Friday, 15 November 2019

Deep Cover Jack - Diane Capri - Hunt For Reacher Book 4

Deep Cover Jack 
Hunt For Reacher Book 4
Diane Capri
August Books
eISBN 9781940768670

I have now read seven of the stories in Diane Capri’s Hunt for Reacher series. And this one was another solid 5/5 stars. This one relates to people and events from Persuader by Lee Child. At the beginning we are given a cast of characters. I have started playing much closer attention to this list as we begin a story. The list this time is:

Kim L. Otto
Carlos M. Gaspar

Charles Cooper
Lamont Finlay

Alex Branch
Susan Duffy
Theresa Justice
Terry Villanueva

Leo Abrams
Viktor Sokol

Jack Reacher

Some characters are primary to the story, some are encountered via reference, phone call, emails or just passing indication. And some seem elusive, especially Jack Reacher himself. Persuader was not one of my favorite books. It was much darker and more violent than most of the others. But returning to the characters and seeing where they are now is one of the best parts of this series. And occasionally we get to meet some more new and interesting characters. 

In some ways this story is nearly as dark as Persuader. In this volume Agents Otto and Gaspar decide to turn up the heat. They head to Houston to confront ATF agent Susan Duffy. But she is not there, and the circumstances are suspicious. Soon The agents and Duffy’s former partner, Alex Branch are heading in her direction. They soon team up and realize that the house by the sea is being used for some pretty terrible purposes again. But without Reacher, with limited supplies and even less chance of backup can the pull off a rescue?

This was the seventh of Diane Capri’s Jack books that I have read. And with each one I appreciate the series more. It is amazing the adventure that Otto and Gaspar have had in 28 days. I was hooked after reading the first story in this series and know I will be reading them all. And so far, they have not let me down. I am trying to pace myself to just a book a week, but it is so hard to not pick up the next volume as soon as I finish one. I have already picked up the eBooks for all that are currently available, and have Prepper Jack on my wish list for once it releases. And plan on reviewing one a week until I have reviewed them all. In the six months before reading this series I read 29 Jack Reacher Novels and short stories by Lee Child. And these books tie in so nicely. 

This is a great book and series. For fans of the Reacher books, or movies. Or for anyone who enjoys a good mystery/Crime literature read. One of the best in the series.

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, 14 November 2019

Trouble at the Arcade - Franklin W. Dixon - The Hardy Boys Secret Files Book 1

Trouble at the Arcade
The Hardy Boys Secret Files Book 1
Franklin W. Dixon
Scott Burroughs (Illustrator)
Aladdin an imprint of
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
ISBN 9781416991649
eISBN 9781416999225

I first read this book to my son a few years ago. He loved it and we picked up several in the series. Now my son has just read this book to me, to get his reading time in for school. He made it through with help mostly on names. He really enjoyed the book and wants to read all 19 that are currently available in the series. It is very different than the Blue hard Cover Hardy Boys Mystery Stories I had when I was his age. But it was still a fun read.

The chapters in this volume are:
1 Alien Attack!
2 Fun World
3 A Major Score
4 Who’s the Thief?
5 A Big Threat
6 A Real Mystery
7 Who, What, When . . .
8 A New Suspect
9 Lost and Found
10 Secret File #1: Solved!

And from the books we have all the books in the series have 10 chapters. It is an interesting read. For my son they are new and exciting. The brothers are 8 and 9 years old in this book. The books have been scaled way back in complexity compared to the original series. But for younger readers, it will allow them to read the whole thing themselves. At the beginning of this stories the brothers are very competitive with each other. Teasing each other about the upcoming video game competition, and even making a bed about who will get to move into the renovated spare room. Their dad states:

“Anyway, don’t forget that you’re brothers,” he said. “You’re supposed to be a team. You’ll always have a better chance if you work together instead of against each other.”

And this comes back to them when there is a big problem at the video game competition. While they are at Fun World all the entrance money from the competition goes missing. The brothers decide to work together and try and use what they have heard from their father’s stories about his detective work, and solve the mystery.

Most of the story takes place at Fun World, and amusement center with multiple rooms and features. After the money goes missing the competition is on hold. And there is a lot happening. And the brothers find out that when they work together things do go better. For older readers they should be able to put the clues together and solve the mystery. Younger readers might miss the clues but will still love the story.

The story is fun. And we have already read this one twice and have plans to read many of the others in the series. Any book or series that my kids want to read again and keep reading is a win in my books.

The Hardy Boys Secret Files:
Trouble at the Arcade
The Missing Mitt
Mystery Map
Hopping Mad
A Monster of a Mystery
The Bicycle Thief
The Disappearing Dog
Sports Sabotage
The Great Coaster Caper
A Rockin' Mystery
Robot Rumble
Lights, Camera . . . Zombies!
Balloon Blow-Up
Fossil Frenzy
Ship of Secrets
Camping Chaos
The Great Escape
Medieval Upheaval
The Race Is On

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Maximilian Kolbe Martyr of Charity - Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv.

