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


Friday, 12 July 2019

Crystal Embers - David Vining

Crystal Embers
David Vining
ISBN 9781070434520

Over the past year I have read five collections of short stories and a historical novel by David Vining. And I really enjoyed them. But this new novel from Vining is a masterpiece. As I was reading it, I kept expecting certain things to happen and they did not, and what did happen was such a surprising twist on an old tale that it completely blew me away. The skill showing in the writing of this novel amazed me. As much as I have enjoyed all his other available works, I truly loved this one. 

I would describe this story as a retelling of the tale of Saint George and the Dragon, but from a completely different angel. George has been released from his role in the military after a long and hard-fought civil war. He has been sent home, but home is his men, the battles, and the adventure. He does not know where he fits, and a quiet desperation keeps gripping him. His wife, Virginia, is lost in her own way. Her husband that returned from war is not man she remembers leaving or had built up in her memory. And she is no longer in charge or the lands and has a stranger sharing her bed. George is known as the hero who ended the war. She mourns the loss of her child, and it is a child he never met. They encounter a dragon on their land and both of them become enthralled by it. But everyone expects the hero of the war to kill the dragon. 

The two of them end up travelling through the countryside. They pursue the dragon. But not for the expected reasons. They travel and they search for new meaning. All they have is each other and the dragon they are following. Watching their strange sad reunion was touching. Following them as they rediscover each other is deeply moving. 

In many ways this story reminds me of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. It is a classic fantasy story. The plot is very unique. The book was hard to put down. And I give it a solid 5/5 stars. It is a great read, give it a try I am sure you will enjoy it. 

My only wish was that I could track down a copy of his debut novel that is now out of print. But everything else he has written is excellent. 

Books by David Vining:
A Quest Through Winter Sleep
The Battle of Lake Erie: One Young American's Adventure in the War of 1812
Crystal Embers


Collections of Short Stories:
Shoes for Two Soldier Sons
Old Magic in a New World
A Light in the Darkness
A Boy and His Satellit


Author profile and interview with David Vining.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Beware This Boy - Maureen Jennings - Tom Tyler Book 2

Beware This Boy 
Tom Tyler Book 2
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart
An imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

ISBN 9780771043130
eISBN 9780771043147

This was my eighth Maureen Jennings story in as many week, and also the second in the Tom Tyler series that I have read. I am enjoying read books from all the series by Jennings, but to be honest this one is not quite as much as the other three series. I do enjoy Tom Tyler as a character, and England during World War II is an interesting setting. But there is just something that is not quite there for me. 

This story is set several months after the events of Season of Darkness, it is November, 1940 and Tom Tyler a Detective Inspector in the small Shropshire town of Whitchurch, is called up to the nearby city of Birmingham to investigate an explosion at a munitions factory. But in this story there is much more to each character and the events then first appears on the surface. And what initially looked like an accident might well be sabotage by either fifth columnists or socialist. In this story we have a family trying to protect a young man who is AWOL. We have a nurse doing he best to help in all kinds of situations. An American filmmaker who is genial, and charming to all he meets. And there is risk and danger everywhere you look. From bombs overhead, from a young ruffian who fancies himself a veritable street thug. And in the middle of it all Tom pine for his lost love and enjoying the time away from his wife. But Tom also piecing together are the clues and details to figure out what really happened, and if possible, to prevent worse from happening.

The story is well paced. The crossover characters from the first novel add some interesting bits to the story. We can’t help but root for Tom, but I must say I expect a little more from him. The setting of the bomb factory, when women were moving in large numbers into the workforce because the men were away fighting is an intriguing element. And the questions around a labour union, and why women were paid less for the same jobs as men raises some good points. I was surprised by how quickly the story turned and ended up being wrapped up. And a suicide took me completely by surprise. 

Overall a good story by a writer I greatly appreciate. I do look forward to the other books in this series, and to be honest anything I have yet to read by Jennings. This is a historical fiction mystery that you can really wrap your mind around.

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, 10 July 2019

BREACH! - Corinna Turner - unSPARKed Book 0

unSPARKed Book 0
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806685
ASIN B07TN3875B 

Wow! What an incredible tale! Breach, Breach, Breech! Those are the names of the three chapters. And each has a very significant reason. But first some back story. This is the third story released in the unSPARKed series. We had to wait almost three years between book 1 and book 2. And less than 2 weeks for this book to come out after book 2 was released. That is both good and bad, for after reading this book readers will be desperate for book 3 which should tie this story and parts of book 2 together. We are told that a book 3, Panic! Is is coming soon, but with Corinna soon is a relative term. There are currently 5 books listed in her works in this volume as ‘Coming Soon’ and some of them  have been there for years. But, that complaining aside, all of her books I have read have been excellent, and more than worth the wait. Let’s get back to this story. 

