Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shattered Visions Haunted Memories, by Reyna Hawk

I waited with anticipation for the final book in the three book series by Reyna Hawk.  I wanted to know how life was going to end up for Janie.  I wanted to know if she and Malachi would find true happiness.  I wanted to know if her memory would come back completely.  I wanted to know that the last part of book two was only a dream and not reality and that she would wake up and things would be great.

Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for.  Reyna Hawk certainly knows how to surprise her readers and how to change up scenario’s throughout her stories.  I found myself not wanting to put the book down because I wanted to know what the next twist to the story was going to be.  I found myself getting more anxious and the book was coming closer to an end.  I found myself nervous that I wasn’t going to like how things turned out.  I found myself conflicted about how things were going.

So, was I happy with what happens?  Not exactly.  I had to write to Reyna and have a dialogue with her about how the story developed and where it went.  I was concerned about one part of the story that was so different from the first two books.  Janie’s vocabulary was not what I expected after books one and two.  At one point in the book another character says to her, “When did you develop such a potty mouth.”  I found myself agreeing.  I didn’t like it, but I wondered why it had been developed.

Reyna helped me to understand.  So, I will give you a hint so that as you read the book you will understand.  Janie is confused, frightened, frustrated and conflicted about who she really loves and why.  As such she is lashing out because of all that has happened to her.  She is trying to make sense of everything.  With that explanation things came more into focus for me.  So, I hope with that explanation they will come more into focus for you.

I loved the way Reyna brings real life to bear on the characters in her book.  She brings real emotion.  She brings real character flaws and she brings real character fear and frustration.  She portrays how each of us has a fantasy life where people are perfect, or at least we make them what we want to make them.  But then reality sets in and we see them for who they really are.  They are not necessarily as perfect as we thought, but maybe they are!  People will surprise you in how they act in real life.  Sometimes what they do is more perfect than we think.

So, as you read ask yourself this, how would I respond if I were in Janie’s shoes?  How would I respond if people around me were lying to me?  How would I respond if I were frightened for my life?  How would I respond if everything was going to hell in a hand basket.  Then you might just understand Janie a bit more.

I guarantee you that you won’t put this book down until you get to the end.  But if you haven’t read the first two in the series you really need to read them first or you will be totally lost in this book.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Killing in the Hills, by Julia Keller

For Belfa Elkins being the Prosecuting Attorney for Raythune County is suppose to be a fairly simple job. The small town of Acker's Gap and the rest of the county aren't much in the way of size. For West Virginia they are about as small town and normal as you would expect. But something has happened. Drugs have moved into the area and are really starting to cause a ripple effect in crime that is beginning to look more like large city issues than small town America.

When Belfa (her friends call her Bell) moved back to Acker's gap with her daughter she was returning to small town life and small town values. She felt that leaving the Washington D.C. area and all of it's large city crimes would be behind her. She also left behind her husband who wanted nothing to do with small town life, but everything to do with being a Washington D.C. lawyer / lobbyist / insider with lots of clout and the money to go along with it.

Bell and her daughter Carla have done fairly well in small town America, but Bell is finding the fight more and more difficult as she teams with her friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong to fight drugs and organized crime. But their fight takes on a new aspect, the killing of three older men in the town fast food restaurant starts a cascading effect that may have terrible repercussions for Bell and Carla as well as the entire town.

Carla is at the restaurant when a gunmen opens the door, guns down the three senior citizens and then calming leaves taking no other lives. Why these three men? Why in open daylight? Why with so many witnesses? What is really going on.

Carla saw the gunman and thinks she may know who it is but she doesn't tell her mother or the police. She keeps it to herself. Is it an act of defiance or protection? Is it being non committal or being afraid to get involved?

Further, the gunman has been hired by someone who wants to send a message. But as part of that message he also wants to take out the County Prosecutor. Is it a disgruntled criminal that Bell has put behind bars, or is it part of the organized crime that is bringing drugs to the region.

Julia Keller puts together a great novel with lots of intrigue, mis-direction and plenty of human drama that will keep you turning the pages. Will Carla ever reveal what she knows? Will Carla and Bell ever reconcile their mother / daughter differences? Will Carla leave and move back to Washington D.C. with her dad? Will Bell turn the corner on the criminals and get a hand up on the drug problems and the crime problems?

There are two other story lines mixed in with the main story. One is that of an adult man who has the maturity of a 12 year old. He is accused of killing his young 10 year old playmate. But should he be tried as an adult or let go because of diminished capacity. Bell has to decide whether to prosecute. Also there is the story of Bell's background (childhood) and the fact that her sister was put in prison twenty nine years ago for the brutal murder of their father. But was it murder or was it self-defense? Should her sister be let out on parole or not? Will Bell come to her sisters aid or just let her languish in prison?

