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Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Archvillain #3: Yesterday Again
Archvillain #3: Yesterday Again
Price: £4.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Great book great series., 12 Sept. 2016
When it comes to finishing series sometimes I hesitate to read the last book. This was one of those times. I read books 1 and 2 as soon as they came out but for some reason it took me a long time to read book three. It part I had heard that the author hoped to make 4 books and had to cap the series because of the publisher. And in part after the second book I could just not see how it could all tie together. I am really glad I finally picked it up and finished it, Barry Lyga did it again and crafted an amazing end to a series.

In this final volume Kyle Camden is not himself. He regrets his actions for the first time. He cannot hardly look at his best friend let alone talk to her. He is focused on Mighty Mike still but now also fascinated with finding a way to undo his mistakes and ease his regret by going back in time. But things do not always go as planned, especially for a super genius and his ipod with intelligence to match. Planning to head back in time after constructing a time machine from an old motorcycle and lots of electronics. But he overshoots and ends up in 1987. Meeting a younger version of the Sheriff Munroe, and even his father.

In part this book reads as homage to Back to the Future, and in part like Meet the Robinsons. The story throws some interesting twists. And in fact I would say they are 3 great surprises in this book.

It was a great read and As mentioned earlier I should have read it much sooner. If you have read the earlier books, you owe it to yourself to see the story through. If you have not this trilogy is well worth the time.

So read them and find out about Archvillain, Archnemesis and Project Irony!


I Wish You More
I Wish You More
Price: £6.64

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little read., 10 Sept. 2016
This review is from: I Wish You More (Kindle Edition)
My youngest daughter pulled this off the shelf to read before bed. I do not even recall where we got this book from. But I am so glad she picked it for us to read. It was a wonderful little book. It is a series of wishes, and to be honest they resonate with prayers I pray for my children.

This book contains 14 wishes and some of our favorites are:

I wish you more hugs than ughs.
I wish you more stories than stars.
I wish you more pause than fast-forward.

Amy has written a book that captures the essence of being a good parent, teacher, or caregiver. We always whish the best for those in our care. We want what is best for those in our life. Sometimes it is hard to explain that to children, but this book does an excellent job of capturing that sentiment and portraying it in a way that the children understand and can latch onto.

The illustrations are wonderful. Tom Lichtenheld does an amazing job of capturing the sentiment of the wishes and childhood dreams. The illustrations are bright, cheerful and fun. My daughter loves the pictures and it became an instant favorite.

We have read this a few nights in a row now and I am sure it will be a favorite for a long time to come. It is an excellent little read and with the 41 years of age difference both my daughter and I highly recommend it.


Someday (Yesterday & Tomorrow Book 1)
Someday (Yesterday & Tomorrow Book 1)
Price: £2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard read but worth it., 7 Sept. 2016
This was not an easy book to read. It was not a fun book to read. But it was a very important book to read! It takes the events from the news of the Boko Haram Chibok school girls' kidnappings and recasts it set in England. A group of girls from a British academy and are quickly transported off continent. Often while reading this book I thought about Matthew McConaughey as Jake Tyler Brigance in the film adaption of A Time to Kill. When during the trial he tells the story of the attack and then ends with 'And now imagine she is white!' I could not help but wonder. If Boko Haram had kidnapped European girls if they would have been recovered by now, would we still be hunting for them?

The story is gripping, the events terrible. And as we read this fictionalized version we cannot help but imagine the real life terrors. As a father of daughters I cannot imagine anything worse. There were times I was reading this book where my stomach was in my throat. There were times when I wanted to quit reading, but the subject was too important to take the easy way out. The book really got me praying, for the Chibok school girls, for all victims of violence.

I would not want my children reading this book any time soon. It is not for the faint of heart. And even though it is not explicit in the violence the women face, it leaves one disturbed on many levels.

The story is written in a series of first person narratives, often jumping back and forth from characters and locations and across plot lines. The story is poignant, powerful and profoundly moving.

Turner does an amazing job of presenting many different faith traditions through different characters in this book. Those who are horrified but what their fellow believers have done, to those of a number of different faiths and how they respond to this situation. And though she is a Catholic author and the main theme is a Catholic story it is incredibly well written with respect to other beliefs.

Corinna Turner was troubled by these events and these questions. Her way of helping was to write this book and donate the proceeds to Aid to the Church in Need. It also serves as a reminder that most of those girls are still missing. And to bring them back to mind.

