Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

I hope you all can bid farewell to 2013 with dreams in your hearts and books on your shelves. Folks around the world are celebrating the beginning of a new chapter of their lives with traditional rites that, although secular in the way they promote indulgence, have very deep and spiritual roots. Don't forget to wear something red tonight, to begin with!

One of the most cherished New Year's Eve traditions is to wear something red for good luck in the upcoming year. It can be anything: a dress, a pair of shoes, an amulet, a ribbon around your neck. In some countries, especially Latin ones, this tradition serves a 'romantic' purpose: South-Americans, Spanish, and Italians will  wear red 'unmentionables' to propitiate love and passion.

Rituals to attract good fortune on the eve of a new year have been in use for centuries. Producing loud noises to scare evil spirits away, eating black-eyed peas, lentils, white grapes, pomegranate, dates, pork meat ensure prosperity as all these foods symbolize happiness and material wealth. The very idea of spending New Year's Eve partying has its origin in the Roman Empire. Ancient Romans used to celebrate the Kalends of January carousing for six days. Street dancing, sacrilegious songs, epicurean meals went on and on for days...boy, they knew how to have fun!

Red has always been considered an auspicious color, not only in Asian countries. The tradition of wearing red undergarments to invite luck, love, and fertility, possibly dates back to the Middle Ages. During that dark era, red dye was very rare and expensive and only wealthy people could afford it. Hence the idea of red as a color associated with material fortune. 

Interestingly, wearing bright colors was forbidden during the Middle Ages, so people started to hide red and yellow (the color of gold) garments under their clothes: in particular, red underwear had a defense power. Witches were known for casting spells on reproductive organs. Having children was obviously  considered a sign of good luck and prosperity, so folks began to wear red undergarments to protect themselves from a curse and ingratiate fertility. Interesting, uh?

If your wardrobe lacks red accents, don't despair. I think a book with a red theme in its cover artwork will work as well. Thank you for sticking around...may all your bookish dreams come true in 2014!!!

Love always


Monday, December 30, 2013

ANGELOPOLIS (Angelology #2) by Danielle Trussoni: Paperback Cover Reveal

The paperback edition of ANGELOPOLIS by New York Times best-selling author Danielle Trussoni is coming out tomorrow, December 31. I love the new cover artwork, the dramatic use of colors, the visual impact of chiaroscuro and the iconic choice of theme. Although the blue FabergĂ© egg of the hardcover edition remains my favorite, I find the new image to be very eye-catching.  I wrote a 5 star review when the novel was first released in hardcover and I highly recommend it. 

(Angelology #2)
Danielle Trussoni
Paperback 320 pages, Penguin Books, Dec. 31, 2013
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Angels
Buy it on Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mina's Bookshelf - "Angelopolis (second installment in the New York Times bestselling and sensational series Angelology by Danielle Trussoni) bridges biblical lore and apocryphal documents, Greek mythology and Christian eschatology, merging in the process elements of intellectual thriller and science fiction. The result is a stunning breed of urban fantasy, as rich in cultural references as an historical archive. 
In Trussoni's fantasy, the modern day Nephilim are ruthless and ambitious beings, more connected to the material world than creatures from Heaven should be. Ready to step out of their shadow existence, they aim to destroy the human kind and create their own Paradise (Angelopolis) on earth..." Keep reading my review here.


Monday, December 23, 2013

BELLMAN & BLACK: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

A Ghost Story
Diane Setterfield
Atria Books, November 2013
Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Gothic, Horror
3.5 stars out of 5
Buy it on Amazon


As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that has unforeseen and terrible consequences. By the time he is grown, with a family of his own, he seems to be a man blessed by fortune - until tragedy strikes. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business. And thus, Bellman & Black is born.

My review

"Rooks are made of thought and memory. They know everything and they don't forget."

