Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stars Collide by Janice Thompson

book cover

Stars Collide
by Janice Thompson

ISBN-13: 9780800733452
Trade Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Jan. 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don't just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom--they are also head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat's grandmother, an aging Hollywood starlet with a penchant for wearing elaborate evening gowns from Golden Age movies, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of their control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids tomorrow? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed in-laws?

From the sound stage to a Beverly Hills mansion to the gleaming Pacific Ocean, Stars Collide takes readers on a roller-coaster tour of Tinseltown, packing both comedic punch and tender emotion.

My Review:
Stars Collide is a humorous Christian romance with a serious side. The characters get themselves into a very funny situation, but the book also deals with Kat's grandma's Alzheimer's disease, the pressures others can put on you, and Kat's fear that Scott will abandon her like her father did.

The characters were sweet, funny, and engaging. The details about Hollywood life brought the story alive in my imagination. I liked that a character pointed out that the real love story begins after most romance movies and novels I was a little disappointed that this novel ended were romance novels typically do. Ah, well!

The main characters were Christians, and their faith affected their everyday life (so there were some brief prayers). There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this well-written, humorous romance.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"You want me to kiss him...where?" I stared at my director, hoping I'd somehow misunderstood his last-minute change to the script.

A look of exasperation crossed his face. "On the lips, of course. This is a family show, Kat. Remember?"

"Of course." I nodded and fought to keep my breathing even as I rephrased my question. "I mean, where in the scene? Beginning, middle, or end? What's my cue?"

"Oh." A look of relief passed over Mark Wilson's face as he sank into his director's chair. "At the very end of the scene. Right after Jack says, 'This has been a long time coming, Angie.' At that point I want the two of you to kiss. On the lips. In a passionate but family-friendly way. PG, not PG-13."

Read more using Google Preview.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Solemn Oath by Hannah Alexander

book cover

Solemn Oath
by Hannah Alexander

ISBN: 0-7642-2348-8
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: 2000

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
"The health of my patient will be my first consideration." So vowed Dr. Lukas Bower upon entering the medical profession. And by refusing to betray this solemn oath in the face of hospital politics, life has suddenly become very difficult for the young interm director of Knolls Community Hospital emergency room. As Lukas fends off an unjust federal investigation, the embittered hospital board chairman threatens to merge Knolls Community with a profitable but morally bankrupt healthcare conglomerate.

The small-town serenity of Knolls is suddenly broken by a spate of suspicious fires, and the new influx of patients strains the resources of the already overworked emergency room. With the increased responsibilities, Lukas finds himself working more and more with Dr. Mercy Richmand. When his feelings for her turn into more than he expected, Lukas faces the most difficult decision of his life.

My Review:
Solemn Oath is a Christian medical suspense novel with some romance. This novel is the second in a series, but I could follow the story without having read the first book. However, it did spoil events in the first novel, so I'd recommend starting with Sacred Trust.

The characters were interesting, complex, and acted realistically. The various characters dealt with real issues (like "office" politics, child abuse, alcoholism, the damage caused by gossip, children dealing with their parent's broken marriages, and more).

The details about small town life in the Ozarks were wonderfully accurate and brought the story alive in my imagination. The details about the job were plentiful as the action never seemed to stop in the ER. The technical terms were rarely explained, but I could still follow what was going on and the medical details didn't slow the fast pace.

Some of the main characters were Christians. The Christian characters' faith affected their decisions and everyday life, and the Christian elements felt like a natural part of the story. I also felt Christianity was portrayed in a realistic manner, from the struggles the Christians had to the reactions of the non-Christians. If you like faith as a major part of the novels you read, then you'll probably enjoy this novel.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this suspenseful, realistic novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from the prologue
Leonardo the lion lay cold in his cage. Splotches of rusty red-brown stained his coat around a bullet wound in his right side, and a grown man's sobs echoed against the concrete wall that protected Leonardo's inner sanctum.

Cowboy Casey knelt beside his pet, forehead pressed against the stained velvet shoulder, tears dampening the tawny fur. "My friend...why?"

