I discovered a new author this summer: M. R. Durbin. His books have been perfect summer reads--not too heavy, exciting, but each with a few interesting nuggets of history that I've thought more after closing the book.
There is no sex or bad language to worry about in any of them. They do have some action-related violence, but nothing over-the-top or gruesome.
So if you need something to tuck into your pool bag or take on a vacation with you, pick up one of these! (Then you have to come back here and report on it--let me know what you thought!)
I'll start with a stand-alone novel:
4 stars: Kept me interested on many levels.
The Israelites are suffering as slaves under the reign of the iron-handed Pharaoh, when Moses returns from the desert demanding their release. Joshua, impulsive and bold, is itching for change to happen; for freedom, in whatever form he can find it. So when the Prophet Moses gives him an assignment, he's ready. Even though it seems impossible, he is to find the bones of Joseph, which according to legend (Moses says prophecy) are to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. This is no small task, as Joshua has no idea where to even begin looking. He will have 2 friends along to help him: Caleb and Gaddi. They also end up rescuing to maidens about to be sacrificed, who join them in their adventures.
Joseph's final resting place is extraordinarily well hidden. While they travel around Egypt finding and deciphering clues, there are others looking for the bones as well--and for them. Not to mention the plagues that are falling upon Egypt, due to Pharaoh's refusal to let the people go. It will take faith in God and answers to prayer in abundance if they are to find what they are looking for.
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This was an entertaining story with some depth to it. I never realized that the plagues Moses brought upon Egypt were symbolic as well as physical. This book brings out that each of the plagues corresponded to one of the Egyptian deities--in other words, God was showing the Egyptians that He was more powerful than every one of their gods, in turn. Super interesting.
The characters kept things moving along well. My only complaint was that the clues were figured out so quickly--it didn't seem like much of a challenge.
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These next two are part of a series (I hope!)
4.5 stars: Buckle in, and get ready for the treasure hunt to begin!
There is treasure to be found amongst the rocks, canyons, and caves of Southern Utah, but you have to know where to look; which means you have to be able to figure out the clues. O'Reilly Begay (Obie) has been retired from his job as an archeologist for quite some time, but attempted murder and a mysterious package arriving from overseas seem to be linked. He and some friends, along with his granddaughter Mac, and his friend Peter's grandson Charlie soon get caught up in a search for an ancient treasure. Of course, there are others hot on the trail, as well. Others with no qualms about murdering those who get in the way. It will be a heart-pounding race to the goal. Who will get the treasure, and who will get to live?
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This was a lot of fun! Obie and friends were constantly getting off wisecracks, there was a potential romance in there with Mac and Charlie, the clue deciphering added a bit more for the old intellect to chew on, and in the meantime there was plenty of action with gun fights, kidnappings, and rock climbing shenanigans.
It was a bit of a stretch that one (or two) people just happened to have all the right qualifications to unravel these clues, including multiple languages and cultural traditions, but I was willing to overlook that for all the rest of the goodness going on. The attempted romance was very awkward, and I wasn't too happy with how it played out--then I found out there was a sequel, so there was some hope there.
4 stars: Mystery, with a bit of history woven in.
Charley Sawyer returns home to his late parent's beach house in Oregon, only to find it has been severely vandalized. What puzzles him, though, is that amidst the devastation, nothing seems to be missing. Out in their shed he finds a mysterious key that he's never seen before; he hopes it will lead him to some answers.
Meanwhile, Charlie's grandfather Peter and his old-guy pals decide that a road trip to Oregon is in order. Officially, they're giving Obie's granddaughter Mac a free ride out to do some research for her anthropology professor. Unofficially, they're along to see if they can't get Mac and Charlie to hook up.
The key leads to Charlie to more questions, including some about how is parents died. Was it really an accident? As he and his visitors try to put all the pieces together, none of them are sure who to trust. They must be getting close, though, because someone out there is getting scared....which is not good news for Charlie.
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I was happy to dive back into this world of close, multi-generational friends, unclaimed treasure, secret passageways, interesting history, more than a few nearly fatal episodes (hope that's not a spoiler), and the Oregon Coast. I love that place! I could just picture many of the scenes from the book, even though we've only been a couple of times.
My favorite characters this time around were probably the wives of the old guys. Deadpan comments that just cracked me up. The romance had a bit more closure this time, which was an improvement.
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I am looking forward to seeing what else M.R. Durbin comes up with! I'm a fan!