Thursday, February 13, 2020

"Secrets Under The Skin"

Chicoans Hope Hill and N.J. Hanson begin their novel with a splash. Seven-year-old Jocelyne (Jocy) Chambers, her two twin brothers, Jacob and Travis, now four, and their babysitter Lisa, journey to the Pacific Bay Aquarium. With her parents away on a business trip, Jocy finds it hard to keep her brothers in line and at the aquarium they sneak onto a catwalk above the shark tank. What could go wrong?

Hearing a shout, Travis turns but his "shoe slipped on the slick, wet metal and he pivoted to the left. His arms flailed in a desperate attempt to grab something, to steady himself, but he only caught empty air. Jacob reached for his brother, but it was too late. Travis fell screaming, and plummeted into the cold water of the shark tank." At feeding time.

The shark grabs Travis; in a moment, Jocelyn "dove headfirst, breaking through the water's surface. She'd closed her eyes before hitting the water, but once beneath the waves she found her vision as clear as crystal. A trail of blood led down to the shark swimming away with her little brother. ... She swam faster than should be possible, her hair streaming behind her like in a wind tunnel." And then she screams as the shark lunges.

"Her voice came out like a high-pitched, powerful shriek. A siren wail that vibrated through the water like a sonic wave. Schools of fish froze, stunned. ... And the shark, the deadly, powerful great white came to a stop."

"Secrets Under The Skin" ($8.99 in paperback from Ink Drop Press; also for Amazon Kindle) is a gripping story of self-discovery. 

Years later, befriended by a school counselor named Mr. Otto, Jocelyn comes to understand that nothing is as it seems. Hill, an author, poet, and former foster child, and Hanson, lover of science fiction and fantasy, have crafted a tale with a cliff-hanger ending that will have readers craving for the next. It can't come soon enough.

The authors will be signing copies of their book at ABC Books, 950 Mangrove Avenue in Chico, on Saturday, February 22 starting at 11:00 a.m. and extending into the afternoon. The public is invited.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

"Target: Nimitz"

Gary Carter, an Orland resident and a retired U.S. Navy Captain who served aboard the USS Nimitz, has imagined a taut confrontation between U.S. and Iranian interests in the Strait of Hormuz. His timely historical novel starts in the Spring of 2006 in Tehran as the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Hamid Javad Ghorbani, calls for plans to strike back against the Great Satan. "The primary target of the operation," he says "must be the zealot’s aircraft carrier Nimitz."

The President of the United States, Edward Michael Sheppard, is at first unaware of the plot. That will change. 

"Target: Nimitz" ($17.95 in paperback from; also for Amazon Kindle) follows Frank Warren, "assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness; Captain, U.S. Navy (ret)," now living with his wife, Mary, in Northern California. That is, until Warren applies for the "assistant to the assistant" job at the Pentagon. Then it's off to D.C.

Carter draws on years of experience, and extensive research (the novel has 40 endnotes as well as a list of characters and a glossary of military acronyms), to bring the reader into the inner workings of the Department of Defense, the White House Situation (Sit) Room, and the Nimitz, now becalmed in international waters in the Persian Gulf with both nuclear reactors offline.

"Like a small town, an aircraft carrier has its own rhythm and pulse; it has unique sounds, smells, and routines, such as the shrill of the bos’n’s pipe marking certain events throughout the day. ... Sailors adjust to the gentle rolls and pitches that the sea induces on its 100,000-ton visitor."

Warren is worried about the Nimitz, "the mighty fist of American power." He learns that Iranian boats are "huddling" in several groups surrounding the carrier. How should the U.S. respond? Warren has an idea, an audacious plan involving a B-52--and who would have guessed, for a person in his lowly position, that he would be explaining it to the President in the Sit Room?

The writing will gladden the heart of Tom Clancy or Stephen Coonts fans, replete as it is with military detail and the tense question: What will happen next in the "fog of war"?