With callused fingers, he tested the stiffness of the lion's well-fed ribs. Rigor mortis. The killer had probably struck before dawn, when Cowboy was taking his autumn load of exotic animals to the station for shipment.

"Who would do a thing like this? What kind of a cruel..." Cowboy knew the answer before the question completely formed in his mind. The muscles in his jaw hardened, and his teeth ground together as he fought against a sudden, overwhelming rage. "Berring!"

He exhaled an angry gush of air and jerked to his feet to pace across the cage. Of course Berring. Two weeks after that madman had moved into the neighboring farm this summer, a gaping hole mysteriously appeared in the bison pasture fence. Thank goodness for three brave buddies with herding skills.

Berring had also called the sheriff out twice in the past month with some wild-haired story about Leonardo roaming the woods at night. The sheriff knew better, and so did every farmer in Knolls County. Cowboy had never put his neighbors in danger of the powerful animals he raised on his ranch.

He pivoted and walked across to hunker down once more beside the big cat. Leonardo had been his most faithful pal for the past four years, in spite of the roughhousing that had gone too far a couple of times and sent him to the ER a few times. It wasn't Leonardo's fault he had jaws with the impact of a backhoe.

And it wasn't his fault a crazy man had been turned loose with a gun.

"He won't get away with it, my friend," Cowboy said as he grabbed up his hat and strode from the cage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

book cover

Fatal Judgment
by Irene Hannon

ISBN-13: 978-0800734565
Trade Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: January 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward Liz haven't warmed in the five years since she lost her husband--and Jake's best friend--to possible suicide. How can Jake be expected to care for the coldhearted workaholic who drove his friend to despair?

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, his feelings slowly start to change. When it becomes clear that an unknown enemy wants her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in mortal danger.

My Review:
Fatal Judgment is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Since the main characters were more concerned about each other than the threat for most of the story, I'd call this more a romance than suspense. The physical-danger suspense was low during the first two-thirds of the book because the "good guys" weren't sure Liz was actually in any danger until then. However, the suspense did spike at the climax.

The characters were complex and dealt with some realistic relationship issues. The details about the setting and the jobs were excellent and brought the story alive in my imagination.

The main characters occasionally prayed (the "help, God!" variety). They shared a brief discussion about God (why bad things happen), and several characters urged Jake to start going back to church.

There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style bad language. There was no sex. The murder scene was not described with gory detail. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.

Note: I started reading Hannon's novel Against All Odds right after finishing this one. The two novels have many similarities.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

book cover

The Mystery of the Blue Train
by Agatha Christie

228 pages
First Released: 1928

Source: Checked out from the library.

Book Description from Amazon:
All aboard Le Train Bleu, bound for the Riviera. Among the passengers is heiress Ruth Kettering, bailing out of a doomed marriage and en route to see her former lover. Pity she's found murdered in her luxury compartment. All Hercule Poirot has for clues is the victim's secret life, and what unfolds is positively scandalous.

My Review:
The Mystery of the Blue Train is a puzzle-type "historical" mystery. The mystery was clever, but enough clues were given that the reader can figure out whodunit. In fact, I felt like this mystery was more solvable than most Poirot mysteries: each new clue made the picture fall more into place for me and only one of the false clues threw me. However, some loose ends (created by clues meant to throw the reader off) were never explained.

Some of the characters were complex, but we didn't get to know any of them very well. The details about the setting and time period were sketchy, as is typical of Agatha Christie. There was a very minor amount of bad language. There was no sex or gore. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery to fans of Agatha Christie.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway for The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal. Including Twitter entries, we had 168 people enter. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Alyce (from At Home With Books)

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of this book from your favorite bookstore or see if they have it at your local library.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In My Father's House by Bodie Thoene

book cover

In My Father's House
by Bodie Thoene

ISBN: 1-55661-189-7
Trade Paperback: 430 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: June 1992

Source: Checked out of the library.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
In the Trenches of France, They Had Fought the War to End All Wars. But the Real Battle Had Just Begun.

