Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Frame 232 and Author Interview

Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms
Storyline - When Sheila Baker buried her mother, she did not expect to be left with answers to an historic mystery. But she was. A tape, taken on November 22, 1963, reveals that not only was her mother at the Kennedy Assassination and is the Babushka Lady, but confirms what conspiracy theorists have been saying for years. There was a second shooter. Not knowing what to do with the tape and fearing the government, Sheila contacts a man, Jason Hammond, who has made himself famous for uncovering historic mysteries but is also struggling with ghosts of his own. As they set out to discover who the man was and what was behind it, they must also out run a killer set on their trail to solve one of the biggest mysteries of the century.

Author - Wil Mara

Publisher - Tyndale Publishers

Age Group - 16 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* The assassination was a bit grizzly in description. A pretty violent, and creepy, man is after them. A hooker is mentioned briefly. The two main character, Sheila and Hammond, won't let fear or the people after them stop them from finding the truth.

Personal Opinion - This novel is extremely factual on the assassination as well as in depth in the mystery and characters. Each character was developed to realism with believable backstories and feelings. Not knowing much of the Kennedy Assassination, I learned a lot more than I knew before. One particular part of the novel was an action scene were there was two or three paragraphs from one person's perspective before jumping to another (the bad guy's) perspective. This was a new technique for me and it made the action that much more exciting. But, this book had at least one pit fall that made it difficult for me which was how detailed the backstories got. Not that it was a bad thing but the story was kept from moving forward until some backstory of a character or the historical events, which would sometimes take several pages. This made it read slowly to me and the mystery was only being touched shortly before the halfway point of the novel. I am hope that, since this was the first book about Jason Hammond and his historic mysteries that the backstories won't be as detailed in the future or, at least, written in a more interesting way. I will probably give the next book a try.

Video -
Author Interview -
I would like to thank Tyndale for providing this interview with Wil Mara and giving some interesting background to this novel.

1. What inspired you to write a novel around the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? I have always been fascinated by the assassination, which, obviously, was one of the most pivotal and enigmatic events in American history. And when I heard about the ‘Babushka Lady’---one of the few people in Dealey Plaza that day who remains unidentified---and the possibility that she may have filmed the shooting, an idea came to mind that seemed too good to disregard.

2. How much research did you do for this project? An unbelievable amount. I spoke with assassination experts, read literally hundreds and books and articles, pored over countless name it. My goal was to write a fictional story around the established facts rather than alter the facts to serve the story. Thus, I had to know pretty much everything. I ended up loading my brain with more data than I really needed...but I didn’t mind.

3. How has your research informed your own theory of what happened during the JFK assassination? My personal theory, prosaic though it may be, is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. If you want to be convinced, get your hands on a fairly rare book called Lee, which was written by his brother, Robert. Once you understand the mind behind the eyes that looked through that rifle scope, you will be convinced.

4. What role does your Christian faith play in your writing? It is embedded throughout this story, in a fashion both subtle and direct. I was raised Christian and have been a firm believer all my life, so my belief system is threaded into just about everything I do. Anyone who carries even the most fundamental faith will recognize the important elements in this book. The most obvious example belongs to the main character, who recurs throughout the series---he is suffering a deep crisis of faith, and the core of that crisis should be familiar to even the most devout follower. We are human, plain and simple, and as such we experience doubts about the Lord in our lifetime. So it won’t be hard for anyone to connect with him.

5. What lessons do you hope readers will come away with after reading Frame 232?
I can’t interpret the story for anyone but myself, but there are a few themes at work that strike me as particularly valuable. One is that God’s path is always the right one in the end, even if it seems unimaginably rocky at times. Another is that tragedies occur in every life, that these misfortunes usually happen for a reason, and that the reason may not be apparent for some time. A third is that we need to treasure our loved ones for as long as we have them around, because they can disappear in a heartbeat. Also, it’s important to keep getting out of bed and moving forward every day because life is a gift, and God does not favor those who waste their time and talents. If you are blessed with ability and resources (and Jason has plenty of both), you should use them.

