Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome everyone to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  To particpate, go to your blog and create an entry titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  In it, highlight one or more of your posts from the past week that you believe would be of interest to Catholic bloggers---whether they are posts reflecting on spiritual matters or posts about antics of Catholic kids, or anything in between.  Come back here and enter the URL of that post into Mr. Linky.  Finally, go visit other participants, and leave comments!  If you want a weekly reminder to post, join our yahoogroup.

Another slow week for me.  I reviewed a cookbook and a novel.  How about you?

Let's all take a minute to pray for the folks in Alabama and Mississippi who suffered losses this week due to the tornado, and all those fearing or experiencing  flooding from the Mississippi River.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: The Fearless Baker

The Fearless Baker: Scrumptious Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, Cookies, and Quick Breads that You Can Make to Impress Your Friends and Yourself

About the Book:
What could be more satisfying than presenting friends and family with a perfectly crafted homemade dessert, fresh out of the oven? Yet for many, the idea of baking is intimidating; rolling out pie dough or making a cake from scratch is akin to climbing Mount Everest. THE FEARLESS BAKER is a beginner's baking guide written to empower home cooks with spot-on advice and a cache of go-to recipes. Renowned pastry chef Emily Luchetti guides novice bakers through her amazing recipes to troubleshoot their most common pitfalls. Charming color illustrations and photographs of real-life beginning bakers in action complete the instruction, turning even the most tentative baker into a fearless one.

My Comments:
I haven't made a single recipe from this book, but I think I gained weight just reading it.  Unlike the purported audience described above, I've always enjoyed baking and haven't been afraid to try making anything sweet.  The recipes in this book sound absolutely wonderful and hopefully one day I'll have my weight where I want it and will have the ability to eat such things as Apple Crisp Bars, Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies, Truffle Brownies, Strawberry Cream Cake, Buttermilk Cheesecake, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Dark Chocolate Truffles, and Chocolate Mousse.  

Personally, I found a lot of the hints and directions on the simplistic side, but I guess there are folks who need them.  I wish the book had more pictures of the food, but then I guess I would have gotten even hungrier reading it.  With 175 recipes, I'm sure you could find something you shouldn't eat, but want to make anyway.  If you keep your kitchen stocked with normal baking supplies and equipment, you should be able to make most of the recipes without hunting through gourmet stores for ingredients that cost a fortune and of which you will use only a small portion.  These recipes call for good-quality chocolate, cream, flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, kosher salt, milk, eggs, and other ingredients you will use again.  Grade:  B+

Now, how many more pounds to go???

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

The Promises She Keeps: My Review

The Promises She Keeps

About the Book:
It's her destiny to die young. The man who loves her can't live with that. 

Promise, a talented young singer with a terminal illness, is counting on fame to keep her memory alive after she dies. Porta is an aging sorceress and art collector in search of immortality. 

When Promise inexplicably survives a series of freak accidents, Porta believes that she may hold the key to eternal life.

Enter Chase, an autistic artist who falls in love with Promise and fascinates her with his mysterious visions and drawings.

Soon, all are plunged into a confrontation over the mystery and the cost of something even greater than eternal life...eternal love.

My Comments:
Ok, I'll say it, this is one of the most bizarre books I've ever finished.  I'm still not quite sure what to make of it.  It is published by Thomas Nelson which should put in in the genre of Christian fiction, but while it features a scripture quoting autistic artist and self-sacrificing love, it also features supernatural powers that don't seem to come from above. It is the story of an old woman searching for immortality in the wrong place.  It features death caused by her search for life, but it also includes people not dying when by all rights they should, and a plant with growth habits unlike any in real life.  

