Wednesday 31 March 2021

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2021

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2021

It has been a good beginning to the year. Many great reads. I have read just over a book a day. I read 97 books this quarter, in comparison with the last 5 years:

     2020 – 96
     2019 – 123
     2018 – 91
     2017 – 100
     2016 - 52

2016 is a bit of an outlier as late that year I switched jobs and have since had much better work – life balance. Also in the spring of 2016 I worked through Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now. So, 93 books this quarter is respectable. 

This past year has been different year for us all. Last year I had about a 15% drop in my reading totals. I am very happy with the beginning of this year. Reading and reviewing books is my hobby, I am grateful to be able to do so. 

But Back to this quarter. By the numbers:

Books Read: 97
First Time Reads: 93
Fiction: 48
Non-Fiction: 45
5/5 Stars: 71

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the fourth quarter of 2020.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. Books by Father Paul O'Sullivan
 4. The Way of The Cross - Saint Josemaría Escrivá and Michael O'Brien
 7. Books by Father John Flader
Bonus Selections:

Top Ten Fiction Books:
 5. Space Traipse Hold My Beer Season 4 - Karina Lumbert Fabian
11. Close to the Soul - Mary Jo Thayer

Bonus Selections:

The beginning of 2021 was a great quarter for reading. A few new authors, some favorites. Books in old series, and the beginnings of some new serie. And again this year, at least so far, I managed to write reviews for all books read for the only the second time. 

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are in sometimes in the bonus section. It was not easy this quarter, making my picks. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010

Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011 
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

97 - 2021 (January-March)
317 - 2020 
392 - 2019
359 - 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Jenna's Journey - Karen Kelly Boyce - The Hope Trilogy Book 1

Jenna's Journey
The Hope Trilogy Book 1
Karen Kelly Boyce
Jay Winters (Illustrator)
Pen It! Publications, LLC
ISBN 9781954004641

Over the last few years, I have read all of the books in the Sisters of the Last Straw series by Karen Kelly Boyce. And greatly enjoyed them. I was interested in this volume from when I fist saw the cover. This book was a complete surprise and wonderful read. I picked it up without even reading the description, which by the way is:

“Jenna's Journey is the first book in The Hope trilogy. Jenna, a disabled orphan, finds herself in a chapel where she asks Mary if she will be her mother. Instantly, she is transported to a land where she begins a quest to find the answers she seeks. Along the way, she encounters a rosary tree, a protective bread, and a new spiritual friend. Her greedy aunt and whining cousin bring some comic relief to this adorable story for middle-grade children, teenagers, and adults alike.”

And not since reading The Pilgrims Progress or Hinds’ Feet on High Places has a story of this style and type enthralled me so. And though Pilgrims is a single story, Hind’s Feet is the first in a long series. And this is the first in a planned trilogy. Once I started reading this book, I could hardly put it down.

I started the book one evening and stayed up way too late reading because I could not put it down. And the next day, I read straight through both my coffee breaks and lunch to finish the book. And was desperate to find out if there are more books planned and if so, is there a date for the second. The chapters in this book are:

Jenna Comes Home
Bertha Blossom’s Bodacious Bounty
Train Tracks and Peculiar Places
The Forgetting Fog
Firefly Moments
Bright Lights
Showers of Shame
Washed Clean
Simple Riches
The Song of Bread
Shining Armor & Slithering Snakes
Beautiful Beads
The Return Home
Voices from the Past 

The story begins with Jenna waking up in the hospital after an accident. She has no feeling or movement from the waist down. Both her parents were killed in the accident. And just as things start to turn around and she is about to head home, she encounters an aunt she has never met, who only cares about the trust fund she can use for her own purposes. While on her way to a boarding school she has a visit to a chapel, and she has mystical experience while looking at a stained glass image of Our Lady of Grace. 

That experience is an adventure and allegory of the highest quality. And Jenna’s experience after it ends is the beginning of the turning of a new page. But to find out about that experience in the strange land of Empyrian. You will need to read this wonderful little volume.