On a bright summer day, William Bellman's perfectly engineered slingshot launched a stone on a perfectly curved trajectory, bringing down a perfectly black rook.  He was only ten at the time, so the  memory of that cruelty was easily removed, and the regret swept under the rug of his conscience.  As a young man, William's enthusiasm and vision earned him the liking and respect of his fellow men: with a steady job at his uncle's mill, a regular income, a beautiful wife and four wonderful kids, William is a prodigy of business acumen and amiable personality. Happiness comes at a price, though, and when one by one he loses his wife and three of his  children to a pandemic flu, he will strike a macabre deal with a mysterious man in order to save what is left of his family.

The fact that the book was penned by the author of critically acclaimed novel The Thirteenth Tale may have raised my bar of expectations, I am afraid. So, here I am, trying to transfix in words my reaction to the book, but having a hard time pinning down my feelings between swinging moods of curiosity for the haunting quality of its central theme, peaks of interest for the peculiarity of the main character, and valleys of boredom at the detailed descriptions of the textile business. Narratives that unfold at a comfortable pace are quite agreeable to my taste, but in this case I lament an overall tediousness and an uneven development of characters and plot. 

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's novelette, The Birds, and frequently compared to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Diane Setterfield's novel evokes the Gothic eeriness and macabre atmosphere of Poe's The Raven, but it ultimately lacks the depth of each of those masterpieces. I see how William Bellman's exceptional hard-working and over-achieving personality may bring to mind the materialistic obsession of an Ebenezer Scrooge, but the similarities end there: Bellman & Black doesn't achieve the heartwarming meaningfulness and structural wholeness of the Christmas tale. 

Set in an unspecified era that we can easily identify as a late Victorian, turn of the century, rural England, the book has in death and grief its tie-in and consistent theme: death as the accidental consequence of a reckless act, death as natural order of the universe, death as a business. A sense of pending doom builds up between languid intervals and suspenseful passages, but it deflates intermittently and leads to an unsatisfactory resolution. Not compelling enough for me.

***Review copy graciously offered by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest opinion.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reincarnation Through Common Sense by Doug 'Ten' Rose

Fearless Puppy Publishing, September 2013, paperback 308 pages
Non-fiction, autobiography, cultural, Buddhism 
5 out of 5 stars
 Buy it on Amazon 

Imagine a place where silence hears your words, simplicity is a treasured blessing, respect is a way of life. This is the description of a physical place, a Buddhist temple in Southeastern Asia more precisely, but it could be a place within ourselves...if only we learned to master reincarnation through common sense. 

The Dalai Lama once said, "Nirvana may be the final object of attainment, but at the moment, it is difficult to reach. Thus the practical and realistic aim is compassion, a warm heart, serving other people, helping others, respecting others, being less selfish." The concept of reincarnation as the migration and rebirth of a soul (spirit, consciousness, you name it) into a new body after its biological death is by far the most popular Buddhist belief, but it may not be all.

Buddha's less known understanding of reincarnation as a daily spiritual renovation is even more important in the service of a life improvement. In this light, that mystical force we usually identify as karma becomes part of a natural law where individuals are not influenced by it. On the contrary, individuals govern it and shape it through conscious actions (or non-actions) and subsequent reactions. Rebirth should rather be a reformation of our present life, a reincarnation of our mind: we create karma every time we think and act. It won't be necessary to radically overturn your religious beliefs in order to understand and embrace this kind of knowledge. A constructive philosophy can easily harmonize with our spiritual inclinations, whether mystical or agnostic. The "daily-use reincarnation", in fact, shows strong similarities to the cornerstone principle of re-birth through Baptism, but while the Christian sacrament is a one-time ritual, Buddhism  fosters kindness, happiness, and good health by practicing rebirth in our daily thoughts and actions.