It was a strange book, but it did keep me reading.  Usually I give books letter grades, but I'm not going to do so in this case, just because nothing seems to fit.  I'm putting this review on Amazon and Goodreads, and will have to assign a star rating.  I'll give it three stars, just to be in the middle but honestly, I can't tell you whether I liked it or not; it was just plain weird.  My guess is that it is loaded with Christian symbols or themes but symbols and themes were the reason this bookworm hated literature classes.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter to All Sunday Snippets Participants

I'd like to welcome everyone to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  To particpate, go to your blog and create an entry titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  In it, highlight one or more of your posts from the past week that you believe would be of interest to Catholic bloggers---whether they are posts reflecting on spiritual matters or posts about antics of Catholic kids, or anything in between.  Come back here and enter the URL of that post into Mr. Linky.  Finally, go visit other participants, and leave comments!  If you want a weekly reminder to post, join our yahoogroup.

I'd like to wish each of you a happy Easter.

It was a slow blogging week for me.  I read quite a few books, but the reviews will be published later.  I'd like to call your attention to a book I didn't read.  After I wrote the post I was looking for something else, and noticed that I do have the ebook version, so a review will be forthcoming, once I read it.  However, if Catholic speculative/science fiction sounds interesting, take a look at this post.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: Promises to Keep

Promises to Keep

About the Book:
Eleven-year-old Roz (Rosalind) Anthony and her family have just moved to Mills River, Illinois, to escape an abusive situation. Only days after settling into their new home, they are surprised to find the previous owner, Tillie Monroe, on their front porch reading the newspaper. Though her sons have sold the house and sent her to a facility for the aged, she is determined to die in the place she lived her life, and somehow manages to find her way "home" day after day. Feeling sympathy for the elderly woman, Roz's mother allows Tillie to move back in.

Mara Nightingale becomes Roz's first friend in Mills River. In spite of their many differences, the girls discover they have something in common that binds them together--both are hiding secrets. So they make a promise--"cross my heart and hope to die"--never to tell anyone else.

When danger stalks the Anthonys, Tillie exhibits unimaginable courage and selfless love in her determination to protect the family she has adopted as her own.

My Comments:
When parents divorce, kids often feel caught in the middle, and Roz is no different. She remembers the abuse that drove her mother to leave her father, but she also remembers the good in her Dad and is thrilled when contacts her and starts seeing her without her mother's knowledge.  Mara's secret is that her "parents" are her grandparents and that she is the product of an affair between an older white man and a young black woman--and this book is set in the early 1960's.  Most of the book deals with these girls moving from fantasy to reality about these men.

The book is Christian fiction but for the first half of the book you'd never guess as there was no mention of God, religion, church etc.  Tillie is the one who brings faith into the story, at first in subtle ways like teaching the baby the Our Father and sharing in amusement that the baby said "Our father, its hot in heaven". She more explicitly teaches about Jesus later in the book but never in an overwhelming manner.  Grade:  B

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: All Different Kinds of Free

All Different Kinds Of Free

About the Book:
Mama always told me bad things happen on Wednesdays, 'cause it's the middle of the week and the Lord just ain't looking then. I never really understood what she meant by that, because I thought the Lord was always supposed to be looking.
I'm grown now, and Mama's long since gone. But, oh, how I pray she was wrong about Wednesdays and that the Good Lord is looking down on York CountyPennsylvania this day.

Smart, hard-working, educated. A proud wife and mother. As a free woman of color in the 1830's, Margaret Morgan lived a comfortable life and envisioned a good future for her family, until the day her former owner sent a vicious bounty hunter to return her and her children to Maryland. Thrown back into a brutally cruel system, Margaret did the unthinkable in that era: she took her case to court. 
Her fate would to be determined by the laws of a time when one state considered her a citizen but another saw her as property. The landmark case of Prigg vs. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states' rights battle that would lead eventually to the Civil War.

But the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling, it is the remarkable, unforgettable, Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. Yet she refused to give up; refused to stop fighting; refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.   
This vivid, true story will draw readers deep into the heartbreak, terror, courage and indomitable pride of one heroic woman

My Comments:
If you are a regular reader, you know my taste in literature tends toward escapist--light, fluffy and feel-good.  This book is anything but light, fluffy and feel-good.  The ending is hopeful, but not artificially happy.  It is the story of the evil of slavery through the eyes of a woman born free, a woman whose life, while not luxurious, was happy and prosperous.  It is the story of a women who would not allow her soul to be enslaved.  