Maximilian Kolbe: Martyr of Charity
Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv.
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828713
eISBN 9781784693008
CTS Booklet B753

I doubt very many people in the church and maybe even in western culture who are not at least familiar with the story of Father Maximillian Kolbe. His sacrifice is taught in both religion classes and in history classes. But what this wonderful little booklet does is an amazing job of giving us a quick overview and introduction to the man, his ministry and his martyrdom. The booklet can easily be read in an afternoon over a large cup of tea. The chapters in the volume are:

The Militia of Mary Immaculate
Return to Poland
Magazine Publisher
The City of the Immaculate
Mission to Japan
Poland Again

We are told in the introduction that the definition of a martyr was expanded so that Kolbe could be canonized as one.

“Never before had the Church elaborated a saint’s dying for the faith to include the freewill laying down of one’s life in love for another. Pope John Paul chose to expand the definition of martyrdom - divine love in action.”

We are also told that during the canonization mass on October 10th 1982 that:

“Franciszek Gajowniczek held a prominent place. The eighty-one year-old survivor of Auschwitz had come from his native Poland in testimony to the fact that it was he whom Fr Kolbe’s self-sacrifice had spared. His old white head now ruddy under sunny skies, Mr Gajowniczek, beneficiary of charity, sat beside Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a living icon of charity. Both devotees of the new saint-martyr would receive Holy Communion from the Pope.”

The introduction ends with these words:

“No one four decades earlier - least of all Fr Kolbe’s Nazi captors - could have envisioned this moment. In an astonishing reversal of fortune, the vilified inmate of an obscure prison camp was now being glorified among the ranks of the saints, forevermore to be honoured by billions of Catholics on altars throughout the world.”

And that is really the end of this story. From there we journey back with the author and examine the childhood, and life of this saint. This is the second book about this saint I have read. The other was geared for a younger audience. But this volume can be read with or to school age children and they will be fascinated by the story. The story follows Kolbe as he grows, discovers his calling. Begins a media mission. And even travels to Japan. But ultimately it goes back to Poland and his writings and stand against the Nazi regime. His arrest, his time at the concentration camp. And his love and service to other inmates, including volunteering to take Franciszek place in the death chamber.

It is a powerful and moving story. It is a story we need to remember. And to be challenged by. I have read nearly 100 booklets from the Catholic Truth Society over the last two years. There are some incredible reads. But the biographies of the saints are among my favorites. An excellent read for all ages.

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.

Other books about Maximilian Kolbe:
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight - Patricia Edward Jablonski and Karen Ritz - Encounter the Saints Series Book 10
The Saints Pray for Us
Maximilian Kolbe, F. Jagerstatter, K. Leisner, R. Mayer: Victims of the Nazis - Franz Jagerstatter
Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv: Priest Hero Of A Death Camp - Mary Craig

Maximilian Kolbe: Martyr of Charity - Fr James E. McCurry, OFM Conv

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ivy and Bean - Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall - Ivy and Bean Book 1

Ivy and Bean
Ivy & Bean Book 1
Annie Barrows
Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

Chronicle Books
ISBN 978-0811849098
eISBN 9780811876513

I have read this book twice, four years apart almost to the week. First with my oldest daughter and then with my youngest daughter. My son who is between the girls has shown no interest to the books, but he did listen as his sister read it to me. I read this to the oldest, and the youngest has read it to me. I have also read 2 other titles in the series with my oldest. I have mixed feelings about these books. I like that my children like them. My oldest was a reluctant reader and we alternated pages. And my youngest is just really getting into reading her own books. I love that the kids like and enjoy these books and want to read them. My youngest got the first 4 as hand me downs and is already planning on buying the rest. But the story itself is a little questionable.

In this story the mothers of both Ivy and Bean (Bernice) have been telling them they should become friends. They live across a cul-de-sac from each other. But both girls have hesitations and have not bothered acting on the advice. Until the day Bean is about to get in big trouble, and Ivy encourages her to run from her older sister who is getting their mother. And helps bean to hide and formulate a plan. Ivy believes she is a witch and from the set up of her room she has fairly liberal parents. She has a spell book she got from an aunt that is over 100 years old. The two plot to put a spell on Bean’s sister to force her to dance non-stop. To do so they need worms, lots and lots of worms.

There is something witchy about their friendship. And Ivy, who outwardly appears ‘normal’ but inwardly reminds me of Wednesday Addams. And Bean seems a little awkward and weird on the outside but seems to just be a kid with a knack for getting in trouble. We are told that “The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn't be friends.” But circumstances brought them together and a bond was formed. A bond that now spans 11 books.

The books are a great leveled reader. Both my girls read it the first month of grade 4. At grade 4 if reading at grade level this book should be an easy read. If they are a little behind grade level, they will need some help. But both girls love the book and the story. But I had to want my youngest that it is a story and not an instructional manual, she cannot do to her sister what bean did to hers! And I have a feeling based on my youngest that I will be reading the whole series soon.

