A Seriously Great Davis Bunn Read

The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect by Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, Wow, Wow!

High finance and suspense is never dull when handled by a master. Davis Bunn knows his subject. I started chapter one with the intention of reading the book over a three or four-day period, then share my review. In less than 15 seconds, my schedule changed. I finished reading the book that same day.

Questions began immediately. Who is Esther Larsen? Why is her boss Jason Bremmer so controlling? Esther, the unlikely heroine is an investment banking financial risk analyst. The greedy, power driven men that she works for believe they have her compliance under control.
Known to be introverted and lonely, she is also underestimated. She is also gifted, intuitive and principled.

Trapped in the conspiracy of corrupt investment bankers, Esther makes a pivotal decision and takes a risk of her own. She entrusts a small group of influential friends with her fears of an impending international stock market crash caused by her very own banking institution. Her intent is to stop them before the first domino falls.

That’s the basic plotline of an incredibly well-written, enthralling financial suspense. It’s classic Davis Bunn, a plot that holds the reader’s attention to the very end, danger, intrigue and strong, defined characters. There must be a takedown, guided by an invisible hand that is more than coincidence.

With the escape of one of Esther’s adversaries, there’s the hint of more thrills and intrigue to come. It is quite refreshing to see how one person can stand for doing the right thing, for a cause that was bigger than her fear. She took a stand, and rallied a multitude.  I look forward to more of Esther.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Naturally I have a question or two before I go. Sometimes morality appears to be attacked by the sheer noise of human “rights” and emotions. Do not stress, do not find fault, do not upset the status quo. Just by writing the above, I’ve pushed a button or two. So, let me push a little harder. Question: Do you live with God’s principles of right and wrong? If yes, how about when His principles seem too old-fashioned or offensive to others? In those instances, do you go with the flow of the status quo, or do you stand?

Notice, I didn’t ask if you were a born from above Believer (or church goer, etc.), I’m asking where do you stand? A societal challenge that is showing up more frequently calls upon each of us to respond in some way.I think there’s more to this question than what I posted, but I’ll have to cover it more in-depth in the next post.

Yes, I posed the question here, but you really don’t have to answer me, after all I’m just asking.

Blessings to you and yours.

 

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Flash Point – Intense Suspense From Thomas Locke

Flash Point (Fault Lines #2)Flash Point by Thomas Locke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It takes less than 75 seconds to get caught up in a Thomas Locke novel. Okay, the numbers are totally nonscientific, but the point is, he is that good.

It helps to be a fan of techno thrillers when reading the latest installment of the Fault Lines series. It also doesn’t hurt to have read Double Edged and Trial Run, or to have the ability to suspend belief in fantastic, wondrous occurrences.

Combining science, finance and suspense in exciting ways, we continue with transit visits (dream walking while awake), shadowy government characters and heroes that rise out of obscurity to follow the leading of an inner voice. In the process, they help make the world a safer place.

This time, the unseen powers have pitted Lena Fennan, a lowly junior financial analyst, against Reese Clawson, the comeback villainess from Trial Run. Mysteriously released after spending 14 months in prison, Reese and her team once again seek to wreak havoc, this time on old adversaries. Reese is persistent, ambitious, and cold-hearted. I don’t like her, but I like how she’s written.

It is a continuation, so characters from the earlier stories make their appearance. It comes together with a series of explosive elements, and it is a totally rocking ride. Is there a spiritual element? Absolutely, but not in a traditional “Christian fiction” manner. Instead, you’re provoked to self-examination and, I think, even encouraged to believe that impossibly great things happen to people that embrace their destiny.

But there will be no spoilers here; just a few choice words to encourage you to read the book. I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

I received a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Now, before I go I want to explore something. The whole topic of DESTINY is to be savored, sampled and indulged. I make it sound delicious, because to me it is. I know that each individual on this planet was deployed here for a Kingdom of God purpose.

I also know that there are many reasons that individuals have for choosing to ignore that call. But if we ignore it, are we escaping, or missing out? And if we are missing out on fulfilling our destiny, is it possible that others in this world are missing out too? I have more to say on this topic, and I will. But for now, I’m just asking.

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Book Review: Shattered By Death

Shattered by Death (A Jo Oliver Thriller, #2)Shattered by Death by Catherine Finger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What do you do when your bitter divorce battle ends in death? If you’re Chief of Police Josie “Jo” Oliver, you look for the killer. Her fellow police officer husband Del was vindictive. I remember wanting him to be held accountable for his actions in the first book, but I was caught off guard with his murder. While Jo was not applauding the vengeful actions of her soon-to-be ex, she wasn’t the one that wanted him and his girlfriend to suffer a horrible death. The killer went to a lot of trouble to make it look like she did.