All Different Kinds Of Free is a beautifully written book I do not hesitate to recommend, unless you are looking for a light, happy, feel-good read.  Grade:  A.

I'd like to thank the author for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

First Wildcard: Infinite Space, Infinite God II

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card editors are:

and the book:

Paladin Timeless Books (November 15, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karina Fabian for sending me a review copy.***


Karina and Robert Fabian are hard-core sci-fi geeks and faithful Catholics who consider creating an anthology a fun date. When not working on their next story or playing with their four kids, Rob serves as a colonel in the USAF, while Karina writes award-winning fantasy , sci-fi, and devotionals.

Visit the Anthology website
Visit the Karina's website.


The history of the Catholic Church is full of heroes: men and women of courage and conviction. Not only did these Catholic heroes live and die for their faith, but they saved others, fought valiantly, inspired the masses, and influenced nations.

Now, Infinite Space, Infinite God honors that legacy with twelve science fiction stories featuring Catholic heroes. Meet a time traveler who sacrifices his life to give a man a sip of water, and the nun who faces venomous snakes to save a friend. Share the adventures of priests who battle aliens and machines in order serve the greater good.

Infinite Space, Infinite God II spans the gamut of science fiction, from near-future dystopias to time travel to space opera, puzzles of logic to laugh-out-loud humor and against-the-clock suspense. A great read for any science fiction fan--a must-read for the Catholic sci-fi lover.

Product Details:

List Price: $18.95
Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Paladin Timeless Books (November 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781606192313
ISBN-13: 978-1606192313
ASIN: 1606192310


Excerpt from "Antivenin" by Karina Fabian:

No, Ann was not durak. Now if Rita could just keep from doing anything lethally stupid. She grabbed the line, gave it a tug of her own to make sure it was secure, and pulled herself to the Mark 16:18.

Once inside the other ship, they exited the suits, positioning them for emergency donning. Then Rita set up the rescue balloons: nanomylar bags large enough to hold a man. Once sealed, a small motor generated air and heat for thirty minutes--an hour with an expansion pack. She pulled out the retractable strap on her medical kit and slung it over her shoulder.

Ann, meanwhile, had tried to contact the pilot and passenger both via the intercom and by yelling down the hall. Nothing.

Sr. Thomas spoke over their headsets. "Small asteroids coming. Brace yourself!"

They managed to grab the threshold just as the ship jinxed wildly to the left.

Sr. Thomas called, "At least two more, but you have a couple of minutes. Ann, can you disable those sensors before we jerk that tow line off?"

Rita's stomach clutched at the thought. "You go to engineering. I'll search for wounded."

Ann hurried down the corridor, while Rita followed more slowly, opening each door to scan the room. The ship was larger than she'd expected: six doors on each side led to rooms that had been converted to storage. Most were packed wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with an empty strip just wide enough for a person to pull something off a shelf and carry it out. She wondered what kind of cargo the ship carried.

It was eerily quiet, with nothing but the background hum of the engine, the hissing of doors and the sound of her own footsteps. What had happened to the crew?

"Rita! I found someone in the center compartment. He's unconscious. Respiration shallow. He's drooling a lot. I've never seen anything like it."

"Ann, pull up your collar, now." She pulled at the collar of her own skinsuit. The tightly compacted fibers stretched until the fabric covered her mouth and nose. She pressed along her nose and cheeks with thumb and forefinger, creating a seal. The fabric, actually a sophisticated biofilter, would enable her to breathe while blocking most airborne hazards. "Make him comfortable. I'm on my way. If there's nothing you can do, go on to engineering."

"I thought I heard something in the port corridor. I'm going to check that first."

"But if the tow line breaks--"

"Basilica has more. Tommie will catch us again."

It only took Rita a minute to get down the long hall, through the pie-shaped galley room and into the central hub. Ann had set the man upright against the wall and put a slap-patch on his cheek: Oxyboost and a mild stimulant. A second patch read his vital signs.

Rita knelt beside him and puzzled over his stats. They looked more like poisoning than a virus. His face was slack, eyelids drooping. She lifted one. The dilated pupils responded sluggishly to the bright light of the room.

