Friday, July 20, 2012

Reflection of Secrets, by Reyna Hawk

Book Two in this Trilogy will be available starting July 20, 2012 at

It will be available in eBook form next week on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

It will be available in paperback form later this fall.

In Book two of her trilogy we join Janie, her brother Daniel, and her new best friend, Malachi Wolfe and Janie tries to get her life under control.  Janie has given birth to Daniella and is trying to start her new life living under Malachi’s roof.

Malachi does his best to bring comfort and care to Janie, without asking for anything in return.  He loves Daniella as though she were his own daughter.  He provides, protects and brings a sense of healing and safety to the lives of mother and daughter.

But brother Daniel is not to sure that he wants Janie living with Malachi.  They have a falling out because of this, but Daniel upon further investigation decides that Malachi is OK and actually finds himself liking this man.

Malachi’s family comes more into play in this 2nd novel.  They come around he and Janie and Daniella and really start to bond with them.  Janie is finding healing.  But she doesn’t want her daughter to forget her father, so each evening she shows her a picture of Rico and tells her that he is her daddy.

Things are going well and we start to learn more about Malachi.  It turns out that he has a special gift, much like Janie does.  He is a gifted ‘holy man’ of the Cherokee people.  He brings insights and healing to others, and when she is ready he will bring healing to Janie from her emotional pain.

Eventually Janie settles into a good life, a safe life, a protected life.  The FBI wants her to testify against the Petrilo mob family, but she doesn’t have to.  Anthony gets sentenced to 25 years in prison and it appears that things are going to be good for Janie and her baby and they don’t need to worry.

But then tragedy hits again, someone kidnaps her daughter, neither she nor Malachi saw this coming and they are distraught.  Months go by and the FBI is unable to find Daniella.  They don’t believe the Mob has taken her, so who has?

Janie and Malachi come to terms with the loss, they come to terms with their relationship and they get married.  Janie gets pregnant and even though her daughter is missing she and Malachi are moving on.

Then an accident happens, Malachi falls off the roof and is injured.  He is rushed to the hospital.  While there Janie’s water breaks and she gives birth to their child . . . . . or she at least is in the process of giving birth.  Everything goes black and then . . . . .

Well, let’s just say the story takes a very interesting turn at this point.  The last third of the book focuses on how our minds can play tricks on us, or at least it appears that is happening.

Reyna Hawk brings a twist to the story that you won’t see coming.  She brings a surprise that you might not like, or you just might think is cool.  I know I was caught off guard and wasn’t sure I liked this new twist.  But the more I read the more I was caught up in what was happening.

Janie’s mind is playing tricks and you won’t know where it is going to head and how it is going to end.

The best part, in true Trilogy fashion you are left hanging, wanting to know how things are going to turn out.  I haven’t been this interested in the next volume of a series since reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reyna’s writing continues to be refreshing, well balanced, engaging and well frankly, just so down to earth that I feel like these folks have become some of my best friends and I just want the best for them.  I am so drawn to these characters that I am left speechless wanting to know what is going to happen.

If you haven’t read the first book, “Looking Through Blind Eyes” you definitely need to read it first before reading this one.  For info on that book go back to my June postings in this Blog and you will find my review of that book as well as an interview with Author Reyna Hawk.

Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel, by James Rollins

James Rollins hits another home run with the next Sigma Force Novel. He brings all of our friends back as well as introduces some new players who help the team. His writing is crisp, fast paced and equals anything the Vince Flynn or Tom Clancy have put out. If you love the spy / adventure / war / political intrigue type of novel this one is for you.

Pierce Gray and his group are still reeling from their previous adventure. Pierce is still grieving the loss of his mother and the persistent dimentia that his father is living with. His life is complicated and add his desire to find and punish those who took his mother's life and you have a young man wound a bit to tight.

Add to that the issue of the President's pregnant daughter being kidnapped by Somalian Pirates and you have the beginning of a novel that will keep you riveted to your seat until you finish it.

