By KATE DENNILL
Undetected by Dee Henderson 7.5
Moms’ Night Out by Tricia Goyer 6
Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers 8
Submarines seem to hold an almost universal fascination, in all probability related to their role in spending sustained periods of time at unfathomable depths (oh yes, that happened) exposed to any number of dangers and challenges both internally and externally. Add to that, in Undetected, an accomplished but lonely naval commander, a brilliant but slightly heartbroken young ocean scientist and Dee Henderson’s undeniable ability to write marvellous fiction and a cracking novel ensues. There is simmering tension in the Pacific rim, and Commander Mark Bishop has to keep a steady hand aboard his submarine USS Nevada, while back on terra firma Gina Gray is making a series of discoveries that have the potential to be game changers in terms of detection of enemy subs. However, if she or her research falls into the wrong hands it could spell disaster for the US Navy and the man she loves. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read with good pacing and believable characters. The protagonists face and wrestle with thought-provoking conflicts, and the insight into the international power struggles that and monitored and enacted deep below the surface of the oceans make one hope that the big decision makers are at the top of their games. A must for book clubs and individual collections alike.
If “everything” is comprehensively the answer, “What could possibly go wrong” is certainly the question in this novelisation of the movie version of Mom’s Night Out by Andrea Nasfell and Jon Erwin. As infinitely precious as motherhood is, most moms will relate to a desire to spend a carefree evening (at least) pretending that they have no responsibilies whatsoever. In an attempt to realise this dream, three moms recruit their husbands for a dad on duty night and plan their evening out. One of the dads has an irrational fear of children (including his own), a baby goes missing, one child gets trapped inside a game machine and that’s only the beginning. The unlikely heroes who help to resolve the various and convoluted situations include a cabbie, a tattoo shop owner and a biker gang. The story is light-hearted and fun, if slightly one-dimensional, and the high cringe factor will compel most moms to interrupt their reading to make sure their offspring are not too close to disability, death or juvenile detention, and to do five minutes of therapeutic house tidying before they continue reading.
Fans of Francine Rivers have been waiting in eager anticipation for Bridge To Haven and it doesn’t disappoint. Since the Marta’s Legacy duo released in 2010 there has been (an industrious) silence from Rivers,resulting in a meaty novel set in 1950s America. A pastor finds a baby abandoned under a bridge in a small town called Haven, and takes her into his home and heart. Things don’t work out as planned and the little girl is exposed to changes beyond her control. Growing up her unsettling childhood expresses itself in a restless coming of age, and some poor decision making later she finds herself exposed to the dark side of Hollywood, with a growing sense of hopelessness and burned bridges. Rivers expertly contrasts the themes of the solid and enduring love of the Haven family against the shallow “use and destroy” relationships of Tinseltown, and weaves throughout the story the thread of redemption that is her hallmark. A true and compelling read that satisfies beyond the last page.