Crafted as a riveting memoir, Reincarnation Through Common Sense follows Doug Ten Rose's  spiritual path to re-birth and pays an homage to those special human beings, the 'Wisdom Professionals', who held his hand throughout his journey and awakening: monks and nuns who, simply out of unconditional love for the entire universe, help broken souls to heal and become whole again. Valuable food for thought, Ten's personal journal is a perfect inspirational mantra. I have savored his honest and engaging narrative for a few days, with my morning coffee and bedtime meditation. I will treasure his gems of philosophical wisdom: they come from a modern day Lazarus and delightful narrator, a man who traveled on some difficult roads (read my review of Fearless Puppy On American Road), hit rock bottom and came back, reborn.

I would like to thank the author for the review copy he generously offered in return for an unbiased opinion. Every time you purchase Doug Ten Rose's books, you support and sponsor emotional and spiritual intelligence. All proceeds from book sales will benefit Buddhist monks and their charitable projects.

Cover blurb
Albert Einstein said, "Once you accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy." Reincarnation Through Common Sense is a book of stripes and plaid in the most entertaining sense of Einstein's words. Westerners have written many books about living in Asian temples. None are like this true story. The rural Buddhist Monks and Nuns of a forest temple in Asia adopt a troubled traveler from Brooklyn, New York. He can't speak the language. No one there speaks English. He is penniless, with no ticket home. He is also very hung over, slightly suicidal, amusingly psychotic, and has no intention of studying spiritual discipline. This author is not a theology student! He is nonetheless given access to the ancient roots and spiritual wings of the Wisdom Professionals who rescue him. He redefines life and reports the details to us in a manner so intimate and natural that you'll think you are having coffee on a bar stool in the temple with him. You may laugh a lot on your way to Nirvana. You may say "Ouch!" a few times, too. 


Photo Credits: Google.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

And The Winners Are...

Congratulations to Yves Fey and My Heart Is Here! You are my winners. Thank you for entering Mina's Bookshelf's giveaways, ladies. Please check your email for instructions to claim your prizes.

1 copy of The Blood Gospel by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell goes to My Heart Is Here


1 copy of The Final Sacrament by James Forrester goes to Yves Fey


To everybody else who entered the contest, thank you very much for checking in! I hope you'll stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE PRAYER by Stephan J. Myers

 Stephan J. Myers
Release Date: November 9, 2013
Genre: children's books, illustrated books, Christmas
ebook, 36 pages, Hershey Reese & Myers Ltd.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Add it on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon

The words of The Prayer will stay with you forever. A haunting children’s Christmas tale from the imagination of Stephan J Myers, The Prayer is a rhapsody of images and words that will linger long after the last page is turned. Images and words that touch that special place inside, where the heart and mind know no boundaries. A tale of hope and reflection for readers young and old, as the ghost of Christmas fades and a New Year begins.
Since it was first written in 2009, The Prayer has been read by thousands of readers across the world in its original text; leaving the imagination of the reader to paint the images the words evoke. For the first time, the words of The Prayer come to life as they were originally intended. 

My review 
"Wishes come true, new books to read, if this was 
your Christmas, you were lucky indeed.
For sometimes the children, who need things the most, 
are lost to the night and a pale winter's ghost."

 Along the lines of The Little Matchgirl (Hand Christian Andersen) and The Star Money (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm), The Prayer is a heart-grabbing reminder of what sadly hides beyond the glittery opulence displayed during the holiday season: children with their noses pressed against the bright windows of other people's wealth and happiness, victims of inadequate or non-existent nurturing, deprived of the most basic  necessities as well as the emotional warmth of a family. Myers' vibrant  illustrations will capture your heart; his voice will pulsate with mesmerizing cadence.  

A memorable and emotional Christmas tale, admirably rendered by Stephan J. Myers' visual lyricism and poetic sensitivity.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book News: A Swiss Bestseller, Oprah's Book Club Picks, And Elvis' Last Love Will Be 2014 Movers & Shakers

I use Grammarly's online grammar check because auto-correct isn't always write .