I do not lightly recommend this book. And it is not for all readers. And yet I know that reading this fictionalized version of real events has brought me to my knees in prayer and have forever left a mark upon me.


Made for More
Made for More
Price: £7.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource, 6 Sept. 2016
This review is from: Made for More (Kindle Edition)
It was interesting reading this book. In many ways it took me back to my first time in University. Like Martin I became connected with Campus ministries, and specifically Campus Crusade for Christ. Unlike Curtis I was pushed away from the Catholic church by the Campus director from that ministry. I wish a book like this had been around back then, it might have saved me years as a spiritual nomad.

Curtis Martin packs a lot of personal story, and a lot of spiritual guidance into this slim volume. Coming in at under 130 pages it has a lot of great content, the sections in this book are:

Introduction
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Can You Believe What You Read?
He is Risen Indeed!
The Kingdom of God on Earth
Life in the Kingdom
A Personal Search for Truth

The progression that Curtis travelled is one that I heard many times in my years in campus ministry, as a student and as staff with The Navigators. But Curtis follows it through and does not settle. He becomes convinced and through that conviction he returns to the Catholic Church.

This book is also part guide, it was written as a guide for students to help them grow first in a relationship with Christ Jesus. Then through that relationship finding God's plan for our life; and to do both through our church communities.

This book would be excellent to young people in our lives heading off to college or universities. It is also excellent for those of us in the work force who need the reminder that we are made for more and some direct points on how to grow in that realization.

I highly recommend this book for any believer who wants to grow in their faith. Can you imagine what our schools, our workplaces, our parishes and our families would look like if we read, believed and lived out the message in this book?


Fear Itself (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School)
Fear Itself (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good book in a great series., 5 Sept. 2016
I have now read 10 books by Andrew Clements over the last few months. This is the second book of his from a series that I have read. It is interesting seeing him comeback to the same characters and extend the story in a way that he has not done with most of his other novels. And with 3 more books to go in this eries it will be interesting to see where he takes us. Both of the first books have been great reads. This volume continues directly from book one We the Children.

In this volume Ben and Jill are trying to follow the clues to the secrets that were left behind that were intended to save the school. But they also realize that the dangers from My Lyman the fake janitor at their school is much greater than they had expected. He seems to be following them everywhere. So they have a lot on their mind, with only 3 weeks until the school will be vacated and is scheduled to be demolished they need to figure out the clues from the past Keepers of the School. They also need to stay out of My Layman's clutches and keep him away from what they are finding. And from the clues figure out a way to save the school. That is a tall order for kids on any day, but Ben is dealing with his parents having been separated for months and Jill's parents are fighting again over the whole school issue. Life just seems to keep getting more and more complicated for these two.

The story will really keep young readers glued to the pages. And the illustrations by Adam Stower really add to the story, and there are many throughout the book. Mostly they are pen and ink sketches. This volume has a red cover and all the illustrations in the ebook version are done in black and white and red.

One of the greatest strengths of Clements writing is his characters. And in this series because it will span the 5 books we get to see more about the characters than we do in many of his standalone books. We seem the characters struggling with hope, with their home life and with the weight of the responsibility of trying to save the school.

I have said before that this book could likely be published in a large omnibus edition, but I fear that the size would be intimidating to many readers. It will be interesting to see how the series progresses over the remaining three books. I know that I was hooked after book one and even more so now. I will finish this series and also likely many, many other books by Andrew Clements.

This was another very good read in an excellent series. I have yet to come across a book by Andrew Clements that I cannot highly recommend. And this book and series is no exceptions.


Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!, 2 Sept. 2016
Over the past year I have read 11 books by Matthew Kelly. Each has challenged me, and each has had an immediate impact on my live. The main theme running through his writings is about:

“Becoming the Best Version of Yourself!”

