Media & Reviews

Reviews for Christine Z. Mason’s new novel, Weighing the Truth:

“Weighing the Truth’s legal suspense story opens with Natalya Drummond and her colleague’s visit to their client in San Quentin Prison, as they work on his death-row appeal case.

“But even in the beginning, all is not as it seems: Nat’s determination to do a good job as a defense lawyer for some of the most dangerous people in prison is offset by her recognition that her job holds conundrums and special challenges other kinds of lawyers don’t face every day . . . . It’s this determination to not just perform a duty but do it well that lands Nat in trouble as events spiral out of control to challenge all her values and intentions. From little annoyances to big issues, Nat finds her carefully honed façade of control and efficiency being attacked on different levels . . . to the point that her professionalism and goals begin to erode.

“From how appellate lawyers handle issues of guilt and innocence and develop a ‘natural sense of justice’ to Nat’s suddenly questionable drive to be conscientious against all odds, Weighing the Truth is more than a legal thriller. It’s a close inspection of morals, ethics, and values in the face of threats, gang involvement, attorney interactions, and a level of professional involvement that suddenly turns all too personal, unexpectedly placing Nat on the other side of the witness stand. . . .

“Fans of legal thrillers are in for a treat: where competing books are driven by legal cat-and-mouse courtroom encounters,Weighing the Truth instead provides a riveting focus on the motivations, psychology, and sometimes-conflicting special interests of the criminal defense lawyer, surveying how this can spill into personal lives and choices.

“Far more character-driven than most legal thrillers, Christine Z. Mason’s approach will delight readers who look for more personal touches and protagonist development in their legal fiction.”-D. Donovan, Sr. Editor, Midwest Book Review

“. . . an emotionally supercharged domestic thriller. . . a fluid narrative that seamlessly fuses elements of mystery, women’s fiction, and legal suspense . . . Drummond, Cropper, and even relatively peripheral characters, such as Hegner, are all fully realized and authentic, which makes the emotional aspect of the story feel intense and intimate. As a result, readers will experience the diversity of Drummond’s feelings during her painful but redemptive journey of self-discovery. . . [Weighing the Truth] will have suspense fans turning pages until the very end.”-Kirkus Reviews

“A compelling legal tale that starts at San Quentin but winds up deep inside the reader’s heart with the ultimate universal truth: life never goes according to plan. While Mason’s knowledge of the legal system shines through the page, it is her depiction of a woman caught amidst life’s tragedies and triumphs that lingers in this reader’s memory.”

“Weighing the Truth is both title and theme, a theme that shines through all levels of the story. As the multi-layered plot unfolds, it becomes evident that appearances can be deceiving, and that the truth is not so black and white.”— Elizabeth Lyon, Author, A Writer’s Guide to Fiction and other books

“Painterly scene descriptions set the stage for the action and characters—some endearing, some terrifying—making this a page-turner.”— Susan Samuels Drake, Author of Fields of Courage and Wandering Amazed

Praise for Christine Z. Mason’s novel, Boundaries: A Love Story:

“Forbidden love flourishes in Mason’s debut novel as Kaia and Mark, first cousins, fall in love. The two meet the summer that Kaia is 16. Devastated by her parents’ recent divorce, Kaia is finally ready to confront her mother for leaving her with her controlling father in Berkeley, Calif. When Kaia and her mother spend two weeks together with Kaia’s aunt and uncle on an island off  Cape Cod, instead of contending with her anger toward her mother, Kaia finds herself fiercely attracted to Mark, her older cousin who is about to start law school. . . . As the story shifts from Maine to California, Kaia and Mark will have to make decisions that will affect them and their families. The characters and their choices come alive as dynamic and complicated in this involving story about desire and the intricate secrets of families. The issues of Kaia’s finding herself, despite her father’s iron fist and Mark’s at times suffocating love, speak to the tricky navigations of the heart as well as the delicate balance of individuality and interdependence. Kaia shines as a growing girl who changes over the course of the novel, and the tension of her conflict will keep readers intrigued.

