The Exorcist (The Exorcist #1) ★★☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Exorcist
Series: The Exorcist #1
Author: William Blatty
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 282
Words: 101K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and is studying ancient relics. After discovering a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Assyrian demon), a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which, unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa.

Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil is living with her famous mother, actress Chris MacNeil, who is in Georgetown filming a movie. As Chris finishes her work on the film, Regan begins to become inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances in their rented house, for which Chris attempts to find rational explanations, Regan begins to rapidly undergo disturbing psychological and physical changes: she refuses to eat or sleep, becomes withdrawn and frenetic, and increasingly aggressive and violent. Chris initially mistakes Regan’s behavior as a result of repressed anger over her parents’ divorce and absent father.

After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan’s mother, an atheist, turns to a local Jesuit priest for help as Regan’s personality becomes increasingly disturbed. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.

The bishop with whom he consults does not believe Karras is qualified to perform the rites, and appoints the experienced Merrin—who has recently returned to the United States—to perform the exorcism, although he does allow the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests both physically and spiritually. When Merrin, who had previously suffered cardiac arrhythmia, dies during the process, completion of the exorcism ultimately falls upon Father Karras. When he demands that the demonic spirit inhabit him instead of the innocent Regan, the demon seizes the opportunity to possess the priest. Karras heroically surrenders his own life in exchange for Regan’s by jumping out of her bedroom window and falling to his death, regaining his faith in God as his last rites are read.

My Thoughts:

I think this book would have been much easier to read as fictional horror if I didn’t believe that demons are real, that possessions are real or that exorcisms are real. That being said, Blatty is no Christian. He grew up catholic and this story deeply reflects that but he was what you’d call a “nominal” catholic. A “nominal” X is someone who likes to say he is X but only believes or practices select bits of X while criticizing and trying to change every other bit of X. It is kind of like saying you love pizza and then only eating the cheese and throwing the rest away.

My main issues with this book weren’t about the demon possession or the nature of evil. Unfortunately, it was all with the nature of God. The older priest, Merrin, believes that God is an Omega Point (from what I understand that is extremely similar to the hindu idea of Nirvana, where everyone becomes part of one gigantic thingamajig and loses their individuality). That is extremely problematic for me as it denies what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible as a personal God. It also makes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection meaningless as we’re all going to reach perfection naturally on our own through evolution.

My other issue is that Jesus, as God, is barely mentioned. In the Bible, in the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus and then later others, cast out demons in Jesus name. They didn’t use complicated rituals and perform mystical ceremonies. The name of Jesus has power for those who believe in Him. It really felt like the author believed in the power of evil and demons but wasn’t quite so sure about the power of God.

With these issues in mind, I think this is going to be the first and last book by Blatty that I read. There’s a sequel to this called Legion that I had on my TBR but that’s not going to happen now.

On a final note, ouija boards are dangerous. They open the user up to the supernatural and unfortunately, only the evil side of that. Don’t play around with them folks, they are not a game.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Innocence of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #1
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 269
Words: 78K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

“The Blue Cross”, The Story-Teller, September 1910; first published as “Valentin Follows a Curious Trail”, The Saturday Evening Post, 23 July 1910

“The Secret Garden”, The Story-Teller, October 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Sep 3, 1910

“The Queer Feet”, The Story-Teller, November 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 1, 1910)

“The Flying Stars”, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1911.

“The Invisible Man”, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1911. (Cassell’s Magazine, Feb 1911)

The Honour of Israel Gow (as “The Strange Justice”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 March 1911.

“The Wrong Shape”, The Saturday Evening Post, 10 December 1910.

“The Sins of Prince Saradine”, The Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1911.

The Hammer of God (as “The Bolt from the Blue”, The Saturday Evening Post, 5 November 1910.

“The Eye of Apollo”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 February 1911.

“The Sign of the Broken Sword”, The Saturday Evening Post, 7 January 1911.

“The Three Tools of Death”, The Saturday Evening Post, 24 June 1911.

My Thoughts:

While this series is categorized as a mystery, it’s not Sherlock or Wimsey or even Wolfe. Father Brown doesn’t go around looking at a thread caught on a bush and extrapolate the life story of the perp and then reveal him to the authorities. No, Father Brown studies the nature of fallen humanity, discovers the culprit and tries to get them to do the right thing, whether repentance or turning themselves in.

