Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Da Vinci code for Christians

The Secret Cardinal
Tom Grace
ISBN 1593154569

In China, a Catholic priest suffers as a martyr for his steadfast loyalty to Christ and to the Roman church. Knowing his plight, the pope asks Nolan Kilkenny to get Father Yin, who the pontiff has elevated to the status of Cardinal, to freedom. Despite the danger and his anger at God, the ex-SEAL agrees and begins to immediately plan how to achieve his goal. The tension and pressing need only increases when the pope dies and Yin is suddenly a candidate to replace him. He's also on death row. However, though many of the cardinals would like to heed the late pope's tacit request that the Chinese man become the first Oriental pope, there are forces that do not want him to escape to get the chance. One Judas is all it would take to kill not only the prisoner, but his rescuers. Miracles will be needed.

It's so very refreshing to find a thrilling novel filled with intrigue that affirms the faith. Even Protestants, like myself, will be absorbed by the fast-paced action and labyrinthine politics. If somehow Tom Clancy and Andrew Greeley collaborated on a book, the results might look somewhat like this. Forget Da Vinci and its many clones that try to tear down Christ's true bride. Go for something like this, a feel good, action novel.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jim Butcher's Epic Fantasy - Coming soon Codex Alera IV

Captain's Fury: Codex Alera Book IV

Jim Butcher



ISBN-10: 0441015271

Epic Fantasy


For two years, war has raged across Alera, but now, Tavi, Captain of the First Legion, realizes that there is an enemy that no one has perceived as of yet, one deadlier than any seen before. It has already forced the Canim out of their lands, exacerbating the tensions in his own as a flood of immigrants vie for their place in the world and resentments boil. But, it won't stop there. If Tavi cannot forge a peace between the antagonists that are already tearing apart Alera on multiple levels, friend and foe alike will be lost in an all consuming void. Politics, hypocrisy, and old fears stand in his way, but Tavi has been forged into the one man who has a chance of victory.

Readers are transported to a distant world that feels like a cross between Ancient Rome and Ancient Britain in this complex tale of war and personal growth. Battles are conducted on the field and in the heart, and everywhere in between. Despite this, there is a strong current of love that makes all the fights worth the effort. Once again, Mr. Butcher demonstrates his versatile talent that never fails to engage his audience. However, this is not the Dresden files. It is a far more serious world, with few quips to lighten the tone.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One for the Whovians- Time Rovers - Virtual Evil

Virtual Evil: Time Rovers Book II
Jana G. Oliver
ISBN 1896944787
Time Travel/Mystery

Something has gone wrong in the timeline, not a totally unexpected thing considering that time travel has been opened up as a leisure passtime for tourists, but now the Time Rovers have to fix it. Cynda has been sent back to Victorian London to repair the damage and finds herself neck deep in another serial killer case and facing old and new enemies. As she navigates through the dangers that go beyond those inherent in her profession, Cynda must also deal with the fact that something is wrong in her mind. Like many an agent before her, she is dealing with hallucinations; well, one; Mr. Spider, an arachnid that provides often unwanted advice on his own schedule. As the body count edges higher, Cynda may pay the ultimate price to save proper chronology.

The one complaint I have is that a glossary would have been useful to refresh my mind on the terms, as I've read more than a few books since the first Time Rovers charmed me. However, despite that handicapping factor, I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced mystery. If you love Doctor Who, then this is a must-read. The logical narrative is also imaginative and intriguing. Book three cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jean Johnson - The Master Review

The Master
Jean Johnson
ISBN-10: 042521706X

All the worries fans have had over the fate of the lost brother, Dom, who was kidnapped back in The Sword, can be put to rest. Though despite the title, we find him sold as a slave, it would seem that this is simply the hand of destiny, guiding him to the woman who is meant to help him fulfill his part of the curse. Considering how well it's turned out for Wolfer and Saber, I'm not so sure that they should not call it a Blessing. Serina treats Dom well, and even helps him find a way to re-establish contact with his brothers. In turn, he teaches her much and advances her work greatly. However, she wants to have a child, and all of Dom's comments seem to indicate he does not. Besides, he is determined to return to his brothers and sister-in-law; he does not know that the latter is now plural, and she can only follow if her son is welcome. Can their issues be resolved?