From every conceivable culture, men joined together in foxholes to fight World War I--the Great War that would bring the world together in peace, for all time. Jews and Irish, blacks and whites fought side by side and formed bonds of friendship that would tie them together forever. Max Meyer, a Jew from New York; Ellis Warne, an Irish doctor's son from Ohio; Birch Tucker, an Arkansas farm boy; and Jefferson Canfield, the son of black sharecroppers.

Their families rejoiced as one when their sons and brothers and fianc├ęs came home from the battlefield. But even as the Armistice is declared, another battle rages on the undercurrents of racial, religious and cultural intolerance threaten the very foundations of the nation. Will there be any freedom any peace on the home front?

My Review:
In My Father's House is a historical set in 1918 in France and in America at the end of WWI and right after it. The historical details woven into the story brought alive the Western Front and the social turmoil occurring in America as the soldiers returned.

The characters were complex and realistic, and they dealt with realistic troubles (which came by the handful!). While the story wasn't depressing in the way of some I've been reading, it does have a lot of bad things happen to nice people (when they stand up for what's right) and the story ends on a sad note.

The suspense was high throughout the story, and it was created by deadly physical danger to the "good guy" characters and by relationship tensions (both romantic and social). Though the story wasn't fast-paced, this was mainly due to the large number of characters. The author switched between them to show how the different social groups (blacks, Jews, immigrants, etc.) were effected by the social turmoil of the time. Sometimes the author's transitions were abrupt; we'd leave one set of characters in a situation where things looked like they're getting worse, and when we come back to them, we discover that things went fine after that...until now.

Though we have Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in the story, only one character ("Preacher") seemed to view his religion as more than a social thing. Preacher (who was black) did give a couple short sermons, but they were in context of the oppression the blacks were facing. They flowed naturally in the story and weren't sermons directed toward the reader.

I don't recall any bad language. There was no explicit sex. I'd recommend this novel to those who like historical fiction.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read the first 5 pages of chapter one.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dreaming of Books Giveaway: The False Princess

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

book coverAs a part of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, I'm giving away my copy of The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal. It's a paperback Advanced Reader Copy of the book.

Read my review to learn more about this young adult fantasy novel.

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for THE FALSE PRINCESS by Eilis O'Neal."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.

This giveaway ends Jan. 17, 2011 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on Jan. 18, 2011 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop:

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

book cover

The False Princess
by Eilis O'Neal

ISBN-13: 978-1606840795
Hardback: 336 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Released: January 25, 2011

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Publisher's Website:
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

My Review:
The False Princess is a young adult fantasy novel with some mystery and romance. The story-style reminded me of Shannon Hale's books, which I also enjoy. This novel was a fast read that kept my interest, and I finished it in one day.

The characters were complex and engaging. The suspense was created by some physical danger and several relationship troubles. The world-building was very good and based in the typical "vaguely medieval" fantasy/fairytale setting. Some of the plot events will feel familiar to most readers, but the story did have some unique and interesting twists.

There was no bad language and no sex. Overall, I highly recommend this engaging and well-written novel and I look forward to O'Neal's future novels.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
(Note: I was unable to check it against a final version)

The day they came to tell me, I was in one of the gardens with Kiernan, trying to decipher a three-hundred-year-old map of the palace grounds. We were sitting on a stone bench, the delicate roll of fabric lying between us. Instead of looking toward the gardens, however, we faced the gray wall that separated the northern-most edge of the palace grounds from the streets of Vivaskari.

"It can't be there," he was saying. "Look, Nalia."

I glanced up from the map to follow Kiernan's finger, which pointed at the expanse of wall in front of us. Once he had my attention, he jumped up from his seat on the bench and strode toward the wall. He rapped his fist against it, then winced comically. I rolled my eyes. "See?" he said. "There's nothing here. Are you sure, oh princess wise and stubborn, that you're reading it properly?"

I sighed in frustration. He was right. We had examined this section of wall for over an hour, searching for any cracks or indentations that might indicate a secret door, all without success.