And that theme continues in this volume. Kelly states in the introduction that the book can be read two ways. “There are two ways to experience this book. The first is like with any other book: Read it from cover to cover. The other way is to use this book as a guide to a forty-day spiritual journey, reading a chapter a day. This second way is a perfect way to begin (or nourish) a habit of daily prayer.” And I have read it through twice using both methods. And to be honest this is one of the best books for spiritual growth. Each chapter is laid out the same way:

Main Teaching Point
Point to Ponder
Verse to Live
Question to Consider
Prayer

Each of these last 4 elements in each chapter really drive home the points of the chapter. To be honest I plan on taking the 40 ‘Verse to Live’ sections and memorizing them. The ‘Point to Ponder’ is a quick summary of the chapter. The ‘Question to Consider’ can be used for journaling or just reflection. And both times I read through the book I prayer each of the prayers and suggest you do so also. Do not just read them actually pray them. I really believe that if you are willing to read this book with an open heart your life will be transformed.

One of the things I like most about this book is that Kelly guides us often by questions. For example, in he asks:

“Who do people say that Jesus is? Who do you say that Jesus is? Who does Jesus say that you are? These are three questions worthy of our attention.”

And most of the book focuses on helping guide us to answers to these questions. A quote from this book that really stuck with me was:

“The Gospel may be difficult to live, but it is unrelentingly simple in its teaching. The Gospel is radically simple, and there is genius in its simplicity.”

Kelly also emphasis that we need to love and care for ourselves if we are really to be of service to others. He declared:

“A healthy sense of self-love is essential to the life of a Christian. God desires it for you. This self-love can coexist with true humility.”

Matthew Kelly writes in a clear concise style. He makes the practice of faith very applicable. When I read these next two quotes I though about not only my own life but especially my children. How can I live this better and how can I teach them to:

“Our sight is an incredible gift from God. The Gospel invites us to practice custody of the eyes, which simply means having the self-control to decide what we allow ourselves to look at. In our hypersexual culture we are constantly being visually harassed by sexual images. This makes maintaining custody of the eyes a constant struggle. Some things we look at help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves, and others don’t. Having custody of the eyes means exercising the self-control to not look at the things that don’t help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves.”

And

“Images are powerful. You cannot unsee things. Edit what you look at. Custody of the eyes is a sure path to spiritual growth.”

It really got me thinking about what I read, what I listen to and what I watch. I know we are to be in this world but not of it. But I really needed this reminder. After reading this section and praying I removed a number of books and a bunch music from my phone and tablet. And to be honest that relates directly to the next quote:

“The teachings of Jesus Christ are radical. For two thousand years men and women of all ages, from all walks of life— rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated— have been allowing these teachings to transform them. Now the question is, will you?”

And that is what I am striving to do and what this book can challenge us all to do. This book has a prayer of transformation, I have started praying it regularly as a reminder:

“Loving Father,
Here I am.
I trust that you have an incredible plan for me.
Transform me. Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what you want to take and give what you want to give.
Transform me into the person you created me to be, so I can live the life you
you envision for me.
I hold nothing back;
I am 100 percent available.
How can I help?
Amen.

Would you be willing to take the risk that God would actually answer that prayer? Are you willing to risk a shake up to your spiritual life, to all area’s of your life? If so I can highly recommend it. If you want to just keep ambling through life then do not give it a read.

Thank you Matthew Kelly for writing this book and for the ministry of Dynamic Catholic. This book was an incredible read and I highly recommend it.


Pumpkin Spice (The Friendship Garden)
Pumpkin Spice (The Friendship Garden)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and series., 31 Aug. 2016
My oldest daughter and I read this book shortly after finishing the first book in the series, Green Thumbs-Up. When my daughter and I read together currently we alternate pages and these books are at the perfect level for her heading into grade 5. As a reluctant reader it is great to find authors and especially series that she really gets into. And she loves these books. And she is awaiting book 5 that will not be out until later. So right from the get go we are off to a good start with these books.

In this volume the school's friendship garden team is prepping the garden for winter. They are doing the last of the harvesting and pulling the remainder of the garden plants for compost. But the children not only learn about gardening they learn about honesty, friendship, owning up to your mistakes and the power of words. That is an awful lot packed into this book, but it is done well.

The top three things my daughter loved most about the book are:

1. Anna learns the power of words, especially when you accuse someone without proof.
2. That the children learn that things are not always as they appear, and by being open they gain a new friend.
3. Being honest always matters.

She also loves that there is a recipe again at the back of the book to try.

What I loved is the story is engaging enough to keep my interesting as I read along with my daughter. And that my daughter was so into the book that we read an extra chapter almost every day while reading it.

We both really enjoyed the illustrations by Éva Chatelain. The simple drawings really add to the story. We also both really liked that now that the main characters were introduced this book was a little more story and a little less back story. It seemed to go much faster.