A feast of romantic entanglements that tests the odds.”—Kirkus Reviews   


“BOUNDARIES: A LOVE STORY will have you torn between lingering over the beautifully crafted prose and rushing ahead to discover how several absorbing questions are resolved. The story of Kaia and Mark and the difficult decisions they face will lead you to think about the novel long after you’ve read the last page.”

– Susan Samuels Drake, Author of Fields of Courage and Wandering Amazed

“Intriguing and touching, a beautiful story.”

– Bharti Kirchner, Author of Darjeeling and Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery 

See the review on Kirkus Reviews: Boundaries: A Love Story on Kirkus Reviews

READER REVIEWS of Boundaries: A Love Story:

5.0 out of 5 starsBeautifully written and absorbing, October 29, 2013

By intheredwoods on October 29, 2013

I found this book absorbing and read it quickly while on vacation. It is a forbidden love story of two cousins coming of age, having to face parental and societal disapproval. The many layers of human relationships involve a manic-depressive parent, a previously hidden affair in the family, a controlling father, and the struggle to grow up and grow together or apart.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!, October 23, 2013
 This review is from: Boundaries: A Love Story (Hardcover)
What a great love story. You are truly able to get inside of each character’s head and understand the plot through each of their perspectives. What I loved most is that this love story is actually realistic-not one of those typical, predictable, and often times cheesy stories. Beautifully written as well. I highly recommend it!
5.0 out of 5 stars A reader’s gem, November 21, 2013
 This review is from: Boundaries: A Love Story (Hardcover)
“What we have here folks―are ducks. The Matheson and Karadonis families trying to appear serenely gliding over the waters of life while paddling furiously beneath the surface, some for their very survival.The author, Chris Mason, hooks us with the opening scene, then sucks us into the two family’s tangled web of deceit, betrayal, emotional frigidity, and more as, Kaia, the protagonist struggles with what the title promises: love skirting the boundaries and limits of forbidden relationships on so many different levels for so many of these family members. This is a journey you will certainly, not only want to take, but also need to take.”

5.0 out of 5 stars One Great Read!!!, November 13, 2013
By NanC
This review is from: Boundaries: A Love Story (Hardcover)
This beautifully written, unsettling story will make you think about relationships and the fluidity of those boundaries that we all assume to be solid. The story is brought to life by the skillful use of imagery and descriptive language enhancing the realism by evoking various moods and feelings of the characters. Through this, one comes to know and care deeply about them: their pain, joy, struggles, and triumphs. This book sensitively tackles larger societal prejudices and taboos and allows the readers to examine their own assumptions and preconceived ideas. This moving story is one that you will remember long after you have finished the last page.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read, November 9, 2013
 This review is from: Boundaries: A Love Story (Hardcover)
Christine Z. Mason’s debut novel is not your run-of-the-mill love story. It’s a coming-of-age story rife with family tensions resulting from a taboo relationship among cousins, mental illness, infidelity, and the impact of career on relationships, and Ms. Mason’s portrayal of the characters⎯some likeable and some despicable⎯in the face of these conflicts is spot on. Also, although set in the 1980’s, the author has found a way to incorporate issues, such as feminism, religion, domestic violence, and constitutional rights, that are just as relevant today as they were back then. Whether or not the reader agrees with the opinions and choices of the characters, the underlying moral questions raised demand consideration, and with Ms. Mason’s phenomenal command of the English language and beautiful prose, this is a novel that simply can’t be put down until it’s finished.
5.0 out of 5 stars Boundaries is so much more than a romance novel, October 13, 2013
By AnnieK
 This review is from: Boundaries: A Love Story (Hardcover)
Boundaries is intensely heartfelt at times and at others, a delightful story of young lovers who struggle to keep it together, both in their own personal lives and in their relationship. It begins with a love story but is not necessarily just that. Mother-daughter, father-daughter, mother-son, father-son, sisters, in-laws, cousins — dysfunctional families are indeed everywhere but this story is drenched with the secrets and deviations of the many relationships that go on, in the open and behind the curtains. Elisa, an enchanting mother suffering from manic depression, is my absolute favorite. Her story and her character, with so much pain and yet so much brightness, is eccentric and deeply moving that I’ve always had to know where she was in the story. Also, there’s a lovely, classic atmosphere with the book being set in the 80’s, though still a modern book, the absence of ubiquitous technology like cellphones or laptops and and the replacement with letters and that ache and excitement of waiting for a message back is refreshing to read about.
Recommended to those with a taste for forbidden passions.
The stakes remain high throughout this debut novel that chronicles an abiding love between first cousins and a family determined to keep them apart.When sixteen-year old Kaia Matheson and her twenty-two-year old cousin, Mark, fall in love, they face condemnation from their family and friends. Is it their youth or their family connection that spawns the disapproval? Or does their relationship threaten to expose other illicit connections in the family?