"We're where it says we should be. At least, where the part that I can read says we should be." I tugged a hand through my hair, pulling a few of the dark brown strands loose so that they trailed against my neck. "It's those markings along the bottom. I've looked and I've looked, but I can't find anything that even comes close to them. They aren't any modern language I know, or even any ancient one." Which was irritating, since I knew four modern languages well, bits and pieces of six others, and enough of five ancient tongues to at least recognize them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

book cover

Princess of the Midnight Ball
by Jessica Day George

ISBN-13: 978-1-59990-322-4
Hardback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Released: January 20, 2009

Source: Checked out from my local library.

Book Description from Goodreads (modified):
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well.

What they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all--true love.

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew

My Review:
Princess of the Midnight Ball is a young adult fantasy novel. It's a re-telling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." The story was set in a real-world type setting (including the Catholic church and pistols), but at the same time contained a magical cloak, white witch, evil magician, etc. While the characters were predictable and the romance rather superficial, the good characters charmed me and the evil characters did have a bit of complexity. I never doubted that the princesses would be saved in the end, but that's the type of story I was looking for at the moment.

(The novel I had scheduled to review today had various good guys murdered, tortured, and lose hope. The bad guys won in the end. I needed something upbeat after reading that, and Princess of the Midnight Ball filled that desire well.)

There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this charming fairy tale retelling.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Case of the Missing Mountain by Kim Jones

book cover

The Case of the Missing Mountain
by Kim Jones

ISBN-13: 978-0-89051-593-8
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Master Books
Released: Jan. 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Publisher's Website (modified):
What caused a big chunk of Mount St. Helen's to vanish? It’s your job to find out how it disappeared!

Kids, team up with rangers Jack and Jen to solve The Case of the Missing Mountain. Complete the puzzles, master the mazes, and secure the secret codes. Solve all eight mysteries to become an official Mystery Ranger. Your personalized badge & certificate are waiting!

This 80-page children's activity book talks about the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 and related events. It also explains how those events help us to understand how Noah's Flood reshaped the world.

Author Kim Jones formerly served as a guide at Mount St. Helen’s Seven Wonders Museum. She worked with many other experts to compile the facts for this title.

My Review:
The Case of the Missing Mountain is a full-color educational activity book for kids around ages 7-11. The reader solves the word scrambles, word finds, mazes, codes, and crossword puzzles to complete the clues and fill in the sentences. During this process, they learn about the eruption on Mount St. Helens in 1980 and related events that happened afterward. Though most of the answers to the mazes, codes, etc., were pretty obvious, there wasn't an answer key in the book. However, the answer key should soon be posted on the book's webpage.

There were also 12 "real life" activities that kids can do (with adult help). Usually these activities further illustrated the principles talked about in that section. For example, when talking about the eruption, the activity was to make a classic vinegar-and-baking-soda powered "volcano" of your own. The materials needed for most of the activities are fairly common items which you probably already have around your home. Messy activities included a warning that they were messy, which was nice. The instructions were easy to follow.

The book included full-color pictures from the Mount St. Helen area (before and after the eruption) as well as illustrations of the ideas being taught.

The mysteries that needed to be solved were: #1 how the mountain lost it's top (about the first part of the eruption); #2 what damage was done by the melted ice and snow off the mountain (the later part of the eruption); #3 how a 60-foot cliff was formed; #4 what damage the mudslides caused (includes information on the formation of the Little Grand Canyon, Engineer's Canyon, and the North Fork Toutle River System); #5 Spirit Lake and the Floating Forest (and how this relates to Yellowstone National Park's "Specimen Ridge"); #6 how the canyons were carved out quickly; #7 how quickly the plants grew back and the animals returned; #8 how what we saw at Mount St. Helens can help us better understand what happened during and after Noah's Flood.

Overall, this book is a fun way for Christian children to learn more about the interesting things that happened during and after the Mount St. Helens eruption.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Look inside this book.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

book cover

The Crimson Rooms
by Katharine McMahon

ISBN-13: 978-0-425-23858-5
Trade Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: January 4, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover (modified):
Still haunted by the death of her brother, James, seven years ago in World War I, Evelyn Gifford is shocked when a young nurse named Meredith and her six-year-old son appear on her London doorstep. The child is Jame's son, conceived in a battlefield hospital shortly before his death. The grief-stricken Gifford family welcomes the child, who is the spitting image of James. However, what Meredith tells Evelyn about her brother destroys her innocent view of him forever.

