Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review of Trial Run, a Technothriller Mystery

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Where does perception end and reality begin?
Can your mind actually cause something to happen in the “real” world?
What happens when we throw out our conception of the limits of space and time?
When science, government, and big business clash, who will ultimately have control of our information, our privacy, and even our very thoughts?
One thing remains clear:
What you don’t know can kill you.

My Review

I liked this book. I have to admit though, it took me a long time to really get into the book, til chapter 60 of 89. That's page 267 out of 374. This book is not the type of book I typically read. I am not sure if I would have finished it if I did not agree to do a review of it, I probably would have. I don't like to quit things that I start. I can not be sure of course, since I felt I had to finish it for the review, but I think I would have continued to read.

They call this type of book tapestry book. Many threads in the book come together. It was hard in the first 20 or so chapters to keep the characters straight. I had to keep checking back to previous chapters to see who was in which group. There are two basic sides in the novel, two groups, though at first there were 4 or 5 groups of characters, maybe more. I did consider making a chart of the characters, that may have helped, but I never did it. As the novel went on some of the groups merged and that, with the familiarity of learning more about the characters, and the plot of the story, made the reading easier.

Also, there was a lot of science involved in the novel, quantum physics, not exactly something I ever studied. I struggled with this and I am not a dumb woman. I studied a lot of science in high school and college, as well as while I homeschooled my children for 24 years. But, not this deep. It was over my head. Until in chapter 60 Thomas Locke explained some of the science in terms that I began to understand.
“Elene asked, “What is the rate of infection?”  
“One hundred percent.”
“What is the cure rate?
“Zero. If a person ingests the misfolded molecule, that person is gone. This transformation takes       place at an alarming rate. To put it bluntly, the beta-pleated sheets eat holes in the brain. This results in a steady degeneration of physical and mental, and finally death. In cows, where this phenomenon was first identified, it is known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, or mad cow disease. When it is transited to humans, it became known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, or nvCJD.” (pg. 272)
This is just a little taste of the science in this book. But, mad cow disease. That, at least, I have heard of.

This book, unlike most of the other books that I have read by this author (not as his alias Thomas Locke but as Davis Bunn) did not have much of a spiritual basis. Most of the other books I read do have a spiritual understructure to them.

The transiting/ascents/out-of-body experiences were strange to me. I am not sure what I feel about those kinds of things. I don't really believe those things can happen. Fantasy, I don't mind reading fantasy. Out-of-body experiences, I don't know what to think really.

It may sound like I have more reservations about the book than positive things. That is not really so. I enjoyed the book. It was challenging to read, but maybe a challenging book once in a while is good for us. It stretched my mind, and my comfort zone as well. It is good to stretch the mind. It needs “exercise” as much as our body does. Keeps it sharp.

The character were well developed and likable, especially the ones on the “right” side. I liked the slight good vs. evil side of things as well.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. Gabriella is speaking to Shane...
“Logically there is no possible way the two could be connected. He dreams and receives experiences you call images. He has no control. He cannot make them happen. He is a passive observer. You, on the other hand, ascend by your own choice and actions.” She smiled once more. “But I am Italian. Logic plays a much smaller role in my society. So my professional mind says, we cannot verify any connection without a great deal more study. But my heart says, we have all been drawn together for purposes beyond our wildest dreams.” (pg 293)
I think I like this quote because it shows the human element in the story. The characters, relationships, the connections are what made me keep reading.

And, the rest of the book bears out that quote. The book gets more and more exciting as it goes on
from there. Chases, bombs, grenades, breaking people out, attacks, sleeplessness, airplane trips,injuries, and more.

Now for general information, free previews, and a Q and A with the author...

Link to Trial Run page on Thomas Locke’s website 

Hardcover, Paperback and ebook: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Free pdf sample of Trial Run chapter 1 by Thomas Locke

Video Trailer for Trial Run

Thomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.
Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Thomas at

Q and A With Thomas Locke, author of Trial Run

Q: What reader did you have in mind when you were writing Trial Run?
Thomas Locke: I suspect there are a lot of readers out there like me, who love mainstream fiction in principle, but are dismayed by how dark it is becoming.
I love to read. I am happiest with a good book in my hands. And most of my purchases are mainstream fiction. Too often, however, I find myself skipping over bits that are just plain not necessary for a good story.

I wrote Trial Run for readers like me. Passionate about story, yearning for the thrill of a great tale, hoping for something that uplifts as well as ignites.
Here’s a video trailer for Trial Run, hot off the press:

Q: In Trial Run, you introduce several seemingly unrelated threads at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, those threads have become woven together in an intricate tapestry. What’s your thought process behind this writing strategy?

Thomas Locke: This concept can best be summed up by the phrase you often hear a Hollywood producer say: “Where is the cut?”