The problems are compounded by The Guild, who have a hand in every part of this adventure. It appears that they are working on making the perfect DNA string, adding a third variable to the dual helix to produce a triple helix that will allow man to live forever. They are also working on advanced robotics that use the brains of living things to operate. Would you believe that the brain of a mouse can be used to control a robot, or fly an aircraft or fight a war? What if you used the brain of a more intelligent being, say maybe a human, what could your robot do then?

These are frightening things to consider and Rollins points out that these scientific happenings are now made up, they are the here and now. He sights sources that state that the triple helix will be viable by the year 2045. Is that true? Is man that close to playing God? At the end of the novel Rollins sights web sites that will give you the details for his scientific pondering in this novel.

Well, back to the book. The Guild is working on the triple Helix and they have research to do on mothers and their infants. President Gant's daughter, Amanda, happens to be one of those experiments, but she doesn't know it.

Further complicating things are the fact that the Gant Family is involved with the Guild up to their eyeballs. How can they go after one of their own as part of the experiment, or are they.

Gray and his crew are joined by a new partner, former Army Camptain Wayne Tucker and his military trained dog Kane. They have sought Tucker out because of his dog. The dog, Kane, turns out to be the true hero of this novel, at least in my opinion. It is the dog and his training that provide much of the tension, excitement and solution to the whole issue of Amanda's kidnapping.

This thrilling ride will be a frightening ride when you realize that what Rollins is talking about in regards to The Guild could actually be happening in our scientific communities of today. In the wrong hands their experiments will be devastating.

Being a Pastor I believe in an Intelligent Designer, The Lord Almighty, and thus I don't believe that science will be able to break through all of the codes that God has planted in our DNA. BUT, Satan is also real and He is the Prince of this world at present and I am afraid of what that might mean for this world.

Rollins book is a great novel, but it also will cause you to stop and start questioning, are we, mankind, getting to advanced in our technology for our own good.

So, is this a novel or a statement on scientific and technological advancements? I don't know, you decide. But truth often reads like fiction.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweeter than Birdsong, by Rosslyn Elliott

For Ben Hanby and Kate Winter life was going to provide some very interesting experiences. This young couple would meet and fall in love in circumstances that are fairly normal yet highly unusual. Growing up in the mid 1800's had is own challenges, but add on the fact that Kate will be the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College and that Ben Hanby and his family will become well known abolitionist and you have quite a story. The fact that it is also based on the true lives of the two make it even more fun.

Ben and Kate meet at Otterbein college where they both attend. Both are musical. Both are compassionate and caring, both are highly intelligent. But there things part. Kate's mother comes from higher society and wants her daughter to marry well. Ben comes from a larger family of working people, his dad makes saddles and bridles for a living while also being a minister to a local flock.

But things are a bit different for Ben's family. They also help runaway slaves get from the south to Canada where they can live free. But this brings much heart ache into their lives. Often times the slaves are caught and returned to their cruel owners. Also many of their friends believe slavery is fine and so they have to keep their activities secret.

Kate will get caught up in these secret ways due to some strange consequences. She will find that her shyness falls away as she is brought face to face with slavery and abolition. She will also find she has fallen in love with Ben Hanby only to have her mother tell her she can not see him because he is of no consequence and is not a good fit for a husband.

The story revolves around the true life of Ben Hanby, his work with slaves, his obession with writing music, especially music that tells a story of abolition.

The story is well developed, the characters well written and even though there is not high intrigue there is enough drama to keep you turning the pages until the end. This story is truly inspiring. On top of that are the Christian values that drive Ben and his family to do what they do and how those values change the life of Kate Winter and her family.

This will become one of your favorite reads this summer and the better news is that it is part of a series. So look for more in this line of books.


A Room Full of Bones, by Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway, Cathbad and Inspector Nelson are all back in another adventure of death and archeology. A construction crew has uncovered the coffin of a Catholic Bishop who appears to have been buried in the wrong place. To make things interesting the coffin and body are being delivered to the Smith family museum (relatives of the deceased Clergy) for them to have on display.

They decide they would like to open the coffin and the press has been called in to watch. The opening of a several hundred years old coffin seems to invite mystery. Ruth Galloway is asked to be present at the opening to provide expertise in relationship to identifying the bones.