Sr. Thomas called over the headset: "Brace!"

Rita braced one hand on each side of the victim. Again the ship jerked. Rita heard the metallic sound of dishes sliding and clattering to the floor. The man bumped against her arms, but did not fall.

Sr. Thomas said, "One more coming. You've got about two minutes-thirty, maybe three."


"I'm fine. I definitely heard something this time. Last room on the left, port corridor. Door's jammed."

The man was stirring feebly now, but not enough to help. Rita muscled him around until she could get her arms under his and drag him back to the rescue bag. Despite the months of heavy exercise, she was panting from exertion as she all but dumped him into the nanomylar bag. The man forced a moan. His hand twitched and bumped her.

"Be still. We'll get you to our ship where we can treat you."

He tapped the floor: three slow, two fast. Universal Space Code for "Attention."

"You want to tell me something? Go ahead. I'm listening." They'd drilled the universal tap code daily in her training, and at the convent Mother Superior declared "tap code hours" to keep everyone in practice. It had annoyed her no end, but she was glad of it now.

But he tapped, "No. Look. Attention."

"All right. I'm watching your hand." Slowly, as if it took great will, he spelled:






Ann called, "Got it! Opening the door now."






"Antivenom? What?" Was he hallucinating? She pulled up his sleeves, then his pantlegs.

"Rita?" Ann's voice was a thin ghost of a wail. "Serpents..."

Two small puncture marks, like pinpricks around a slightly swelled area.

"Annie. Just walk out quickly but calmly--"

"Brace!" Sr. Thomas called.

The ship swung, knocking Rita off balance. Through the headset and the ship, she heard Ann scream.

Excerpt from "An Exercise in Logic " by Barton Levenson:

In her room, Julian pored over data she had downloaded from the honendo library. She aligned pictures of a honendo, a desli, a meschottu, and a human. The first three had tails, the human didn't. Tails? Could it be that simple?

Don't be stupid. Look at the other similarities. The three alien species were all reptiles, and all about the same size -- the human picture on the same scale was shorter than the others. All three alien species were egg-layers, and that was probably a big part of the picture. If reproductive physiology was as important to them as it was to humans, that might be the key. The religious primers she had looked through often used a picture of an egg to illustrate existence. Their writers talked about the inside of the shell of the sky when talking about astronomy. And even though their written symbol for "zero" was a sort of check mark rather than a circle, the word for zero (sfuh) also meant "egg."

Doesn't matter. Whatever the difference is, they don't believe humans can produce a luendo. It's a dead end. Think of something else.

* * *

Seventeen days to go.

"How many worlds do the honendo still occupy?" Julian asked the High Council.

Greddil replied, "If you mean how many have a honendo majority, I'd say about eight, isn't that right, Rann?"

"Eight is correct," said Rann.

"But there are over a hundred worlds and habitats with at least a few honendo on them," added Greddil. "Used to be millions, but we've declined since then."

"Do your people ever indulge in interstellar travel?" asked Julian.

"It has been known to happen."

"Then I submit to you that there could be honendo on New Canaan now, even as we speak, and one of them may have laid an egg. The egg may contain a fetal luendo."

"It doesn't seem very likely," said Greddil. "But I'll put a request through TravelNet. It may take a few days to get an answer."

Uh oh. There went her argument, except in the unlikely case that she was right. "Does TravelNet keep tabs on every individual honendo?"

"Of course," said Greddil.

* * *

Thirteen days to go.

"I have researched legal precedents," said Julian. "Please take note of the case In the Matter of Charril, 11,319,255. The court held that Charril had, and I quote, 'The legal, moral and religious duty to render aid,' and that she had failed egregiously in not warning the family of the defect in the robot's programming."

"You raise an interesting point," said Greddil. "We do respect court decisions here. Will you hold on a moment while I review the case?"


Greddil manipulated something on the bench. It was too high for Julian to see if he had a Pad or used something built in to the surface in front of him.

