Friday, 23 August 2019

Echo Burning - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 5

Echo Burning
Jack Reacher Book 5
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780515143829
eISBN 9781101146323

In the last 23 weeks I have read and reviewed 25 Reacher stories. It started on a whim by picking up the current release because the description caught my attention when I was looking at it for my father. Not since reading that first one, Past Tense, have I enjoyed a Reacher novel as much as this one. And being honest, this is one of the few where I prefer the US covers over the UK editions, which is a rarity. Also because this is one of the earliest Reacher novels there are now about a dozen different covers for this book in English alone, across various formats and editions. 

This story is in many ways different than most of the Reacher stories. First, he is offered sex and turns it down, in part I believe because the woman was married. Second, he is attracted to a young lawyer, and finds out she is gay. And in part because Reacher spends a lot of this time trying to figure out the puzzle, that soon becomes a series of overlapping problems. But it all begins with Reacher avoiding a rock and hard place situation. He broke the nose of a guy in a bar who challenged him. The next morning, he discovers the guys was cop and him and some other officers are looking for him. So, Reacher hops in the first car that will stop for him. And thus, Carmen Greer enters his life. And soon she is asking him to kill her husband who is getting out of jail in a few days. But Reacher will not kill in cold blood. Be he finds that he believes Carmen about thus spousal abuse. She he decides to stick around. 

The story is set in Texas and Carmen is of Latino descent. Her Husband and family are white and appear to have been in Texas as long as Whites have. The racial slur Beano is used often. And the story portrays some of the discrepancy in the application of the law between whites and non-whites. One of the subplots had to deal with the Border Patrol supposedly having killed between 25-33 people about 12 years before these events. A dead man, an accused wife, blackmail, the IRS, and trust being broken. There is a lot of action packed into this tightly written story.

In my opinion one of the best of the Reacher stories! 

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For
The Affair
A Wanted Man
Never go Back
Make Me
Night School
The Midnight Line
Past Tense
Blue Moon

Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories
Stories in No Middle Name Collection:
Too Much Time
Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner

Other Short Stories:
The Fourth Man
The Christmas Scorpion
Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs
Cleaning the Gold with Karin Slaughter
Good and Valuable Consideration with Joseph Finder

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Dead Ground in Between - Maureen Jennings - Tom Tyler Book 4

Dead Ground in Between
Tom Tyler Book 4
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart
An imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

ISBN 9780771050558
eISBN 9780771050565

Hello my name is Steven and I am an addict, I am a book addict and I am addicted to the writings of Maureen Jennings. This is the thirteenth story by Jennings that I have read in 12 weeks. This is the fourth of four Inspector Tom Tyler stories I have read. And it is my favorite. Jennings does an amazing job of transporting us back in time to England during World War II in these novels. And this is by far the best of the four.

This story is set late in 1942. Inspector Tom Tyler is now divorced. And working his placement in Ludlow, Shropshire. Tom is dealing with evacuees who are causing some issues. There are several different plot lines in this story. A POW in love with a Service girl. A body is discovered that soon appears to be murder. Secret hideouts. Young buys in trouble and now missing. And love both new and old. 

In this story Tom receives a letter from his lifelong love. She tells him to move on. It is not something he wants. But, soon something he is considering. But mixed in with all his personal turmoil. Is a confusing case, some ancient coins, a body in a strange location, and his normal work as an officer of the law. 

The plot of this one is more convoluted than any of the other three. The story is so real. It is a great historical fiction story. The treasure piece was interesting, especially after reading the afterward by Jennings. This series got better with every book. I enjoyed this one so much more than the others that I hope that at some point we get another Inspector Tyler story.

Books by Maureen Jennings:
Detective Murdoch Series:

0.5 Shipwreck
1.0 Except the Dying
2.0 Under the Dragon's Tail
3.0 Poor Tom Is Cold
4.0 Let Loose the Dogs
5.0 Night's Child
6.0 Vices of My Blood
7.0 A Journeyman to Grief
8.0 Let Darkness Bury the Dead

Detective Inspector Tom Tyler Series:
1.0 Season of Darkness
2.0 Beware This Boy
3.0 No Known Grave
4.0 Dead Ground in Between

Christine Morris Series:
1.0 Does Your Mother Know?
2.0 The K Handshape

Paradise Café Series:

1.0 Heat Wave

Other books:
The Map of Your Mind: Journeys into Creative Expression
Investigating Murdoch Mysteries: The Official Companion to the Series – with Michelle Ricci and Mir Bahmanyar

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Nicholas Gilroy: Viva Christo Rey - Father Stephen Gemme and Deacon George O’Connor

Nicholas Gilroy: Viva Christo Rey
Father Stephen Gemme
Deacon George O’Connor
ISBN 9781080005857

I must admit I have mixed feelings about this book. After waiting over 2 years for the next installment in the story of Nicholas Gilroy maybe my anticipation and expectations were too high. I absolutely loved the first story, Nicholas Gilroy: Our Lady and the Guardian, and have been eager to read this next book. But I honestly feel it falls a little flat. The first story was a book I could hardly put down. This one feels like it was forced, and to some extent stuffed to get to a certain page count. There are several instances where prayers are typed out in full, or even parts of the mass, and another section a large piece of the Catechism are quoted. Some of it feels like filler. And parts of this feel like preaching at us, rather than a story with a message. My final complaint is the cover, it does not fit the feel of the story, or the cover of the first volume at all. And yet even with those criticisms I am not saying it is a bad book, it is just not as great as the first one. It was a good read, and I do hope for a third installment in the series. 

In this story Nicholas and his close friend Jose will spend a year in exchange studying in Mexico at the Saint Juan Diego High School Seminary. They meet Javier a youth about their own age. They volunteer at an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity. They visit many shrines and sites in and around Mexico. They have a large impact on a few people. They coach soccer/football. And they inspire lives. It is interesting to watch Nicholas’s interaction with Javier and Pablo. 