Note: My youngest read the paperback to me, and I followed along on my phone. The pictures are much larger and integrated into the text in the print edition.

Books in the Ivy and Bean Series:
Ivy and Bean
Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go
Ivy and Bean and the Fossil Record
Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter
Ivy and Bean Bound to Be Bad
Ivy and Bean Doomed to Dance
Ivy and Bean What’s the Bid idea?
Ivy and Bean No News is Good News
Ivy and Bean Make the Rules
Ivy and Bean Take the Case
Ivy and Bean One Big Happy Family

Monday, 11 November 2019

In Conversation With God Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28 - Francis Fernandez

In Conversation With God
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
eISBN 9780906138922

There are three editions of these book available in English. The original vinyl bound. The Kindle Editions that split each volume (based on Kindle max file size at the time they were released.) And New Single volume eBook editions. I have owned a few copies of the vinyl, but now love these Kindle editions. 

I have been reading this series for almost 30 years now. Since they first started being available in English. At first, I bought them in individual vinyl covered editions. And later replaced them with the boxset. And then once the eBooks were available, I grabbed them up, and after 2 years of using the eBooks I gave my physical copy to a local school teacher to use in his high school class. I love these books and have read them around 15 times over years. I love the newer eBook editions.

I have said it before but there are a few features I love about the eBook versions that I want to highlight. First as a reader you can highlight and make notes easily in the digital editions. You can also pick colors and change your highlighting from year to year. But the best feature of the Kindle version is you can export your highlights and notes and start fresh. I also like having all the volumes on me at all times. I can use them to look something up, using the Subject index or index of quotations to look something up in any volume. I also love that in eBooks you can change the page color, the font, and even font size to make reading better suited to your personally. 

As with each volume in this series each reading in this book is about 6 pages long. Each Day is broken into three sections. There are numerous references. But I want to give you a sample of the highlights I made in this volume this year. This year when I read it I highlighted 20 passages. 

“Humility is the prerequisite to belief, to coming close to Christ. This virtue is the narrow road that leads to faith and to growth in the supernatural life. Humility allows us to understand Jesus.”

“We should make sure to go to Confession frequently. In this way, we will avoid any separation from the Lord, even in little things. Let us ask the help of Our Lady, Refuge of sinners, that we may constantly improve the quality of our confessions. We should think also of the splendid work of mercy involved in bringing a friend, relative or colleague to this Sacrament and to a renewal of supernatural life.”

“The gift of speech comes from the hands of God. It should be used to sing his praises and to speak well of others. It should never be used to do harm. Acquire the habit of speaking about everyone and about everything they do in a friendly manner, especially when you are speaking of those who labour in God’s service. Whenever that is not possible, keep quiet. Sharp or irritated comment may border on gossip or slander.”

“Our speech should be at the service of the good – to console those who suffer; to teach those who are ignorant; to correct in a courteous manner those who are in the wrong; to strengthen those who are weak. Holy Scripture reminds us that the tongue of the wise is health.”

“To be recollected is to join what is separated, to re-establish a lost order. If we want to be recollected souls, we have to guard our senses from hazardous dissipation. Otherwise, we shall find it impossible to be contemplatives in the middle of the world, no matter how tranquil our immediate surroundings may be.”

“The life of each man and woman exists in the present moment. These are the only moments which we can truly sanctify. The past and the future only exist in our imagination. The memory of our past can inspire us to acts of contrition or thanksgiving, yet even these prayers take place in the reality of the present.”

“Our challenge is for us to want the Will of God in everything, to accept it with joy, to love it no matter how difficult or incomprehensible it appears.”

Across the 7 Volumes in this series; or 14 eBook volumes because each book is split in two there are over 450 meditations. There is a meditation for each day of the church calendar, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide and of course the 34 weeks of Ordinary time. There are also 2 volumes dedicated to special feats, specific feats, novenas, Saints, and holy days that fall on specific calendar days. 

These books are incredible food for your spiritual life. Every time I read them, every day I am challenged, challenged to become a better version of myself, challenged to live more joy, more hope, more dedication. These books will change your life, and as you read them again and again you will only grow to appreciate them more.  

I had planned on reviewing each of the eBook editions as I read them but have fallen behind. This is my third time reading this volume as an eBook. This series has been invaluable in my spiritual life. Sometimes I read it for years in a row. And every time I benefit from it. I grow, I deepen. I strive to mature. 

Of all the devotionals and spiritual books I have read over the last nearly 30 years I can recommend this series as one of the best. You can read it again and again and always get something more out of it. I was recently asked to come up with my all-time Top Ten Catholic Books this series came in at number 4 but to be honest 2-5 are almost all interchangeable. So this is one of my all-time top Christian reads!

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

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Through The Winds and Waves
The Day that Changed My Life