Monday, 14 October 2019

The Vanishing Woman - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 2

The Vanishing Woman
Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 2
Fiorella De Maria
Ignatius Press
eISBN 9781681497921

This was the seventh book by Fiorella de Maria that I have read over the last few months. Six of the volumes are in print and easy to access. Nd there are two others that are out of print as well. After I read A Most Dangerous Innocence, I picked up all the eBooks available of works by Fiorella De Maria and set to work tracking down the three that do not have electronic editions. And all of them have been excellent reads. There are very few authors who have so completely captured my attention and driven me to track down all of their books I could lay my hands on. The others were J.F. Powers, Alice Curtayne, and Theresa Linden, all three Catholic authors like Fiorella. And unlike the first two passed away long before I encountered their works, I can expect more to read from Linden and de Maria. There is such power in the narratives that Fiorella writes that even after I have read all of them I know that I will return and read some of them over and over again.

This is the second of the Father Gabriel mysteries I have read. And it continues some time after the first. The priest is on lone from his monastery to assist a nearby small-town priest who is recovering from heart surgery. And in this instance, he is practically invited to investigate a mystery. For he is called by the brother of one of his parishioners, after their mother has disappeared, and the woman believes she saw her, and she vanished almost instantly on the way home to their cottage.

At first it is just a missing person. But once a body is found, several miles down river then Inspector Applegate is called in. It seems that there is no one in town who will truly miss the victim, including her own son and daughter. And many who have grievances with her. The inspector suspects one person whom Father Gabriel is certain is innocent.  And thus the two clash once again.

During this story Father Gabriel uncovers the secrets of several people in this small town. A local author, the bookstore owner, and even the young woman at the center of the story. There are several excellent twists and turn in the plot. The characters are one of the best things in de Maria’s writing. 

Coming back to a Father Gabriel story after two months was like a visit with an old friend. The book was incredible hard to put down, and I can only hope we will have many more father Gabriel stories in the future. 

This is an intriguing mystery set in a small town in England. The book was incredibly addictive and very hard to put down. I stated of the first Father Gabriel Mystery that “ in some ways feels like a cross between a Blackie Ryan mystery by Andrew M. Greeley and a the Inspector Tom Tyler series by Maureen Jennings. And that sentiment remains, but as much as I enjoyed both those authors and series, this book Far surpasses them. This is the first of two currently available father Gabriel Mysteries, and as stated I hope there are many more to come. A great historical fiction mystery, an excellent read. 

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

Books by Fiorella De Maria:
The Cassandra Curse
Father William's Daughter
Poor Banished Children
Do No Harm
We'll Never Tell Them
A Most Dangerous Innocence

Father Gabriel Mysteries:
The Sleeping Witness
The Vanishing Woman
See No Evil

Robert Southwell – CTS Saints of the Isles

Books as Fiorella Nash:
The Abolition of Woman: How Radical Feminism Is Betraying Women

Friday, 11 October 2019

Jack in a Box - Diane Capri - Hunt For Reacher Book 1.1

Jack in a Box
Hunt For Reacher Book 1.1
Diane Capri
August Books
eISBN 9780983729860

This was the second of Diane Capri’s Jack books that I have read. This one is more of a short story, or even chapter in the large Hunt for Reacher story. The paperback is listed at 100 pages, but the formatting must be very generous. The eBook is 35 pages. I read this volume one day on my commute home from work. Having now read the first three Hunt For Reacher stories I see better where this one fits in, even with its brevity. In the six months before reading this series I read 29 Jack Reacher Novels and short stories by Lee Child. I stumbled upon these books while preparing one of my reviews and recalled my dad having mentioned them. So, I decided to give one a try. I typically read a couple hundred books a year, and the last few years have been over 300 a year. And at the pace I am going I will finish off this series un under a year from my first Reacher read. These stories are great reads for Reacher fans, and yet are written well enough that they could be read on their own. But they really ought to be read in order, something I must admit I often do not do. Lee Child himself has plugged these books in the Reacher Report. And they deserve the applause. 