Although told from multiple points of view, this is primarily Kaia’s story. We watch as she navigates the familiar tightrope for many women between romance and independence, family and career. Her steadfastness is admirable; her family despicable.

Christine Z. Mason’s debut novel is not your run-of-the-mill love story. It’s a coming-of-age story rife with family tensions resulting from a taboo relationship among cousins, mental illness, infidelity, and the impact of career on relationships, and Ms. Mason’s portrayal of the characters⎯some likeable and some despicable⎯in the face of these conflicts is spot on. Also, although set in the 1980’s, the author has found a way to incorporate issues, such as feminism, religion, domestic violence, and constitutional rights, that are just as relevant today as they were back then. Whether or not the reader agrees with the opinions and choices of the characters, the underlying moral questions raised demand consideration, and with Ms. Mason’s phenomenal command of the English language and beautiful prose, this is a novel that simply can’t be put down until it’s finished.

Praise for The Mystery of Nan Madol

Review of Christine Z. Mason’s The Mystery of Nan Madol in San Jose Mercury News

Click here to read on the San Jose Mercury News website.

Scotts Valley author’s novel transports readers to the heart of the South Pacific


POSTED:   06/22/2011 01:30:05 AM PDT
Click photo to enlarge

Author Christine Mason and teacher Breta Holgers in the Scotts Valley… (Bill Lovejoy/Sentinel)

SCOTTS VALLEY — In the Pacific somewhere east of the Philippines sits the Federated States of Micronesia, a collection of small islands that remains outside even the peripheral vision of most Americans.

But Christine Mason, a Scotts Valley author, is bringing Micronesia and the island state of Pohnpei into focus in her children’s novel “The Mystery of Nan Madol: A Pacific Island Adventure.”

Mason, who lived and worked in Micronesia when she served in the Peace Corps, hoped to capture her experiences and share them with her own children through fiction writing.

“[Living in Micronesia] was really a big turning point in my life,” Mason said. “At first it was hard living in a tin shack with bugs and horrible conditions … but then you just slow down.”

“The Mystery of Nan Madol” tells the story of a 13-year-old American girl and her experiences as she’s extracted from the California culture she knows and transported to a place where the norm doesn’t necessarily fit her expectations.

While the novel is largely a mystery and adventure story, it presents and attempts to tackle questions much bigger than a search for clues.

“Part of the message of the book is to preserve ancient ruins and ancient cultures,” Mason said.

After making a major archeological discovery, the characters in the book must decide whether they should risk disrupting the culture of the Micronesian people in exchange for the rewards that would come from solving such a mystery.

But the novel does not only ask the reader to critically think about historical preservation versus archeological discovery, it raises questions of cultural education.

Breta Holgers, a retired teacher from Brook Knoll School, wrote a study guide to accompany Mason’s novel. She said the novel creates critical questions about cultural perceptions, asking students to re-evaluate their own ideals.

“That’s a great point to talk about with kids,” Holgers said. “Why do you think one way is right and one way is wrong?”

For a little less than 200 pages, Mason’s novel transports young readers to a place that holds different values and holds different cultural norms than what the average 11- to 13-year-old American student knows.

Mason and Holgers said the novel asks students to become engaged and to creatively imagine the world of Micronesia. Both women hoped that reading the novel would inspire children to write and create stories of their own.

But if nothing else, the novel is an adventure far from the confines of a classroom.

“How can you not want to take a little trip somewhere in your brain?” Holgers said. “It’s some other place you can go visit for a half-hour.”



