Friday, 19 July 2019

A Wanted Man - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 17

A Wanted Man
Jack Reacher Book 17
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780307990853
eISBN 9780440339366

This is Jack Reacher book 17 in publishing order, and it is the 20th story I have read by Lee Child featuring Jack Reacher. I have been on a streak, in that the last four Reacher novels I have read have garnered 5/5 stars. Of the twenty I have read most are 4 stars and 1 was even 3. But this is a great story. And unlike many Reacher does not bed anyone. Sort of Like Kirk in season 3 of the original Trek. This is the 13th of 23 currently available Novels in the Reacher series I have read. And it is a great story. With each of the last few Reacher novels I have stated it is one of the best, and I say it again this time. 

Reacher begins this story a little beat up. He has a recently badly broken nose. He is cold, and one the side of the road trying to hitch a ride. His destination is Virginia, he wants to make his way there to meet a woman he has only dealt with on the phone. After a long time on the on ramp he removed the duct tape holding his broken nose. And a later description of him in the book is like a gorilla with a broken face. Reacher accepts the first drive that he s offered. But he knows that he is not operating at 100%. He has lost his sense of smell, and he relies on his senses extensively. Shortly after he is in the car things start to not make sense. The stories he is told, and the facts he observes do not line up and that gap keeps getting wider and wider. 

This is a story that start slowly, and the pressure builds and builds and builds. Reacher slowly starts putting the different stories and pieces together. But this is a story that involves the CIA, FBI, a local sheriff, a murder, a kidnapping, a terrorist threat, and more. And Reacher just stumbles into the middle of it but once there cannot just walk away. He needs to do what is right by his code. 

The plot in this story starts much slower and moves at a meandering pace for most of the story. Reacher is trying to overcome his injury and seems to be playing catch up most of the time. But with the intricacies of the plot, and the overlapping story lines it makes for an exceptional mystery. I usually rip through a Reacher novel in a day or two, but because of family commitments and changes in work schedule this one took me four days. But it fit the story and the ending was worth the wait.

Another great Reacher story!

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, 18 July 2019

Poor Tom Is Cold - Maureen Jennings - Detective Murdoch Book 3

Poor Tom Is Cold
Detective Murdoch Book 3
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart
An imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

ISBN 9780771095955
eISBN 9780771043222

Over the last nine weeks I have read as many books by Maureen Jennings. I have read books from all four of her series, and this is the fifth Murdoch story I have read. I really love Jennings historical pieces and consider her a master of the craft of writing. But after having watched all the current season of the Murdoch Mysteries on television, Murdoch even in this different form holds a special place for me. There is something about the way Jennings wraps these mysteries in and around Toronto at the beginning of the twentieth century. This was the third Detective Murdoch novel, and it is great to settle in with Murdoch and the other characters of Station Number 4 for another intense tale. 

There are many great elements in this story. It begins with Murdoch at the station early, because of a raging toothache. He offers to go looking for Constable Oliver Wicken is off his beat. The initial inquest suspects and confirms suicide. But that does not sit well with Murdoch, and soon there is new evidence. Brackenreid give’s Will permission to keep investigating. And the more he investigates the more circumspect of the original verdict he becomes.

In this story we have a house of ill repute, and specifically the matron and one of the girls. We have a dead officer. We have a woman in an asylum. And men dressing up nags to sell as prize horses. And we have a stepson, who is twisted to his core. There was a lot going on in this story, and those multiple threads do not seem to come together, but when Murdoch realizes what is happening and flips the quilt over, the image is as clear as day. But only after dealing with his aching tooth that clearly played a part in him taking so long to gather the pieces together. 

This book deals with the ideas around suicide, women’s rights, The father control over families, and even dental care. Looking back at some of these in historical perspective is very useful for us today. It was a book that was hard to put down.

I love the historical mysteries Jennings has written, and of the three series set in the past I love Murdoch, and this is one of the best of the Murdoch books I have read. A great story, wonderfully written. And it leaves me desperate for the next Detective Murdoch 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, 17 July 2019

Designed by Lucy - Courtney Sheinmel - The Kindness Club Book 2

Designed by Lucy
The Kindness Club Book 2
Courtney Sheinmel 
ISBN 9781681198996
eISBN 9781681191188

My oldest and I have read and reviewed all the Stella Batts books by Courtney Sheinmel at least twice. This was the second book that my oldest read to my youngest two and me. It was the first book of our family summer reading challenge. And all four of us loved it. We each gave it 5/5 stars. Our first reactions were:

A great read in a wonderful series. My oldest read most of this to my youngest two and me as family reading time for part of our summer reading challenge. We all Loved it! Our once sentence reviews are:

8 year old - that they all came together to make the quilt and provide a good memory for Serena.
11 year old - that they always strive to show kindness to everyone.
13 year old - Courtney is one of my favorite authors ( specially Stella Batts Books) and the books endings always make me happy. 
50 year old - a great read by one of our favorite Middle Grade/YA authors.

