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Friday, 30 August 2019

Without Fail - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 6

Without Fail
Jack Reacher Book 6
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780425264423
eISBN 9781101052792
ASIN B000OIZSKA


First, I can state I love the Reacher stories. I have read 26 of them in the last 24 weeks. And only have a few to go to have read all of them in well under a year. I started on a whim by picking up the current release because the description caught my attention when I was looking at it as a gift for my father. That first one, Past Tense, was great and many since have been excellent reads. But there are a few things that I feel are inconsistent in this volume over the rest of the Reacher canon, enough so that it distracted from the story for me. Now admittedly I have jumped around a lot, not read them in the published order nor the chronological order. So, it could be my vast and short exposure to so many Reacher stories. 

I will call out the inconsistencies in this story and then get down to reviewing it with that in mind. First, I do not recall Reacher wearing a watch in any of the other stories, and do not recall him ever checking a watch. He always goes by an internal clock, that has been tested in more than one story and he is always within a minute or 2. So the fact that he is not only wearing a watch but checks it several times just does not fit. The second and a bit of a spoiler her, but Reacher sleeps with his dead brother’s ex girlfriend. Again, based on the 25 other stories I have read I just feel that is out of character. 

In this story Reacher is tracked down by M.E. Froelich a secret service agent, responsible for the protection detail of the vice-president elect. She wants to hire Reacher to test their security, sort of an outside audit. And she happens to be his brother Joe’s ex. Reacher call in Neagley and the two not only find holes, they find that it would be impossible to guarantee protection. And that is when they find out it is more than just an exercise though up by Joe years earlier. There is a credible threat and they are asked to consult.

The story involves a lost of examination of past assassinations both in real life and in film. It compares and contrasts killers that will succeed and not make it out alive, and those who succeed and disappear afterwards. They are being taunted by clues being left in the office, homes, and mailed. But the cross a line and Reacher needs to see this through. 

Taking aside the 2 considerations listed before, this is a good novel. The concepts presented and the method is very interesting. The practice and protocols of personal protection are informative. And of course you have Reacher and Neagley doing what they do best, messing up someone’s plans. 

Not my favorite Reahcer story but a really good read none the less.  

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
Tripwire
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
Persuader
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
Personal
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, 29 August 2019

Vices of My Blood - Maureen Jennings - Detective Murdoch Book 6

Vices of My Blood
Detective Murdoch Book 6
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart
An imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

ISBN 9780771046780
eISBN 9780771043239
ASIN B003I83EJU


Over the past 13 weeks I have read 14 of Maureen Jennings 15 novels. And as this is my second last of her fictional works. I can state with everything I read I am more impressed by her skill, talent, her a master of the writing arts, and consider her a real wordsmith. This is the eights of 9 Murdoch stories I have read, and I consider it one of the best. It is also one of the best across all four of her series. The Murdoch Mysteries follow a specific chronological order. The books published to date are published following a continuous timeline. With overlapping events, elements, and overlapping characters. For example, we encounter Dr. Julia Ogden again in this volume, and she is the corner at a crime scene and later when several people are found dead from carbon monoxide poising. 

This story follows shortly after events in Night's Child. That story takes place in the winter and this story late winter early spring. This we have the spring of 1895, and the setting of Toronto. The story begins with a brutal murder of a pastor. A man that from all early indications was not only a man of the cloth, but a man of great character. When Later the investigation casts some strange light upon his name and reputation it becomes even more crucial that Murdoch figure out what happened. Because of the high-profile case Brackenreid is out for a quick resolution. And even though there is a viable suspect Brackenreid gives Murdoch a few more days to verify the facts and wrap up the case. 

Will ends up working with a confidence crew to help root out the truth in this case. He goes undercover at both a workhouse, lodging overnight, and splitting wood most of the next day. And also at a soup line. Because of being too vigorous during the manual labour he causes a flare up of lumbago. And everyone seems to have a remedy that is guaranteed to work. But Murdoch continues to push and work through the pain. He is determined to get to the truth. There is an interesting scene where Murdoch as a Catholic muses about being in a non-Catholic Church. 

While reading this novel, I could not help but picture characters from the TV Series. The story is written in such a way that it plays vividly in the minds eye. As we follow Murdoch through his investigation, we get glimpses of life at that time in Toronto. This was one that I figured out well before the end. But was so engrossed I still could not put the book down.

Another great read in an excellent series! 

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, 28 August 2019

Real Start Plus - Team Body Project - Alex and Daniel Bartlett

Real Start Plus
Team Body Project
Alex and Daniel Bartlett



At the time of publishing this article I have hit play every day for the last 67 days. I have completed the Real Start, Real Start Evolve, and Real Start Plus. I am currently working on The Development Plan. I recently 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. And between the encouragement of my wife and children and the TBP community I am making those needed changes. 