This story is set 18 years before the events in book 1, Drive!, and book 2 A Truly Raptor-ous WelcomeThe three chapters focus around the same two brothers. But could almost be three separate short stories. But together they pack a significant punch. I have read both the other books in this series multiple times and will do the same with this one. But in some ways this story is much more intense and heart-wrenching than either of the others. This story is a page turner and was incredible hard to put down. From a young man taking responsibility for his mistakes. To saving the lives of most of the people at a resort. There is a lot of action in this story. A T-Rex breaches a fence at a resort and from the looks of it three packs of raptors got in. So, 18 year old Isaiah and his older brother Zechariah are there to clean up the mess. They meet an interesting priest, and a scared lazy guard. And they work long and hard. They do it not only for the pay, but they do what is right. They live by a set of rules their mother left them. And soon Isaiah has some very tough decisions to make. Decisions that will change his and Zech’s life for the rest of their lives.

In a world where Dinosaurs rule the wild again. You can either lived SPARKed behind electrified fences in cities, farms, or even a resort. Or you can live unSPARKed in a Habitat Vehicle and hunt the dinosaurs, keep the numbers of predators down. Isaiah and Zech have lived in the Hab-Vi for 7 years now and have found the life that suits them. Even if some huge changes come their way.

This book and this story are GREAT! It is a fun series to read by myself, and with my younger two children. My son loved this book and the series. His eyes lit up when he found out there is a fourth story coming soon. I have read nearly everything that Turner has written, or at least published, and they are all great stories. These ones are good for middle grade readers right up to seniors, or those approaching or in their retirement years. A great story in a great series. I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again the unSPARKed books are FANtastic!

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

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)

1.0 I Am Margaret
1.5 How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
5.5 An Unexpected Guest
6.0 The Siege of Reginald Hill
6.5 Buttons (Short Story)
7.0 A Saint in the Family

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
0.5 Breach
1.0 Drive!
2.0 A Truly Rapror-Ous Welcome
3.0 Panic! 

Other Books:
Mandy lamb & the Full Moon
Three last things or The hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin
The Raven & The Yew

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.

Original Cover of Book 1

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Dragon Assassin 5 Elder Magic - Arthur Slade - Dragon Assassin Book 5

Dragon Assassin 5: Elder Magic
Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises

This is a book that is being released serially. There is a new chapter coming out every month or so. I have been a fan of Slade’s work for many years, and this series is pure classic fantasy. Being episodic, is a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because we get new parts of the story much more frequently. Not so good in that we are often left hanging. It is like being a kid again in the 70’s or 80’s and waiting for the next episode of a show each week. Except the wait now is a month or two. But the waits have been more than worth it. And this latest installment is by far one of the best, and I was not even sure Slade could top some of the pieces of the story already released. As soon as one of these stories release, I drop whatever I am reading, and this immediately jumps to the book being read.

My first thoughts on this installment were: that it was an incredible piece of writing. I love the homage to merlin and the dragon with a mind like a broken mirror. A dragon that had spent so much time surfing the possibilities that he was uncertain what was read or not anymore. Carmen’s realization as the knife plunged down ever slower, was startling, and presented with extreme skill. But when you combine that with Carmen failing to complete her oath, because of the interference of another dragon. Brax and Carmen both ending up in the dungeon. And then …

Well to find out more you will need to read this book and the four that go before it. I have said for a few years now that Arthur Slade has a masterful pen. He often writes with wit and humour. But in this new series he is writing in a classic fantasy style I grew up reading. And not only does he craft stories in a classic style, he does so with great skill and magnificent mastery. 

Many years Slade has ended up on my favorite authors list. This year he would for any of the volumes in this series. And some of the other stories published. If you love a great fantasy story, in an epic style you must give this book and this series a try!   

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings
Elder Magic

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Viper - Short Story

Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Role of a Christian Father - Keith Chappell - CTS Family Matters Series

The Role of a Christian Father:
Fatherhood in the Modern World
CTS Family Matters Series
Keith Chappell
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860825149
eISBN 9781784692742
CTS Booklet PA11

I love the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have read over 90 books from CTS in the last year and a half. Some over 100 years old, other just published this year. And to date there is not a bad one in the lot. This is my first book by Keith Chappell, and also my first in the Family Matters Series. I made the mistake of reading a book in another series from CTS. I have just added six other titles in this series to my wish list and I already have another half dozen series from CTS on the go. But back to this specific book. 

His is a short booklet. The text comes in at just under 60 pages. But it is a great little read. I stumbled across this title the week after father’s day and decided to give it a read. I have of course read several books about fatherhood and parenting. But I know there is always room for me to improve. Sometimes far more room that I want to admit. In the introduction Chappell states:

“This booklet cannot be, and would never seek to be, the “manual” for fathers, but perhaps it will lead you to reflect on your role as a father and to become aware of the huge internal resources each father has which are given by the grace of the one Father we all look to.”