This story begins with FBI special agents Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar working separately. One in the FBI archives, and the other the military records. Both receive envelopes with a large print of Reacher’s head shot and a not on the back with a date and time. In this story we find out a lot more about both agent’s families. And what makes them tick. And both are warned off the trail of Reacher. So now they are stuck in a hard place. A very senior officer in their agency driving them forward, and they have been warned that many will not like Reacher being looked into, and some will likely be hostile. But neither can give up. They are warned by Duffy:

“Suit yourself,” her disembodied voice seemed to echo too loudly. She softened her tone. “But know this: you risk everything if you keep looking. Everything. And Reacher risks nothing while he waits. That doesn't sound like a winning equation to me. Does it to you?”

An interesting twist in the hunt for Jack Reacher. A good story that will keep you coming back for more. A good read for a quiet afternoon or evening but it will end just as you get really vested in the story. But don’t worry there are already 10 other volumes after this one. I look forward to more in this series and sampling other series by Capri in the future. So if you are a fan of Reacher or just love a good mystery give this series a try. 

Books by Diane Capri:
Hunt for Reacher Series:

1.0 Don’t Know Jack
1.1 Jack in a Box
1.2 Jack and Kill
2.0 Get Back Jack
2.5 Jack in the Green
3.0 Jack and Joe
4.0 Deep Cover Jack
5.0 Jack the Reaper
6.0 Black Jack
7.0 Ten Two Jack
8.0 Jack of Spades
9.0 Prepper Jack

Justice Series:
1.0 Due Justice
2.0 Twisted Justice
3.0 Secret Justice
4.0 Wasted Justice
5.0 Raw Justice
5.5 Mistaken Justice
6.0 Cold Justice
6.1 False Justice
6.2 Fair Justice
6.3 True Justice
7.0 Hunt for Justice
8.0 Night Justice

Jess Kimball Series:
0.5 Fatal Enemy
1.0 Fatal Distraction
2.0 Fatal Demand
3.0 Fatal Error
4.0 Fatal Fall
4.5 Fatal Edge
5.0 Fatal Game
6.0 Fatal Bond
6.5 Fatal Past
7.0 Fatal Dawn

Heir Hunter Series:
1.0 Blood Trials
2.0 Trace Evidence

Jordan Fox Mysteries:
False Truth Part One
False Truth Part Two
False Truth Part Three
False Truth Part Four
False Truth Part Five
False Truth Part Six
False Truth Part Seven
False Truth Part Eight
False Truth Part Nine
False Truth Part Ten
False Truth Part Eleven

The Park Hotel Mysteries Series:
1.0 Reservation with Death
2.0 Early Check Out
3.0 Room with a Clue
4.0 Late Arrival

Other Books:
Angel of Music

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Abby In Wonderland - Sarah Mlynowski - Whatever After Special Edition 1

Abby In Wonderland
Whatever After Book 10.5
Special Edition 1
Sarah Mlynowski
ISBN 9780545746670

eISBN 9780545746656

Three years ago, when my oldest daughter, Abby, was a much more reluctant reader we began this series. As part of the family reading challenge she needs to read at least 20 minutes each day. When we began this series I would read 2 pages for every page she read. Now she reads to me. This is the first book that I recall her reading from beginning to end to me. And She read to me while I worked out, killing two birds with one stone. This summer while on a road trip with her Aunt and Nana she read them two of these books. And this Special edition she just finished reading to me.

We both really enjoy the whatever After books, and this is the fourth that we have read together. And of all the Whatever After books this one is my daughters favorite. What she like best about the book was that Abby and penny were not friends at the beginning of the story, but by the end of it they were. They were even going to modify their best friends’ necklaces to include Penny. What she did not like was how much Abby talked about the ketchup, how much she focused on Jonah not being there. And also missing Jonah on the adventure. While discussing the book after finishing it we discovered that there is a second special edition due out next year, Abby in Oz. We are both eagerly anticipating it. We also talked about what other books we would love to see Abby dropped into. Her top pick would be one of the Narnia books, specifically The Magician’s Nephew, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I on the other hand thought immediately of the possibilities if Abby were to find herself and her friends in The Giver by Lois Lowry, or Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. But I am getting ahead of myself, lets take a look at this specific book.

