complain about the flowery imagery and complaining about some confusion during reading the book. However, I think that is a bit harsh. The only complaint I have is with the very slim Glossary at the end. But other than that it was a wonderful read. Highly recommend it.

A Review of The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

One would think that a book that is less than 200 pages would not be a book worth reading. However, The Ocean at the End of the Lane while being just 181 pages long it is a great literary piece of fiction to say the least. It is a book that has to do with Childhood and all of the insecurities and fears that go with it. It has to do with Imagination: A fort is really a spaceship, a duck pond is actually an Ocean, and the list goes on. It is a story of disappointments, fears, dreams and hopes. This book has one central theme, and that is the juxtaposition of the imagination of Childhood and the stark reality of Adulthood.

The book starts out with a middle-aged man, who remains nameless throughout the book. He returns home to attend a funeral, and goes back to his childhood home. He continues further down the lane to visit the home of a girl that he met when he was 7 years old. He finds the pond which the girl named  Lettie Hempstock called her Ocean. It was at this Ocean that he remembers everything all of his childhood memories come rushing back to him. It is thus that this middle-aged man recounts a tale about his 7th birthday party in which nobody showed up. We can all remember disappointments in our Childhood. He tells a story about a man committing suicide, which awakens a monster, of terrible beauty, but is deadly. He tells us of a story in which an extraordinary girl named Lettie Hempstock helps him face the terrible darkness and evil. He tells the story of his fathers infidelity with the woman, who is actually a monster. Isn’t that how kids view the person who lured their parent away from their mother or father? As a monster. As someone who is out to bring heartache and misery to their family. As I was reading this book, I found that I considered this woman to be what sin is like. It promises happiness and self-security, but yet it is full of death and destruction and pain. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who saw it in that way, I probably am.

While this book has been called a fantasy book, it is very different then most fantasy. However, if you are like my mother, who doesn’t have a imagination, and hates all things fantasy/science fiction. Then maybe you shouldn’t read it. But hey who knows you may actually like it.  But if you are like me who grew up with an imagination you will love this book.

I would say that voice and tone and character development could have been stronger. But as Neil Gaiman made clear this book was supposed to be a short story and it turned into a novel, a short novel, but a novel nonetheless. You can only say so much and develop your characters so much in a novel of just 181 pages.

A Review of Between the Blade and The Heart, Book One of Valkyrie Series by Amanda Hocking

This is the first book of a two book series called Valkyrie. Obviously it is a series that is supposed to be inspired off of the Norse Myths. I mean Valkyrie gives it away. While one could argue that this story is loosely based off of the Norse Myths. Loosely being the key word. I am going to argue that this book verges so radically from who Valkyries are in the Norse Myths, that to say that this book is inspired by the Norse Myths is stretching. Sure, Amanda Hocking uses the name Valkyries, But her Valkyries are radically different from the Valkyries of the Norse Myths. This is because Valkyries in the Norse Myths were an all women squad who had the ability to bring those who died a heroic and brave death, and bring them to Valhalla.

Also, according to this website, https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/valkyries/:

The meaning of their name, “choosers of the slain,” refers not only to their choosing who gains admittance to Valhalla, but also to their choosing who dies in battle and using malicious magic to ensure that their preferences in this regard are brought to fruition.

Now what is Amanda Hocking’s Valkyries: Women Assassins who kill demons in order to return them to the afterlife. They receive there orders from the Eralim. Who are the Eralim you may be asking I will use the words of the Author who states:

The other gods cried out, saying that Odin was playing favorites if the human could kill the immortals at will. So an intermediary was put in place–the Eralim, angelic beings who would take orders from the gods about what immortal should be slain and when. The Eralim would give the orders to the Valkyries, so that the humans never interacted directly with the gods.

So there are humans and there are immortals (cyclopes, demons that sort of thing and yes there is a cyclops in the book). The Valkyries in Amanda Hocking’s story have now become Women Assassins who kill immortals and return them back to where they came from. These Women Assassins might as well be called Angelic beings who fight the demonic Hordes of Satan. I mean seriously I could tie this book into Christianity, or Greek and Roman Mythology with that Cyclops. If my memory serves me right there are no cyclops in Norse Mythology. This is a story that doesn’t just use Norse Mythology, but rather all myths. Gorgons, which there was one in this book,  are not Norse Mythology. They are part of the Greek and Roman Myths. Like I’ve said this is a book that is just a mish-mash of different myths through in a couple of events and a couple of main characters and look that you have yourself a story.

