Dr. Matthew Lane, world-renowned archaeologist and the man credited with finally discovering the resting place of Noah’s Ark, is on the hunt again. This time, Matt, his girlfriend Ann Tyler, and his best friend and fellow archaeologist, Jim Morgan, have reunited to find the Ark of the Covenant and bring the world to a state of peace with proof of the existence of the Ten Commandments. Their adventure introduces them to Stephanie, a young woman with information that leads them to an ancient treasure and whose family ties brings them nothing but pain and sorrow at every turn.
Burned in Stone, the sequel to The Lost Photographs, by Richard Carroll begins much like The Lost Photographs–with nonstop action and the characters moving rapidly through one precarious situation to another. In this installment, readers see much more of Ann at the outset and her willingness to stay by Matt’s side no matter the level of danger. From jumping tandem from a plane to exploring ancient ruins, Ann sees little reason to doubt Matt until he comes out with the most unbelievable statement of all. As a reader, I was glad to see the author choose to have Ann display a certain amount of doubt in Matt’s incredible comments.
The introduction of an additional love interest adds a new layer to Carroll’s cast of characters. I am not sure exactly why, but Stephanie disturbed me. In addition, Matt’s inability to make a definitive statement about his love for Ann and make a clean break from Stephanie bothered me throughout the book. I am much more a fan of Ann than Stephanie even though Stephanie’s backstory is tragic and intriguing.
Carroll is a master with the backstory element. He expertly incorporates a detailed backstory into each of his books and builds a wonderful base on which to construct each plot. Stephanie’s tragic childhood and her unfortunate upbringing with her uncle and cousin make for fascinating reading and help to create a rich subplot surrounding Stephanie as well as her cousin Jack, the ultimate villain.
I must say that, as with the The Lost Photographs, I felt myself much more involved in the latter chapters than in the action-packed scenes in the beginning and middle of the book. The sign Matt is told to expect on the first day of spring is a phenomenal sight to behold. Carroll masterfully describes a scene unlike anything readers could ever imagine. From the moment Matt is told to expect a sign, I found myself trying to visualize what form it may take. The author crafts a breathtaking spectacle indeed.
Burned in Stone is much more about the search for the Ten Commandments than the commandments themselves. Carroll’s writing is seamless and devoid of vulgarity and cursing which makes it appropriate for a wide range of readers. Readers who are more inclined to enjoy adventure stories with just a touch of romance will find themselves completely wrapped up within the pages of Burned in Stone and the harrowing lives of Matt, Ann, and Jim.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B079GGS89Q
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bible, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, burned in stone, christian, church, drama, ebook, faith, fantasy, fiction, god, goodreads, history, hunt, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, richard carroll, richard ira carroll, search, shelfari, smashwords, story, suspense, Ten Commandments, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
Matt and Jim are living out their lifelong dream to uncover and provide undeniable truth that Noah’s Ark did indeed come to rest atop Mt. Ararat. With the help of Ann and a tragic story of her grandmother’s first love, Matt and Jim begin their journey with stunning photographs of the ark itself which have been hidden from the world in the most ingenious way possible. Luck is not on the side of the three adventurers, however. One dangerous situation after another impedes their progress on the path to the top of Mt. Ararat.
Richard Carroll has captured within the pages of The Lost Photographs a mere snapshot of the enormity of the task undertaken to uncover Noah’s Ark atop a frozen Mt. Ararat. His depiction of the dedicated team who undertakes this task despite all obstacles, both natural and incited by man, is riveting and tense. No one else has wanted anything more than Matt and Jim want to prove the existence of the ark, and absolutely nothing will prevent them from accomplishing what they have set out to do.
I have always found the search for proof of the ark’s existence to be fascinating. The Lost Photographs does not focus quite as heavily on the actual ark as I would like to have seen. Though it does center around the hidden photographs and delves into the excavation of the site itself, the book also has a parallel story line that sometimes takes the reader on a path away from the ark story line. I felt there was, perhaps, too much of an emphasis placed on the budding romance between the characters and the inner turmoil Matt experiences.
Carroll does a wonderful job of building interest with the backstory of the lost photographs of the ark. By tying the story of Ann’s grandmother, Jelena, and her friend, Yuri, with the teamwork of Matt and Jim, the author has created a seamless story that spans generations and is a wonderful testament to the timelessness of the ark’s story. I will say I was not expecting the tragedy that occurs centering around Yuri and his family. Carroll presents a moving depiction of Jelena’s love for Yuri and the mystery of his family’s fate.
Readers who require action in their historical fiction will appreciate the many close calls and precarious positions in which Matt, Jim, and Ann find themselves. The desire to keep the ark’s existence hidden leads to an all-out battle when one of the terrorists’ operatives infiltrates the ark team. In addition, the entire expedition faces the utter devastation of an earthquake in the middle of their work.