By this, the producer means, what can you leave out of the script so that the audience must figure things out for themselves?

Instead of spoon-feeding the audience every item required to move to the climax, things are left unsaid. This sense of vacuum draws the audience into the action, and hurries them forward to the story’s close.

Q: Several settings in Trial Run (Santa Barbara, CA, the Italian/Swiss border site) depict real places. How do you select these real-life settings for your stories, and do you alter details of these places to suit your stories?

Thomas Locke: The core element of my placing a story is research. And the core element in my research is emotion. For many people, the ‘take’ that I finally use in the story does not jibe with what they like to see as valid for a particular setting, especially when that place is close to their heart and I have used a more negative perspective. But the facts have been carefully studied.
An example from Trial Run is Santa Barbara. For a lot of people who know and love California, this is their absolute favorite place in the SoCal region. And for good reason. It is a lovely town, one my wife and I really enjoy visiting.

For this story, I was granted an insider’s view into the University of California at Santa Barbara, or UCSB. And from the perspective of many students enrolled there, UCSB is filled with hyper-inflated SoCal egos.

The contrast I found between the students with money (and in SoCal, when I say they had money, I really mean they had money) and those who don’t is as sharp as anywhere I have ever been. The student who formed my core source and guide was on a scholarship. He was there to study. He was, to say the least, in a minority.

Everything I described about the school, the bicycle traffic and the events on the beach and the housing, are based on observation. But the perspective was based upon the humorous bafflement with which this student viewed many of his fellow classmates.

I personally love this aspect of building a story. The research at this emotional level grants me the opportunity to see the world through another person’s eyes and heart. Being trusted with this, time and again, is part of the miracle process that happens every time I start a new tale.

 Q: I’ve heard there’s a free ebook prequel to Trial Run. How can I get a copy?

Summary: Discover how it all began in this explosive prequel to Trial Run

There isn’t much that can throw Charlie Hazard off balance. But the mystery woman with the striking eyes and the intense request to follow her—now—just might accomplish it.

Knowing little more than her beautiful name, Charlie leaves his post as a guard at the Satellite Beach community center for what he thinks is just another risk-containment job.

But Gabriella, an experimental psychologist, has far more in store for him than protection duty—if the two of them survive the test.

Leave behind your perceptions of what is possible and race into the unknown corridors of human consciousness in this breakneck prequel to Thomas Locke’s Trial Run.

Thomas Locke: As I was writing the opening scenes of Trial Run, I found myself continually asking questions about what happened before that door opened and before the party started. I began sketching a sort of parallel story, laying out ideas that formed the story-before-the-story.

“Double Edge” is the result.

The publishers liked the short story prequel so much that they have asked me to write a complete novel based upon these concepts. This novel will form either book three or book four in the series.

You’ll find links on my website for downloading your free copy of “Double Edge” from your favorite online bookseller.

Q: Trial Run is book 1 in the three-volume Fault Lines series. Please give us a preview of what to expect in book 2.

Thomas Locke: This is a timely question, as I completed the first draft of book 2 on June 8. The working title is Flash Point.

In many respects, Flash Point is a true hybrid. By this I mean that the core themes are the same as in Trial Run. But everything is also very different. I had two key questions in mind when I started book two: How far can I take this? How much can I risk?

This whole concept of controlled out-of-body experiences opens up a completely new vista. I had to develop a new story framework for Trial Run, and everywhere I looked I found myself asking the same questions:
  • Where does this take mankind?
  • If this could actually happen, where do we go?
  • Who are we as people?
  • How would this remake us?
These questions are first asked in Flash Point. Where we go from here depends mostly upon you, the reader.

So let’s dance!

Get to know Thomas Locke at these online outlets:
Subscribe to Thomas’s e-newsletter and blog:
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Pilgrim - a Superb and Powerful book, a Holy quest

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review.
Overview of The Pilgrim from the publisher
Travel with Empress Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, on a perilous journey through ancient Judea to Jerusalem.
Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to do what God calls her to, Helena meets those who would help and harm her along the way. Miracles seem to follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many over to the faith, and changes lives forever—including her own. This unforgettable story is a vivid portrait of one of Christian history’s most important women.

My Review:

Wow, what a book. This is a GREAT historical fiction novel by a favorite author, Davis Bunn. A wonderful, touching tale about Helena, the mother of Constantine; her companions; and her pilgrimage to fulfill the call of God on her life and to walk in the steps that Christ walked while on his way to Calvary. Constantine, her son, has found the Lord and is beginning to change the world. Helena has been given a noble quest, through a vision from the Lord.

