Twenty-four Days – Blog Hop

Jacqui Murray has a new book out and I had the privilege of a sneak peek. I read her first book, To Hunt a Sub, and this sequel does not disappoint! It’s a torpedo-paced military thriller that I happily review below. 

But first things first.

Twenty-four Days

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.

At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.

In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.

But the second, Otto can’t locate.

Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi–the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.

And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.

As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.

***

Jacqui’s research and technical knowledge is outstanding and adds immensely to the believability and enjoyment of the read. Here’s a tidbit:

Can today’s science make a warship invisible?

If not today, in the very near future. DARPA and other scientific arms of the US Military are experimenting with approaches such as the use of metamaterials (the device used in Twenty-four Days) To hide military equipment from all sorts of waves—like sound waves and light waves. In a nutshell, here’s how they work: Rather than the sound or light waves hitting the object, they are deflected around the object and they land on what’s behind it. That means, the viewer (or in the book’s case, sonar) see what’s behind the object rather than the object. This is already effective for small objects, but is experimental for large ones like tanks and subs, and planning stages for sonar.

Pretty cool.

My Review:

I was an avid fan of Murray’s military thriller To Hunt a Sub, and her second book, Twenty-four Days, somehow managed to top the first. Though it isn’t necessary to have read the first book before diving into Twenty-four Days, I do recommend it. Murray mentions backstory but doesn’t spend a lot of time on it, so I liked having a solid grasp of the network of main characters prior to jumping into the new novel. It increased my enjoyment of this torpedo-paced book.

Torpedo-paced is an accurate description. This book starts off full speed ahead and keeps it up to the last page. For readers who love thrillers with twisting plots, plenty of intrigue, and a race against time to uncover and stop a multi-pronged terrorist attack, Twenty-four Days hits the mark. Not until the very end is the master plan understood, and foiling the plot takes right up to the last page. I’m a slow reader, and I whizzed through this book.

One thing I enjoyed about To Hunt a Sub was the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military elements of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. This book is just as convincing as the first but with the addition of a battleship. The operation, acronyms, and lingo were technical, realistic, and occasionally over my head, but never to the degree that I was lost. Rather, I was thoroughly convinced that Murry is a submariner! 

The science behind both reads is well researched and felt completely authentic, from cutting-edge military science and technology to the capabilities of artificial intelligence. The first book introduces the reader to Otto, a computer-housed AI. He was effective and fascinating but not terribly engaging. In Twenty-four Days, Otto gets a mobile body and the algorithms necessary to acquire a personality. He becomes a captivating character in the story and was one of my favorites as he participates in problem-solving and saving the world from war. The whole cast of characters is well drawn, their personalities, emotions, and relationships believable. There isn’t a lot of downtime to get to know them deeply though – the main reason to start with the first book.

All in all, a thrill of a read – 5 stars and highly recommended. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Twenty-four Days:      

Kindle US,    Kindle UK,    Canada

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Quote from author:

What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the Naval battle that relies on not just fire power but problem solving to outwit the enemy.

Social Media contacts:

http://twitter.com/worddreams

http://facebook.com/kali.delamagente

http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

https://plus.google.com/u/0/102387213454808379775/posts

Ordinary Handsome Review – A Stunning Read

Steven’s New Cover! Global Link to Amazon

With my shift into some breathing room, I’ve begun indulging in some overdue reading. My TBR pile is teetering, and I’ve had to purchase more books to prop it up. I’ll be posting reviews now and then when I surface from a really great read. I read this one a while ago, and it’s a book I still think about. If you love the beauty of words, I highly recommend it. 

My Review of Ordinary Handsome

I just finished this book and sit here collecting my thoughts. From the first page, I knew I had happened on something special, something that would sweep me into the otherworld offered by a talented author and his beautifully written book.

The story is grim, about the dying lives that labor on in the dying town of Handsome, Oklahoma. Ghosts in a ghost town. The book follows ordinary men dealing with the epic struggles that shape human experience: love and death, failure, fathering, poverty, murder, and lost hope. It revolves around a young man, Euart Monroe Wasson, and the men who participate in the tragedy made of his life.

The book isn’t one to speed through. Baird writes with a style that requires one to pay attention. He slowly draws aside the veils that reveal the interconnection of each man’s story. I had the impression that I was piecing together a mosaic, the tale assembled from the shards of shattered lives, memories, impressions, and illusions.

The narrative is informal and appropriate to the rural landscape. At the same time, the writing is textured, rife with precise detail, stunning imagery, and raw emotion. Baird is a master at finding the perfect word and painting a picture that shifts and clears with each new perspective.