With the men of her family dead, Evelyn must support those who remain by working as a legal clerk at a time when work for female lawyers is virtually nonexistent and few welcome them at court. Then her boss takes on the case of a friend, a war veteran charged with murdering his young wife. Evelyn is included in the defense team and their investigation for new evidence that might turn around what appears to be a clear case against their client.

One of the lawyers on the team, the handsome but engaged Nicholas Thorne, compliments Evelyn and keeps bumping into her outside of work. Is he truly interested in her or is he just using her?

My Review:
The Crimson Rooms is a tragedy-style historical set in 1924 in England. It also contained a mystery and a romance. The characters were complex. Historical and setting details were expertly woven into the story and brought the story alive in my imagination.

However, it's a depressing story. Evelyn's family is stuck in their grief. Her two main legal cases can't really have "happy endings" even if won. And, due to the high post-war female-to-male ratio and her low self-image, Evelyn's desperate to have sex with the first willing male (even if she knows he's just using her) so that she can have sex once in her life. We're not even told why she feels it's so important to experience sex.

Furthermore, I couldn't believe that Evelyn really had the guts to defy her family and society to get her legal training when she's so submissive to everyone's wishes and whims at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, she'd gained my respect in her lawyer role but lost it in how she behaved in the romance role.

So the historical part of this story was excellent, the mystery was interesting (though the court scenes at the end were a bit slow paced), but the romance didn't work for me. There was a very minor amount of bad language. The story also contained some "hot" kissing and a brief, not-particularly-graphic (unmarried) sex scene.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Templar Conspiracy by Paul Christopher

book cover

The Templar Conspiracy
by Paul Christopher

ISBN-13: 978-0-451-23190-1
Mass Market Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: Signet
Released: Jan. 4, 2011

Source: Unrequested review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover (modified):
In Rome, the assassination of the Pope on Christmas Day sets off a massive investigation that stretches across the globe. A group called al-Salibiyya (which means "enemies of the cross") is taking responsibility. Most people assume they're radical Muslims, but retired Army Ranger Lt. Col. John Holliday knows that they were originally a group of Templar Knights that switched sides.

When Holliday uncovers the true motive behind the Pope's murder, he must unravel a deadly design to extend the power of Rex Deus--a cabal that silently wields power in the twenty-first century--to the highest political levels.

My Review:
The Templar Conspiracy is an action thriller that reminded me of early James Bond movies: non-stop action but little character development. Peggy and Holliday were gutsy and engaging, but we didn't get to know them very well (which is fine for a thriller).

The suspense was created by near-constant physical danger to the main characters (and others). However, since the main characters seemed confident of their ability to handle the danger, I never really worried for them and that cut down on the suspense.

The author did an excellent job creating vivid descriptions of the many, varied settings, and the action scenes felt realistic. There were brief, graphic descriptions of gore during some of the fight scenes.

This novel was the fourth in the series, but you don't need to have read the previous novels to understand this one. However, this one does spoil what happened in previous novels.

Devout Catholics probably won't enjoy the author's portrayal of some of the higher-up people in the Catholic church. There was some bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to people who enjoy James Bond type stories.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
It was Christmas Day in Rome and it was snowing. Snow was a rare occurrence here but he was ready for it. He had kept his eyes on the weather reports for the past ten days. It was always best to be prepared.

The name on his American passport was Hannu Hancock, born of a Finnish mother and an American father in Madison, Wisconsin, where his father taught at the university and his mother ran a Finnish craft store. Hancock was forty-six, had attended East High School, followed by a bachelor's and then a master's in agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His present job was as a soil-conservation biologist and traveling soil-conservation consultant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hancock had been married for three years to a young woman named Janit Ferguson, who died of lung cancer. He was childless and had not remarried.

Not a word of this was true. Not even the people who hired him knew who he really was. He traveled under a number of passports, each with a different name and fully detailed biography to go along with it.