One Catholic Life Blog

Fantasy Castle

Flights of Fantasy 2017 Reading Challenge Wrap-up

The Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge motivated me to read some books that had been on my TBR list for many years, and it also enabled me to re-read some of my favorites. Fantasy was my first favorite genre, but I haven’t read a lot of it lately because it seems to have lost its magic, as I wrote about several weeks ago. In fact, all of the fantasy I read this year was written before 1993. My year in fantasy fiction began with a fantastically original series...

Classics Club #15: Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol reaffirmed one thing for me: I really don’t like classic satires. From Candide to Gulliver’s Travels to Zuleika Dobson, they hold very little interest for me. I’ve had a bit more success with modern satires like the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett, but in general satire is not a genre I appreciate. Dead Souls is an episodic story in which the main character Chichikov travels to various Russian estates trying to purchase “dead souls.” It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Dead souls are peasants that...

The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser

The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser

I had thought of this country as the big range, but now, I told myself, I would rename it the violent land. That was it, a violent, savage land. It had changed me since I had come into it. The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser is a classic of western fiction, but it would be a mistake to limit its value to a single genre. Part adventure, part romance, part Bildungsroman, Overholser’s award-winning novel is outstanding in every respect. The plot is tight, the characters are believable and...

Some of Nick's Nonfiction Favorites

Handprints on the Wall of My Soul: Nonfiction November 2017 Week 4

Nonfiction November 2017 continues with a prompt about favorite nonfiction books hosted by Katie of Doing Dewey: Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone?...

M. R. James Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James

All this time a growing feeling of discomfort had been creeping over him—nervous reaction, perhaps, after the delight of his discovery. Whatever it was, it resulted in a conviction that there was someone behind him, and that he was far more comfortable with his back to the wall. I read Ghost Stories of an Antiquary over the course of this past year as part of the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge. Each week I would draw a card from a deck of playing cards, and if it...

The Worm Ouroboros detail

Classics Club Book #14: The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison

Abase thee and serve me, worm of the pit. Else will I by and by summon out of ancient night intelligences and dominations mightier far than thou, and they shall serve my ends, and thee shall they chain with chains of quenchless fire and drag thee from torment to torment through the deep. The Worm Ouroboros might be called world-building fantasy in the tradition of The Lord of the Rings but for two details: it was published 22 years before Tolkien’s trilogy, and it is much darker. In fact, though Tolkien himself...

Treasure box of pearls

A Value Far Beyond Pearls – Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As the church year begins to wind down over the next two weeks, many of the the Scripture readings are about the end of time, when Jesus will come again. So today’s first reading may seem out of place. In the cycle of readings for Sunday, the first reading is paired with the gospel. But today’s reading from Proverbs about the worthy wife seems a bit disconnected from the gospel. Why are these two readings paired together today? Since the gospel seems to fit this time of year...

Monument Valley

Wild Wild West Reading Challenge 2018

As I was looking at my TBR pile I noticed I have quite a few unread westerns. I started looking around for a reading challenge that focused on the American West, but I came up empty. I checked three lists of 2017 challenges from Feed Your Fiction, Girlxoxo, and Xxertz, and aside from a few choose-your-own-genre challenges, I didn’t see any that were specifically aimed at reading westerns. So, I thought, why not create my own challenge for next year? Thus, the Wild Wild West 2018 Reading Challenge...

Spiritual Reading Recommendations

Nonfiction November 2017 Week 3: Be the Expert – Spiritual Reading

This week for Nonfiction November 2017, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness invites readers to either Be the Expert, Ask the Expert, or Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic...

Les Miserables Read-along Logo

Announcing the Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along

This is the official sign-up post for the Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along. Please join me in spending the next year reading one of the great works of world literature, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. If you’ve always wanted to read the unabridged edition of Les Misérables, this is your opportunity. Maybe you love the musical or one of the movies. Maybe you’ve read an abridged version and now you want more. Whatever it is that has brought you here, I invite you to join me in reading this epic work of historical...

Whats In a Name Challenge 2017

What’s in a Name 2017 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

The What’s in a Name Reading Challenge hosted by The Worm Hole was a lot of fun. The challenge was to choose a book from each of six categories, write reviews of each of them, and post them on the appropriate pages at The Worm Hole. I’m happy to say that I have finished the challenge–my first real reading challenge ever. Here are the books I read in the order I read them, along with links to my reviews: A title which has an “X” somewhere in it: The Chronicles...

David Bellos Les Miserables Novel of the Century

Nonfiction November 2017 Week 2: Book Pairing

It’s time for another Nonfiction November post. After reading last week’s posts my TBR pile has already grown! For a roundup of last week, see the links at JulzReads. This week Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves hosts one of my favorite events of Nonfiction November, Book Pairings: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to...

The Story Knife by Fr. Brad Reynolds, S.J.

Late last year when I was trying to find books for the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge, the hardest to find was a book whose title included “an item of cutlery.” After a lot of searching I finally settled on a book I had last read in 1996 when it first came out, The Story Knife, a mystery by Fr. Brad Reynolds, SJ. Fr. Reynolds is a Jesuit priest (like Pope Francis), and he happens to have grown up right here in Spokane, Washington, where I live. I...

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

What’s a clergyman to do when murder is committed in his home? Start investigating, that’s what, especially when Miss Marple lives next door. Leonard Clement is the vicar in St. Mary Mead, a small English village. He’s also the narrator of The Murder at the Vicarage, the first full length novel to feature Agatha’s Christie’s elderly sleuth Miss Jane Marple. When Colonel Protheroe is murdered in Clement’s study, the difficulty is not in finding a suspect, but in sorting through all the people who wanted him dead–including the vicar...

All Saints Day

These Are the Saints – An All Saints Day Meditation

When a loved one dies their life is changed not ended. This is a truth of Faith, it is not wishful thinking. Those who have gone before us are still alive, but in a new way. Some of them now dwell forever in heaven. Not a boring heaven where people recline on clouds, strumming harps; but a vibrant, joyful heaven, where there is fun, laughter, and friendships deeper than one can imagine. Where they live there is no fear, no prejudice, no division, no aching bones or illness....