6. What do you have planned for your future Jason Hammond books?
Jason will be tackling other high-profile (and, later on, some lesser-known) mysteries as the series progresses. Readers will also get to follow his ongoing struggles as he rebuilds his faith and gradually assembles his ‘new normal.’ Plus, we’ll further explore the lives of those around him (including a budding love interest, who will appear in the second book). It’s also worth noting that not every book in the series will follow a strictly linear chronology. The one I’m writing now, for example(The Nevada Testament) begins about six weeks after Frame 232. The one I’ll write after that, however (Gardner Island), occurs before the events of Frame

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the Tyndale Blogger Network.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Helium-3 Novel: Crescent

"She Was Born to Kill,
Born to Die."
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
Storyline - After a battle, Crater takes a crowhopper hostage. No one in Moontown is happy with the crowhopper, Crescent, but, as she learns more about the people, she begins to change her outlook on them. But, when someone is murdered, Crescent is accused and Crater has to find the truth to save her. Meanwhile, Maria is making great accomplishments in her family's business. But when an attempted kidnapping takes place, she will have to run for her life.

Author - Homer Hickam, Jr.

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Age Group - 14 or 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Spurting blood at one point. Crater puts himself on the line multiple occasions to help others. Crescent is only seen as a "creature" by most people but we get to see she is more than that. Issues of how others should be treated come up.

Personal Opinion - The second novel in the Helium-3 series was fun. I engaged with it more than the first but there were a few occasions where wording of sentences irritated me. But, mostly, it was fun. The action sequences were well described and the characters were more interesting. But Crater seemed angrier than the first book which just seemed out of character for him, a little too much change from book 1. One of the most interesting parts was here all the moon locations. That gave it the creativity of a fantasy novel as well as a historical one because the moon does have names dedicated to places. Getting a little background on historical moon landings was sweet too, especially for someone like me who knows little of the moon but find it interesting. Call me strange, but I love the Author Notes at the end of the novels. I would read about events or things on the moon and find out in the Author Note that they are based on more reality than I thought. In the end, it was a fun read with a pretty well developed story. Looking forward to book 3.
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Other Reviews for this Author - Helium-3 Novel: Crater, Book 1- Review

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Conspiracy 365: September - December

"The Countdown Continues...
12 Books. 12 Months."

Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
Storyline - Four months to go and Cal is still struggling to decipher the clues to the Ormond Singularity. But he and his friends have a plan. As they work to discover the truth, they have to out wit and out run rich criminals who want them dead and the police hunting him for a crime he did not commit. A deep held family secret is also discovered.  Cal's world is about to turn upside down but will he be able to discover the truth and clear his name before the midnight of December 31st?

Author - Gabrielle Lord

Publisher - Kane Miller: EDC Publishing

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Cal is willing to put his life on the line to protect his family and discover the truth. Cal's friends also make sacrifices to help their friend and put themselves in jeopardy. Multiple times, Cal and his friends have to lie to protect themselves and Cal steals from and spies on the bad guys. People want to kill him, and try several times to do so.

Personal Opinion - Done! This is perhaps the longest series I have ever read. The action, adventure, the mystery with tieing in history, and the characters and storylines for each book was great. It was also fun to read a book that took place in another country because I found it funny how in April as Cal kept saying it was getting colder I was thinking it should be getting warmer. :) Unfortunately, I felt this series ended with with a Deus ex Machina ending and might have been a bit rushed. Not that it wasn't an interesting twist but there wasn't enough build up to it in the series. And I wish there had been a longer epilogue. Cal's stealing and lying also bugged me but I could see why it happened (not that I approve). It was a fun adventure though to read it and the author did a great job of creating characters that came alive and stories that made you want to read the next book for 12 books

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Other Reviews for this Author - Conspiracy 365: January - April
                                                    Conspiracy 365: May - August

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