I highly recommend Ordinary Handsome to any reader who wants to get lost in an exquisitely written tale. This book will stick to your heart.

***

I picked up Ordinary Handsome after following Baird’s blog and falling in love with the quality of his writing. I’ll also happily recommend his book, A Very Tall Summer.

hey__steve__by_angeink-d813x0kSteven Baird is an author, amateur photographer, and 36-year newspaper compositor. He has published three novels, including his latest, A Very Tall Summer, and has been writing since the age of 10. Steven is a native Canadian living in southwest Virginia with his wife Angela, a horse, dog, cat, and a Neurotic Band of Chickens. He does not take himself as seriously as his portrait would suggest.

Global Link to Amazon: Ordinary Handsome Amazon

Link to Steven’s Website: Ordinary Handsome Website

 

The Best Advice So Far – Book Review

unnamedThis is a book that I reviewed in 2015 and have been thinking about lately as so many people across the world struggle with feelings of disenfranchisement. Lots of us feel buffeted by events beyond our control and choices made by others. The beauty of this book lies in the affirmation that “You always have a choice.”

Erik Tyler is a frequent visitor to my blog, a friendly soul willing to engage with me and other bloggers who kindly comment on my posts. He sent me a copy of his book, The Best Advice So Far, which I loved, and therefore am pleased to share again.

In my 20’s and 30’s, I read personal growth books. Many of the lessons stuck, but many required too much work: hours of self-analysis, a spiritual conversion, expensive travel, learning a new practice, joining a cult, and wearing beads, headbands, and robes. I just didn’t have the time between working and raising a family. Being a happy person shouldn’t be that hard.

As unique individuals, we all define happiness differently. In the middle third of my life, I discovered that happiness, for me, is a wonderful side effect of integrity, authenticity, and kindness, an outward spreading of “the love.” Sometimes that takes the form of service, but more often it’s a way of being in relationship with others without all the filters, free of the junk I used to drag around, manacled to my ankle.

So, what does this have to do with Erik’s book…

What I loved about The Best Advice So Far is its simplicity. It’s a well-organized and beautifully written guide to cultivating the integrity, authenticity, and genuine kindness toward self and others that lead to satisfying relationships, and ultimately, to happiness. I’m a believer in the power of perspective and that attitude and approach have incredible power over our lives. This is where the power of choice comes into play. I may not be able to change my circumstances, but I have a choice about how I will perceive, process, and respond.

The book is not a religious, theological, or spiritual treatise, but rests on sound psychological principles and practice. In each chapter, Tyler introduces a topic based on his own experiences, foibles, and insights. The anecdotes are entertaining tales in and of themselves, and on many occasions, I found myself laughing or reduced to tears. I can’t remember the last time a “self-help” book touched me so deeply.

At the end of each chapter, Tyler offers Questions for Reflection and Discussion. They provide fodder for further growth, for journaling, for individual, couple, and group exploration. I plan to use some of them as topics for discussion with my adventurous women’s group.

CJIWfXjWEAAdJW3In my few interactions with Erik, it’s clear to me that his principles are in practice. I recommend this book to anyone who seeks a life of greater connection, meaning, and happiness. Enjoy.

Erik is an author, speaker, blogger, youth mentor, family advocate, singer, songwriter, musician, poet, people lover, creative force, conversationalist, problem solver, chance-taker, noticer, and lover of life. He lives in the Boston area of Massachusetts.

Follow his blog at: The Best Advice So Far

And browse his book on Amazon: The Best Advice So Far

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE SORCERER’S GARDEN by @DWallacepeach #Fantasy

While I was taking a break and guzzling cold medicine, a lovely review of The Sorcerer’s Garden showed up on Rosie Amber’s book review blog. The review is compliments of  Suzanne Rogerson. Thank you, Suzanne and Rosie!

I hope you enjoy this review as much as I did:

***

Today’s team review is from Suzanne, she blogs at Suzanne Rogerson Fantasy AuthorSuzanne has been reading The Sorcerer’s Garden by D Wallace Peach.

My Review

Wow, this was a breath-taking adventure that barely stood still.