An excellent story written for tweens, and teens but a book all of us can enjoy and learn from. A great example of Catholic or Christian fiction. A book I highly recommend!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karen Kelly Boyce:
A Bend in the Road: A Year's Journey Through Breast Cancer
Down Right Good
According to Thy Word
Into the Way of Peace
In the Midst of Wolves

Sisters of the Last Straw Series:
The Cause of the Haunted Chapel
The Case of the Missing Novice
The Case of the Stolen Rosaries
The Case of the Flower Phantom
The Case of the Christmas Tree Capers
The Case of the Easter Egg Escapades
The Case of the Campground Creature
The Case of the Mixed-Up Marathon

The Hope Trilogy:


Monday 29 March 2021

The Irish Way - Edited by F.J. Sheed - Studies in Irish Sanctity from St. Patrick to Matt Talbot

The Irish Way: 
Studies in Irish Sanctity from St. Patrick to Matt Talbot
F. J. Sheed (Editor)
ISBN 9781952826528

I picked this up for three main reasons. First a few years ago I encountered the writings of Alice Curtayne and have been trying to track down all of her works since. She contributed two of the pieces in this collection. Second, I am well away of the Sheed and Ward publishing, I have tracked down many out-of-print volumes from that press. And this one is edited and even has a piece contributed by Frank J. Sheed. And finally, I have a great fascination with my Irish roots, Irish Catholicism, and Irish Saints. And this volume gives us snapshots, or portraits of 18 Irish saints. The description of the volume is:

“The Irish Way, edited by F. J. Sheed, one of the pre-eminent Christian intellectuals of the twentieth century, looks at the lives and legacies of eighteen great Roman Catholics of Ireland. Under Sheed’s sure-handed editorial guidance, the essays collected in this volume combine to show what Catholicism is in the Irish people. These studies are not truncated biographies but portraits whose subjects were simply - in the words of Sheed - “good Catholics, who were Irish, from whom, therefore, something might be learnt of Irish Catholicity.” From Saint Patrick to Matt Talbot, from Theobald Mathew to Margaret Mary Hallahan, all the men and women in this book served the Church faithfully and with great zeal. The contributors to The Irish Way include such luminaries of twentieth-century Irish-Catholic letters as Alice Curtayne, Vincent McNabb, O.P., Philip Hughes, and F. J. Sheed himself.”     

The complete list of contributors in this collection in the order they appears are:

Alice Curtayne
Donal O'Cahill
Raymond O'Flynn
Vincent McNabb, O.P.
C.P. Curran 
Myles V. Ronan, C.C.
Aubrey Gwynn, S.J.
Victor Shepphard, O.M.F.
Philip Hughes
Fergal McGrath, S.J.
James O'Mahoney, O.M.Cap.
Thomas O'Donnell, C.M.
Eve Healy
James Brodrick, S.J.
F. J. Sheed

Sheed writes both the introduction and the final installment in the volume a piece on Matt Talbot. In the introduction he states:

“The aim of this book is to show what Catholicism is in the Irish, and the method has been to take a number of great Catholics who were typically Irish and show what manner of people they were. These studies are not compressed of biographies but portraits: their purpose is not so much to tell the reader what certain people did nor even what they were; but simply to show them to him.”

Further on informs us about the selections that:

“In the choice of people to be studied, no fixed rule was followed save that they should be Irish and should be noted beyond the average for love of God. The idea came into being during a holiday in Kerry last summer, and the first concern was to find the writers rather than the subjects. The only condition here was that the writers should be of Irish blood.”

The first line of the introduction is:

"Every nation has its own way of being Catholic, for the life of the Faith does not destroy the natural life and take its place, but elevates the natural life to a new level of activity.”

And the last lines of that introduction are:

“Every nation has its own way of being Catholic. The Irish way is St. Patrick’s way. And this book proves it.”

And this volume gives us these 18 portraits in being Irish Catholic:

Saint Patrick - Alice Curtayne
Saint Brendan - Donal O'Cahill
Saint Columbkille - Raymond O'Flynn
Saint Columbanus - Vincent McNabb, O.P.
Saint Malachy - Vincent McNabb, O.P
Saint Laurence O’Toole - C.P. Curran 
Dermot O’Hurley - Myles V. Ronan, C.C.
Thomas Fihilly, S.J. - Aubrey Gwynn, S.J.
Michael O’Clery - Victor Shepphard, O.M.F.
Blessed Oliver Plunket - Philip Hughes
Thaddeus Moriarty, O.P. - Alice Curtayne
Catherine McAuley - Fergal McGrath, S.J.
Mark aikenhead - C.P. Curran 
Theobald Mathew - James O'Mahoney, O.M.Cap.
John Hand - Thomas O'Donnell, C.M.
Margaret Mary Hallahan - Eve Healy
William Doyle, S.J. - James Brodrick, S.J.
Matt Talbot - F. J. Sheed