I joined Team Body project a few years ago to support my Aunt in her fitness journey. And now she is the one motivating me and encouraging me on every day. Team Body project was started by Daniel and Alex because they want to help people. They Have real workouts, real people and real results. The others in the Real Start Plus videos are members of Team Body Project who have made lifestyle changes and improved their lives. The videos in the plan feature:

Alex Bartlett
Daniel Bartlett
Angie Mullins
Wade Mullins
Natarsha Crowley

The Real Start Plus builds on the original Real Start program. In order of magnitude I would Say plus is about 25% harder than the original and Evolve is 50% harder than Plus. But because you can increase weights, intensity, and engagement you can redo any of these three programs over and over again. And still benefit from them. I al already planning on redoing this and the other two this fall. Unlike Real Start there is no shopping list and real plan, but you can reuse them or create your own based on your growing knowledge. The workouts in Real Start Plus are:

Week 1:
Just Move Plus
Engage Plus
PT3 Plus
Walking Cardio Plus
Sparta Plus
Standing Pilates 3 Plus

Week 2:
HIIT Plus
PT 4 Plus
Cardio Abs Plus
High Rep Combo Plus
HIIT Mix Plus
Finale Plus

I can state that all of the workouts can push you, if you engage properly and select the correct weight. By the time I finish any of them I am drenched in sweat. I really love the PT and HIIT workouts, but the killer is Sparta, 300 Reps with weights in 36 minutes with warm up and cool down. Wow what a workout.

Team Body Project is a website, an app and a community. 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 programs are geared for anyone. Each video has three participants. And all 5 participants are in the Finale each picking exercises and duration in turn. Filmed live.  If you are still not certain you should check out Kylie Young’s story (in real Start Evolve) or the other testimonials on the site.

And most important of all you can try before you buy. If you create a free membership on the site you will have access to the first week of Real Start, Trainee Plan, Apprentice Plan and Graduate Plan. Plus many other videos you can test and try before you decide if you want to commit. And if you go with the annual payment it is just $10/month at the time of writing this review. 

I have said it before TBP is one of the best resources for health and fitness that I have ever come across. And with the option to try and buy with no cost up front you have nothing to lose, but greater health and wellbeing to gain. Why not give TBP a try. And maybe I will see you in the forms. 

An excellent workout plan from Team Body Project!



Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Rediscover the Saints - Matthew Kelly - Twenty-Five Questions That Will Change Your Life

Rediscover the Saints:
Twenty-Five Questions That Will Change Your Life
Matthew Kelly
Blue Sparrow Publishing 
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781929266630
eISBN 9781635821147
ASIN B07T7X9BKP


I have been waiting two years for this book to come out. This book was mentioned in passing in Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer, and I have been anticipating it since then. It has not let down. This is the 21st book by Kelly that I have read over the last four years. And It is one of the best! There are currently 6 books in the Rediscover series and 5 of the six are still in print. 

Rediscover Catholicism 
Rediscover Advent
Rediscover Lent
Rediscover Jesus
Rediscover the Rosary 
Rediscover the Saints

This book was an excellent read that I could hardly put down. In fact, I read it twice back to back. My first time through I read the book over 2 days. And then I went back and reread it slowly over a week. Highlighting and making notes. I highlighted 71 passages on that second read through. The sections in this book are:

Prologue: The First Saint 
Getting Started: Amazing Possibilities 
1. Augustine: You Have A Future 
2. Walter: An Overwhelming Love 
3. Irenaeus: Fully Alive 
4. Benedict: Life-Giving Daily Routines 
5. Teresa Of Ávila: The First Routine 
6. Ignatius: Emotional Intelligence 
7. Francis Of Assisi: Dissatisfied 
8. Thomas More: The Gentle Voice Within 
9. John: Friendship 
10. Martha: Our Longing For Belonging 
11. Vincent De Paul: God Feeds Us To Feed Others 
12. Harry: With Your Whole Heart 
13. John Vianney: Disoriented 
14. Thomas: We All Have Doubts 
15. Bernard: In Search Of Excellence 
16. Thérèse Of Lisieux: It’s The Little Things 
17. Maximillian Kolbe: I Will Take Your Place 
18. Mother Teresa: Truth, Beauty, And Goodness 
19. Mary Mckillop: Troubled Times 
20. Anthony Of The Desert: Be A Rebel 
21. Nicholas: Holding Christmas In Your Heart 
22. Mary: Beautiful Surrender 
23. Ralph: Love Of Learning 
24. James: Do Not Be Afraid 
25. All Saints: Now Is Your Time

The subtitle of the book is ‘Twenty-Five Questions That Will Change Your Life’ but in reality, the book has far more then 25 questions. And many of them are deep and penetrating and will stir your heart, your soul, your spirit. Toward the beginning of the ‘Getting Started’ section We are asked: 

“Are you satisfied with the direction the world is moving in? Are you satisfied with your life?”