No longer are Valkyries these women who through magic, allow a human warrior die in battle. No longer are Valkyries responsible to ferry the heroic warriors to Valhalla. Valkyries now are Women Assassins in this Young Adult novel.

However, while this story is clearly not like Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy by Rick Riordan, which is actually based on and holds true to the Norse Myths for the most part, Amanda Hocking has certainly created a very interesting world and story.

Our main Heroine is Malin Krigare, who is a Valkyrie and is about to receive her license so she can go off on her own and not be monitored by her mother when she goes out on assignments, which she receives from Samuel one of the Eralim. Yet she stumbles upon a secret that could lead to dreadful repercussions. So Malin, with the help of her ex-girlfriend, and best friend must decide where their loyalties lie. Malin must also decide whether to help Asher and if doing so is worth it.

However, it does get better halfway into it. It had this Blade Runner feel to it that was interesting. It was set in this city that seemed run down, and almost dystopian but not quite, but close.

A Review of Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

This is the first book to come out from the Imprint of Rick Riordan. Rick Riordan informs us that:

An imprint is like a brand, a subdivision within a publishing company that usually specialized in one particular kind of book. If we were talking about movie studios, for instance, you could describe Disney as the publisher, with various “imprints” under their umbrella – Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney Animation, etc., each making a different kind of film, but all part of Disney.

With publishing, Disney Worldwide Publishing is the main company I work with. They have published all my various mythology-based books. Rick Riordan Presents will be a small branch of that very large publishing house. Our hope is to eventually publish about four books a year under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, two books every fall and two every spring. All these will be books that my editor Steph Lurie and I feel will appeal to kids who like my books. In other words, they will probably be some type of fantasy, with lots of humor and action, and probably draw on myth or folklore in some way.

http://rickriordan.com/2017/04/rick-riordan-presents/

It is thus with great anticipation and high expectation that readers who like Rick Riordan, are going to read this book and the many more to come.

The story is great. It begins with Aru Shah, who lies to her schoolmates to make her life have more excitement and it gets her into trouble a lot. She is also the reincarnation of one of the five Pandava brothers, although she doesn’t learn that piece of information until after disaster strikes. She, on a dare and to impress her schoolmates, lights a cursed lamp which unleashes a demon, she then has to team up with another reincarnated brother, who is now also a girl. and Shakuni, who is now reincarnated and is now a Pigeon named Boo. Reincarnation sucks. Aru Shah and Mini her sister along with Boo the Pigeon there helper/guidance councilor has to find out a way to destroy the Sleeper, the demon who will summon and awaken Lord Shiva, the Lord of Destruction who will bring about the end of time itself.

While the plot is great and intriguing, the Characters, except for Boo who is great, were kind of flat and boring. Also, while there were funny moments at times, it could have been way funnier, but alas it wasn’t at least for me. Despite that it was a good beginning for a hopefully great series from Roshani pronounced Roshni, who also goes by Rosh. The next book which is going to be called: “Aru Shah and the Song of Death” is expected to come out April 0f 2019. There will be four books in the Pandava Quartet Series. I will be looking forward to reading more from Rick Riordan Presents.

A Review of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

I love Science Fiction, almost as much as I love fantasy. I can remember watching Star Trek with my Dad, and also Star Wars. But I could tell even from my young age that there were differences between Star Trek and Star Wars. One was meant simply to be an enjoyment while the other was meant to teach us something about the world in which Star Trek first made an appearance. Sadly the New Star Trek Movies are just like the Star Wars movies. Hopefully Star Wars Discovery TV show goes back and reclaim some of what was so great about the Old Star Trek Shows.

Due to my love of Science Fiction, I decided to read a Sci-Fi book which came out in 2016 by Yoon Ha Lee, who is Asian American, born in Houston, Texas, The book is called Ninefox Gambit. The book is about Captain Kel Charis of the Hexarchate which is the the Government within the world that Yoon Ha Lee has created. Kel Charis returns from a battle, in which she used heretical (unconventional) style warfare, and is sent on a suicide mission with some hel (which will be unnamed don’t want to spoil the book now). While the book was enjoyable and has a little bit of swearing. It also has a flashback scene late in the book in which a man is raped by a woman, and it isn’t graphic.

