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review 2018-06-17 23:58
Patrick: Son of Ireland
Patrick: Son of Ireland - Stephen R. Lawhead

I began this book appropriately on St. Patrick's Day and by the following day was almost half done. This is much the most interesting and readable book I've read so far by Lawhead. (Right now, I am reading Merlin and that would be a close second so far).


Over the bare bones of what is actually known about Ireland's patron saint, Lawhead spreads a fully embodied coat of flesh, told in the first person, from which comes its ease of reading and liking the future saint. The Roman-British Succat goes by several names throughout his life; only the last is the one he is known by: Patricius. After Irish raiders capture him, he first demands to be ransomed back to his family. Unfortunately no one understands his Latin, and he does not speak Irish. He becomes a slave instead, a sheepherder and briefly a stable boy. He abandons his Christian faith after God does not answer his plea bargain for rescue. Or at least He does not answer in the way Succat wishes. Over time, he learns the Irish tongue, makes three unsuccessful escape attempts, and has his life saved more than once by a druid. He takes a lover who he knows he will abandon once he makes yet another try at escape. In the meantime, he serves the druids and asks for training in their ways. This is not because becoming one interests him, but he sees it as a way to escape back home.


But is there really a home for him after all these years except in the God he has rejected, but Who has not rejected him?


After a stint in the Roman army, Succat works toward becoming a senator. But tragedy strikes and only after despair crushes him, does he offer himself back to God. He hears a call to return to Ireland, where he is still considered an escaped slave, but where he realizes his true freedom lies.


This story shows God can use any sinner for His greater glory and to bring more souls to Him. God bless St. Patrick!

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text 2018-06-16 03:20
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

I nagged the friend who gave this to me into admitting the dog dies, so I didn't finish the book.

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review 2018-06-14 02:04
Know Your Bill of Rights
The Know Your Bill of Rights Book: Don't Lose Your Constitutional Rights--Learn Them! - Sean Patrick

This was a fantastic addition to our history class. It gave background on why the framers were interested in putting so many things into the Bill of Rights and making sure that if they forgot something it would be covered. It was a great read and good info for any wanting to know more. 

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review 2018-06-06 01:38
A thrill-ride that will stay with you long after the action ends.
Rubicon - Patrick O'Brian
. . . there’s no money in policing unless you cross the line.

But that doesn't mean that Sam Batford isn't going to try.


Batford is an undercover police officer who's after a kingpin of some repute and his guns and drugs importing. DCI Klara Winter is a no-nonsense head of a task force going after the same kingpin, Big H, more directly -- phone taps, applying pressure to associates, interrogations, etc. Batford is assigned to her task force to supplement their intelligence. Neither want this assignment, and work to undermine it immediately. They do actually help each other out -- but it's almost despite their best efforts. Their mutual dislike, distrust and antagonism is one of the more interesting dynamics that I've run across lately.


We see most of the novel through Batford's eyes, with the occasional glimpse from Winter's perspective. It doesn't take much to get a strong sense of Winter's personality and thought process. Just from the volume, the reader ends up seeing things Batford's way -- whether or not they should.


Batford infiltrates Big H's organization -- at least to a degree -- for one job. A large one, no doubt, one that would secure Winter's career (and would do his own some favors). Like most undercover officers (especially in fiction), he cuts many legal and ethical corners to do so. There's some question -- as there should be -- whether or not Big H really trusts him, and the constant testing, evaluation and insecurity makes for great reading -- it's an atmosphere you can almost feel through the words.


So Batford is doing what he can to get enough information to take down Big H, to gain his trust (and therefore access), to disrupt the flow of drugs and guns -- and mostly to stay alive. If he can find a way to make a little money while he's at it . . . well, he might as well. Winter just wants enough evidence to make some arrests -- and maybe some headlines -- so she can get the budget to keep her team working.


This is not a book for the squeamish -- there are a few scenes I know that would cause some of my friends and readers to throw the book down in disgust (the same scenes will cause other friends/readers to fist pump their excitement -- I'm not sure which of these bothers me more). There's one scene in particular that made me think of the dental scene from Marathon Man (I've never watched the movie just in case they nail that scene from the novel).