Oh, what wonderful characters. Oh what glorious descriptions. A quest that would lead the characters not just to Jerusalem, but to a deep spiritual place that helps them to find a reason to live, a way to forgive themselves for their failings and their past, and a way to join together to make the world a better place, especially for the Christians under Roman persecution. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and will give it the same on Amazon as soon as I am allowed to leave a review there. I love how Bunn weaves a tale and brings me along and helps me to travel with each character on their journey. I felt with each character. I empathized with them. I wished that I could join them on the journey. I wish that I could go now and travel the Via Dolorosa.
This book helped me on my journey to forgive myself; and forgive others who have wounded me in the past. This is a difficult thing for me to do. It is something I have struggled with for the past 3 years. I have not finished my quest. I have not fully forgiven, but I am making progress and this book was one tool that Lord has used on my path to forgiveness.
I have for you two of my favorite quotes from the book…
“She had to forgive herself.
On one level, it was ludicrous. What had she done to deserve her fate? She had every right to be hurt, wounded, angry and even to seek vengeance.
On the other, she knew the truth of this matter. She did not need anyone to be hard on her. She was harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be. Nothing she did was ever good enough. She had spent an entire lifetime striving to do better, to rise further, to be more. Which, of course, was one reason why she remained so upset with her husband. Because he had both failed to live up to her expectations and dragged her down as well.” pg 63
“Helena sat apart and argued with herself. Personal forgiveness meant accepting that she was flawed. Imperfect. Destined to miss the mark, time and again. She doubted whether she was able to actually, honestly, take that step.” pg 64
“I have a world of reasons to worry. I know I am frail. What I want is to look beyond all that.”
Slowly, Macarius turned back. His good eye gleamed as he observed her in silence.
“I want to be ready to serve at God’s command. And I can’t do this if I let fear and regret and anger dominate my life. I want to turn from all that. I want to focus on God. But I don’t know if I can."
Macarius took her hand and he had the previous night. “Let us pray on this. And keep praying. And trust God both to answer and to give you the strength to hear.” pg 73
I completed this book and find myself inspired, hope filled, forgiven and more ready to forgive others, more aware of this time period, and deeply grateful for the opportunity to read and review it.

Get your Free sample, chapters 1-3, of The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn.

Link to The Pilgrim page on Davis Bunn’s website -

ISBN-10: 1632530341
ISBN-13: 978-1632530349
Hardcover and Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication Date: July 17, 2015

About Davis Bunn

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame. Davis divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Davis at

Q: There are many legends about Constantine and his mother, Helena. How did you decide which legend to incorporate into the story?

Davis Bunn: The period when Constantine became the first Christian emperor is one about which so much has been written, and yet so little detail is known. No one knows for certain where his mother, Helena – the main character in The Pilgrim – was born. There are three main legends, and I used the one that has the greatest sense of historical resonance, that she was British, and her father ruled one of the provinces taken over by the Romans. Her husband was a general who met Helena in the local market and fell in love at first sight.

Q: What is the appeal of writing about a historical figure? What was one special challenge you faced in doing so?
First and foremost, Helena is a saint in the eyes of the Catholic church. Her son, Emperor Constantine, was the first Roman leader to convert to Christianity. His death marked the moment when Christians were freed from persecution. Constantine was led to faith by his mother. The Pilgrim is her story.
While I am a fervent evangelical Protestant, my wife is Catholic. My mother is a Catholic convert. As is my sister, who has raised her two daughters as Catholic. So part of what I wanted to do here was to grow closer to the heritage that these dear people treasure. Their faith has had such an impact on my own life.  It was important that I use this story and this opportunity to create something that would honor their perspective on faith. I also wanted to share with readers the enormous life lessons we can learn from the lives of the saints.

So many, many different issues came up as a result of this quest. It proved to be a beautiful and intense growing experience. Although this book is not particularly long, the actual writing took as long as some of my much bigger books. Part of this was honing the story so their faith, and their history, was honored, but done from a foundation that reflected my own personal walk in faith.

My hope, my fervent prayer, is that the story will resonate with readers from both faith communities. 

Q: The end of The Pilgrim leaves the reader wanting more. Will you revisit this story down the road?
I am working on a second book, The Fragment, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2016. The Fragment carries some of the concepts from The Pilgrim into the early twentieth century, when the U.S. came to possess a reliquary with a supposed component of Jesus’s cross. It ends in a vignette that happens today, when a couple travels to Rome.

Q: How can readers find you on the Internet? 
Subscribe to Davis’s e-newsletter: Send a blank email to
Receive Davis’s latest blog posts via your feed reader:

all content on my blog is ©

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I know I haven't posted in a LOOOONG time...
I wanted to be able to pin this,
 and I couldn't pin from Facebook,
so I saved it here so I could pin it.
Link above goes to Jennifer's Facebook page.

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