Monday, July 14, 2014

Kaitty Lorenz

Kaitty Lorenz: New Life
ISBN: 978-1-61379-854-6
160 pages
Kaitty Lorenz: Under Siege
ISBN: 978-1-62509-950-1
197 pages
Mysti Rolenc
Xulon Press
Maitland, Florida
$ 14.99

Kaitty Lorenz has not had an easy life but she has learned that persistence, prayer, and faith can help you overcome almost anything. 

In Kaitty Lorenz: New Life,  as a new wife, Kaity is reassured that Edmund is the love of her life as the two grow with each other and their Christian faith.   However, Kaitty is quickly learning about other people and that they do not always feel the same as she does.   As with many young people, she has strong beliefs and has difficulty accepting others who do not believe as she does.

Kaitty is challenged though by a visit from an old friend, Anna and is extremely bothered by her lack of faith in God.   She wishes her friend had the same faith relationship that she has and discusses this with her husband.

However, when life challenges Kaitty and Edmund, she begins to have more questions with few answers finding that secrets have a way of becoming a wedge in their relationship.

With Kaitty Lorenz: Under Siege, Edmund is deployed while Kaity has difficulty with her past coming back to haunt her. 

Both of these Kaitty Lorenz books are Christian romances by the young author, Mysti Rolenc who was just fourteen years old when she wrote the first book.   As she has grown, her stories of Kaitty have also grown as she has more real-life experiences.

Mysti Rolenc began writing the Kaitty Lorenz series when she was fourteen-years-old.  As a young gifted writer she shows immense promise as she has more real-life experiences.  For someone this young, her writing is outstanding.  

As she develops more into a writer, I am certain that her characters will develop more depth with readers growing to love her characters.  Her stories are well-planned, well-organized, and well-written.   She needs to work more on creating real people with faults and gifts so that the readers can better visualize and know these fictional creations. 

I look forward to more from this young, gifted writer Mysti Rolenc.

The Eye of God

The Eye of God
A Sigma Force Novel
James Rollins
Harper Collins Publisher
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-178567-2
$ 9.99
530 pages

A research satellite crashes into a remote area of Mongolia, a comet on a collision path with the east coast of the United States, a package from the Vatican with a skull and a book covered in human skin, what do all of these have in common?  James Rollins' newest book, The Eye of God.

With the world possibly ending in the next four days, Sigma Force is catapulted into danger combining Attila the Hun's death to Christianity to a comet wiping out the planet into the fast-paced action adventure of the Sigma Force team in this newest James Rollins' novel.

With characters established in previous novels, this ninth book in the series is riveting and requires the reader to be fairly well-acquainted with Painter Crowe, Vigor, Rachel, Monk, Kat, Seichan, and Gray along with the new members of Jada and Duncan who form this extreme team saving the world  yet again.

What makes this novel fascinating is the blend between reality and fiction.  Mr. Rollins phenomenally takes a real event or a scientific discovery and twists it into a tale where it is difficult to separate the two.  Fortunately, the author's comments at the conclusion of the adventure are necessary for the reader to understand that yes, this story in some form could happen.

In much the same style and theme as Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code,  The Eye of God moves at a breath-taking pace bouncing from one character and location to another intermixing reality and fiction into a story of possibilities.  

Added to the human element of this story is Rachel's relationship with her uncle who works at The Vatican as well as Seichan's discovery of her mother and the rebuilding of their relationships with a theme throughout the story of to live each day as if it were your last, or in the case of this book, your last four days on the planet.

The blend of technology along with history is a James Rollins' strength that makes his books appealing to readers while both educating and entertaining.  

Do not read The Eye of God if you have not read at least two of the previous novels.  The characters which are developed in the previous novels are crucial in understanding this Sigma Force adventure.

Unquestionably, The Eye of God is a riveting read.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oh, Bury Me Not

Oh, Bury Me Not
A Conan Flagg Mystery
M. K. Wren
Untreed Reads Publishing
Previously Published in 1976
Martha K. Renfroe
$ 5.99
192 pages

"Desperation makes strange alliances."

Most of us hope to never feel the need to hire a private investigator.  If you know someone who has worked as a P. I., would you hire someone you know or a stranger?   Who would be the best?

George McFalls has made this decision.  His family has been feuding with a neighboring family and he wants it to end.   With both families living in the ranching areas of Oregon, cattle is dependent on a plentiful water supply as well as a trained staff.  No one has the time or the patience for this feud where cattle is poisoned and fences cut.

George contacts his old-time friend and private investigator, Conan Flagg to hopefully stop the feud.   The local law enforcement seems disinterested.  George even arranges to fly Conan to the ranch.

However, George is killed when the reservoir was dynamited.

Being Conan spent his childhood is the area, he agrees to stay and attempts to stop the feud, hopefully without anyone else dying. 

Conan also quickly learns the there are many secrets which complicate the feud.  The sons, the McFalls have been in love with the daughters of the other. Already though, one daughter is dead and with George, that is a one-to-one death on both sides.  While questioning is some of the siblings actually have any cares for each other, this Romeo and Juliet does seems a little contrived.