This book was a fascinating read. And to be honest I jumped around a bit while reading it. I will likely return to it and reread it in order. My first time through I read the pieces by Curtayne. Then Sheed’s contribution of the final piece. Then went back read the rest. It was a wonderful read an eye opening for some of the people who I was less familiar with. And even for those that I have read much about there were some new gems to gleam. I have found that after reading this book I not only want to read more from some of the contributors but also more by or about the subjects. An excellent new edition of this book.

It should be noted that this reprint edition from Cluny is very well done. Unlike many book brought back from the public domain, this volume went through a process of a high quality scan. And a complete re-typesetting. Cluny is dedicated to restoring quality editions of old books, focused on the Catholic Tradition. Their motto is: ‘Promote the tradition. Preserve the Past.’ Which is a very worthy cause. Unfortunately, there is not an eBook edition of this, nor of any of the other five Alice Curtayne volumes they have resurrected. It seems to be rather random which of their books end up with electronic editions. More the pity. 

This book was a fascinating read. From the wonderful introduction and statement of purpose by Sheed. To the many varied contributions. It is wonderful that it is back in print. And will serve as a blessing to all who read it. From the academic, to the casual scholar, to the layperson with an interest in Irish saints this book is an excellent read. I highly recommend it and will be trying to track down other reads from some of the 15 contributors. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Saturday 27 March 2021

The Seven Lady Godivas - Dr. Seuss - The True Facts Concerning History's Barest Family

The Seven Lady Godivas
The True Facts Concerning History's Barest Family
Random House 
ISBN 9780394562698

Recently because of some media spotlight on Dr. Seuss and his works. I decided to reread the 6 books in question and two others. But alas only had 5 of the 6 on hand. This is the first of the reviews.

Dr. Seuss is famous for his many children’s books. Books that spark the imagination. Surprise, and amaze. There is a large collection of old animated shorts based on them. And these has been several movies both animated and life action. He also wrote two books that though written and illustrated in a similar style and format are considered adult books they are The Seven Lady Godivas and The Butter Battle Book. Butter Battle is a commentary on war and is often found in the children’s sections in bookstores and libraries. Godivas I believe is long out of print, I believe the last printing was in 1988. And I am only aware of it because it is the favorite book of a friend.  

This book is not for children! When I had a copy on hand I kept it on the top shelf with a number of my other books the kids would never look at. The sever ladies are”

Dorcas J.

The story begins with:

“History has treated no name so shabbily as it has the name Godiva.

Today Lady Godiva brings to mind a shameful picture – a big blond nude trotting around the town on a horse. In the background of this picture, there is always a Peeping Tom, an illicit snooper with questionable intentions.

The author feels that the time has come to speak:

‘There was not one; there were Seven Lady Godivas, and their nakedness actually was not a thing of shame. So Far as Peeping Tom is concerned, he never really peeped. “Peeping” was merely the old family name, and Tom and his six brothers bore it with pride.’

A beautiful story of love, honor, and scientific achievement has too long been gathering Dust in the archives.

Dr. Seuss
Coventry, 1939”

What ensues is an amusing tale of daughters who love their father. And a question for knowledge of an equestrian nature to honour his memory.

A rather amusing story. With a lot of nude women and horses!

Note: I recently heard that 6 of the books by Dr. Seuss were being taken out of print. The 6 are: And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat's Quizzer. We had 5 of the 6 in our collection so I gave them a reread. The 6th The Cat's Quizzer I can only find used in Canada, the lowest price is $740. 