After being cleared of suspicion, the hunt is on to find the sadistic soul that shows no mercy for either the victims or Jo. Then a slippery eel of a criminal that Jo has arrested innumerable times is found dead in a similar manner. Next, a dirty cop, part of Jo’s own police force is found dead. And now, someone else in her orbit is missing.

A personal crisis can squeeze a lot of ugly thoughts and behaviors out of us. When everything in your life falls apart, how is it possible to have faith in the God you’re just learning to trust? Josie learns that trusting God is a choice. One moment she’s basking in His Presence, the next minute she is suspicious of Him and everyone around her, especially Nick Vitallero, the man that she’s afraid to love. It makes for a yo-yo effect in her emotions. One moment I’m rooting for Josie; the next minute I really don’t like her.

She loved Del, the man that abused her, but she’s afraid to love Nick, the one that cherishes her. And therein is the crux of her struggle; she is still convinced that she does not deserve to be loved. Her sense of unworthiness can only be answered as she fully receives the gift of God’s grace.

I imagine a number of people will read and feel the same types of emotions. I applaud the author for creating that sense of ambivalence – it draws Josie as a flawed character, someone relatable. Although I will buy the final version; this review stems from an advanced reader’s copy. Prayerfully the typos, grammatical errors and abrupt ending I saw were caught before final release. I’m committed to this series; I want to see what happens next.

I would love for the author to go all out in the next book. It’s time for Jo to grow up. I’d suggest therapy, but that’s probably a touchy subject with her at the moment. I would like to see more confidence, maturity, faith and consistent fight in Jo. I can relate to the sense of rejection and betrayal she feels. God can help her. Maybe she can start seeing herself the way God and Nick do. “Hello Beautiful.” Yeah, Josie Oliver, I’m talking to you. Tell yourself that, and believe it. I’m sure we’ll get our chance to see growth. After all, there are a number of unresolved issues, and this is only book number two.

I received a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Can you identify with Josie’s turmoil? Here is a woman that is trained to view the most horrendous of crime scenes. She has been witness to the ugliness of society. But when her life is touched by violence, heartbreak and tragedy, it is difficult for her to accept love. It’s that old belief that she is not worth loving, based upon the choices of someone else. Is that you?

Do you believe that you aren’t worth loving or knowing, because someone else said so? Yeah, that’s a heavy topic. We’ll save it for next time.

It is a thought worth considering, so I hope you do. As always, I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just asking.

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A Little More About Meddlin’ Madeline

This blog site is going through a metamorphosis. Basically I’ve begun to publish book reviews, write a post or two on the topic within the book that really touched my soul, and then find a few other items of interest that will inspire you to read the books I recommend.

I’m honored to be a part of the advanced reader team for Chautona Havig’s latest book, Sweet On You (Meddlin’ Madeline #1). The time is 1901, so the language, attitudes and technology is waaay behind the times for the modern 21st century man or woman. Nevertheless, the concept of loyalty is still relevant today. Friends are still one of our most valued resources, and keeping up appearances for the sake of reputation is as bothersome today as it was then. That said, I want to share a couple of really great pins from my Pinterest board. Created by the author, they contain two of my favorite quotes from the book. Take it away Madeline…

Sweet on You (15):

I love how she chooses not to compromise her character.

Sweet on You (16):
She’s only 19, and the pressure is already on.

 

Sweet on You (Meddlin' Madeline Mysteries Book 1) - Kindle edition by Chautona Havig. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.:

Click here to buy the book.

 

You can also see more great quotes and other books by Chautona Havig on my Pinterest board: Author: Chautona Havig.

Before I sign off, I have a few questions. First, what do you think they did for entertainment in 1901? Think bicycles, books, riding in a horse and carriage and rowing on the lake for starters. Courtship was a ritual. How about the food? They didn’t have Starbucks or takeout; even a nickel (jitney) had true value. It’s worth doing a little digging in the annals of history to find out more. Did you think I was going to give you the answers? No can do. I know a little, but not as much as I will.

I think posting recipes from different eras would be cool. I’ll start adding more info or interviews from the different authors I cover too. So much to do, and this is the time.  Oh, and now I’m talking to myself online, truly a mark of great intelligence.

I’m not looking for agreement on anything I said, although you’re welcome to comment. For now, I’m just asking for the sake of asking. I’ll do something to spice things up in the near future, so come back soon.

 

Introducing Meddlin’ Madeline Brown

Sweet on You (Meddlin' Madeline #1)Sweet on You by Chautona Havig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How far would you go to rescue a friend from heartache? It’s an interesting question, and for me it revealed the true heart of Madeline Brown. Oh, you don’t know her? Well, you simply have to read Sweet On You, the new release by Chautona Havig.