However what could have made this book so much better would have been to have an appendix explaining about all the factions and the Government. However there is on the authors website a link to that sort of information. Another thing that would have made it better is having a a glossary. There were many words that are specific things within world of Ninefox Gambit that I had no clue what they were or how they worked what their purpose was: like this: Weather-eaters. Yeah I had to look the word up online. What it is is kind of pretty simple: “A weather-eater is a Kel military device designed to control local weather conditions,” http://machineries-of-empire.wikia.com/wiki/Weather-eater, but still it would have been helpful to have it in the book. However, other than that this is a fun and great read. All science-fiction lovers will like it.

A Life Changing Book: A Review of How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by the peeps at the Babylon Bee

The Babylon Bee is a Christian satirical website that uses humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose the sometimes idiotic way Christians do life. I love the Babylon Bee, it is my kind of humor. They have recently put out a full length book called: How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living, it was funny, pointed, and hit all the right areas. I loved it. It made me laugh really hard.

This book is among the best Christian books written, it has been ranked among the likes of Pilgrims Progress, and Mere Christianity. It is a book that will become a Classic. As Italo Calvino, in The Uses of Literature wrote: “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” As long as superficial Christians exist this book will never finish saying what it has to say.

To begin with the Babylon Bee talks about how to join the right church they begin: “You want to be a perfect Christian, and that is a noble goal indeed. But the first things first. It’s impossible to get to the maximum level of holiness if you’re currently attending a church that is focused on the wrong things, namely, on anything other than you.” That is all you need to know about joining the right church. Any Church that has doctrinal statements or is big on evangelization, you should avoid like the plague, since those churches clearly are others oriented.

Then now that you are about to enter into the new church that you have selected to test out, The Babylon Bee leads you through the Sunday Worship Concert, and will give such advice as:

As the worship band wraps up its first song, the worship leader will inevitably some at the crowd and ask you all to turn to your neighbor and recite some rich theological phrase like “Smile, God thinks you’re amazing!” or “Neighbor, I got the victory!”

Friend, this is a test! Only baby Christians fall for this trap. Do not turn to your neighbor. Do not move. Stand strong and stare straight ahead, ignoring anyone who dares to approach you during this manufactured time of fellowship and greeting in order to shake your hand. Be a rock.

People will notice and will respect you for this. You’re already making a name for yourself!

Remember that it is all about you all this fellowship and greeting time is to be avoided at all costs.

Now you have mercifully survived the Sunday Worship Meeting, The Babylon Bee now leads you into many other things like: how to do life together, that has nothing to do with discipleship. Also it will help you look really spiritual online, like taking pictures of your bible open with a cup of coffee in the picture. and much much more greatness.

This book is a must read by all Christians, who are looking to deepen their understanding of the Spiritual Christian culture in America. I will not be surprised if there will be many Doctorate dissertations that will spring up from this book.

 

 

Who was Christopher Columbus?: A review of Christopher Columbus: The Catholic Discovery of America by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

I am a person who likes reading obscure books, books that most of my friends have never heard of. I also like reading books that try to reeducate our culture about what actually happened in history. Especially if that history has been distorted and twisted. This is what Fr. John Hardon seeks to do in Christopher Columbus: The Catholic Discovery of America. He argues that the History books about Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the New World do not do justice to the kind of man Christopher Columbus was and more importantly has utterly distorted our understanding of who Christopher Columbus was. He states: “Hundreds of biographies of Christopher Columbus have been written in the last five centuries. They range from the poetic to the highly critical. As a result, it is not always easy to identify the real Columbus from the person who is responsible for discovering the New World.”

It is thus that Fr. John Hardon seeks to lay out a defense of Christopher Columbus the Catholic, who through Divine Providence discovered the New World, and as Fr. John argues, “opened the door to the most phenomenal spread of Christianity since the time of St. Paul.”

His book stemmed from several lectures that he gave. In 6 short chapters Fr. John gives a defense against the common view that most modern historians have about Christopher Columbus. In this book Fr. John paints Christopher Columbus out as a true God-fearing Catholic. Now obviously we know that Christopher Columbus didn’t actually “discover” America in the sense that he was the first person there. We also know that he didn’t even discover North America. He discovered rather various islands and Central America.

Modern Historians butcher Christopher Columbus, who was a devote Catholic, a man with a vision to bring the Faith of Christ to the Indies, and maybe find gold spices and treasure while he is there. While he unfortunately did not reach the East Indies, he did bring the Catholic Faith to half of the World. This is what most modern historians, according to Fr. John, fail to realize.