I was intrigued by the title and the blurb really stood out for me, anything to do with writing and writers and I’m sold! As I started reading, possibilities whirled through my mind…

The start of the story felt a little over the top in the action sense. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but then I realised this was the start of Cody’s story – his tale of slaying the dragon with his brother. I thought this was very cleverly done by the author. This larger than life action helped to distinguish between Madlyn’s real world and Cody’s work in progress. However, as the story developed everything becomes more complicated for Madalyn and soon the two worlds are colliding and you have no idea what is real and…

(Continue Reading: Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE SORCERER’S GARDEN by @DWallacepeach #Fantasy)

To Hunt a Sub – Book Review

To Hunt a Sub is Jacqui Murray’s debut fiction novel and what a read it is.

A nuclear sub goes missing and retired Navy intel officer, Zeke Rowe, is called in to help with the investigation. It turns out that a cybervirus is the culprit. What Rowe can’t figure out was who did it or how to stop the perpetrator from sinking every submarine in the fleet. He joins forces with Kali Delamagente, the developer of an AI named Otto whose unique ability is compiling clues and finding things – like ancient people, kidnappers, and modern subs.

Rowe’s not the only one whose interested in the subs or Otto’s capabilities. Bent on destroying America, a terrorist is making Kali’s life miserable, breaking into her lab, hacking her computer, and making hostages out of those she loves. He nails warnings to the dead bodies of anyone who gets too close. As the terrorist ring closes in, time is running out and the stakes are rising.

One thing I enjoyed about this read is the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military aspects of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. I was fascinated by her explanation of Otto’s capabilities, the security efforts Kali employs to protect her data, and how she used Otto’s data to help Rowe.

If that all sounds like too much science, the characters are also well-rounded human beings with colorful histories and rich emotional palettes. There’s a little romantic attraction thrown in for fun though it isn’t a main focus of the story. The plot is high energy and complex with twists that require the reader to pay attention.

To Hunt a Sub is an entertaining novel for anyone who enjoys military thrillers. A well-written read and great fun!

Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray

About the Author:
J Murray blogs at Worddreams and has wonderful tips for writers. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

To Hunt a Sub on Amazon – Universal Link 

The Bone Wall: 2 Blogger Reviews

the-bone-wall-ebook

The Bone Wall – Amazon Universal Link

Kevin Cooper from KC Books & Music recently graced one of my books with a glowing review. Of course, I did a happy dance around my house, and the dogs barked their heads off at the excitement. “No, we’re not going for a car ride,” I shouted. “I got a super review.”

There’s no greater gift to an author than when someone “gets” your book and tells the world about it. Kevin is a great friend of indie authors, a reputable reviewer, cover designer, and accomplished author and musician in his own right. I encourage writers and readers to browse his site. Without further ado:

Kevin’s Review: The Bone Wall

This futuristic/dystopian tale is presented to us in the first-person pov from the perspective of two very different, if not truly opposite personas: Rimma who is angry and bent upon revenge for the death of her father and against all who oversaw the destruction of heaven, and her twin sister, Angel who hopes against hope for a better world of peace, love and harmony.

Rimma not only vows to kill all the biters, (those responsible for the destruction of heaven) but forces Angel to vow that she will allow Rimma to bear all the burdens and consequences so she can protect her.

The only thing stronger than Rimma’s burning desire for revenge is her love for Angel and all that she stands for… In a world bent upon self-destruction, Angel must survive at all costs. The story is deeply thought-provoking, extremely well written and constructed; It’s not the kind of story you want to read quickly and get it over with but rather, one you want to savour. There are countless raw emotions and events to draw you ever deeper, and never a dull moment passes in this action-packed epic fantasy/sci-fi tale.

The Bone Wall is a truly exceptional work which brings out the best in D. Wallace Peach… Without doubt my favourite to date and one of the easiest five-stars I’ve ever given. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

** ❤ **

Somehow, this ended up being my lucky week with a second review, this one by the talented author and blogger, Jacqui Murray. She blogs at Worddreams, and I love her site for her writing tips and “How to Describe” thought-starters. Check out her Top Posts and other resources on her right menu bar.

Jacqui’s Review: The Bone Wall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Bone Wall follows the story of two twins, entwined in a failing world that neither is prepared for. When the world almost destroyed itself over 300 years ago, it managed to seal in some of the planet’s inhabitants while condemning the rest to live outside the protective shell, in a world that was barely life at all. Now that shell is failing and the inhabitants within must figure out what that means to them. What follows is a savage fight to save a dystopian world that will never be the same.

This is D. Wallace Peach’s fourth novel. Not only is it a page-turner, but it challenges our notions of humanity, fairness, and equity in a world where none of those can truly exist.

** ❤ **

Thanks you to both authors for taking the time to read and share their thoughts on their blogs. It’s a great honor.