I’ll begin talking about the book by saying I like Madeline Brown. That’s the name of the caring, vivacious, outspoken 19-year-old female living in the traditions and mores of the turn of the 20th century.

It is the year 1901, a time when horse and carriages are still the primary mode of transportation. Electricity in the home is still a newfangled notion, while a new Brownie camera can be purchased for a dollar. The daughter of the newly elected mayor, Madeline is dutiful and compliant, while resistant to her well-meaning, ambitious aunt Louisa’s attempts to find her an eligible man to marry.

Who knew a typical social event held in a stifling, overheated parlor among the usual and new members of Rockland’s young socialites could change a life? It is the inconsistent behavior of one new face in the social circle that “proved a catalyst that spun Madeline’s life into an entirely new direction.” Most women are protective of friends when an unknown man comes along. Madeline is no exception as she watched Mr. Vernon Smythe take liberty to caress the face of her friend and hostess, Edith Merton, publicly.

First a lie, then additional anomalies in his behavior prove to be too much for her peace of mind. Madeline is observant, intrepid and resourceful; enamored with the skillful deductions of Sherlock Holmes. Smythe is showing marked attention to one of her dear friends, but something is not adding up. Her quest is not to find him guilty, but to satisfy her own mind that there are innocent explanations for his behavior.

Why Meddlin’ Madeline? At 19, Madeline does not suffer the foolishness of potential suitors. Think of her as the forerunner to Nancy Drew, Lois Lane and even Alexa Hartfield, one of Ms. Havig’s more contemporary Rockland citizens. Madeline has an insatiable desire to know and be understood.

My favorite kind of read is one that pricks my heart or raises a question even while I’m being entertained. Yay, Ms. Havig succeeded in that without even knowing me. I like this book and the imperfect people. I believe that the focus of this story is friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Madeline does not want Edith to be hurt or disappointed in love. She is willing to put her own reputation on the line in order to find out the truth. Is she meddling in the affairs of others? Yes.

As her adventures in sleuthing move her outside of her comfort zone, she becomes aware of the inequity of life on the seedy side of town. She speaks out against mistreatment of children, the proper Christian attitude and unseemly topics women should avoid; but refuses to be categorized as a suffragette or mere eligible maiden waiting for a husband. Her reputation suffers a bit. Her father is her champion, as she is his. Although a shady man is following her, there is no murder, mayhem, or violence. This is just a solid story about a young woman attempting to find answers for the love of her friends.

Madeline’s loyal devotion to her friends is returned. These characters embody love at all times, even in adversity as King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 17:17. While not present in the daily events, her dearest friend Amy is represented by her brother Russell Barnes, overseeing Madeline’s comfort at the behest of his traveling sibling. Is he the future romantic interest for Madeline? I certainly hope so.

But more so, I look forward to this young woman’s growth in character and in Christ. I believe that as she continues on, she will discover her own strengths, and maybe even love. I’m blessed to say that I received a complimentary advance reader team copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

I hope you read the book. It’s well worth the time. Remember the question at the top of this review…how far would you go to rescue a friend from heartache? You know me, I’m not telling you that you have to intervene in the life of a friend. I’m just asking if you would.

Stay tuned, I would like to explore that friend thing a little closer.

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A Davis Bunn Book Review (Yay!) and Questions

It is a consistent pleasure of mine to read and review a Davis Bunn novel. This one takes place in Paris, France. The time is 1923, and although it is springtime, it is also a place where healing and hope is vital. That’s the historical intro. Carry on.

The FragmentThe Fragment by Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite experiences when reading a Davis Bunn novel is the moment when I am compelled take a look at myself in the same light that I view the characters in the story. In The Fragment, the life of young Muriel Ross provides that moment. At twenty-three, Muriel is a researcher for the Smithsonian, specializing in late Roman and early Byzantine antiquities, and reliquaries.

At the request of United States Senator Tom Bryan, she has journeyed from Alexandria, Virginia to post WWI Paris. The senator requires assistance in the documentation of various antiques he is acquiring in the aftermath of the war. Her art history and photography experience qualifies her to properly document every purchase. And that’s the cover story.

The senator’s true purpose leads to Notre Dame Cathedral, where Muriel is tasked to photograph a reliquary containing a fragment of the True Cross. The same cross that the former Roman empress, Helena, mother of Constantine is alleged to have found on her pilgrimage in the early years of the common era. Helena’s story is told in Davis Bunn’s earlier release, The Pilgrim. Similar to Helena, Muriel does not recognize the powerful affect her transformation has on those around her.