While the net is flooded with countless end-of-the-year/best-of-2013 book lists, the publishing world is already moving forward. Keeping an eye on the movers and shakers of 2014, the national press is  abuzz with rumored big-money deals, publishing sensations from overseas, Oprah's endorsements, and highly anticipated memoirs. Here are the latest news, hot off the press.

Penguin Books has acquired the U.S. rights to a Swiss best-selling novel written by a young and relatively unknown author. Why all the buzz about it? The imprint won't disclose the figures of this deal for now, but Executive Editor John Siciliano has reportedly paid at auction the highest advance in Penguin's publishing history to secure The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

Italian cover, Bompiani Editore

Pitched as "a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, an ingenious book within a book", Dicker's hit novel is the Swiss answer to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. What certainly elicited US publishers' interest is the fact that the award-winning book has toppled E.L. James' Fifty Shades Of Gray and Dan Brown's Inferno from all European best-seller lists,  sold rights to 35 countries, and was among the most popular titles at the latest Frankfurt Book Fair (the Golden Globes of the publishing world, so to speak). Originally published in 2012, The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair revolves around the disappearance of a 15 year old New Hampshire girl. The cold case attracts the attention of a young American writer when the girl's body turns up three decades later in his mentor's backyard. I just can't wait to see for myself what the buzz is all about.

Joel Dicker (Photo Credit: Google.com)

Born in Switzerland, the up-and-coming 28-year-old author has spent countless summers in New England. Penguin announced that Dicker's best-selling thriller will be released in paperback on May 27, 2014. Visit Amazon for pre-orders.

When 'book club queen' Oprah speaks, we all should listen. She always hits the mark and she did it again with a book that hasn't been released yet, but will make you press the Amazon pre-order button at the speed of lightning.  The TV mogul hadn't even turned the last page of  The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd when she decided that such a gripping novel had to be a Oprah's Book Club 2.0 top pick. 

(Photo Credit: Google.com)

And how to disagree with such a quick move? Set in early nineteenth century Charleston, Kidd's powerful novel is inspired by the historical figure of American abolitionist and suffragist, Sarah Grimke. Through characters struggling for women's empowerment and liberation from slavery, the acclaimed author of The Secret Life Of Bees  re-opens one of the darkest pages of American history.

Kidd's novel won't be released until January 7, 2014 (Viking Adult), but you can visit Amazon and all major book retailers to pre-order your copy. 

Model and actress Ginger Alden is coming out with a biography that is guaranteed to keep the myth of the King Of Graceland alive and his fans talking. 

Elvis & Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancee And Last Love Finally Tells Her Story's cover has been officially revealed, but to read about the relationship between the model and the King we will have to wait until August 5, 2014 (Berkeley Books). In her memoir, Ginger Alden narrates in detail her whirlwind romance with the rock and roll legend in the hope to set the record straight and put an end to the negative speculations that surrounded her after his death in 1977.

(Photo Credit: Google.com)

The release of the book is three seasons away, but, if you like to plan your book shopping months in advance, you can pre-order Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancee and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story on Amazon.

Monday, December 9, 2013

THE FINAL SACRAMENT by James Forrester (Spotlight and #GIVEAWAY)


A royal scandal, a secret code, a Tudor mystery, non-stop action and vivid historical detail – it’s no wonder historical novelist James Forrester’s Elizabethan trilogy has received international acclaim: 

“For twists and turns, codes and clues, Mr. Forrester beats Dan Brown, and when it comes to social detail, he is up there with Patricia Finney” – The Wall Street Journal 

 “A winner for any reader who loves historical, action-packed novels.” —Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)

 “James Forrester captures the sights, smells, and dangers of Tudor England and tells a gripping story.” —Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl

 To celebrate the last chapter in the series, look for opportunities to win a print copy of The Final Sacrament every day this week, with bloggers around the book blogging community! Follow Mina's Bookshelf and leave a comment for a chance to win. Don't forget to include your email address. Good luck!