This story is really well written. Children and those who read with them will enjoy the book and the series. And as part of a growing series we hope for many more books in The Friendship Garden series to read over the next few years.

Overall my summary would be this is a great book in a great series.


A Hole at the Pole (Banana Books)
A Hole at the Pole (Banana Books)
by Chris D'Lacey
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Out of print but worth tracking down., 30 Aug. 2016
Over the past year I have become a huge fan of Chris d'Lacey's, having read 13 books of his over the past 10 months. My children love his stories that we have shared, and I have loved some of the ones that they are a little young for. I tracked down this book even though it is out of print because it was the first book written by Chris. I am very glad I did. My three children and I read this book together the day it arrived. My children ages 10, 8 and 5 all loved the story. And the younger two were captivated by its message.

This is the story of Billy Cockcroft, his father told him about the hole in the ozone at the North Pole, but also told him a tall tale about how he could fix it. When Billy is asked in class what he wants to do, his reply is simple, trek to the north pole and mend the hole. His is given a project to teach the class about:
The Arctic
Polar Bears
Global Warming
And what we can do about it. There is a very late snow storm and Billy makes a snow polar bear and that night he dreams and meets a polar bear who is the teller of stories. Soon Billy has his whole class excited and they decided to do something about Global warming.

This book was a wonderful read; and though I keep very few physical books these days, personally preferring eBooks. I have a feeling I will need to track down another copy of this so that both my youngest can have one on their shelves.

The illustrations by Joanna Carey are wonderful. My children love going over them again and again. Bright beautiful pictures that really enhance the story.

Reading this book having read many of d'Lacey's other books was really fun. We see forerunners of other characters, and reoccurring themes and motifs. It is interesting to see where his writing has come to, and see this most excellent first offering. I highly recommend going through the effort to track this down, especially for fans of d'Lacey's other works or for anyone who loves great books to read with the kids in their lives.


Resisting Happiness
Resisting Happiness
Price: £4.83

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible read!, 24 Aug. 2016
The subtitle of this book is "A True Story about Why We Sabotage Ourselves, Feel Overwhelmed, Set Aside Our Dreams, and Lack the Courage to Simply Be Ourselves... and How to Start Choosing Happiness Again" and that is quite a mouthful. But having read a number of Matthew Kelly's books over the last few years I was very excited to read this one. I must admit I read this book while rereading Rediscover Jesus, I read it through once and could not put it down, and am now reading it through a chapter a day. It was very interesting reading these two books in parallel. Matthew Kelly states in the introduction that this book is the most personal book that he has written to date. Having read a number of the others I completely agree. He has opened up and been transparent about his own faith journey, his successes, growth and failures. He is teaching by example, his example. And what a brave, courageous and motivating example it is.

Matthew also shares a number of stories that he has shared before. But this is the most exhaustive collection of them, and some of them go into more details or extended versions of the stories. So this book is part autobiography, part spiritual history and part a guidebook for those of us who wish to grow in the Christian life. Matthew states in the introduction: "The hardest war to win is one you don't even realize you are fighting, and the hardest enemy to defeat is the one you don't even know exists. Every day you are at war with resistance." And he goes on from there to show us this pattern from his own life. And like many of Kelly's other writings the focus is not on him but on God, and our relationship with God, "When I did something that I knew was God's will, something that would clearly help me become a-better-version-of-myself, I was filled with joy. When I did something that I knew was wrong or was clearly not good for me, that joy began to evaporate." And is that not what Jesus promised in Matthew 5:6 'For the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.' How many of us would say we are truly living the abundant life? That we are living from a place of Joy? Kelly also declares "It is clear that God does not want us to be negative thinkers. But he also doesn't want our thinking to be neutral. He wants us to be positive thinkers on an epic scale." Would you say you are living that way? If not this book might open your eyes and your heart to following the Holy Spirit more.

In speaking specifically about parenting and working with children Kelly says "I suppose we all need a chance to get outside ourselves and serve other people. It seems the earlier in life we get this chance in a real and tangible way- a chance to serve others, know that we have worth, discover our innate ability to make a difference in other people's lives- the better off we are." And I think about my own children and How I want them to learn to live to become the best version of themselves. We regularly read Kelly's Why Am I Here as a family, and my children often talk about decisions that help them or hinder them from being that best version of themselves. But by growing in it from the learning in this book, hopefully and prayerfully I can be a better example.