Safely behind the lens of her camera, Muriel is astute, insightful and able to see the power of human emotion like joy, sorrow, and hope. She uses that same eye in her observations of the world, and most of the people she meets. But the senator sees potential for greatness in Muriel, a potential she has yet to recognize in herself.

A single affirmative to Bryan’s invitation to do and be more leads to her swift outward transformation from dowdy to darling, just as a beautiful butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. The analogy is appropriate, given her interpersonal conflicts as the adventure commences. While confining, the chrysalis kept her hidden as the transformation ensues. Emergence requires growing into the transformation, being what you have now become.

She has entered into the dangerous world of shadows, where others view her differently than how she still sees herself inside. Muriel is no longer in a chrysalis. The new adventure requires that she keep moving forward, to step fully into her change. She has wings now, but it’s her choice whether or not she will fly.

And that’s the wonderful moment that I recognized is true for me. I recognized my own requirement to do the same. Accept the invitations that come from the people God puts in my path to help me to emerge, they are fragments of His love.

Yes, the story is about a pursuit of a fragment of the cross of Christ. The expression of love that took place on that Cross provides opportunities that could only come through a deliberate sacrifice. As they travel from Paris to Constantinople (Turkey), the opposition, conspiracies, touch of heartbreak, danger and betrayal are inevitable; but there is always victory in the end.

The series pilot of a hit television program sizzles with the promise that lesser programs lack. The experience has the audience demanding more. Likewise, Muriel Ross gives off that same sizzle. She’s the likable all American Nancy Drew, driven and intrepid Lois Lane, reminiscent of Storm Syrell, yet with that unique touch of more that says Muriel won’t be put in the corner either.

I think she’s a comeback heroine, as in “I like the pilot, let’s have more of the show,” or in this case a sequel or two by all means. She has more character to develop and ability to grow. I recommend this book for the story, and for the fragment that will prayerfully pierce your own limitations and allow you to emerge as well.

I received a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Romans 12 tells us to cease identifying His Kingdom with the world. We cannot conform to the mindsets of this generation and be transformed. Transformation come from God, by renewing our minds (sight, perception, and behavior) to His word. Now, having emerged to my own recognition for forward flight, I’m curious about you. Is God calling you to breakout of your chrysalis perception of yourself to take on His thoughts about you?

For that matter, are you willing to challenge yourself to find out just how much of your past you hide behind? It seems that like the time period of the book, today’s world seriously needs people of faith and conviction to emerge from the shadows of this world’s ways.We need to be the ones to help others, yet it takes people of vision to help us emerge too. That’s a call for humility. Remember, it’s our choice to spread our wings and fly. Will you step into your time of greatness? Will you choose to fly? This is the season to do it. Of course, I’m not telling you that you have to. I’m just asking if you will.

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One Exhortation Regarding Broken People

If you’ve read my review on the new release, Cleansed By Death by Catherine Finger, then you know the book deals with domestic abuse. But it also points to the abuse and devaluation of human life as shown through the actions of a serial killer. Here’s what I want to say.

Citing the stats and pontificating on the issues of abuse leads to some interesting dialogue. But we’ll do that in another post on another day on my site. Confrontation with self is tough, especially when others have an expectation that you need to be strong. What is confrontation with self? It’s  y-o-u choosing to face the truth about your life and present conditions. It’s questioning your beliefs that you deserve nothing better, and then daring to reach out for it anyway. That requires working through a lot of pain.

Any individual that is broken down in their mind is prey to the predators and bullies that want to exploit that weakness. Think of a broken mind as an ugly, festering wound. Like flies to a corpse, darkness is attracted to that kind of emotional pain. The fallacy is in thinking that we can fix ourselves, we can defend ourselves, that if we just focus and fight hard enough, we can be our own answer. No, we can’t. We can do something, but we can’t fix our own brokenness. It takes Jesus to do that. And He does it by His Spirit, and through people.

If you are involved in such a situation, it’s easy to feel undeserving of better. But the power of God’s love is that it is specifically designated for the undeserving.

I never know who reads what I write, but I want to take a moment to say this to the peeps that are NOT experiencing abuse, or hatred or ugly in your own life. I guarantee that you come into daily contact with someone that is.

I exhort you to be kind to the people around you. Especially the surly barista, the ticked off co-worker, the whining child. Smile, share a kind word. Stop making their issues about you. And in cases where you have influence to make a difference, talk to God and find out what He wants to do for them THROUGH YOU.

A wise man once said, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

Am I trying to tell you how to treat others? Nope, I’m just asking you to consider what I’m saying. Thanks for stopping by. I love you.