And those are some pretty huge questions. This section actually begins with these words:

“We are capable of so much more than we think. You have no idea what you are capable of. None of us do. God is constantly trying to open our eyes to the amazing possibilities that he has enfolded in our being. The saints continue this work, encouraging us to explore all our God-given potential, not with speeches but with the example of their lives.”

This and the end of the prologue, The First Saint’ both hit me immediately, and hit me both times I read the book. That section is:

“They say every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. If I could lean in close to you and whisper something in your ear, it would be this: “If there are pieces of your past that are weighing you down, it’s time to leave them behind. You are not what has happened to you. You are someone unimaginably greater than you have ever considered, and maybe it’s time to consider all the possibilities that are within you.””

Each of the 25 numbered chapters in this book follow a similar format. The name of a saint, a chapter title, and then a question. The chapter then expands upon that saint and the question. And ends with a prayer. The book is wonderfully written. It is one of those book I will likely reread every year for a season. 

This book shows us how God has worked in the lives of the saints. But also, how God is calling us to be saints in the world. The focuses are on becoming the best version of yourself, on recognizing the opportunities to create holy moments, and looking at how God worked through the saints, and can work through us. Not all of the 25 examples are canonized saints. Some are people who were named after saints. But there are lessons we can take from each chapter. And the prayers at the end of the chapters are wonderful. I copied 7 of the 25 to my OneNote prayer collection. And have started praying a few of them daily. The book concluded with these words:

“In every place and time God raises up people to create holy moments. In your place and time, God wants to raise you up. The question is, are you ready to collaborate with him, or are you comfortable letting life continue to pass you by?”

And that is the challenge it will leave withal readers. This is my favorite of the books by Matthew Kelly that I have read. And I know that anyone who reads it prayerfully with an open heart will benefit from the read.

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


Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
Beautiful Hope
Beautiful Mercy
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
...

Rediscover Books by Matthew Kelly:
Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
Rediscover Advent
Rediscover Lent
Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer
Rediscover the Saints

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality










Monday, 26 August 2019

The Sleeping Witness - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 1

The Sleeping Witness
A Father Gabriel Mystery
Fiorella De Maria
Ignatius Press
ISBN 
9781621640769
eISBN 9781681497402
ASIN B06XKC17YX



After reading 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 this was the second novel by Fiorella that I have read. It is an intriguing mystery set in a small town in England. The book was incredibly addictive and very hard to put down. This story 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. But this one I would classify as Catholic Fiction and the other two as fiction by Catholics. And I enjoyed this as much or even more than either of those other two series. This is the first of two currently available father Gabriel Mysteries.

The Abbey of Saint Mary’s and the small town it resides near are greatly disturbed by a gruesome murder and attempted murder on the abbey grounds. Those events take place after the garden party at the Abbey on the feast of the Assumption. The body of an artist and a local married woman are found, in the cottage shortly after a single gun shot is fired. Marie Paige has been left for dead, and a foreign artist Johannes Pederson and claims he is a war hero from Denmark. Within short order Dr. Paige has been charged with the murder and attempted murder. But something just does not fee right to Father Gabriel. And he keeps pushing the bounds of what he is supposed to be doing, trying to solve this mystery. Father Gabriel is breaking rule after rule because he just feels that the clues do not match what he expects. 

This is a fast-paced story. With the events for the most part transpiring over a few days. But it is also a story with a lot of alluding back. We have the citizens of a small British town after the Second World War. We have father Gabriel, Abbot Ambrose, Bother Gerard. We have survivors on the Holocaust. And a lot of different secrets.  And we have Father Gabriel risking everything to get to the truth.

It is an excellent mystery. Very well written, and thoroughly enjoyable. It will absolutely leave you wanting the next father Gabriel story and likely hoping for more in the future. I should note I would never have picked this up based on the cover, but having read another book by the author I had to give the blurb a read and was hooked before I had finished the write up. It is another great book from the masterful pen of Fiorella De Maria!

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


Nonfiction:
Robert Southwell – CTS Saints of the Isles




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

Author Profile and Interview with Fiorella de Maria.









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
ASIN B000OIZUWG


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
Tripwire
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
Persuader
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
Personal
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
ASIN B016GRO8GC


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
ASIN B07VQ4DZBC


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
ASIN B01HBPQVBS



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:
Damsel
What Girls Are made of
Burning
Infandous
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:
Sacred
Splendor