Books by Dr. Seuss:

Friday 26 March 2021

Aquinas on the Four Last Things - Kevin Vost - Everything You Need To Know About Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell

Aquinas on the Four Last Things: 
Everything You Need To Know About Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell
Dr. Kevin Vost
Sophia Institute Press
eISBN 9781644133002

I have been a fan do Dr. Vost’s writings since I first encountered them many years ago. Hos books tend top push me. They are books that make me think. That stretch me. That require some effort. And because of that they are excellent reads. I have benefited from every one of his books that I have read. And with each new book he releases, I am blessed yet again. That was the case with this volume as well. And as I have aged and grown over the years, I have been reading Dr. Vost’s books this one is an even more important read. I have read a few volumes on the Four Last Things, over the years, and this one examining them through the writings of Aquinas is by far one of the best. The description of this book is:

“We often think of death as the end, but it’s really just the beginning of eternal life. Death, judgment, heaven, and hell — often called the Four Last Things — are both awe-inspiring and fear-inducing, yet countless saints testify to the profound spiritual benefit of contemplating the awesome mysteries that await us in the afterlife.”

And the chapters are:

Introduction: The Most Important Things of All
Part 1 Matters of Death and Life
     Where Our Souls Go When We Die
     The State of Our Souls after Death
     On the Nature and Purpose of Purgatory
     On the State of the Souls in Purgatory
     On God’s Love for Unbaptized Souls
     Why We Should Pray for the Dead
     Why We Should Pray to the Saints
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Death

Part 2 Judgment Day
     Signs That Will Precede the Last Judgment
     On the Fire of the Final Conflagration
     Of the Resurrection
     The Cause of Our Resurrection
     When and How All Will Arise
     Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: On Who and What Will Rise Again
     How We Will Regain the Same Body
     How Our Hair, Nails, and Bodily Fluids Arise!
     What Our Bodies Will Be Like at the Resurrection
     Ultimate Athletes for Christ: Impassible Glorified Bodies
     The Subtlety of Our Glorified Bodies
     Our Gloriously Agile New Bodies
     Seeking Mental Clarity about Bodily Clarity
     On the Sorry State of the Bodies of the Damned
     How All Will Know Our Sins and Our Merits
     The Time and Place of the General Judgment
     Here Comes the Judge! On the Form in Which He Will Appear to Us
     The Nature of the Universe after Judgment Day
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Judgment 

Part 3 To Heaven for Those Who Accept It
     On the Beatific Vision Bestowed on the Blessed
     Happy Saints in Their Heavenly Mansions 
     How the Saints Relate to the Damned
     Additional Gifts for the Blessed 
     How Some Will Merit Another Golden Crown 
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Heaven

Part 4 To Hell for Those Who Choose It
     On the Punishment of the Damned 
     Of the Will and Intellect of the Damned 
     On God’s Mercy and Justice toward the Damned 
     Last Thoughts on the Last Things: Hell
     Faith, Hope, Love, and the Four Things That Last 
About the Author

The introduction begins with:

“We tend to think of an end as something that comes last, and this is certainly correct in the case of the Four Last Things — death, judgment, heaven, and hell. They certainly do come last: at the end of our lives and the end of the world. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing of greater importance to each and every one of us than how and where we will spend eternity, enrapt in the unspeakable bliss of the Beatific Vision of God in heaven, or suffering unspeakable torments in the presence of Satan, within the depths of hell.”

This book answers 164 questions about things that occur before, during and after the resurrection. In each section Vost states that:

“Each chapter, I’ll begin by noting the amazing thoroughness with which Thomas addresses the question under review. Within each article, he first draws on Scripture and the works of Church Fathers to provide a series of realistic objections to his conclusions. Then, in an “On the contrary . . .” passage, he usually cites an authority in agreement with his conclusion. He then provides an “I answer that . . .” section in which he explains his own conclusion, and, to finish things off, he replies to each of the objections he identified.”

And further he states:

“Thomas has given us such a vast number of lasting thoughts about the Four Last Things that I hope and pray that you, dear reader, will be awed, amazed, and inspired as you discover what Thomas wrote about the wondrous things God has in store for us. Still, while Thomas gave us lasting words, he did not claim to give us the last word on the Four Last Things, since he knew God would continue to bless His Church with new saintly teachers until the end of time.”

And also:

“Therefore, while each of our chapters will stretch our understanding as we contemplate the awesome mysteries that St. Thomas illuminates, each of this book’s four parts will end with a “Last Thoughts” chapter, in which we will reflect on the spiritual lessons contained within the preceding chapters, sometimes with the help of the great saints who came after Thomas.”