There was only one glaring fault in the book and that is there was no work cited page. This book would be an interesting read for anyone interested in Christopher Columbus.

 

 

What are the things that Catholics can believe about Mary, but aren’t obligated to: A Review of Mary, Mother of the Son Volume 3: Miracles, Devotion, and Motherhood

Mariology is the study of Mary, and in that study there are 4 Dogmas which is apart of Sacred Tradition, and a lot of traditions, that Catholics don’t have to believe in or participate in if they don’t want to. This may come as a surprise to Evangelicals. It is in volume 3 of Mary, Mother of the Son: Miracles, Devotion, and Motherhood that Mark Shea, informs his reader, hopefully Evangelicals, about the mass amounts of traditions, like the Rosary and Marian apparitions, which are not part of Sacred Tradition, and therefore are not binding on the Catholic Faithful. However this does not mean that they are just pious ideas or thoughts, with no biblical backing whatsoever, but rather they are worthy of belief and participation.

Mark Shea explains in 4 chapters the devotional names and devotions that Catholics have used in honoring Mary. The most popular Marian devotion is the Rosary in which Mark Shea devotes an entire Chapter to it. Though out the centuries there have been Miracles that have been attributed to Mary’s intercession. Some of these Miracles especially the ones at Lourdes have been not only recognized by the Vatican but have been medically verified. It is interesting that if I asked Evangelicals if they believe that miracles happen today. They will say of course. So if you believe in Miracles Evangelicals, go look at the Miracles that were done through the Intercession of Mary, and ask yourself. If God is performing Miracles at Lourdes then doesn’t that mean that He is confirming Catholics practice of asking Mary for interceding upon their behalf? So why are you all uptight about this practice?

In fact I have on two occasions prayed to two different Saints, one was to St. Anthony the Patron Saint of Lost Things, and St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Happy Deaths. In the first, my mother lost her keys, so I being the good Catholic son that I am whispered a prayer to Saint Anthony and asked him to help my mother to find her keys, and sure enough my mother found her keys, when I told my mom that St. Anthony helped her find her keys she said that she prayed to Jesus and he answered her prayers, and I thought silently to myself, maybe he did that mostly to confirm to me that it is okay to ask for Saints intercession and help. Secondly, I asked St. Joseph to ask his adopted son Jesus to give my grandfather and happy and peaceful death, and the next day my grandfather passed away, surrounded by family. Did Jesus answer my prayer? I think he did, which means that asking for Mary and the Saints intercession is something that not only does Jesus allow but he receives all the more Glory and Worship because of it.

I remember another conversation that I had with my parents, it had to do with Mary as Mother of the Church and therefore Mother of all those who believe in Christ. I said something to the affect that Mary was our mother in the Lord. They abruptly cut me off and said nope thats not true, you only have one mother. That’s true I only have one biological Mother. But can’t I not have Spiritual Moms just as I also have spiritual Fathers, and can not Mary be the unique Spiritual Mother to all of Sons and Daughters of the Church. If Jesus Christ is the Son of Mary and is the Founder of the Church, then does that not mean that we the Church the body of Christ are also her spiritual sons and daughters.

Throughout the 4 Chapters Mark Shea explains all about miracles devotions and the motherhood of Mary. Evangelicals would find a lot of interesting things in this book. You should read it.

The Wonder of Reading

Last year I had eye trouble – it is called keratoconus. It is an eye degenerate disease which makes the cornea bulge out and makes your eyesight very bad and blurry. It was very bad in my left eye so much so that I couldn’t read that well and had to have an cornea transplant. Having gone through this experience I was reminded that reading is a wonder, and the Eye is a complex and wonderful thing. A lot of times I think we tend to take reading for granted.

Then there are the people who don’t like to read. I really don’t understand those people. I understand if you have difficult in reading well. But for those who can read and still don’t like it. Well that guys boggles my mind. Reading is a wonder. You can explore whole new worlds like Narnia and Middle Earth. You can visit Hogwarts with Harry Potter and his Friends. I mean you can go back in time and see what life was like for those in the Civil War, or WWI or WWII. You can learn about things that interest you.

Reading is such a pleasure. Yet in our day and age people are reading books on kindles and nooks and online. Reading a book has become something of a novelty among the younger crowd. Sooner or later, people who actually read books will stick out like a sore thumb. No longer will the saying be: “You will know they are nerds if they have the latest gadget”. But rather: “You will know they are nerds if they have a book in their hands.” George R.R. Martin has it right when he states: ““A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.”