‘The Mystery of Nan Madol: A Pacific Island Adventure’ by Christine Mason is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz and other local booksellers.

Praise for Christine Z. Mason’s children’s book, The Mystery of Nan Madol:

 “Middle graders who enjoy an ancient mystery, wild animal chases, curses from angry natives and being lost in the jungle will love the adventure of The Mystery of Nan Madol.” Linden McNeilly, MFA, 6th Grade Teacher

“A rare gem of a book for young readers, a gripping adventure tale that I could hardly put down.” Bharti Kirchner, author of Darjeeling, Pastries, and other novels.

A review from a 12-year-old reader:
“Dear Chris,
            I really liked your book The Mystery of Nan Madol. It was an adventurous and mysterious book, so I could hardly put it down once I started reading it, because I liked it a lot. My favorite character is Sidney, because of her courage throughout this dangerous journey. I think the most interesting part of this adventurous story was when Peter, Jabro, and Sidney were lost in the jungle. I was always anxious to see what was going to happen throughout this part, like, when the wild boars came in their path, or when they went into Nan Madol without permission. I like this book, because it is full of adventure that will pull you right into the book.
 5 stars ~ Susana Loca
I am agreeing that as an adventure story for budding youth,it is quite engrossing. It seems to have the same type of pull that classic series like Nancy Drew had – with the interrelationships between people of different ages and different cultures are examined in the setting of a faraway and strange place. The emphasis on the more “primitive” culture interestingly shows how much sense these cultures make, even if at first glance one might dismiss them as “backward”. The book shows in a warm and loving way the manner in which one might learn to accomodate and appreciate another culture, albeit at first glance it might seem that the best move would be to run away and stay away.In light of the knowledge the children gain through their adventure, they learn that there is much beauty and value in seeking to understand another culture. Good reading on a number of levels.5 starsAn Archeological Suspense Mystery of Panope ~ Joaquin Staban
The Micronesia area of the Pacific Rim is emerging as home to some of the oldest human-created art, older than Europe or Africa, such ss the radio-carbon dating and doumentation of s “Humpatong” statue some 7800 years old in Borneo with on-going attempts to put this discovery in a cultural context (see the reviews of “Chauvet Cave: The Discovery of the World’s Oldest Paintings” in New York Review of Books LVIII [10]:12-14), by Jean-Marie Chauvet et al, reviewed by Bell, 6/9/11, & Hilburg & Zil, 5/31/11), and now the subject of a 2011 movie, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” directed by Werner Herzog.In this exciting context comes along a mystery based carefully on fact by former Peace Corps author Christine Mason, a suspenseful and culturally-sensitive treatment of what is sometimes invasive archeological inquiry. The book explores the discovery of a “compound” of ancient figures and possibly-menacing “protectors” from a later culture, and the life-and-death confrontation between seemingly innocent and curious explorers. To say more would risk being a spoiler. The book is riveting and of interest to travellers, international volunteers, and history buffs as well as mystery readers. Highly recommended. Movie rights for this book, “The Mystery of Nan Madol” may face a bidding war.4 starsHow “The Mystery of Nan Madol” hit me ~ Art Mangold 
As I read “The Mystery of Nan Madol,” a fundamental question stood at the back of my mind: If this is an adventure story for budding youth, why do I find it so engrossing? The answer came only after later reflection. The story is founded on the reciprocal love between parents and children, between adults and young people, and between young people themselves. Thirteen year old Sydney is a mixture of youthful idealism, adolescent insecurities, and young love seeking expression. Her younger brother Peter is not quite there but is clearly on the way, and he is fully focused on the thrill of adventure. Their 15-year olr Pohnpein friend Jarbo leads them on an adventure of a lifetime through the jungle of a tiny volcanic island in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean.Although the story is short, the author manages to shed warm light on the people of Pohnpei. Many endearing culture and character traits, as well as the beauty of the island, are woven quite naturally into the tale. The author judiciously avoids excessive social commentary. By limiting herself to describing some of the gentle ways by which Pohnpeians resolve conflict, Mason reminds the reader, child or adult, that human beings are basically good and capable of living together harmoniously.