Chesterton was a converted Catholic and as such, Father Brown is pretty strong on his catholic doctrine. At the same time, it really didn’t come across as Chesterton trying to preach or convert his readers. He was trying to tell a great story first and for me, it worked.

The main thing that worked best for me though was the short story aspect. Chesterton wrote each story for a magazine back in the day and then had them collected later. I didn’t have to power through a whole novel and I could stop between stories without losing anything. I appreciate that simplicity and lack of tangled complexity that a lot of modern books seem to deliberately aim for.

One interesting aspect that stood out to me was that in several of the stories the villain of the piece took poison rather than face public justice. That happened in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey books too and I wonder if it was a “sensibility of the times” thing? I don’t think of the bad guys of today taking poison but either fighting or flight’ing or of readers caring one way or the other. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if it happens in any more stories.

A good addition to my reading rotation. Since I am also reading several other mystery series, I am going to be switch hitting the Complete Works of Chesterton with the Complete Works of the Sisters’ Bronte. That way I don’t Mystery myself out 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Crusade (Saint Tommy, NYPD #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Crusade
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #5
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 171
Words: 53.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal.

With the help of a local german police officer, a jewish rabbi with the secret of the golem at his fingertips and a group of bavarian special forces armed with paintball guns filled with holy water, it’s up to Tommy to put a stop to the rite that will raise Asmodeous the demon. Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t get there in time and a hell gate is opened. This allows Jade, the succubus who ran the sex trafficking ring to gain incredible amounts of power and become a low level demon herself. She and Tommy duke it out, Tommy wins and they find Asmodeous trapped within a circle. The battle exorcist from the previous book is left to deal with him.

Tommy adopts one of the girls rescued from the sex ring and it turns out she has some sort of psychic powers. With his wife just having given birth to his own biological daughter, Tommy’s family is growing by leaps and bounds,

My Thoughts:

I think the first thing I need to say is that this book doesn’t shy away from some very tough subjects. Sex trafficking is not only happening in Africa or the Middle East or South America. It is happening here in the United States and in all of Europe as well. It is pervasive and evil and Finn doesn’t sugar coat it. He’s not graphic nor describing the horrors in detail, but one woman is raped to death off page as an object lesson to the other prisoners. With that said, lets talk about the more pleasant aspects of the book.

Tommy gets to fight nazi vampire muslim terrorists. No joke. Vampires, unfortunately, play a very small part. They simply crumble to dust when touched by Saint Tommy. The author does go into speculation about pre-history, much as he did in the previous book about the stone and vampires are grouped into that era of lore. There are some seriously cool fight scenes but that leads into the one thing that made me knock half a star off the rating.

Finn is constantly making pop-culture references throughout this book. It was apropos and funny but those things have a very limited shelf life and I don’t like them in the books I read. I find it cheapens them. Most of it was John Wick related this time. I love the movie John Wick and got it all, but in several years, even if the movie has cult status sticking power, people simply aren’t going to know what Finn is referencing. Then there was the golem mecha vs the dragon succubi and I had to roll my eyes at that fight. It was just to over the top for my taste.

I’ve got one more book available to me in this series then I have to decide if I want to continue or not. Finn is up to book 8 and from the reviews I’ve seen he does have an end game plan, but it won’t be for several books after 8. Upon reflection it would seem that my best option is to stop after book 6 and let him finish the series. Good thing I had this little conversation with myself!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Till We Have Faces ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Till We Have Faces
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 309
Words: 84K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story tells the ancient Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, from the perspective of Orual, Psyche’s older sister.

It begins as the complaint of Orual as an old woman, who is bitter at the injustice of the gods. She has always been ugly, but after her mother dies and her father the King of Glome remarries, she gains a beautiful half-sister Istra, whom she loves as her own daughter, and who is known throughout the novel by the Greek version of her name, Psyche. Psyche is so beautiful that the people of Glome begin to offer sacrifices to her as to a goddess. The Priest of the goddess Ungit, a powerful figure in the kingdom, then informs the king that various plagues befalling the kingdom are a result of Ungit’s jealousy, so Psyche is sent as a human sacrifice to the unseen “God of the Mountain” at the command of Ungit, the mountain-god’s mother. Orual plans to rescue Psyche but falls ill and is unable to prevent anything.