And that quote sums up my response to this book, and to be honest most of Vost’s writings that I have read to date. This book has stretched my understanding. It has inspired me to contemplate and reflect on these mysteries. And it is a volume I know I will return to again, and benefit from even more on each subsequent reading. 

This is a volume all of us would benefit from reading. But be warned you will not be the same when you put it down. You cannot read this book and com away unchanged. It is a book that all Catholics, nay all Christians would benefit from reading. So I challenge you give it a read, It is of upmost importance. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dr. Kevin Vost:
Full Range of Motive (2001)
Memorize the Faith! (2006)
Fit For Eternal Life (2007)
From Atheism to Catholicism (2010)
Unearthing Your Ten Talents (2010)
St. Albert the Great (2011)
Tending the Temple (2011)
Three Irish Saints (2012)
Memorize the Reasons! (2013)
One-Minute Aquinas (2014)
Hounds of the Lord (2015)
Seven Deadly Sins (2015)
Memorize the Mass! (2016)
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2016)
The Porch and the Cross (2016)
The Catholic Guide to Loneliness (2017)
The Four Friendships (2018)
How to Think Like Aquinas (2018)
Memorize the Latin Mass! (2018)
12 Life Lessons from St. Thomas Aquinas (2019)

Aquinas on the Four Last Things (2021)

Books Contributed to:
Man Up! (2014)

Author profile interview with Dr. Kevin Vost.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Stolen Blessing - Jim Sano - Father Tom Book 3

Stolen Blessing 
Father Tom Book 3
ISBN 9781987970272

This is the third story I have read by Jim Sano. All three are from the Father Tom Series, Father Tom Fitzpatrick, the first titled The Father's Son and the second Gus Busbi. It is another excellent read, with each new book I read from Jim’s pen the more impressed I am. I was very excited to read this new story. Father Tom is an amazing character, and I hope we get books featuring him for years to come. I had heard great things about Jim’s first book and held off reading it. For fear that it would not live up to the hype. But Now I read them as soon as I can get my hands on them. The Father Tom stories are very well written. They have excellent characters; they draw you in and keep you hooked. The writing is wonderful. With each book the series gets better!
The Father Tom stories are contemporary fiction. They are realistic fiction. They are set in our world, in our time, and with our issues and struggles. In this story we have a few main characters. And Father Tom is an influence on most of them. But this one has a mystery, and Father Tom inserts himself in the investigation and in the family involved to get to the truth. In some ways it feels like a Blackie Ryan mystery from Father Andrew M. Greely. And there is a lot of mystery in this story. A robbery, a missing baby, an estranged family, and much more. 
The story revolves around family conflict, and deep wounds. It highlights how we can make terrible decisions out of pain and hurt. It also offers hope,, a hope born of finding the truth, speaking the truth, and learning to trust and be vulnerable again. The story starts with a basketball championship in Woodhaven Queens, NY in 1993. Two brothers on the court. Erick and Jack. And one receives all the praise, and the other is slighted and hurt. Like other books in the series, it is written around decisions we make, and the consequences of those actions. 
After that chapter the story jumps to the Boston South End in 2006 and a baptism at Father Tim Fitzpatrick’s church. The baby being baptised is the child of Erick and Addie and their baby Elizabeth. Erick’s brother Jack, back from 6 years abroad is the Godfather. And the Godmother is Rachel, Addie’s younger sister. Then the day after the baptism Erick is found unconscious and the baby is missing. This one is more along the lines of a whodunit mystery. But with a lot of hurts, misinterpretation of actions and intent, misguided reactions. I do not know how anyone could read this story and not think of their own family, friends, and coworkers. It deals with some very serious matters, and ones that affect a lot of people today. The story is deeply moving. It is a story that will make you think. You will find yourself reflecting on your own life, area’s you need to work on, area’s you need to improve. And maybe even some old things you need to let go.
I admit I figured it out about halfway through. But I had not figured all the pieces out. Another excellent read in a wonderful series. But to figure out how Father Tom and Angelo figure out the complicated relationships and the clues that do not line up, you will need to read this story. This story is not fluff just to pass the time. It is a book that will make you think. It is well worth it! A third read in what I hope will be a long series.  Father Tom is now among my favorite fictional clergy of all time. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Jim Sano:

Wednesday 24 March 2021

All the Lies - J.E. Mayhew - DCI Will Blake Book 5.0

All the Lies
DCI Will Blake Book 5.0
Obolus Books
Zertex Crime
ISBN 9781999840785