December Giveaway Schedule for The Final Sacrament: 

About the book
 1566. William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, has risked his life to protect a secret document, one which could endanger Queen Elizabeth’s legitimacy on the throne. But when his family goes missing, Clarenceux is put to the test. Will he abandon queen and country to save the ones he loves, or sacrifice everything to keep the country from plunging into civil war?

Filled with Mortimer’s signature historical detail, vivid characters, and secret clues that slowly reveal the mystery of Anne Boleyn, The Final Sacrament delivers a gripping conclusion to this Elizabethan adventure, where religious tensions, political intrigue, and personal vendettas collide.

About the author

James Forrester is the pen name of acclaimed British historian Ian Mortimer, author of nonfiction works including The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England (a Sunday Times bestseller). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998, and was awarded the Alexander Prize (2004) by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine. www.jamesforrester.co.uk

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review of STARRY NIGHT: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber 

Ballantine Books, October 8th 2013, Hardcover 256 pages
Romance, Holiday Fiction, Chick Lit
4.5 out of 5 stars
Add it on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: she can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

My review
Wonderfully romantic Christmas flick...sometimes all a girl needs is a sweet break with some uncomplicated escapism. Debbie Macomber clearly played with one of the most winning romance formulas: an unlikely couple (an emotionally wounded alpha male and a kind female lead) forced to come face-to-face in a secluded setting (a log cabin on a frozen lake in Alaska), just to confront an immediate attraction and deep emotional issues. Beauty and The Beast, if you will. 

The novel is unusually short, something in between a novella and a full-length novel, and this is possibly the reason why the narrative seems to rush its steps, squeezing the normal stages of the enamourment in the space of a night, one very starry night. 

"When she stepped outside, [...] her gaze went to the star-filled heavens. In all her life, Carrie had never seen so many stars. Thousands upon thousands of pinpricks of twinkling light dotted the sky, mesmerizing her."

At times, the love spark is hard to ignite. Some other times, it strikes through the night sky like a shooting star. The way we fall in love remains a mystery: attraction happens in a heartbeat, putting together distant worlds and opposite personalities. So, in the end everything works out sweetly and gracefully for our characters, although in an urgent fashion.

Starry Night doesn't feature some of the typical assets of a romance novel. It lacks the trademark angst and sensuality, but it packs a good punch of chemistry between characters.

"The air between them sizzled and arched much like the northern lights, even as they both chose to ignore [it]. The electricity between them was powerful enough to light up a city block."
 All in all, Macomber's Christmas novel is a delectable read, perfectly suitable for the holiday season.

****e-copy graciously provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest opinion


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Interview with James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell, authors of INNOCENT BLOOD (#GIVEAWAY)

In Innocent Blood, the riveting follow-up to The Blood Gospel, the first book in the thrilling and atmospheric Order of the Sanguines series, New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell deliver a riveting tale of international adventure, intrigue, suspense, and supernatural mystery involving a modern scientist, a highly secret eternal spiritual order, and a terrifying power who must join forces to bring down a ruthless and cunning enemy and prevent the Apocalypse. Innocent Blood, published by William Morrow & Company, will hit the shelves of all book retailers on December 10th. Today, I am incredibly honored to welcome the authors on the blog for an interview: Jim and Rebecca answered a few questions about their latest release, their writing partnership, and their love of all things mystery.

Q. Welcome to Mina's Bookshelf, Jim and Rebecca. You now have co-authored two books in the Order Of The Sanguines series, how did you decide to join forces? How do two prolific minds work together during the writing process?

Jim:  The seed for this series came during a trip to a museum in Los Angeles, where I found myself staring at Rembrandt’s painting of “The Raising of Lazarus.”  It’s a macabre and dark imagining of this miracle of Christ, and it struck me strange how scared everyone looked in the painting.  This moment started me down a road of reflection about early Catholicism, vampirism, and a story began to unfold, a story that examines the line between faith and science. I knew this could be a huge and groundbreaking new mythology, a story so epic in scope that I knew I didn’t want to tackle this alone.