Considering the time when this story was written, "Oh, Bury Me Not" is true to the time period of the 1970s without cellphones and with many people smoking cigarettes.  That just the way of the 1970s.

I enjoyed the backwoods conversational dialect even if I questioned whether it was authentic for Oregon in the 1970s.   The quaintness and "down home" quality created a warmth surrounding the coldness of some of the characters and their actions.

Oh, Bury Me Not is the third book in the Conan Flagg Mystery series by M. K. Wren whose real name is Martha K. Renfroe with Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat and A Multitude of Sins  being the first books in this series.  Of the three books, this one is unquestionably my favorite having a well-organized and logical story sequence.

This cozy series of books featuring bookstore owner, private investigator extraordinaire Conan Flagg are quick reads with well-planned stories from a time not so long ago when life was a little simpler.

It is wonderful that Untreed Reads is allowing readers to discover these hidden gems.

The Bloodletter's Daughter

The Bloodletter's Daughter
A Novel of Old Bohemia
Linda Lafferty
Amazon Publishing
ISBN: 9781612184654
Trade Paperback
$ 14.95
490 pages

When the true story of insanity by an illegitimate child of a Hapsburg caused his father to lose his crown to his brother, Linda Lafferty retells the tale in a haunting page-tuner, The Bloodletter's Daughter.
The Hapsburg dynasty was legendary as rulers of The Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Sicily, Naples, Spain, Portugal, Hungary-Croatia, Bohemia which became the Czech Republic, and numerous principalities controlling much of Europe.
Whatever power the family possessed also created a situation for scandal.  With a male heir being a concern for all rulers in early 1600s, an illegitimate son could be just as valued as one born into royalty.   However, no one at that time had any idea about how to handle a mental illness.
King Rudolf II had only one child, Don Julius who was the illegitimate son of his mistress.  With his brother, Maximillian threatening a take over, Rudolf felt that it was important for his son to possibly be his heir.  However, the spoiled son probably suffered from schizophrenia and threatened the citizens of Vienna.
A priest suggested a possible solution to send the son to Prague and that with the assistance of the doctor, the son could be healed with the priest's guidance.   By this time, Rudolf was beginning to feel desperate so he agreed with the condition that the son would not be released of his blood without his father's direct permission.
As the out-of-control man-boy prince entered the Bohemian city of  Cesky Krumlov, the entire town was fearful.   When a local barber who also was a bloodletter became involved, the prince began to leave world of insanity behind.   This was a direct result of the bloodletter's daughter and her influence on the prince.   
The story centers on Marketa and her challenges of the time period.  Her mother runs a bath house where she is expected to work bathing men and to entice them while her heart is to follow her father's path as a bloodletter releasing the poisons from the body.  Unfortunately in this time period, Marketa would never be able to pursue this male profession.
Lafferty bases her tale on the real events smoothly building upon the relationships between Marketa and those surrounding her and turns the facts into a gripping tale.  With the smoothness of an experienced storyteller, The Bloodletter's Daughter, this is a tale that inhabits your every thought long after the last page.

The Weight of Blood

The Weight of Blood
Laura McHugh
Spiegel and Grau
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-9129-9520-6
July 3, 2014
$ 26.00
322 pages

"You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family.  There's no forsaking kin.  But you can't help when kin forsakes you or when stranger has come to be family."

Being a sixteen-year-old, Lucy Dane and wants a job.   Currently she is working in her uncle's store doing whatever job he assigns her. Something just doesn't seem quite right to her though.  

Added to that is the coincidence of Lucy's mother disappearing years ago.   Could her mother have been killed?  As she is maturing, she is looking more like her mother and for many people in this small Ozark Mountain town, that is a problem.  It seems like the more questions Lucy asks, there are no answers but just more questions as to what happened to Lila. 

Lucy's father, Carl spends much of his time working hard to keep a roof over their heads.  He does not seem to trust his brother, Crete.  Why? 

Lucy is assigned the job of cleaning out an abandoned trailer owned by her uncle.  In it she finds a necklace which belonged to Cheri, a mentally challenged close friend of her, who also disappeared. What does her uncle know about Cheri?  Why did her uncle have the trailer removed and destroyed?Is he hiding something that he does not want her to know? Are there family secrets?

The Weight of Blood is a mystery with the reader wondering if the protagonist should solve the crime or to completely avoid the situation.   Doing the right thing does not seem to always bring the right results. 

As Lucy gets closer to the truth of the past, the reader walks the path along with her as each small discovery leads to a conclusion that she hopes is wrong.

"Now it ain't my place to tell you what to think of your own family, but you've got to look past what you've always been taught and listen to what you know in your bones to be true."

The characters are realistic in this gripping tale by Laura McHugh who builds her story on her own life growing up in small towns in Iowa and also living in the Ozark Mountain region of Missouri.  As the story alternates from Lucy to Lila the perspectives are fascinating as people are viewed through the different lenses.  The Weight of Blood is a haunting debut novel.

This is a story that I felt compelled to read after the first chapter but at the same time, fearful of what is unveiled on each page as the story progresses.   As Lucy's mother was called "bewitched", The Weight of Blood  is a bewitching tale of the cost of truth.