When she is well again, Orual arranges to go to where Psyche was stranded on the mountain, either to rescue her or to bury what remains of her. She is stunned to find Psyche is alive, free from the shackles in which she had been bound, and furthermore says she does not need to be rescued in any way. Rather, Psyche relates that she lives in a beautiful castle that Orual cannot see, as the God of the Mountain has made her a bride rather than a victim. At one point in the narrative, Orual believes she has a brief vision of this castle, but then it vanishes like a mist. Hearing that Psyche has been commanded by her new god-husband not to look on his face (all their meetings are in the nighttime), Orual is immediately suspicious. She argues that the god must be a monster, or that Psyche has actually started to hallucinate after her abandonment and near-death on the mountain, that there is no such castle at all, and that her husband is actually an outlaw who was hiding on the mountain and takes advantage of her delusions in order to have his way with her. Orual says that because either possibility is one that she cannot abide by, she must disabuse her sister of this illusion.

She returns a second time, bringing Psyche a lamp for her to use while her “husband” sleeps, and when Psyche insists that she will not betray her husband by disobeying his command, Orual threatens both Psyche and herself, stabbing herself in the arm to show she is capable of following through on her threat. Ultimately, reluctantly, Psyche agrees because of the coercion and her love for her sister.

When Psyche disobeys her husband, she is immediately banished from her beautiful castle and forced to wander as an exile. The God of the Mountain appears to Orual, stating that Psyche must now endure hardship at the hand of a force he himself could not fight (likely his mother the goddess Ungit), and that “You too shall be Psyche,” which Orual attempts to interpret for the rest of her life, usually taking it to mean that as Psyche suffers, she must suffer also. She decries the injustice of the gods, saying that if they had shown her a picture of Psyche’s happiness that was easier to believe, she would not have ruined it. From this day forward she vows that she will keep her face veiled at all times.

Eventually, Orual becomes a Queen, and a warrior, diplomat, architect, reformer, politician, legislator, and judge, though all the while remaining alone. She drives herself, through work, to forget her grief and the love she has lost. Psyche is gone, her other family she never cared for, and her beloved tutor, “the Fox,” has died. Her main love interest throughout the novel, Bardia the captain of the royal guard, is married and forever faithful to his wife until his death. To her, the gods remain, as ever, silent, unseen, and merciless.

While Bardia is on his deathbed, Orual decides she can no longer stand the sight of her own kingdom and decides to leave it for the first time to visit neighboring kingdoms. While resting on her journey, she leaves her group at their camp and follows sounds from within a wood, which turn out to be coming from a temple to the goddess Istra (Psyche). There Orual hears a version of Psyche’s myth, which shows her as deliberately ruining her sister’s life out of envy. In response, she writes out her own story, as set forth in the book, to set the record straight. Her hope is that it will be brought to Greece, where she has heard that men are willing to question even the gods.

Part Two

Orual begins the second part of the book stating that her previous accusation that the gods are unjust is wrong. She does not have time to rewrite the whole book because she is very old and of ill health and will likely die before it can be redone, so instead she is adding on to the end.

She relates that since finishing part one of the book, she has experienced a number of dreams and visions, which at first she doubts the truth of except that they also start happening during daytime when she is fully awake. She sees herself being required to perform a number of impossible tasks, like sorting a giant mound of different seeds into separate piles, with no allowance for error, or collecting the golden wool from a flock of murderous rams, or fetching a bowl of water from a spring on a mountain which cannot be climbed and furthermore is covered with poisonous beasts. It is in the midst of this last vision that she is led to a huge chamber in the land of the dead and given the opportunity to read out her complaint in the gods’ hearing. She discovers, however, that instead of reading the book she has written, she reads off a paper that appears in her hand and contains her true feelings, which are indeed less noble than Part One of the book would suggest. Still, rather than being jealous of Psyche, as the story she heard in the temple suggested, she reveals that she was jealous of the gods because they were allowed to enjoy Psyche’s love while she herself was not.