This first Whatever After Special Edition is different than any of the other books for a number of reasons. First, Joan and Abby do not go together into the story. Second, They do not get to the story via Mary Rose the magic mirror in their basement. Three they fall into s story not a fairy tale. And four she goes with three friends. What is similar is that they end up in a story. Then they mess the story up somehow and need to fix it to find their way out. They encounter many of the characters from the story, and one evil fairy who has a nasty plan and purpose. 

I will be honest and state that I enjoy this story much more than the original Alice story. Abby in wonderland is and excellent read, and another wonderful story in the Whatever After series.  But to find out all that Abby figures out, and what the implications of that are to freeing Mary Rose, you will need to read this story. 

Books by Sarah Mlynowski:
Magic in Manhattan Series:

Bras & Broomsticks
Frogs & French Kisses
Spells & Sleeping Bags
Parties & Potions

Whatever After Series:

Fairest of All
If the Shoe Fits
Sink or Swim
Dream On
Bad Hair Day
Cold As Ice
Beauty Queen
Once Upon a Frog
Genie in a Bottle

Sugar and Spice
Two Peas in a Pod
Seeing Red
Spill the Beans

Whatever After Special Editions:
Abby in Wonderland
Abby in Oz

Upside-Down Magic Series:
Upside-Down Magic #1
Sticks and Stones #2
Showing Off #3

Other Books by Sarah:
Monkey Business
As Seen on TV
Me Vs. Me
Gimme a Call
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Don't Even Think About It
Think Twice
Know It All
A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
A Little Bit Broken
Party Girls
The Two-Month Itch

Books Coauthored:
See Jane Write (with Farrin Jacobs)
How to Be Bad (with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle)

Books Contributed To:
Girls' Night In
Girls Night Out
American Girls About Town
Vacations from Hell

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

H20 Travel Plan - Team Body Project - Alex and Daniel Bartlett

H20 Travel Plan
Team Body Project
Alex and Daniel Bartlett

I have now completed 6 workout plans with TBP and at the post of this review worked out over 100 days straight using TBP videos. H20 Stands for HIIT 20, or High Intensity Interval Training in 20 Minutes. And this program is very different than any of the others I have done from TBP. With this program you have 5 workouts, each under 24 minutes with warm-up and cool down, stretch.

As the sixth program from Team body project that I have completed this year, this one pushed me the most by far. Even though the workouts were short and concise. This past summer I wrote a piece called Starting Over in Southwestern Ontario! A Fitness Update! What I started with was the workout videos from team Body Project, and specifically Real Start Just Move. You can watch that video on YouTube, or even workout with it. I have been a member of Team Body Project for three years now, but only just started the videos. I am in my 50th year, and I really needed to get back at it. You can actually find some of the H20 workouts on YouTube, even if you do not have a TBP premium or free membership.

Team Body Project is a website, an app and a community. And the community is part of what makes this an excellent resource for your health and fitness. The private community on Facebook and the forums on the website are very supportive and encouraging. But what really helped me is that the workouts in the Real Start program are geared for anyone. Each video has three participants. Daniel and Alex lead the videos and Natasha and Lisa. Natasha usually works out at a harder pace, and Lisa at a modified level. I decided to do this plan because I had upcoming work travel. I wanted to have a plan in place, and because of my knee recovery was not sure I could handle these workouts. So, I did it the week before I travelled to make sure I could do it. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail, and I wanted to keep my workouts going while away from home and my normal schedule and routine. 

This is a one week program with 5 workouts. All 5 workouts are both Alex and Daniel and the alternate leading exercises. 

The gear you will need:

The workouts are:
H20 Ice Baby 
H20 Sub Zero 
H20 Refresh 
H20 Simmer 
H20 Boiling Point

You can actually access all five workouts in this plan via YouTube, the TBP website, or through the TBP app. The pace of this workout is intense. Each day you do 5 exercises, 30 seconds activity 15 seconds break, and repeat each exercise 3 or 4 times. Three times if not side specific 4 times if we need to do each side twice. The workout is 20 minutes. With a brief warmup and cool down and stretch afterwards. The program is designed for if you are travelling and do not have any gear. You can do it in your hotel room with just a towel on the floor in place of a mat. 