This book has inspired me to learn more about Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Jose and the Viva Christo Rey movement in Mexico. It really opened my eyes to how deficient my knowledge of Catholicism in Mexico had evolved and been through trials. And for that I am thankful. 

I really feel if the authors focused more on writing and less on asking for reviews and promotion of the first book, then this volume might have been as good as the first. It is an interesting series, and I do look forward to what will happen with Nicholas next. I am planning on rereading this book with my son. If you enjoyed the first, you will appreciate a lot in this story. It is a good read in a great series. And if you have not read book 1 it is an excellent read. And I hope that book three will not take as long as book 2 to release. I cannot help but wonder what will happen to Nicholas next as her peruses his seminary studies. 

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

Books by Father Stephen and Deacon George:
Nicholas Gilroy Series:

Nicholas Gilroy: Our Lady and the Guardian
Nicholas Gilroy: Viva Christo Rey

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A Boy Called Bat - Elana K. Arnold and Charles Santoso - Bat Book 1

A Boy Called Bat
A Boy Called Bat Book 1
Elana K. Arnold
Charles Santoso (Illustrator)
Walden Pond Press an imprint of
Harper Collins
ISBN 9780062445834
eISBN 9780062445841

My youngest child came home from school raving about this book. They had read it the last week of school in grade 3, and it was an instant favorite. When she found out it was the first of a series, she was ecstatic, and wanted us to add it to our summer reading list. And my youngest two and I have just finished reading this first book in the series. As we read it we took turns often alternating pages.

Bat, Bixby Alexander Tam is a little different than many other kinds. In fact he goes to a different school than his sister, in order to have some extra help. When Bat’s mom is late coming home one day it causes his much anxiety, but when she unveils a baby skunk kit that was just born that day, Bat knows that they belong together. Bat is having a hard time settling now that his parents are separated, and ‘every other’ weekend is spent at his father’s new apartment. But he instantly bonds with the kit, and from that moment on is working to find a way to convince his mom to let him keep the kit.

Bat struggles, he sees the world in a very literal way. His interactions with others, even his family are often difficult or overly blunt. But because of his interactions with the Kit, Bat’s edges seem to be softening a bit. And a fellow student is showing interest in him, and the Kit. Learning to connect and care for the Kit seems to be really helping bat learn some other lessons. But will it be enough to be able to keep the Kit? To find out you will need to read the book.

This was a fun read. It helped my children understand a few of their classmates better. It does a great job representing the struggle. And The illustrations are fun. All three of us give it a big thumbs up!

Our Ratings:
8 year old – 5/5 Stars
11 year old 4/5 Stars
50 year old 4/5 Stars

And we are looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Note: there are German editions of the book, translated by Sylke Hachmeister and illustrated by Maja Bohn.

Books by Elana K. Arnold:
What Girls Are made of
The Question of Miracles
Far from Fair
Red Hood
What Riley Wore
An Ordinary Day
The House That Wasn’t There
Starla Jean and Opal Egg

A Boy Called Bat Series:
A Boy Called Bat
Bat and the Waiting game
Bat and the End of Everything

Sacred Series:

Monday, 19 August 2019

Les Costello Canada’s Flying Father - Charlie Angus

Les Costello: Canada’s Flying Father
Charlie Angus
ISBN 9782895076315
eISBN 9782896468973

The three things I remember most having an influence upon my youth were Hockey and the Catholic church and Catholic schools. I recall the excitement when the Flying fathers were coming to town. And for the most part I really loved this book. To be honest I think the author extrapolated far from what I consider consistent with the picture we have of this man, this priest in the rest of the book. Especially around Female priests and married priests. But those few paragraphs I have an issue with do not detract from the rest of the book much.

This is an incredible story. Les Costello, Fr. Lester John Thomas Costello was cut from a different cloth. He won 2 Memorial Cups with the St. Michael’s Majors, and won the Stanley Cup with the Toronto maple Leafs. But he gave it up one fall, instead of returning to training camp for the Leafs, he dropped his brother off on his way to his first camp with the Chicago Black Hawks and went and applied at the seminary instead. He was an avid athlete, a man of the people, and a man who served others. He was also a poet and in some ways a visionary. For Fr. Costello after forming the Flying fathers was traveling, visiting schools and hospitals the way many athlete’s do today.

From the many stories told by friends, family members, teammates, and even the opposition in this story we see a man from a different age. He worked in the rural north, which is where he grew up. He loved hockey, he loved his parishioner’s, and he loved God. His spiritual life was much deeper than many would have glimpsed on the surface. If there was a need he strived to fulfill it. He would even sell his own possessions to meet the needs of others. And this book captures that life of fun and of service.

Costello was a legend on the ice. But his more important legacy was his life of service once he hung up his skates professionally. The Flying fathers were a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and a mission outreach. And Less was the driving force behind the fathers for many, many years. The church could use more priests like Costello today, and the world could definitely use more men with his devotion to service. And this story will at times make you laugh, maybe make you cringe a little, and likely inspire you as well. This is a great read for those who remember the Flying fathers in the hay day, or for anyone interested in reading about this incredible man, his life, and his ministry.

Note: In Canadian hockey history Alan Eagleson is often considered a terrible villain. But if half the stories about Conn Smythe are true he might be one of the biggest cads in all of hockey history.

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

Books by Charlie Angus:
Cage Call
Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada's Lost Promise and One Girl's Dream
Les Costello: Canada's Flying Father
Mirrors of Stone
Unlikely Radicals: The Story of the Adams Mine Dump War
We Lived a Life and Then Some: The Life, Death, and Life of a Mining Town