The gods make no reply, but Orual is content, as she sees that the gods’ “answer” was really to make her understand the truth of her own feelings. Then she is led by the ghost of the Fox into a sunlit arena in which she learns the story of what Psyche has been up to: she has herself been assigned the impossible tasks from Orual’s dreams, but was able to complete them with supernatural help. Orual then leaves the arena to enter another verdant field with a clear pool of water and a brilliant sky. There she meets Psyche, who has just returned from her last errand: retrieving a box of beauty from the underworld, which she then gives to Orual, though Orual is hardly conscious of this because at that moment she begins to sense that something else is happening. The God of the Mountain is coming to be with Psyche and judge Orual, but the only thing he says is “You also are Psyche” before the vision ends. The reader is led to understand that this phrase has actually been one of mercy the entire time.

Orual, awoken from the vision, dies shortly thereafter but has just enough time to record her visions and to write that she no longer hates the gods but sees that their very presence is the answer she always needed.

My Thoughts:

When I read this for the first time 20 years ago I have to admit, I didn’t understand what Lewis was driving at or even trying to accomplish beyond retelling one of his favorite myths. And that is another reason Why I Re-Read Books. Therefore I stand before you today to announce that I completely understand this book now and every detailed nuance is as a flashing neon sign to my vast and experienced intellect.

Hahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man, yeah, right. * wipes tears of laughter away *

While I enjoyed this and thought Lewis did a masterful job of writing, I don’t understand what he was trying to get across any better than I did all those years ago.

Let me be clear though. That is completely on me. I have about one teaspoon’s worth of artistry in my 165lb frame (which is about a fingernail clipping’s worth) and I have used it up choosing black suspenders and a black bow tie to wear to church. When an author chooses to do something literary, it either passes right over my head (like this) or it comes across as pretentious and I rip the guy a new one. I need the obvious, the hammer over the head, the straight up statement. Allegory is not my thing and I feel like I’m color blind.

I still did enjoy this but I don’t think I’ll ever re-read it again. I will stick to Lewis’ other works where he simply spells out what he’s trying to say.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

City of Shadows (Saint Tommy, NYPD #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: City of Shadows
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #3
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 160
Words: 49K



Synopsis:

Tommy, now working for the Vatican as a spy for the New York Police Department, is assigned to go to London, as a new level of darkness seems to be hovering over the city. His “official” assignment is to help recover a lost jewel that was stolen from a museum. With known associates of an imam from the local mosque being shown on video as the ones committing the crime, Tommy thinks it’s going to be an easy peasy piece of cake.

Then the imam accuses him of racism. The cops take his guns away. The cops try to arrest him. He’s attacked by a group of young muslims with bottles of acid. He’s attacked by muslims with what appear to be super powers. He’s attacked by the shadows themselves. And the clients, a Power Couple of low royalty, who hired him to recover the jewel accuse him being in cahoots with whoever stole the jewel. Not a good time for Tommy.

This jewel, according to legend, was given to Pharoah by a god and is supposed to contain enough power, once properly charged with hatred, despair and death, to destroy a city, or control it. The imam wants to wipe London off the map, the Power Couple want to control England and Tommy wants the jewel destroyed. By the end of the book nobody gets what they want.

Tommy does save London, cleanses the jewel with a baptismal font’s worth of holy water and gives it over to be hidden away in the archives of the Vatican.

My Thoughts:

This was probably the most action packed book so far. There’s a riot scene where the muslims are out burning, looting and raping and Tommy bilocates many, many, many times to save anyone he can and ends up dying over and over and over in horribly gruesome ways. They don’t just fade away, they are him and he feels it.

The author also makes a lot of hay, with my FULL support, about the ridiculousness of the London “knife” laws they have on the books. The main point wasn’t that Authority had taken away the citizens right to defend themselves but that they had voluntarily given it up. It was depressing. At the same time Finn makes sure to focus on the fact that the real fight isn’t against people but against the powers and principalities of this world, ie, demons. Tommy never makes the mistake of making even the iman his enemy. Right up until they confront a trio of the angelic host he tries to give them the chance to repent and at the end, they simply reject it. And suffer the wrath of archangels in consequence.

I did get a good laugh when he takes a poke at Evangelicals as self-righteous know it alls, because you’re going to meet people like that and I’ve met them. The problem is, he ignores the fact that those same exact kind of people also are part of the roman catholic church. And I’d like to make one point here, while this is advertised as a “Catholic Adventure” series, it is really a “Roman Catholic Adventure” series. While Finn would say there is no difference, as a 7th Day Adventist, there is a world of difference.