Though light on conflict and mostly lacking the appearance of the excellent supporting cast of the Brothers of Destiny, this is a worthy addition to the series. New revelations about the fates the eight men and the women they love face is revealed and it seems as if there is far more to the curse, or as I think of it, blessing, than they guessed. I'm eager to see how Ev, the next brother in the queue, fares.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Review - Big Girls Don't Cry

Big Girls Don't Cry
Cathie Linz
ISBN-10: 0425218317

After her plus-sized modeling career turns up its toes and dies, Leena Riley heads home in disgrace, where, in desperation, she takes a job as a receptionist for the most eligible bachelor in town, Cole Flannigan. The good doctor has grown up since his days of tormenting her in grade school, and suddenly the curves he teased her about are very appealing. However, he's not looking for love, nor is she. But, there is something there that they cannot ignore.

Many readers will probably cheer Leena's role as a plus sized, yet sexy, heroine. A few of us might take issue with the put downs directed at those on the opposite end of the spectrum. Despite that, this is a fun read, made charming by zany characters.

fatal revenant

Fatal Revenant
Stephen R. Donaldson
ISBN-10: 0575076003
Epic Fantasy

When we left the Land, Linden Avery, the Chosen, had just beheld the sight that should have made her heart rejoice; Thomas Covenant and her beloved adopted son, Jeremiah, were galloping towards Revelstone. Yet, when she sees them, they tell her that she must not touch them, lest she banish them. Covenant's hold on the laws of time he is bending to allow this visitation is tenuous at best. Despite the limits, there is a blessing, her son has a whole mind. Yet, there are many things that just seem wrong about the entire situation. Covenant claims to have a plan, yet he opposes her almost at every turn. Moreover, Foul is not her only foe. Cosmic level beings of power are determined to end all goodness. Linden finds her heart and soul being tisted and turned constantly as she travels across not only the Land, but time. Yet, there remains hope.

There simply are not enough stars to award this book. It is not a lighweight, fluff piece, but an intense, mentally stimulating, and utterly satisfying read. Questions that have abided since Lord Foul's Bane are clarified, characters develop, and old themes echo from the prior series. It breaks my heart to finish a story like this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Drop Dead, Gorgeous

Drop Dead, Gorgeous
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN 0-7582-1896-66

Weddings can be somewhat dull, but an assassination attempt is a rather extreme way to liven up tradition. That is just an occupational hazard when the groom is the Boss of the O.S.I. and the bride is one of their top cyborg agent's best friends. Fortunately, the attempt fails and provides a perfect opportunity for the Boss to send in a mole, Jenny Branch, the genius level, but otherwise ordinary girl who manages, or tries to, Caitlyn's (from Hello, Gorgeous) non-spying side of life. Posing as the prisoner of the double agent who had to try and kill the Boss, Kevin Stone, she is prepared to suffer some for the cause. She's not ready to fall in love with Kevin, but things tend to happen fast in the O.S.I. world. Surprises are around every corner, especially when it comes to the Boss.

This is a "gorgeously" fun series. Imagine the Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man, adjusted for inflation, and with a liberal dash of humor. Jenny's story proves that even a non super powered person can be more than capable, though. Yes, there are some traits to the books that could almost be called trademark MJD effects. However, you are buying the books because you like her and how she writes. So, getting what you expect in some form is a good thing. This is a good brain break read. You may not get any profound revelations or have to think a lot, but you will laugh.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Death of a Blogger
Danae M West
ISBN 9781593749095

More than a few residents of Stranded, Idaho had good reason to want Wendy Wallace dead. The blogger had been undercutting the newspaper's revenue and spilling all the small town secrets for the entire world wide web to view. When she winds up dead, the best friend of the prime suspect finds herself transformed from artist into sleuth, and hoping she does not turn up as the next victim. Effie also has to manage her friend Molly's campaign for mayor Molly sits in jail and somehow organize the annual Pumpkin Festival. She would also greatly appreciate it if people would shut up about her toadish ex, who is one of the people on her list of potential murderers. Who "dun" it? Was it the lecherous doctor? The late mayor's wife who is trying to make the job permanent? Could it be the snide lady who runs the newspaper, or the New Agey reverend? Effie is about to learn more about her neighbors than she wants to, even without reading Wendy's blog.

Unlike many fun, humorous mysteries, Death of a Blogger does not go over the top creating unrealistic humor. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun read, but you don't have to suspend disbelief to imagine it taking place. Small touches make it seem plausible, and you will laugh as well. I hope this is only Effie's first case, though it sounds like she'll have plenty to keep her busy, even without playing Trixie Belden, in the future.