 And also:

“There is, however, an important question raised by this insecurity of fathers: why has fatherhood become so devalued in society when historically it is portrayed as a central, if not the central, relationship in each person’s life?”

 I completely agree with both sentiments. The book is not a how to, but more of a blueprint. And the book does an excellent job looking at the role of fathers, how they have changed over time, and how ‘patriarch’ has become a bad word in our society today. The chapters in this volume are:

The Loving Father and the Prodigal Son
Shaping the Father
The Perfect Father
Fatherhood as Sacrament
Being a Hero
The Unchanging Father

The book is an easy book to read. It can be read over an afternoon sitting in a hammock. Or over a large mug of tea on a rainy day. But it is a book that has advice that will take a lifetime to implement and master. If in fact it ever can. I can only hope that 20 years form now I am striving to be a better father still, and if so blessed grandfather. I want to share with you a few of the passages I highlight my first time through this volume:

“The need to work away from home separated both parents, but especially fathers, from their children and disrupted family life. It was partly this disruption of family life that led Leo XIII to publish his encyclical Rerum novarum (The Condition of Labour) in 1891. In this encyclical Leo XIII argued for a living wage for workers in what was perhaps one of the first attempts to address the issue of ‘work/life balance’. Unfortunately this call was not heeded by wider society and men became increasingly seen as fulfilling their role as fathers through earning money.”

“This provided a great way to discuss the Incarnation but it also prompted me to look at images of St Joseph, patron of fathers and a model for all fathers, biological and adoptive. A quick search on the internet or through books of images reveals different images of St Joseph in his many patron roles such as worker, happy death and father. It is remarkable how many of them don’t have “the baby”. It turns out that this is something of a historical phenomenon. Early icons and statues rarely, if ever, show St Joseph without the Christ child but as we move through the Middle Ages towards modern times we find increasing images of St Joseph as worker, contemplative or dying a happy death.”

“Whether we agree or not, it is a reality that the notion of patriarch is no longer one that is valued in our culture. This is perhaps not surprising as the term has become increasingly abused over the centuries to the point where it is now virtually unrecognisable from the biblical notions seen in figures such as Abraham. In Abraham and the other Old Testament patriarchs we find men with whom God deals directly and who worship Him faithfully. The God they worship is not one tied to a particular place or time but one who walks with His people at all times; these were nomadic people after all. The God of the patriarchs is one that we can have a personal relationship with and that is not bound to formal religious structures such as shrines or holy mountains.”

“It is also important for fathers to remove themselves from the role of primary disciplinarians. Again, this is an area for joint responsibility. The days of “Wait ‘til your father gets home” should be as far behind us as the times when a man arrived home expecting his dinner on the table and all the housework done by his wife. For one parent to be identified with discipline risks making them less approachable, the other a ‘soft touch’ and means that discipline is something that children can associate with something outside themselves.”

“For a Catholic father today a recapturing of the image of the patriarchal father who helps his family to have a deep personal relationship with God, through His Church and all its gifts, is one that would be deeply helpful.”

“However, the father we are is shaped by many things and I would like to look at three of them: our parents, our own choices and personality, and our children.”

“Each child is unique. Sometimes you wish they weren’t, sometimes you are glad they are. Each is created in the image and likeness of God but bring with them an infinite variety of characteristics that require us to be a different type of father to each child. Sorry to say, but one size does not fit all.”

“So, our children and the reality of parenthood open us up to grace and looking beyond ourselves. Even more than this, in becoming fathers we are called back to the moment at the creation of humanity itself where we stood in original grace and walked with God. As parents we cooperate with God in His continuous act of creation and gain a glimpse of what we were created for and what we are called to.”

“At the heart of being a father in a Catholic family is the realisation that our children are God’s children. We are called not simply to love them as “ours” or “mine” but as His. There are few activities that give an insight to this as much as praying together as a family. We see our children building a relationship with their other, even more real, Father and can see that we are simply stewards called to make His love present to them.”

I hope those few quotes will give you a sample of how good this volume is. This is a great read, and it looks like it will be another great series from the Catholic Truth Society.  I look forward to reading more in the series and from Chappell.

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 CTS Family Matters Series:
Facing Difficulties in the Christian Family Life - Peter Kahn
Passing on Faith to Your Children - Peter Kahn
Prayer in the Family – John Viatori & Beth Viatori
Sex Education A Parent’s Guide – John Timpson
The Family’s Mission to Love – Rod Isaacs & Peter Kahn
The Role of a Christian Father - Keith Chappell
The Role of Christian Grandparents – Keith Chappell
The Role of a Christian Mother – Anna Melchior
Work and the Christian Family – Peter Kahn

Other Books by Keith Chappell:
The Role of a Christian Father
Role of Christian Grandparents
Catholic Social Conscience: Reflection and Action on Catholic Social Teaching
A Teacher's Guide to Science and Religion in the Classroom (Editor)