This is a great program and excellent switch of pace and what a pace you keep during these workouts. As mentioned it is free and available on a number of platforms so give it a try. 

And do not just take my word for it check out Kylie Young’s story or the other testimonials on the site. I can say that TBP is one of the best resources for health and fitness that I have ever come across. 

A great program, especially when time is tight, or for when on the road. Thank you Alex and Daniel. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Jerzy Popieluszko Victim of Communism - Grazyna Sikorski - CTS 20th Century Martyrs

Jerzy Popieluszko: 
Victim of Communism 
Grazyna Sikorski
CTS 20th Century Martyrs
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784693206
CTS Booklet B654

In just over a year I have read nearly 100 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have been asked by more that one friend why these books and booklets have taken such a precedence in my reading, especially when I have a university degree in Religious Studies and focused on Roman Catholic Thought. First there is such a wide range of topics and so many great series. Second there have been books that have served as introduction to new topics or so focused they provide great information in such small concise volumes. And, finally, as with the case of this one, over half of the books I have read are about people, Saints, Martyrs, and other people of faith. This is the fourth book in the CTS 20th Century Martyrs series that I have read. It is the first for a victim of the communists. The other three have been about Victims of the Nazis. And with each book in the series I have gotten to know these men and women those who lived their faith in those terrible situations.

This is the first story I have read about a Catholic priest under the communist reign, who was a martyr. It was a deeply moving story and it is a powerful read. Parts of the story are very hard to read, especially about the beating he took, and how they had to identify his body. This booklet follows Jerzy from his early years to the process of beatification. The chapters in the volume are:

Early Life
Poland under communism
Calling to the priesthood
Seminary years
In the army

The Young Priest
As a medical chaplain
Fr Jerzy and the pro-life Movement in Poland

Martial law
A day in the life of Fr. Jerzy
Masses for the Fatherland
The patriotic sermons
The mission of Solidarity
John Paul II on Solidarity
Not Selling Out

In prison
Kidnapping and murder
His last moments
A National outrage
Fr. Jerzy’s death is announced
The Funeral
An inspiration even after death
Towards beatification

There are many who make pilgrimage to Poland, and many of those visit the gave of Jerzy. Most are moved. One pilgrim stated:

“Father, I’m a Catholic, but over the years I have neglected my faith. On Sundays, instead of going to church, I would go to my country house. Then I stood at Fr Jerzy’s grave. I saw those thousands of flowers, candles and wreaths and so many people praying and crying… I was shaken and realised that this 37-year-old priest gave his life not for material values, but for spiritual, religious and patriotic ones. He sacrificed his young life… How do I look in comparison with this martyred priest? Deeply shaken, I went to confession and I have gone to church every Sunday since then.”

This was the life of a young man who can serve as an example for all of us. His service, his love, his devotion. And above all his stand for what was true and what was right. 

This book was originally published in 2010 and the eBook edition was released in 2017. And even though the physical book is out of print we are blessed to be able to access the eBook edition. This is a an excellent read. It is not an easy read, but most books about the 20th Century Martyrs are not. But they are very important reads. They are books that we need to read and need to remember. Especially as anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism are on the rise, in Europe and around the world. Another great read from the Catholic Truth Society. I encourage you to give it a read and track down others in the 20th Century Martyrs Series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the 20th Century Martyrs Series:
Sophie Scholl and the White Rose: Resistance to the Nazis - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Johann Gruber & Jacques Bunel Victims of the Nazis - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
Maximilian Kolbe, F. Jagerstatter, K. Leisner, R. Mayer: Victims of the Nazis - Franz Jagerstatter
Edith Stein, Marcel Callo, Titus Brandsma: Victims of the Nazis – Matthew Monk
Saint Maria Goretti: Teenage Martyr for Chastity - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
The Atlas Martyrs – Jean Olwen Maynard

Jerzy Popieluszko Victim of Communism - Grazyna Sikorski
Isidore Bankanja - Jean Maynard