Though I loved the premise of the book, references to historical events, and biblical truths, I would have preferred more of a focus on the discovery of the ark itself and less of a concentration on the romance between characters. The hints at the book’s conclusion to the unearthing of the Ten Commandments leaves the reader in the perfect frame of mind to want more from Matt, Jim, and Ann.
Pages: 320 | ASIN: B079GJN12N
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, Ararat, ark, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bible, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, christian, church, ebook, expedition, faith, goodreads, historical, history, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, mystery, noah, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, richard carroll, romance, search, shelfari, smashwords, story, suspense, terrorist, the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS, truth, writer, writer community, writing
Shadows, Shells, and Spain follows Jaime as he searches for his wife by following clues she’s left for him along Spain’s Camino trail. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?
Well, I knew that I wanted to write about the Camino. The adventure had everything I think I needed to write my next book. I had the rich history of the Camino; I knew I would uncover interesting anecdotes in every town; and I was assured that I would meet wonderful characters from around the world. All I needed to do was add my fictional story to my already unbelievable reality.
Now when I embarked on my own pilgrimage, I, of course, was immediately fascinated with Spain’s compelling landscape and the Camino’s magical history, but it was the people on the path who really inspired me. Each walker had their own personal reason for their demanding journey. Some had just quit their jobs. Some had just quit their marriages. Some just needed to unplug from their stressful lives back home. Whatever their reason they were all united in their belief that walking across Spain would help them heal from their hurts or stimulate their minds to live their lives better when they returned home.
So I knew I needed main characters in my book who were equally damaged and required more time to heal from the pain in their pasts. That was the starting point. Then I added the mystery, the suspense, and the quirky love story….
Jamie is a fascinating character and his relationship with Brie becomes something more than he expected. Did you plan their relationship or did this happen organically as you were writing?
For the most part it was planned because I outline everything! I know my beginning and my ending and everything in between. Now while the story evolves and I discover things along the way (especially how characters act and react to each other), the basic narrative remains intact….especially the ending.
I think about my ending much more than my beginning. The ending is often the first thing I write. Even if it’s only a paragraph or a few lines of dialogue, it sits there the entire time while I write everything else. Then when I reach that ending, I only have to tweak it. If I don’t have my ending, I don’t start writing!
However, having said that, yes, Jamie and Brie’s relationship did change organically too. I mean, every scene and every conversation had its theme or drama that I had to convey to the reader, but I didn’t always know exactly how I would convey that.
So with their voices firmly in my head, their conversations came quite easily. But in some scenes, yes, I did have to change direction because I knew that Jamie or Brie wouldn’t say or do certain things. It eventually became down to a scene-by-scene litmus test: “What would Jamie do?” or “What would Brie say?”
This book highlights some fascinating historical and architectural sights. What draws you to the history of Spain?
Because I write what I call fictional travel memoirs, I need locations that are rich in history, filled with local, colorful characters, and steeped in adventure. And now in two of my books, I’ve been drawn to Spain for all those reasons and more.
The first time was in my book, Bulls, Bands, and London, where I ran with the bulls during Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival. London was the primary focus of the story but Pamplona was where the main character was truly challenged and had to make a life-altering decision—while risking his life being pursued by a half-dozen frightened bulls.
Now in my current book, Shadows, Shells, and Spain, the adventure itself is far less dangerous but it still challenges you physically, mentally, and for many pilgrims, spiritually. To outside pilgrims scattered across the globe, the Camino is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some serious soul-searching. To Spanish pilgrims, this 800 kilometer trek is almost a rite of passage: a journey every Spaniard must make in order to test his or her body, free his or her mind, nurture his or her soul—and truly understand what it means to be Spanish.
That’s what draws me to Spain. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you make, every citizen embraces their heritage and takes a moment to re-connect with the land and dig deep inside their hearts to re-focus their minds to what’s truly important in their lives.
Is there any message you might like to leave with your readers?
Whether you read my new book or not, I really encourage everyone to walk the Camino at some point in their lives. It really does inspire you and gives you plenty of time to contemplate your life while you meet many other friendly, likeminded souls marching across Spain—just like you! Sure, you can contemplate your life while sitting on your couch as well… but only by leaving all your distractions behind can you really experience some form of positive growth. Plus you’re going to lose a lot of weight! And that’s a pretty good deal too…
Lost and listless on the island of Mallorca, Jamie Draper searches for his estranged wife, Pam, who has left him without any explanation or warning. Exploring her last known location, Jamie stumbles upon an urgent letter from his missing wife promising full disclosure as to her sudden departure and her current whereabouts. There’s just one catch: her mysterious adventure is disclosed in a series of letters she’s left hidden along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. Now armed with a list of clues to track the letters down, Jamie retraces Pam’s footsteps, while being both entertained and challenged by the many colorful Camino characters he meets along the way—including the enchanting Brie, who harbors her own secrets that just might compromise Jamie’s intended reunion with his wife.
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