But when Ruth shows up at the Museum about an hour early she finds the curator of the Museum lying on the floor next to the coffin dead. It doesn't appear to be murder, but the young curator is to young to die of a heart attack. Why did he die? Was it due to the curse of the coffin that the Bishop put on it? The curse was to not disturb the bones of the deceased or face certain death.

Inspector Harry Nelson is called in along with Judy and Clough to investigate. The coffin gets opened and Lord Smith who is at the opening turns up dead several days later at his race horse ranch. Why did he die? Was it the curse?

Not only that but inspector Nelson also gets sick and enters into a coma and is fighting for his life and the doctors can't find a cause. Cathbad to the rescue. He informs Ruth that is the curse and he plans to enter the "Dreaming" to find Nelson and bring him back.

Oh, and to add to the mystery the Museum is also holding the skeletal remains of Aborignal Natives from Australia. This has brought about a group trying to get the museum to return the remains so that they can be laid to rest in their homeland and able to find peace. Bob Woonunga has moved in next to Ruth and he is a Shaman from Australia who has come to seek the return of the bones. Cathbad thinks he may have put the curse on the museum curator, inspector Nelson and Lord Smith. Who knows.

The book has several plots running at once. There is also a drug operation that the police are trying to break up. Does it tie in, well of course it does, otherwise it wouldn't be mentioned so often.

All in all the book is a bit slower than the other reads. It was not as exciting as the others in the series. But it does a great job of developing Ruth's character and that of her little girl Kate. It further develops the relationship between Ruth and Harry and the problems that rise up with Harry's wife.

The book is good, just not as fascinating as the first books in the series. I hope the next one is a bit more filled with archeology than just a study of the bones in a museum.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Three's a Crowd

My wife has gotten to know Mary Simonsen through her Jane Austen fan fiction writing. When Mary came out with this novel my wife suggested that I read it and provide a review as an encouragement to Mary. My fear was whether I would like the book or not, I didn't want to give a bad review :)

I was very pleasantly pleased with the Novel. Detective Patrick Shea provides us with a solid British Police Detective who is compassionate, loyal, strong willed and frankly, good at his job. Along with his partner Molly they provide a great dual of police work.

The book starts out with Shea and Updike on a stakeout to try and catch a 'cat burglar' who has been victimizing a particular community. Their efforts pay off and they catch the 'gentlemen' burglar as he is exiting his latest victims home. Upon being caught the burglar doesn't resist but instead offers a rose to Detective Shea for a job well done in catching him. Obviously this sets Shea up for all kinds of ribbing from fellow officers.

Detective Shea is writing up reports when an old friend shows up from a previous station that he worked. This friend wants to inform Shea that his former girlfriend has been assaulted and is in the hospital. Shea is concerned and goes to visit her. Upon entering the room he discovers that he still has deep feelings for her.

The book deals with police procedures, personal vendetta's and romance. Each theme plays an important role in the short novel. Each theme is well developed and well written. The characters are well developed and you learn enough about each to draw you in and give you a firm position on which to either like or dislike a particular character.

What I found very intriguing is that Mary got the details correct. For more than 10 years I served as a volunteer Police Chaplain and during that time I learned how police officers work and the camaraderie that they develop. When you sit on a stake out with someone for hours you get to know them. When you get shot at along side another officer you grow a loyalty and solid working relationship. As you solve crimes together you learn to understand your partner and his or her needs and how they work.

Mary gets the relationships. She builds them well and strings them together in a story that is very true to the real life that a policeman lives.

What I enjoyed most is that the crimes that Detective Shea was solving were not heinous, they were not vicious, they were the everyday small items that police officers handle all the time. They are the mundane. But Mary wrote the story in such a way as to draw you in, give you enough excitement to keep you turning the pages and enough reality to make you want to see a good outcome for both Detective Shea and his one time girlfriend.

This is a great story and I look forward to reading more Detective Shea novels.

Oh, and by the way, Mary does a great job in getting the terms correct for a British police novel. When you buy the book you might want to turn to the end of the book and read the glossary of terms first before starting the novel, that will help you understand the story a bit better.

If you know any police officers you might give them this book as a gift because they will "Get It" as they read.