This is a fun summer read that any Grisham fan would love to read. I hope you enjoy it, and I'm sure that you will be like me at the end, wanting a bit more and anxious for the next Bell Elkins novel.


Sacrament of Fear, by Will Dresser

Will Dresser hits a home run with this Wes Franklin novel. Dr. Wes Franklin is part of a unique group of people, The Cloister of Akhenaten, who are committed to serving others. But suddenly members of the group start to die. They all appear to die of normal medical conditions, but it seems odd that they would start dying all at the same time and within days of each other.

Wes is first contacted by his friends in The Netherlands who are part of the Hauge and specifically part of a unique group of people keeping an eye on terrorism. One of their members has died, a friend of Wes's, but also he is a member of The Cloister of Akhenaten. As Wes goes to The Netherlands for the funeral he is brought face to face with the situation of his other friends also dying.

It turns out that there is a group of Syrian businessmen, terrorist, who are working on a way to literally scare people to death! They plan on putting their drug into the food supply and thus manipulating the "fears" of people and causing mass hysteria that will force governments to do things they wouldn't normally due. Their hope is to bring about revolution amongst the populace that will bring down the major governments of Europe and eventually the United States.

But they have taken on a task first to eliminate The Cloister of Athenaken. The question is why? But the further question is, can Wes and his friends stop them before they unleash their drug on the world?

The writing is excellent and the suspense will build as you get into the story. Dr. Franklin and his group of 'hero's' will again have to perform extraordinary detective work and stop the terrorist before they can strike.

What I really enjoyed about the book was the fact that Will Dresser also has Muslim characters in the book who are not terrorist, but are Godly, moral people who care about others and do not want to be lumped in with the extremists. I think the writing brings about a good balance and gives good lessons for each of us to learn. Not all Muslims are bad people. They love their families, they love those of other religions as well. They are good people.

But thank God for groups like the Cloister of Athenaken and people like Wes Franklin who strive to keep the world free of evil, free of danger and free to live in peace.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Smeared, by Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers first novel is a home run. He writes a story about a young Chief of State for a long term Senator. Hartford Keepe, is a man who loves to run the office of Senator Harold Feldstone. He loves to spin the story, to turn heads, to trump the next power player and keep his guy on top. He is good at his job and is paid well to continue it.

But Senator Harold Feldstone's ratings are dropping and re-election is coming. They need to do something to turn things around so that they get re-elected and stay in power. Hartford comes up with a concept, Listen to America (LTA) an opportunity for Congress and the Senate to appear to want to hear from America and look like they care about the people, when really all they want to do is get re-elected and keep their paychecks and pensions secure.

On the way home from work Hartford sees a man who is being harassed by the Park Police. He stops because he doesn't like the policeman whom he sees doing the harassing. He intervenes only to discover that Thomas, the man being harassed, is dressed like a colonial Minuteman and has no memory of his last name or where he came from. As a matter of face he appears to only remember the Colonial times and the Founding Fathers of our country.

Keepe takes him home to Annie, his live in, and they do their good samaritan routine and give Thomas a place to live and some much needed help.

Through a series of events Thomas ends up starting to sell T-Shirts on the Capital Mall that have the sayings of our Founding Fathers and the imagine of a Minuteman on the shirt. While selling the shirts he is also talking to all the tourist about history, government, what the Founding Fathers meant by the Constitution, etc. He is giving Civic's, Government and History lessons to the people. He is also listening to their concerns about what is happening in America.

Thomas ends up being tapped by Hartford and his Senator to be the man to "Speak for the People of America" for the Listen to America Program. But that is where the fun will come in.

Hartford and Miss Annie are really growing to care about Thomas. Thomas is growing to be a man of the people, but a pain in the backside for the media and the government.

Rogers novel is well conceived, well written and just down right fun to read. It also has a good bit of mystery in it, such as, where did Thomas come from? Is he from the past? How does he know so much but have no memory? Why is the government interested in him?

Rogers then goes on to weave in his political views of where America is, what is wrong with the Media, what is wrong with Government and what we the People need to do to take back the best of our country. He calls those who love America to unite and stand up for what the Founding Fathers wanted.

His book is a fun read. But I know that it will also irritate lots of political science majors, lots of Liberals, lots of special interests groups. But I for one think that Mark has caught well what the average American believes about his country.

You might not agree with Roger's views, but you will be entertained by his book.