There were two . . . I don't want to say problems for me, but things that kept me from going over the moon with Rubicon: Batford works his way into this assignment by worming his way in to the trust of one Big H's associates while they're in Bali. Do Metropolitan Police Undercover Officers really get to globe-trot the way that Batford does? Is that a bit of Artistic License? Is it a sign of just how far outside the lines that Batford colors? Does it tell us that he's not just a Metropolitan Police Officer? It's a minor point, I admit -- and it's really easy to accept as kosher (but that doesn't mean I don't wonder), because watching Batford's machinations there is fascinating.


Secondly, Batford displays a very particular vocabulary -- I'm not sure if it's London slang, or Ian Patrick-slang. I could believe either. I will admit that there were periods that the slang got in the way of the story. That's probably on me -- and some of it is Shaw's two countries separated by a common language phenomenon. With a little bit of work, and a small amount of guesswork (and a willingness to go back and revisit a passage later), it was all accessible enough and perspicuous.


There's a lot about this book that I'm not sure about -- I've been chewing on it for a couple of days, and it's going to take a few more at least. Patrick's characters take a little chewing, I think. It'd be easy to put Batford in the "murky anti-hero" category and move on -- but I'm not sure he fits there; I'm even less sure where Winter fits -- she's not the straight-laced cop you're at first tempted to label her, nor is she just the figure that makes life difficult for our anti-hero to do what he wants (although she functions pretty well that way). But even if/when I decide how to categorize these two -- then I have to decide what I think of them as these characters -- are they good people? No. That's easy. Are they good fictional beings in their particular roles? My gut says yes, and my brain leans that way, but I'm still working on that.


Either way, I'm enjoying chewing on the novel and these ideas -- and I'm definitely getting my money's worth out of this book, just having to think about it this much.


There is part of this evaluation that's easy -- the writing? Gripping. The pacing? Once it gets going, it's a runaway train that you're just hoping you can hang on to long enough to get through to the end. The narrative voice is as strong as you could ask, and even when you're thinking this cop might be more deserving of a being handcuffed on his way to a long incarceration than his targets, you'll need to hear his singular perspective on the events around him.


Strong writing (some of my favorite sentences of the year are in this book), characters that demand thinking about, a plot that you can't wrap up in a tidy bow -- this isn't your typical thriller. Whether it's your cup of tea or not, it's one that you won't forget easily.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/05/rubicon-by-ian-patrick-a-thrill-ride-that-will-stay-with-you-long-after-the-action-ends
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review 2018-06-03 17:14
Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo
Reading with Patrick - Michelle Kuo

A special thank you to Penguin Random House First to Read for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Kuo is a recent Harvard graduate that finds herself in a rural town in Arkansas as a Teach for America volunteer.  Wanting to make a difference in her students' lives, she is full of optimism but soon discovers how broken the system is.  Kuo tries a different tactic—she  uses quiet reading time and guided writing exercises as a way to instil a sense of self in her students.

Throughout her tenure, Kuo loses students for various reasons.  Some are as simple as truancy and others are harsh and stem from violence.  She also is inspired by some, and one of those students is Patrick who is fifteen and is still in grade eight.  Under Miss Kuo's attention, he flourishes.  However, Michelle is feeling incredible pressure from her Taiwanese immigrant parents to pursue other opportunities and ultimately leaves Arkansas after a couple of years to attend law school.

On the eve of her graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been incarcerated for murder.  Murder?  Patrick?  Kuo has incredible guilt and thinks that she is partly responsible because she prematurely left the school.  Determined to right the situation as best she can, Michelle returns to teaching Patrick from his jail cell while he awaits trial.  It is here that we get a sense of both of their characters.  Michelle doesn't waiver in her dedication, even when it appears as though Patrick has forgotten most of what she taught him.

In this moving and inspiring memoir of a teacher that didn't give up on her student, Patrick, Kuo shares the story of her mentorship of Patrick Browning and his incredible journey of self-discovery through literature and writing.  Kuo is also taken on her own journey as she is forced to navigate through several broken systems, racism, social standing, privilege, and relationships.

Friendship can come unexpectedly sometimes, and you never know your impact on someone else's life.  I highly recommend this wonderful story.  

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