My kids have come to realize that I make predictions about what is going to happen in a book. And far more often than not I am correct. The kids wonder how I can do it, and I just say with the number of books I have read you start to see things coming. My oldest is starting to do it as well now. And that was the case with this story. Both my oldest and I Realized that Lucy’s father and grandmother were under a lot of stress. Their changed behaviour. Not having the money to fix or replace the dishwasher. Working longer and longer hours. But this story is about much more than just the trials the Tanaka’s are undergoing. Lucy really wants to keep the kindness club going. And she is striving to find projects, so they have things to do. She does not want her newfound friendships with Chloe and Theo to end. To that end she undertakes two projects, the first is helping out in her gran’s place at an after-school program, and the second planning a birthday party for a girl at school who just lost her mother. 

Unfortunately, the IT girls seem to squash one. And the other does not work as planned. And Lucy is devastated. But friends and family come together and a whole lot of people being kind might lead to a little magic! Lucy is committed to trying to do three kind things every day. And she admires that kindness comes so naturally to Chloe. But she soon realized that sometimes you need to accept the help and kindness of others also. 

This is a great second book in a series, and our family desperately hope there will be a at least a third volume focused on Theo. An excellent read for middle grade readers, preteens, or really anyone who loves a good wholesome story. Another excellent read from the masterful pen of Courtney Sheinmel. 

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday

The Kindness Club:
The Kindness Club
Designed by Lucy

Agnes and Clarabelle Series :
Agnes and Clarabelle
Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate

Other Books:
My So-Called Life
All the Things You Are


Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Starting Over in Southwestern Ontario! A Fitness Update!

Starting Over in Southwestern Ontario 
With a Little Help from Team Body Project! 
A Fitness Update!

I Joined Team Body Project in 2016. But have never really used it, other than the community forums. That all changes three weeks ago. This is a piece I wrote for the forums there and then modified for the private FB group:


I have been a member since 2016. And on June 23rd of 2019 I did my first workout. In both High School and University, I worked off and on as a personal trainer. I helped athletes go on to play college basketball and college football. As I aged my own athletics, 14 years of Hockey, and 8 years of Rugby took their toll. Combined with sports injuries and a torn rotator cuff in a work accident and I have a pretty beat up body. (Nearly 100 fractures, and over 100 stitches) Three times since I turned 24 I have lost 30+ lbs.  and right now, I am within 10 lbs of my highest recorded weight.

I have three children ages 13, 11, and 8. I need to get healthy for them and to be here for them. Just 6 years ago I was teaching 7-10 hours of yoga a week. For personal and religious reasons, I gave up Yoga.  And since then my weight has slowly creeped up. And now I am almost 50lbs heavier than then. I currently do family Karate with the kids but have had a number of injuries over the last few year, planters fasciitis, separated shoulder, and just recently a sprained knee.

I know that losing some weight will help with all the above. I walk 40 minutes a day as part of my commute to work. But need more. Especially since I will be 50 next year. I am here for my health and to be here longer and healthier for my kids.

Today I did real start just move. I have to modify the squats but made it through the workout. I plan on doing this until my knee is better then finishing the real start. I am starting over again, and am thankful for the community here.

I joined TBP to support my Aunt who was doing it. And now she is my inspiration.

I will never be an elite athlete again, but I can get in much better shape than I am now. And June 23rd was the start, every day since then I have hit play and done Real Start Just Move. If I do it in the afternoon or evening one or more of my children have joined me. But because of my work schedule this past week I got up at 4 once and 430 twice to do the workout before heading into work.


Since first writing this I have done the Read Start Just Move workout every day for 16 days a few days added a stretch or mobilization workout after. And for the last week and a half have been doing the Real Start Program. You can see Real Start Just Move here, and you can create a free account on the Team Body Project site and have access to the first week of that program and many other videos. Both Alex and Daniel are great to workout with, and both are very responsive in the community forums and private Facebook Group. And working out through the TBP site and apps are both great experiences.

I am starting over again; it has taken years to gain the weight and it will not come off overnight. But I can work on making good small decisions each day, both in what I eat and choose not to eat. And I can press play every day with TBP.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Follow The Breadcrumbs - Chris Stead - The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 2

Follow The Breadcrumbs
The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 2
Chris Stead
Old Mate Media
ISBN 9781925638370

This is an interesting story. I have read it and reread it with my youngest child. She enjoyed it immensely. The illustrations are fun. And the story is creative. But for a picture book every page is the same layout. It is one big picture with a white bar on the right-hand side and the text centered both vertically and horizontally on the white space. Some words are either red or green for emphasis. I believe the layout and design could use some work.

But that being said and it is a fun story. Willy Nilly seems to get in trouble a lot. At the beginning of the book it is for a mess in his room. At the end for an even bigger mess in the yard. But Willy loves the outdoors, loves animals, and has some interesting ideals, even if they may not be the most well through out. He does take responsibility for his actions and tries to make things right.

My concern with the book is that a lot of children and parents are not aware that bread is not good for waterfowl. That it causes problems for the birds in quantities and for the ecosystem. And many with out knowledge will have this book reinforce the idea of feeding these birds bread.

Overall a fun story with goo illustrations. And an interesting character. We look forward to checking out some of the other Willy Nilly books.

Books by Chris Stead:
Willy Nilly Books:

The Little Green Boat
Follow The Breadcrumbs
The Fastest Kid in the World
Christmas Chimney Challenge


Other Books:
Adam Exitus
Nintendo Switch Insiders Guide
Jasper the Very Lucky Little Kitten
My Birthday Cake Needs A New Home
Trouble at the Zoo
Can you See The magic?
A Very Strange Zoo
The Making of Monument Valley