After a while, Greddil said, "The court referred to the earlier precedent of Honendo Sphere of Enlightenment v. Drann 5,123,582, which said that the legal, moral and religious duty to render aid was implied by the duties to one's family, and that all living honendo were ultimately to be regarded as one family in such matters."

"Surely that distinction is not pertinent," said Julian. "In a larger sense, are not all sentient beings creations of the gods, or as my beliefs have it, of God? And are they not all, therefore, to be regarded as one family in the sense required? A great expounder of my religion, anticipating the coming days of space travel, said, 'Those who are, or can become his sons, are my brothers even if they have tusks or feelers'."

"Well, that's very nice, but note that the Honendo really are biologically related to one another, having all come from the same evolutionary ecology. We and humans did not come from the same ecology and are not really related."

"You're not related to desli or meschottu either, but they can produce luendos, can't they?"

"Yes, but humans cannot."

"Why not?"

"It should be obvious," said Greddil. "You're not our type."

"But don't you see Lewis's point? It's not the physical things that matter. What makes someone a person is the ability to reason and make moral decisions, not how they're shaped or what color they are or what planet they come from!"

"That may be," said Greddil. "But we have no legal precedent for saying so."

* * *

Eight days to go.

Julian said, "Imagine a polity coming together from a state of nature in which individuals of many species are forming a government. They have to make their social system function fairly. They deliberately adopt a veil of blindness -- they do not know, beforehand, which roles they will occupy in the new society. Is it not obvious that they would not institute rules making one species the masters and another slaves? Because with the veil of blindness, they might wind up as the slaves!"

"I see your point without taking its significance," said Greddil.

"People should be treated with a presumption of equality whatever planet they come from. I submit that it is immoral to treat humans differently from honendo based solely on the fact that they are of different species."

"Based on the social contract you envision?" asked Greddil.


"But, you know, societies don't really form that way," he said gently. He began to talk about anthropology.

* * *

Five days to go. "At T minus two days we're going in," said Captain Todd. "It's against my orders and I'll undoubtedly be court-martialed for it. But I don't give a damn if the library gets blown, and I certainly don't care about my career path. I'm not going to stand by and let thousands of innocent people be wiped out. T minus two days, and I'll grab those honendo bastards by the scruff of the neck and make them give us the recall code."

"If the library wipes its memory it may wipe the recall code as well," said Julian.

"Unless one of them already knows it."

"Why would they?"

"To be prepared in case they change their minds!" said the captain. "If I were in their situation, I would want to know the code."

"But you can't be sure."

"No, I can't be sure. But it's a better chance than doing nothing and allowing all those people to die!"

"Perhaps you're right," said Julian. A thought occurred to her. "How, exactly, would you make the priest give up the code?"

"Have you ever heard of waterboarding?"

* * *

Three days to go.

"Tomorrow, if you have not recalled the asteroid, Captain Todd is planning to blast in here, capture you, and get the code out of you," said Julian.

Greddil looked at each of his companions. "Are you referring to the use of military force?"


"The Temple Guard will fight them."

"The Temple Guard will lose." Julian looked down. "Captain Todd didn't want me to say anything, and I haven't told him that I'm telling you this. But I'm telling you because I don't want it to happen! They're planning to torture you on the chance that one of you might know the recall code."

"None of us know it," said Greddil. "It's in the library. And the library will wipe if anyone forces their way in here."

"You will never convince Captain Todd that none of you know the code. Your library will be destroyed and so will each of you if you don't call off the asteroid."

"An argument by the use of force is no argument at all," said Greddil. "It is a logical fallacy. It cannot determine truth."

"I know that! I don't want to see it happen! It wasn't my idea to threaten you! But it's not up to me. Please, I beg you -- save human lives, and honendo lives. Recall the asteroid."

"I'm sorry, not under the threat of force." Greddil smiled. "I was coming to like you, Sister Julian. You plural, I mean; humans. This destroys any respect I had for you. Of course we will not change our minds if threatened. If anything, it will only make us more adamant."

* * *

T minus 51 hours.

Greddil yawned. The priests on either side of him also looked sleepy, with drooping eyelids. "You wish to see us at this ungodly hour?"