One of the key takeaways I got from read this book was about self discipline, even self discipline in the little things. Matthew says "These realizations about denying ourselves, self-control, delayed gratification, and fasting are not new. They are wrapped up in two thousand years of Catholic genius. Saint Augustine wrote, "Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet."" And learning from his examples we can start small and build to bigger disciplines. But on that same note Kelly says if we are striving to grow in discipline we will also experience greater resistance "Resistance hates discipline. It hates self-control. Resistance abhors delayed gratification and any type of self-denial that makes your heart, mind, and soul strong." He also advises us that if we want to see change we need to be part of making that change happen. "If you want to be part of an excellent parish, stop waiting for someone else to make it one. Get involved and make it an excellent parish. Resistance encourages us to take it easy and settle for mediocrity. But God created us for happiness, and he fills us with great joy as we strive for excellence, especially in the spiritual life." Matthew insists:
"God wants you to live an excellent life. In that quest for excellence you will find a rare happiness."

He also stresses the importance of being gentle with ourselves as part of the processs. "One of the most important reasons to be gentle with ourselves is because if we cannot forgive ourselves, we will struggle to forgive others. And if we cannot forgive ourselves or others, we will resist even God's forgiveness. When we are gentle with ourselves, when we are patient with ourselves, we develop awareness, and awareness breeds compassion. And every person who ever crosses your path needs a little compassion." And also
"Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with others, and never stop striving to be all that God created you to be: the-very-best-version-of-yourself."

And again he always cycles back to being who God calls us to be. He says "God designed human beings for specific purposes. When we stray from them, things tend to go wrong and we start to feel dissatisfied at best and miserable at worst. You were made for mission. You will never have lasting happiness until you realize this and act on it.".

This book was an excellent read, and I know already that I will read it again soon. Matthew draws examples from his own life and a few examples from outside his life. Each chapter has a main teaching followed by a reminder of the Key Point and Action Step at the end of the chapter. This is a great read and it will inspire you.

On a side note I am still waiting in anticipation for The Narrow Path that Dynamic Catholic promoted for almost a year but keeps getting pushed back but books like this one and Rediscover Jesus. But both Rediscover Jesus and this book are excellent reads, that will have immediate impact on all areas of your life if you read them with an open hear. So give this book a read or a listen all you have to lose is your resistance. And you have a world of joy and happiness to gain, true joy found only in God.


Extra Credit
Extra Credit

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read US - Afghan Relations, 22 Aug. 2016
This review is from: Extra Credit (Kindle Edition)
This was the 10th book by Clements that I have read over the last few months. Most of his books have a lesson but this one dealing with hostilities between the US and Afghanistan as experienced by students in both countries pushes the boundary for Clements. It is an interesting read but not one of my favorites by Clements.

This is primarily a story about pen pals, Abby Carson and Sadeed Bayat. Abby is in desperate need of a pen pal because she is about to repeat her grade and an Extra Credit project. The project she get's if to have a pen pal and share at least 5 letters and do a bulletin board in the classroom to share the information she learns with her classmates. Her teacher gives her the choice of a few locations where she has contacts in school. Abby decides to write Afghanistan because they have mountains and her favorite thing is the rock climbing wall in the gym at school, because Illinois.

The story deals with some typical stereotypes, but also breaking down boundaries. At first Sadeed is reluctant to write to Abby because he is to work with his younger sister and do it. For a boy and girl writing is not appropriate. He feels writing a girl is below him. But as the letters exchange his feelings change. Both Abby and Sadeed encounter resistance, some parents at Abby's school complain about the Afghan flag on her display. And a stranger is furious when he sees American flag stamps on a letter Saeed has. Even accusing Saeed of being a traitor or spy.

Both children learn to deal with their feelings. They both encounter feelings they did not expect. They also both learn to appreciate aspects about the others culture and day to day life.

In some ways this book was more intense than many of Clements other books. Because of the political nature and the content. But in other ways it was slower as letters were written and events going on in between the letters travelling back and forth.

The book was an interesting read. It also does a fairly good job of trying to handle such political issues. It was also the first book by Clements that I have encountered that has some budding romance in it. It was a little slower read than many of his other books but still one with a good message. It helped me think about my biases or preconceived notions, and any book that makes us think is good in my books.


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