Rebecca: I met Jim at the Maui Writer’s Conference just before my first novel, A Trace of Smoke, was published.  He was my instructor in a thriller-writing course and we kept in touch after that. I’d just put the finishing touches on my fourth novel when he called me out of the blue about this series with vampires who live on transubstantiated blood.  We spent a long time on that call talking about the world of the Sanguinists and the strigoi. We had very similar visions of that world, and could see what we each would bring to it. The writing process involves a lot of talking on Skype, rewriting, and driving each other generally crazy.

Q. INNOCENT BLOOD is a terrific blend of supernatural, mystery, and thriller. Which one of these aspects did you develop first in the genesis of the book?

Rebecca: All of them at once, I think. We had already created the supernatural world and the characters that inhabited it, so for the second book we wanted venture further afield in that world and more deeply into the psyches of the characters.

Jim:  It certainly had to be all worked out as a whole, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, every piece had to be examined and turned until if fit just right.  We thought this was important so that the paranormal elements of the story didn’t overwhelm our characters.  Though this series deals with immortal beings and creatures both light and dark, we didn’t want to lose that exploration of the human condition.  To touch a reader emotionally, the story and characters must be accessible and relatable.  To achieve that required all the elements of the story to work in harmony and as a whole tapestry.

Q. Did you face any challenges with writing the second book, INNOCENT BLOOD, that you didn’t face with the debut in the series, THE BLOOD GOSPEL?

Jim:  During the creation of the first book, it was all about world building, creating this landscape where vampires existed and found themselves folded within the cloak of the Catholic Church.  It was also about discovering our main characters, how they were going to engage and react.  With that all established, we were free to build and expand upon that world and more deeply explore our characters.  We initially thought it would be easy, since the groundwork and mythology was already in place, but we quickly learned of a new challenge.  

Rebecca:  The new challenge was figuring out how the characters had grown and changed as a result of the events in the first book. They all had strong personalities, but they went through a lot in their search for THE BLOOD GOSPEL, and they haven’t had time to process it all.

Q. What was the biggest challenge in further developing the characters that appeared in THE BLOOD GOSPEL, for the second book in the Sanguines series, INNOCENT BLOOD?

Rebecca: I answered this one early, didn’t I? Sorry about that. The characters had some intense experiences in the first book, especially Erin, and that leaves a mark. She realized that everything she thought she knew was incomplete—monsters existed in the world and had been leaving their mark on history for thousands of years. This shook up her intellectual worldview, and I think she’s still grappling with it. Plus, of course, the nature of her relationships with Jordan and Rhun changed a lot in the first book, and that makes all of their interactions more complex and emotionally charged.

Jim:  Exactly.  I always dislike books where characters escape great peril with barely a scratch and have no lasting effect.  They get shot in the shoulder on page 4 and are perfectly fine by page 6.  And it’s not just the physical aftermath, but the emotional aftermath of such trauma.  That’s something we explored deeply in this second novel.  Everyone was drastically changed by events in the first book, surviving a trial by fire.  Now they have to put their lives back together, while facing a new and even greater threat. 

Q. Christian is such an interesting and dynamic character, is that why you chose to write a prequel, BLOOD BROTHERS, about this character?  How did this character come to life for you both?

Jim:  Christian is first mentioned in passing in THE BLOOD GOSPEL.  Even in that brief reference in the first book, readers were offered a hint that something was different about him.  We knew we always wanted to introduce a “younger” vampire into the Sanguinist fold. 

Rebecca: We introduced the older, more experienced Sanguinists in THE BLOOD GOSPEL. Rhun is hundreds of years old, and his mentor, Cardinal Bernard, has been around at least since the Crusades. Even as they live forward in time, their thought patterns and beliefs are based on a very different world. We thought it would be interesting to show what a modern, irreverent Sanguinist might add to the mix. Christian was turned in the late 1960s, so he’s part of the same century as Erin and Jordan. This drives Rhun a bit nuts, which is always fun to watch.