Wow, this is the 6th story in the DCI Will Blake series and it is my favorite to date. A very solid 5/5 Stars! I have read the last few stories in the order they were released. At the beginning I was jumping around. I have stated before that each of the stories are strong enough to be read on its own, but they are better as part of the series and better yet being read in order. I discovered this series based on a recommendation from Alex Smith, author of the DCI Kett books. I had read all the Kett books and was awaiting the next Softley Softley book when Smith mentioned book two in this series, Fearful Symmetry, and gave it a plug. I am still waiting for that Softley novel. But have had a lot of DCI Blake stories to fill the time. After reading that first story I discovered that the author publishes under two names, much like Smith. One for Adult crime novels, J.E. Mayhew and another for Young Adult and younger readers, Jon Mayhew. And I have now read books under both names. I was glad I gave that first one a try and after reading all six currently available I know I will read this series as long as new books are published in it. I also have plans to go back and read more of Mayhew’s Young Adult offerings as well. These books are not as gritty as the Kett novels, but they are excellent British crime procedural stories. When I reviewed a Kett story I stated I could see Jamie Bamber as DCI Kett, and while reading this I could not help but picture Karl Urban as DCI Will Blake. And can picture it much like the TV series Wired in the Blood. 

But let us now return to this specific book. This story is very different than the last offering. Blake is prepared to go looking for his love, Laura Vexley, who is on the run. But he receives a call from his sister, stating she is being accused of murder and needs his help. So Blake heads off to Scotland to see what he can do to help his sister. He finds a run-down former estate now a commune, with artists, wierdos, a former rocker and occultist owned the place and now his daughter runs things. A lot is amiss. And snowed in with the suspects Blake finds much more than he bargained for. The description of this volume is:

“How do you find the killer when everyone at the crime scene claims they are to blame? Just as DCI Will Blake is about to set off to hunt for his missing partner, a phone call from Scotland drags him in a completely different direction. Blake’s sister has been accused of murder and she needs his help to clear her name. But the local police aren’t too impressed with the ‘celebrity scouse copper’ dropping in and Blake’s problems escalate. When Blake finds himself snowed in with The Paradise Found Community, he realises that the truth is a fast-moving target, and nobody is exactly who they claim to be. Even the valley itself holds a dark and hideous secret. Trapped, Blake must call on the goodwill of others back on Merseyside to help him unravel the mystery. But that is not without its dangers, too. As the death toll rises, Blake is in a race against time to catch the killer before he disappears with the melting snows.”

And it appears that everyone has lies and secrets they do not want Blake or the local coppers finding out. And Laura Vexley must come to terms with her own lies, and what to do about them. This story is intense from start to finish. It was nearly impossible to put down. But in this instance Black has back up, at home, with the local department, and with an old man who rescues him from a snow storm.

I have enjoyed these books so much that I have pre-ordered the last few. And started reading the morning the eBook dropped on my device.  

It is another great read from the pen of J.E. Mayhew. An excellent offering in a great series. Another book that leaves you desperate for the next volume, All the Lies. But nervous about where they will go. An excellent British crime lit novel.  

Books as J.E. Mayhew:
DCI William Blake Series:

Books as Jon Mayhew:
The Spybrarian

Monster Odyssey Series:
1.0 The Eye of Neptune
2.0 The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
3.0 The Curse of the Ice Serpent
4.0 The Venom of the Scorpion

Mortlock Series:
2.0 The Demon Collector
3.0 The Bonehill Curse

Collins Big Cat Series:
The Merchant of Venice: Band 16/Sapphire
Hamlet: Band 18/Pearl
Romeo and Juliet: Band 18/Pearl
Macbeth: Band 18/Pearl

Contributed to:
Beyond the Book: A Collection of Short Stories
Storycraft: How To Teach Creative Writing
Criminal Shorts: UK Crime Book Club Anthology
Make Doves Not War - Forward

Books as Edwin Torr:
Dead Means Dead Series
1.0 Demons - 2017
1.3 Cotton Candy - 2017
1.9 Remurdered - 2017
2.0 Angel Hunter - 2017
2.5 Cold Caller - 2017
3.0 Jigsaw Girl - 2018