Amazon Universal Link

Indie Book Reviews: Part II

Once again, while I’m away, I’m catching up on posting the book reviews that I completed over the past few months. This is Part Two. Comments are open, but since I’m still off the internet grid, it will be a bit longer before I can reply. Please click through and check out a wonderful blogger’s site. Or, better yet, try out a book! Enjoy!

my-vibrating-vertebraeMy Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poems by Agnes Mae Graham 

A wonderful collection of poems by Agnes Mae Graham, saved and published by her children C. Graham and L. J. Baker as a tribute to her mother. I read this book over a weekend. Many of the poems are playfully clever, a clear sign of Ms. Graham’s robust sense of humor. She even titled one “Nonsense Rhyme.” Yet she also writes poignantly about her love of home and family, and the trials of life including a beautiful piece about the war “The Terror and The Tears.” The poems stand on their own, but they also provide a sweet glimpse of the poet and her life. A great read.

Chris Graham’s Blog: The Story Reading Ape
Amazon Universal Link: My Vibrating Vertebrae

 

dog-boneDog Bone Soup by Bette Stevens 

Dog Bone Soup is an engaging tale set in the 1950’s and 1960’s and though Stevens indicates that the book will speak to boomers, in particular, the family drama and the emotional world of the characters are timeless and relatable. The story follows the oldest brother in the family, Shawn Daniels, a boy whose young life is burdened by dire poverty and an abusive, alcoholic father. His proud mother does the best she can for her children, and Shawn becomes a man before his time, helping to support the family.

Though the story deals with a struggling child in a tough situation, the book has many moments of childhood humor and delight, especially between the brothers. Shawn not only survives his rough start but comes through as a strong individual with solid values and high personal integrity.

Stevens writing is captivating, raw and sweet, with well-drawn characters. I read the prequel “White Trash” prior to this book, however, I feel that Dog Bone Soup easily stands on its own. A compelling read about childhood resilience and growth into manhood.

Bette Steven’s Blog: 4 Writers and Readers
Amazon Universal Link: Dog Bone Soup

 

conflicted-heartsConflicted Hearts by D. G. Kaye 

D. G. Kaye writes a compelling narrative about her narcissistic mother who whirled through Kaye’s childhood life like a tornado, prone to rages, self-absorbed, and unreliable as a parent. Her father was in and out of the household, his relationship with his wife volatile, and Kaye remembers dreading his next departure and worrying that he might not return at the end of each day.

It wasn’t until she turned 18 and left home that she was able to begin looking back at her life, evaluating the dynamics of her relationship with her mother, and making choices for her own well-being.

Conflicted Hearts doesn’t read as a story as much as it does a reflection on Kaye’s life and emotional growth. For those who grew up in emotionally chaotic households, the dynamics of blame and guilt will sound familiar. The constant worry, the burden of responsibility for siblings, and the desperate need to keep the peace will ring bells.

Kaye’s writing is candid with bits of humor and some light moments of joy in her journey of growth. The message of the book speaks to the strength of a positive attitude and outlook, and the role of forgiveness in moving forward. If you love memoirs and reflections on personal growth, this book will hit the mark.

Debby Kaye’s Blog: D. G. Kaye Writer
Amazon Universal Link: Conflicted Hearts 

 

twin-desiresTwin Desires by Pamela Wight and Ashley Brandt 

Twin Desires accomplished it’s twin goals with plenty of romance and a thrilling plot. Sandra Eastman is making a comfortable life for herself when corporate CEO Blake Sinclair takes an interest. Unfortunately, his attentions coincide with the escape from prison of Blake’s psychotic twin brother. Alex has one goal – to murder his brother and flee with his fortune. Sandra is a pawn in a deadly plot between a brother who loves her and his twin who wants to kill her. Wright has developed distinctive characters with a lot of personality and fun dialog. Frequent point of view shifts took some getting used to, but otherwise, Wright’s writing is on the mark. A fast-paced and suspenseful read. Lovers of romantic thrillers will have a great time with this one.

Pam Wight’s Blog: Roughwighting
Amazon Universal Link: Twin Desires

 

poetic-ritualsPoetic Rituals by Ritu Bhathal 

Bhathal’s Poetic Rituals is a collection of poems that explores life’s rituals, those of a mother, wife, lover, and teacher. There are real gems in here with lovely imagery, humor, passion, and ambivalence. My favorite poems were the lighthearted rhymes about being a mother of young children. A great read to visit and browse throughout the day.

 

Ritu Bhathal’s Blog: But I Smile Anyway
Amazon Universal Link: Poetic RITUals