I continue to enjoy this action packed series with a more realistic look at what urban fantasy would look like from a Christian perspective. It also makes me thankful for the relative peace and quiet that I enjoy where I live.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Descent Into Hell ★★✬☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Descent Into Hell
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pages: 178
Words: 73.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The action takes place in Battle Hill, outside London,[1] amidst the townspeople’s staging of a new play by Peter Stanhope. The hill seems to reside at the crux of time, as characters from the past appear, and perhaps at a doorway to the beyond, as characters are alternately summoned Heavenwards or descend into Hell.

Pauline Anstruther, the heroine of the novel, lives in fear of meeting her own doppelgänger, which has appeared to her throughout her life. But Stanhope, in an action central to the author’s own theology, takes the burden of her fears upon himself—Williams called this the Doctrine of Substituted Love—and enables Pauline, at long last, to face her true self. Williams drew this idea from the biblical verse, “Ye shall bear one another’s burdens”[2]

And so, Stanhope does take the weight, with no surreptitious motive, in the most affecting scene in the novel, and Pauline, liberated, is able to accept truth.

On the other hand, Lawrence Wentworth, a local historian, finding his desire for Adela Hunt to be unrequited, falls in love instead with a spirit form of Adela, which seems to represent a kind of extreme self-love on his part. As he isolates himself more and more with this insubstantial figure, and dreams of descending a silver rope into a dark pit, Wentworth begins the descent into Hell.

The book ends with Wentworth reaching the bottom of the rope and realizing all understanding has been taken from him and that he is truly alone. There is no way for him to climb the rope back up. He is lost.

My Thoughts:

I had to think long and hard about what to write about this book. Unlike the other Williams’ book I read, this came across as poetic, mystical bushwah. The closest thing I can accept for poetry is Patricia McKillip’s writing. Anything else, I toss it out the door as useless trash.

A poet and playwright forms the bones of this book and I should have known from the get go that it was going to be half-finished sentences, unspoken thoughts, all that kind of garbage that people seem to think is mystical and too wonderful for words.

It also didn’t help that I am strongly against some of the theology presented by Williams, namely that Hell is some sort of internalized thingamajig instead of a literal lake of flame and eternal fires and that people can affect events in the past or future directly from their timeline. While God may encompass all of time, we certainly don’t and while Hell might be described stylistically, it is most definitely a real place with real utter torment.

Overall, I just waded my through this, wondering if I should read any more by him. I’m hoping to do a buddy-read with one or two people from Librarything in a couple of months on one of Williams’ books, but after that, I’m done. Williams puts his mysticism on full display here and I won’t be bothering to look anymore. Tell me what you mean as plainly as possible, don’t dance around in circles and avoid the point.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Infernal Affairs (Saint Tommy, NYPD #3) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Infernal Affairs
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #3
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 182
Words: 51K



Synopsis:

From Amazon.com & Me

Detective Tommy Nolan is having a bad day. Gunfights are no longer a rare occurrence in his life. Not since he caught a serial killer demon and destroyed a death cult. He’s already had to relocate his family once. If things don’t settle down soon, he might have to leave New York for good.

And the NYPD can’t keep ignoring all the chaos and slaughter around Tommy. Add a murdered priest, a SWAT team raid, an internal affairs investigation and a million-dollar bounty into the mix, and Tommy’s whole week is ruined.

Every demon, monster, and gangbanger in New York and New Jersey are crawling out of the pit to claim the reward on Tommy’s head. It’s hard enough to fight demons when they’re breaking the law. But what can you do when they’re hiding behind it?

Turns out the Mayor is the mysterious Warlock and he wants Tommy dead to pay off his spiritual debts, of which the mayor has run up a lot of. With enough power, the mayor can turn New York City into a living hell and pay for his powers with the misery until the end of time.

Tommy’s not about to let that happen! When the mayor takes a direct hand in attacking Saint Tommy, the bodies fly. But when the mayor’s debt comes due, Hell doesn’t care if he has Tommy in his grasp; the bill is due NOW and nothing is going to stop the demons from taking payment.