"In three hours Captain Todd is going to launch his assault," said Julian. "They didn't want to let me out of the ship; I had to sneak out with the help of a crewman."

"What do you want of us?"

"To recall the asteroid."

"I'm sorry, I see no reason to do so."

Julian said, "Then I will pray until you do." And with that she knelt on the floor and brought her hands together in front of her lips. "Father in Heaven, please move the hard heart of this man to protect your children who are in danger from the unholy wrath of this dead empire. Break their hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh. Let them know the despair of your children as doom approaches, and let a little love bloom in their hearts. Make them--"

The honendo priests had watched in growing astonishment as Julian prayed. "Here! Here!" said Ahherril, the sociologist and philosopher. "You can't pray to your god in here! This is the Ecumenical Temple! Stop it at once!"

Excerpt from "Cloned to Kill" by Derwin Mak

Lorraine, a clone who has escaped from a cloning lab and sought sanctuary in a church, has been watching a baptism.

Lorraine had been standing by the statue and watching the baptism. A woman wearing a blue jacket and skirt stood with her. Father Markham approached them.

“That was a beautiful ceremony,” the woman said.

Markham said, “Thank you, Sister Clara.” He turned to Lorraine. “What did you think about it?”

“Is it part of the human experience?” Lorraine asked.

“For some humans, it is,” Markham said.

Sister Clara said, “I’m going to call the Big Chicken Coop. What do you want?”

“The usual,” Father Markham said.

“The roast quarter chicken dinner,” said Lorraine.

“Gravy with your French fries again?” Clara asked.

“Gravy,” said Father Markham.

“I will have baked potato with sour cream instead of the French fries,” Lorraine said.

“Money,” Clara demanded.

“Oh, yes,” Markham said as he gave his money card to Clara. “It’s still got fifty dollars.”

“That should be enough,” the nun said as she took the card. “I’ll call the Big Chicken Coop and go pick up the order. I’ll be back soon.”

She turned to Lorraine. “Place the plates and knives and forks on the table, like I showed you, will you?”

Lorraine nodded. Clara left for her car, leaving Lorraine alone with Father Markham.

“Is it true that only humans can be baptized?” Lorraine asked. “Sister Clara told me that you do not baptize animals or equipment.”

Father Markham had noticed that when Lorraine was fighting, she spoke in an angry, emotional tone. But when she was calm, she spoke in an emotionless monotone. She never seemed happy, and she never smiled. This had to be due to a life without family, friends, and schoolmates, a life of only neuro-programming and combat training, Markham thought.

“That’s true, only human beings can be baptized,” Markham replied.

“Was the baby human before he was baptized?”

“Of course, he was.”

“Then why does he need to be baptized if he was already human?” Lorraine asked.

“While it’s true that only humans can be baptized, baptism does not make someone human,” Markham explained. “Baptism is for people who are already human. It’s a ceremony of purification and entry into the Christian community.”

“Purification? Was that baby impure?”

“In a limited sense. He was born with original sin. The baptism is a remission of original sin.”

“Original sin. I read about it in L'Osservatore Romano in your library. Sister Clara talked about it with me. It is a general condition of sinfulness into which all humans are born. However, I am not sure how it exists and works,” Lorraine said. “Unlike you, I was not born from humans. I was cloned from a donor’s cell. Do I have original sin?”

“I think you do, and for once, I think that’s wonderful,” Markham said.

“Wonderful? How can being sinful be wonderful?”

“Because it means you’re human.”

“Only inside this church. I am non-human outside it,” Lorraine said. She paused for a moment and asked, “Father, if I am truly human, will you baptize me?”

She was unsmiling and unemotional as usual when she asked about baptism. She did not fully appreciate people’s feelings for life’s milestones. Not yet.

“I’ll baptize you if you are willing to learn and join the Christian community. The choice is yours.”

“Perhaps I can do that. I will read more articles in L'Osservatore Romano.”

“You might have to read more than L'Osservatore Romano,” Markham said. “Don’t worry, I won’t make you recite the names of the sacred monkeys in the Vatican.”