Q. In the INNOCENT BLOOD and its prequel, THE BLOOD GOSPEL, you introduced elements of a ‘mystical and otherworldly’ nature: religion, Scriptures, apocrypha, angelology. Has anything in your research completely shocked you and changed the way you thought about religion or spirituality?

Rebecca: I was surprised by how easy it was to create the Sanguinist/strigoi mythology by using references to existing religious documents. I don’t think there is a vampiric sect in the Catholic Church, for example, but it does dovetail well with many of their traditions: turning wine into the blood of Christ, wearing hoods during the day, rules on chastity. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Jim:  The basic premise started with a simple supposition:  If vampires existed, how might have Christ dealt with such a scourge?  How might the early Church have been changed?  How might it look today?  Rebecca and I attempted to answer those questions, which was a great deal of fun, and in the end, like Rebecca mentioned, it was illuminating how much of the trappings of the Church could be folded into the mythology of vampirism. 

Q. In an article published by The Telegraph (UK) few days ago, a fellow suspense writer, Patricia Cornwell, claims she has uncovered one of history’s best-kept secrets: the true identity of Jack The Ripper. Is there an unresolved mystery that you would like to investigate together?

Jim:  I always love dabbling into historical mysteries, those pieces of the past that end in a question mark.  In INNOCENT BLOOD, we attempted to explain the “lost years” of Christ’s childhood, that gap in His chronology between the Slaughter of the Innocents by King Herod and Christ’s appearance as a young teenager.  Where was He before that? Why that gap in Christ’s history?  During our research into this topic, we uncovered many suppositions and tantalizing hints.  That’s what I love best about digging into the past (something I think our main character Erin shares):  that continuing quest for the truth.

Rebecca: Jim’s right.  I tend to be fascinated by ancient mysteries—the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Voynich Manuscript—and how people have been affected by their quests for knowledge about these objects.

Q. What’s in store for readers in the next book in the Order of the Sanguines series?

Rebecca: I don’t want to give too much away, but the forces unleashed at the end of INNOCENT BLOOD must be battled, and the power contained in both good and evil blood will not be easily contained.

Jim:  Yes, there are some huge surprises in store both for the characters and for our readers.  Some of them even shocked us.  Then again, when you’re dealing with the apocalypse, no one should be safe.

The publicist would like to offer a copy of THE BLOOD GOSPEL (book #1 Order Of The Sanguines) to a follower of this blog. Please comment below with your email address for a chance to win. Good luck!

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers that have been translated in forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of "the top crowd pleasers" (New York Times) and one of the "hottest summer reads" (People magazine). Acclaimed for his originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets at breakneck speed. 

Rebecca Cantrell is  the New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Hannah Vogel mystery series and the critically acclaimed YA novel, iDrakula, which was nominated for the APPY award and listed on Booklist's Top 10 Horror Fiction For Youth. She, her husband, and son just left Hawaii's sunny shores for adventures in Berlin.

About the book
While exploring a tomb hidden for centuries in the depths of Masada, Israel, brilliant archaeologist Erin Granger began an incredible journey to recover a miraculous ancient artifact tied to Christ himself. The quest introduced her to a diabolical enemy determined to discover the book and use its powers for his own dark ends. It also led her to an ancient and highly secret Vatican order-known simply as the Sanguines. Though she survived, the danger has only just begun . . .

An attack outside Stanford University thrusts Erin back into the fold of the Sanguines. As the threat of Armageddon looms, she must unite with an ancient evil to halt the plans of a man determined to see the world end, a man known only as Iscariot.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell breathtakingly combined science and religion and introduced a world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. In Innocent Blood, they again take us to the edge of destruction . . . and into the deepest reaches of imagination.