Tommy is saved to fight another day.

My Thoughts:

Another great action packed volume. And we get vampires. Well, to be honest, Tommy sees them and when they touch his blood they go up in smoke, so they disappear. I’m hoping we get more of them in later books. You get some demonic drones too.

It has been a couple of months since the previous book and life for Tommy and his family has settled down. Once the bounty goes out though, Tommy puts his family with D (the “good” criminal) and goes hell for leather with his partner. When he realizes he can’t single handedly take down the Warlock due to the scumbag hiding behind the law, Tommy brings in the Feds. This has the affect of bringing Tommy to the attention of a single individual who seems to be doing what Tommy does, but on a national or international scale. Definitely opens up the literary vistas for us to explore.

Another thing I like is how short these are. At under 200 pages, I can read them on a weekend afternoon or a snow day and still have time left over to start the next book in my rotation. Makes me feel like I’m A Powerful Book Lord (more than I already am I mean).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Iron Rest

Last month, when I first discovered silicone iron rests, my first thought was: “If I was an iron, I would want to rest, too!” and decided to regale you with the reasons why it is important for people to rest from labor.

  1. The silicone iron rest saves the ironing board cover from becoming brittle.

Have you ever felt like you are walking on eggshells around someone? That person is how I would describe a brittle person- one more push and they break.

If you are feeling brittle, how do you combat this? I bet you know the answer: Rest! Sometimes we simply need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. At my workplace, we have a break every 2 hours. We simply function better when we have some time to ourselves to eat, nap, talk, listen, or, if we are religious, pray and meditate on God’s word.

2. Now you can set down your iron without having to worry about burning yourself or your ironing board.

Working, studying, or just plain living will cause stress and various worries to build up. Rest helps us give us time to unburden ourselves and realize that it’s better to stop worrying. One of my favorite sayings, despite the difficulty, is: “Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

3. No more irons falling over.

Don’t keel over in fatigue!

From October 25th of last year to January 7th of this year, I was working nights. My workplace decided to only have people who normally work during the day as night workers during fourth quarter to avoid having seasonal workers as much as possible. Most of my co-workers wound up doing things like wearing Christmas sweaters with a pocket for an energy drink. One of my co-workers brought a BIG bag of candy to work every day and most of my co-workers were on some sort of sugar high after “lunch” at 2:30am every day.

You know what’s a better solution than caffeine or sugar to staying awake during work? Rest! Have to admit, it’s easier to sleep at night than during the day time, but rest is still important!

Don’t leave your iron running in the house without using an iron rest!

4. It withstands temperatures up to 428°F, so you can iron comfortably and have a safe place to rest your iron while you rearrange your clothes.

Do you feel the heat? Is life sending you into a hot mess? Take some time to cushion yourself from constantly feeling the heat by inserting rest between you and the cares of reality.

“Safe” is the key word here. Rest is not comfortable, unless we are in a place where we can truly relax. One of my co-workers takes all of her breaks inside her car because she doesn’t feel like she can relax in the same building as where she works. Others create their own bubble of safety away by putting headphones on with their favorite music or podcast and reading or watching videos on their phones. Having a safe place either physically removed from a stressful location or mentally removed from a stressful location is important for proper rest.

Do you re-arrange your thoughts like you do clothes? Let’s press the “reset” button on life every once in awhile and take time to find a place to change up what we are thinking about! What joy have you discovered? Maybe rest is a time to stop and change how you view life? An attitude of gratitude shouldn’t be something we just do at Thanksgiving. 😉

5. And because the iron rest isn’t fixed, you can place wherever fits best for you. It’s versatile protection where you want it.

When should I rest? Where should I rest?

Mr. Bookstooge and I take one day out of every week to rest from work. We walk, talk, listen, and read together. It’s our weekly date with God. ❤

In Biblical days, they were to have a “year of Jubilee”. I read that it was supposed to happen about every 49 years using our modern calendar. Slaves were to be freed, debts were to be forgiven, land was to be given back to their original owners, and the land was also given time to rest.

Can you imagine having one year off, not working every 49 years? What about taking one day off every week? What about taking more breaks when working? Whenever you decide to take a rest, it is a gift (and, as the cartoon ‘Family Circus’ once wrote: “That’s why we call it the present!”).