“If the monkeys in the Vatican are sacred, have they been baptized?” asked Lorraine.

Markham wondered if Lorraine had developed a sense of humor.


The rectory was in a house separated from the church but still within the church grounds. In the rectory, Father Markham, Sister Clara, and Lorraine again dined on take-out food from the Big Chicken Coop.

“What do you say when I pass the bread to you?” Markham asked.

Lorraine took the basket of bread. “Thank you?”

“That’s right. You’re learning.”

Lorraine bit into the bun.

Father Markham felt happy about Lorraine’s progress. Her neuro-programming and combat training had included no social graces, but she was learning them faster than he had expected.

“So how was your day?” Clara asked.

“Why do you need to know?” Lorraine said in her flat, emotionless tone.

“It’s just something people do when they eat together. They make ‘small talk,’ harmless conservation about things that happened,” explained Clara.

“Oh, okay,” Lorraine said. “I heard the voice in my head again.”

“Do you recognize the voice? Do you know whose it is yet?”

“No, I do not. All I know is that it is a man’s voice.”

Father Markham took a sip of wine. “Does it remind you of a voice you heard during neuro-programming?”

“I do not remember.”

“Could it be an instructor at the mercenary training camp?”

“No, it is not one of them. They are within my recent memory. I would remember them.”

After the dinner, Father Markham brought a decanter of port to the table. Drinking port after dinner was a tradition of Canadian military officers’ messes.

“May I have some port too?” Lorraine asked.

Father Markham shook his head. “You’re too young. Do you want coffee or tea?”

Lorraine shook her head and stood up. “No, I will go back into the church and look at the statue.”

“Don’t leave the church grounds,” Father Markham said. “The Clymene Biogenesis people might try to capture you.”

“I can protect myself if they try to capture me,” Lorraine said.

“I know you can,” said Markham. “It’s your enemies I’m worried about.”

“All right,” said Lorraine as she left the room.

As Sister Clara poured some port into her glass, she said, “She seems to like that statue of St. Joan of Arc. I think she identifies with St. Joan after reading about her in The Lives of the Saints.”

“Like St. Joan, she hears voices in her head,” Father Markham observed.

“At least she doesn’t think it’s God’s voice. We get enough people hearing Him,” said Clara.

“I suspect the voice is someone she remembers from her neuro-programming. I’ve heard of other neuro-programmed and force-grown clones experiencing voices or visions. Some of them become mentally ill due to the way they grow up. After Lorraine was created, her creators force-grew her to a sixteen-year-old size in five months, and she learned eight years of primary schooling in six months of neuro-programming.

He sipped his port. “What she doesn’t have is all the people and experiences that develop a teenager’s mind: family, friends, schoolmates, or any memories of childhood or adolescence. She has none except the cloning hatchery and the mercenary training camp.

“In addition, clones are brainwashed into slavish devotion to a specific role, usually dangerous or low-paid jobs, like uranium miner, landmine sweeper, garbage picker, or prostitute.”

“But Lorraine’s different. She’s the first of her kind, an elite combat soldier,” Clara said.

“Yes, a soldier who can get killed without any pensions or payments to a surviving family,” Father Markham said. “She’s the perfect expendable human. Sorry, non-human.”

He shook his head. “Have we come to this: creating people just so they can kill? Or just so they can die?”

“You were a military chaplain,” Clara said. “Is creating a clone any worse than recruiting and conscripting people into the military, where they may also be forced to kill or die?”

“No, that’s different,” Markham said. “Society considers natural-born people to be human, and they keep all the rights of a human being and citizenship when they join the military. They have the free will that God gave them. Even a conscript can disobey orders that are illegal. I told my soldiers that it was their duty to refuse any orders that violate the laws of armed conflict.”

He put down his glass. “We treat clones differently. They have no human rights, and they don’t have any rights of citizenship. And we neuro-program, brainwash, and train them so they won’t have any free will, just an urge to obey us.”

“Not Lorraine,” Clara said. “She escaped from the mercenary training camp because she wanted a different life.”

“She resisted her programming and training,” said Markham. “Something must have gone wrong in the factory.”