We should rest wherever we feel is a safe and good place. Whether it’s home, church (although a lot of churches are closed right now), the janitor’s closet, or even the restroom, the key point is that you feel safe and can stop and truly rest.

6. I love a super hot iron when quilting and I can leave my iron on this pad for hours and no melting, no staining my iron pad brown and no leaky iron. I am so glad I finally found a solution to my iron problems.

How long should I rest? Rest for as long as you need or as long as you can, depending upon a number of factors. I don’t want you to go to work and say “Mrs. Bookstooge told me I need to rest so I’m calling out for the rest of the day”. Rest is no excuse to shirk responsibility, but there is a point where you might need to change your work schedule to add more rest into your life. 🙂

Again, do you feel like you are being affected by life- stained brown by the manure thrown at you? Maybe you need a bit of rest to get between you and life!

Hasta la vista, Iron!

You might think “I am like the Terminator and I have no need for rest!”, but I would beg to differ. Even the hardest iron needs a rest. 😉

Merry Christmas! (2020 Edition)

hope

The Fall

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:22-24

The Prophecy

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

His Birth

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-25

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2:1-15

His Death

14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19: 14-28

His Resurrection

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8

His Ascension

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-12

The End

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5

His Call

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:16-17

So a Merry Christmas to you all!

Death Cult (Saint Tommy, NYPD #2) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Death Cult
Series: Saint Tommy, NYPD #2
Author: Declan Finn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 184
Words: 50.5K





Synopsis:

Even though Tommy defeated the demon in the previous book, the cultists who raised it are still at large and very unhappy that Tommy stopped them in their tracks.

Tommy is in the process of moving out from his old house with his family when they are attacked one night by what can only be described as zombies. Tommy realizes the cult is after him and his family and begins investigating.

Once again his investigating brings him into contact with the “Medical Facilities” where abortions are performed, whether the patient wants it or not. Tommy tracks down truck loads of discarded baby bodies which the cultists are using in their satanic rituals, which include eating said babies.

With pressure from the Mayor, Tommy is unsanctioned and has to go after the cult without police backup. Once the cult kidnaps his son, Tommy realizes he can’t wait either. With help from a gang, Tommy and those who believe in his Wonder Worker powers go up against the cult.

Tommy and Co take down the Cult, destroy an idol of Moloch and think they destroy the man who has been creating and controlling the zombies. The book ends with Tommy having a face off with the Mayor and one of the Mayor’s more powerful appointees turns out to be the voodoo man, still very much alive and well.

My Thoughts:

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Part of my enjoyment stems from the fact that the author seems to really consider just how things would play out in these scenarios. If you stopped a cult, do you think they’d be “Oh, we lost. Good game. Ta ta.” Yeah, I don’t think that either. Finn also shows what an uphill battle Tommy has because of people in power. He also shows that Tommy isn’t living in a vacuum and that his choices affect those around him.

But at the same time, Tommy is never overcome. He trust that God gave him the powers he has for a reason and he’s willing to use them to the fullest extent possible. When his son is kidnapped, Tommy is fully cognizant that to save his son he’s probably going to have to sacrifice his own. Not once does Tommy whine or complain or act like a self-entitled wimp. When things go wrong, he doesn’t blame God nor does he blame those around him. In short, Tommy is the kind of character I like to read about.

The introduction of zombies and the bokor (the person controlling the zombies) being a man of power in the city certainly made sense and also created some future battles. Having destroyed the idol of Moloch, the bokor’s totem of power, you know he’s going to continue going after Tommy and his family. And that is something else that I liked and want to talk about. Tommy never snivels about how he needs to be alone and cut off from his family to protect them. He realizes that he is stronger for being with them AND that part of his duty as a husband and a father is protect them. His wife has several guns, knows how to use them and does so. Tommy’s son has a pistol, is learning krav maga and knows what to do when certain scenarios happen. Tommy and his family have thought through scenarios from each place in their house and have what the proper response is and they practice that. The man is enabling his family instead of crippling them with fear and a “hide and hope for the best” attitude. Oh, I am loving this series just for that. Tommy is a hero and one that I am enjoying reading about.

The action, while not quite as intense as the previous book, is still high and tight. Gun battles are great to read about, that is for sure.

Rating: 4 out of 5.