“Perhaps,” said Clara. “She got some rather intense training, though. I’m amazed that she hasn’t attacked us.”

Father Markham grinned. “She came here on Victoria Day, when I was wearing my medals for the parade. I must have imprinted on her mind as a military officer, and therefore, a commander.

“But she hears voices that aren’t there, so I don’t know how long I can control her.”

Purchase Links:

From the Publisher.

From Barnes and Noble.

E-book formats at Fictionwise.

My Comments:   I didn't see that this was a Catholic book when it was offered, and sci-fi isn't generally my thing anyway; however, I like to support Catholic authors and noticed this when I went to the FWC site, so I decided to publish it in case any of my readers were interested.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Wildcard: That's When I Talk to God

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

Dan and Ali Morrow

and Illustrated by

Cory Godbey

and the book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home. They are the authors of That’s Where God Is (2010), their first children’s release.

Visit the authors' website.


Cory Godbey illustrates, animates, and writes for Portland Studios, a creative firm dedicated to telling great stories and pursuing excellence in art.

He has contributed to projects such as Zune Arts, Flight graphic novel anthologies, and has worked with many major publishers.

Recently, Cory was accepted in the acclaimed Society of Illustrators Annual.

Cory seeks to tell stories with his work.

He also likes drawing monsters.

Visit the illustrator'swebsite.


Targeted to children four to eight, That’s When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That’s When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700186
ISBN-13: 978-1434700186

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES (Click on the pictures to enlarge them!):

My Comments: A cute story that my daughter enjoyed, with a good message to boot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Monday Memes

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by Passages to the Past and is where book bloggers gather to share what showed up in their mailboxes this week, whether those mailboxes received email or snail mail.

I didn't get any Snail Mail this week.

I got the following from NetGalley:
A Texan's Promise
When Clayton Proffitt, foreman of the Circle Z Ranch in Texas, discovers Vanessa Grant crying in the barn late one night, he first thinks she’s gotten herself into another scrape. But when he spies the marks on her back and hears about her stepfather’s advances, Clayton knows he must spirit Vanessa away to safety. 

As they make their way west, it becomes apparent that there’s something special between Vanessa and Clayton— far more significant than mere friendship or his sense of duty. Unfortunately, also heading west are Vanessa’s brother Miles and her stepfather Price Venture. Price wants Vanessa back for obvious reasons; Miles wants to earn his stepfather’s respect. Eventually, unexpected confrontations reach a harrowing conclusion. As their family begins to heal, their journey and trials they've faced helps them realize their future is in God's guiding hands.

A Summer Reunion: All Our Yesterdays\All Our Todays\All Our Tomorrows (Harlequin Anthology)
Now that she’s reunited with her sister, Tori Fuller doesn’t regret a moment of her life. But she’s never forgotten the guy who got away. Heart surgeon Sam McCormack is as sexy and irresistible as he was back in college…and ready to prove to the woman he’s always loved that it’s never too late to start over.…

Lauren Sutcliffe never expected her mother’s sixtieth birthday bash to lead to romance. But gorgeous Aussie builder Adam Hunter wants to stake his claim on the bossy, burned-by-love caterer. He wants to share all her tomorrows, if Lauren will just say yes!

David Longwood isn’t looking for love…until a family reunion throws him in the path of free spirit Kinsey McKeever. Suddenly the buttoned-down lawyer is rediscovering his passionate inner self and dreaming about forever after… with Kinsey.

Free Kindle Downloads (which I may actually read one day)

Get Into Bed With GoogleThe Very First EasterShattered: A Daughter's Regret (Secrets)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  She asks what we read or reviewed this week and what we plan to read next week.
When Sparrows Fall: A Novel My Review
The Midwife's Confession My Review
Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership (Bk Business) To be reviewed later.
Beach Lane (Chesapeake Shores) To be reviewed later

Read earlier, reviewed this week:
Dancing with Gravity My Review.
Mommy Whispers My review
Currently reading:
Promises to Keep

Next up:

All Different Kinds Of FreeMy One and Only (Hqn)The Promises She Keeps

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