Book Review – Shifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase One by Michael Shusko

About the Book:

Shifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase One

Iranian physicist Dr. Sara Qaderi has been leaking intelligence to the UN detailing her deadly work at a nuclear facility in Iran for months—but her time is running out. Colonel Mostafa Sabri is on the hunt for the traitors who have been compromising Iran’s national security. And he always finds his prey.

Since birth, Sara has been taught that Americans aren’t to be trusted. Now her life is in the hands of Nick Shane, an American Marine whose mission is to get her and the vital information she carries to Afghanistan before Israel drops the first bombs of the next world war. He has his own reservations about this Iranian physicist and her motives. But he also has his orders, and will carry out his mission at all costs.

Will they make it in time to save the world from erupting into a violent global conflict—or die in the unforgiving Iranian desert?

My Thoughts:

The plot is good, the story solid and well-written. Shifting Sands takes the reader into a world at the brink of war, showing us the harsh reality of the conditions around. We are introduced to Nick and his brothers on one side, and Dr. Sara Qaderi on the other. Israel is on the verge of dropping bombs on Iran, and the good doctor’s testimony may be the one thing that can stop it all. While there is friction between Nick and his elder brother, it is clear that each one has issues of their own and Nick is trying to deal with his demons.

As the story progresses, the reader is given some insight into each of the characters and their lives. However, this proves to be a little confusing since we are introduced to so many people and chapters abruptly jump to describe someone completely new. Everyone of the characters has an angle and a mission. Experience and some knowledge of the area plays a big role in this story. It takes a little while to get used to the concept and style, but the writing is simple and straight forward. As a result, it may take some time to complete the book, but it’s worth a read, especially when all the action starts! The author portrays how the war affects people and how they deal with it and this is clearly from some experience, otherwise it would be difficult to articulate and explain the emotions behind it all.

This book is definitely worth a read for those who enjoy the action and a slightly fast-paced story of duty, honor, and protection of countries and their people.

 

Join Leopold Blake on his thrilling adventure in Panic by Nick Stephenson

About the Book:

Panic

Swift. Silent. Deadly.

Leopold Blake, expert criminology consultant for the FBI, had his weekend all planned out – and it didn’t involve dealing with a murdered senator, a high-profile kidnapping, and at least three near-death experiences.

Three politicians have been murdered in as many weeks, all expertly dispatched, and only Leopold can get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, as all hell breaks loose on the streets of New York City, he soon finds himself the next target of a powerful enemy who wants him silenced. Permanently.

Against a backdrop of political corruption and murder, Leopold and his team must fight for their lives to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

This book is  the second in the Leopold Blake series and is a fast-paced thriller. There is an ongoing murder investigation and Blake is called in to consult.  It is interesting to read about how his mind works and how he works with people. Being rich and having access to everything he wants, he sometimes takes advantage of his position and power! His bodyguard, Jeremy is a tough and interesting guy who ensures that he always has Blake’s back. Bring in a police detective and a civilian, and the author gives us a random mix of people, who are unlikely to meet, let alone work together under normal circumstances.

Though the story flows very well and the plot is well thought out, at times it felt as though the deductions were too easy and that Blake doesn’t have to put in too much effort to solve things. This makes it a little unrealistic to read about. However, putting this aside, the way the story is written is intriguing, making it difficult for the reader to figure out what is going on before the characters in the story do. The story has a lot of action, and adventure in it, with the characters racing against time to catch the culprit. The characters are mostly well developed, though at times they tend to behave in ways that might be difficult for the reader to relate to, but they are deep and complex overall.

As they race against the clock, so does the reader, as we turn page after page to quickly understand the plot and the meaning of the title “Panic”. This book is definitely worth the read for those who love a good mystery thriller!

Book Review: Alpha Kaden by Midika Crane

Alpha Kaden was first put up on Wattpad. The popularity of the book and it’s author led to Inkitt picking the book up for publication. It is slated to release on May17th 2017.

I was provided with a complimentary copy by Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Alpha Kaden

“Lock your doors. Hold them tight. Close your windows. Every night. Don’t go out, in case he’s there. Always live in total fear.”

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

My Thoughts:

 I’ve picked  up a book in the supernatural genre after a very long time and it felt good to read this one. I particularly enjoy a lot of the books that are written on Wattpad and am very happy that this one is going to be published!

The story follows Mara, a werewolf from the Purity Pack, who gets kidnapped by Alpha Kaden. Alpha Kaden of the Vengeance Pack has a reputation that’s worse that just bad. With this idea in mind, Mara slowly comes to know who he really is and as the story unfolds, we come across a plot that is far deeper than a simple romance story. Many of the characters we encounter along the way, with Mara, are delightful and likable, while some we come to dislike.

The story is well written and has all elements of a romantic thriller. The focus is on so many things which makes it worth the read. The story behind Mara’s mate and how they find each other forms an integral part of the plot along with the many hidden truths that unravel. A story worth reading for all fans of the supernatural!

Dark and sad, Paige Dearth brings out a part of life that many don’t see, in her book When Smiles Fade!

About the Book:

When Smiles Fade

Emma’s father’s coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

 My Thoughts:

What would you do if your only option to survive is to do anything? Would you resort to killing the people who hurt you to protect the ones you love? What does it mean to be hated and hurt? How do you live in a family devoid of the basic emotion that connects them, love and trust? How does your upbringing shape who you ultimately become?

These are the kind of questions that this book raises and answers in some ways. There cannot be a right answer, it’s more of a perspective which the author brings out in a gentle manner. This is required when dealing with topics of abuse and hurt. Paige Dearth introduces us to Emma and her younger sister, who are subject to severe abuse from their father, with a mother who turns the other way through all this. To be frank, it is expected that the children will be traumatized, and that is putting it mildly. These experiences can change a person and the author portrays the same through the protagonist, Emma. She is strong-willed and resourceful while at the same time has a pleasing personality. It becomes difficult to dislike her or condemn her actions when she is after all doing her best to survive.

The people the sisters encounter along the way leave profound impacts on their lives. Some help them and end up becoming life long friends while the others end up somewhere in a ditch, and that’s putting it mildly. Everyone craves normalcy and a mundane life at times and the sisters are no different. However, tragedy seems to strike  so many times, it’s a wonder that they still find reasons to smile. In the end, Emma has the last laugh, but it was worth it all.

The author’s writing is bold and to the point and she doesn’t hold back on her descriptions. There is no stone left unturned in the journey of the sisters and Emma finally learns that you move on – “When smiles fade”! The title is apt and the reader understands this eventually. The story has a lot of smaller plot lines, with each encounter giving us a different glimpse into the characters who support this story and take it forward. The characters are well developed and clearly defined, giving the reader a clear idea of their personalities and at the same time helping us understand how they fit in.

The final question of “Will she find redemption and be happy?” is answered and I really enjoyed the way the story ended. It proved that Emma is a survivor and this is an inspiring thought. There is a lot to learn and understand in this book and I strongly recommend the same to all.

A fast-paced thriller, high on adrenaline and abundant in bio-chemistry, Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero has it all!

I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero

When researcher Jawad Khattib gasps his last breath on the Massachusetts General Hospital floor, the Department of Homeland Security wants answers—especially after a preliminary autopsy suggests he died of radiation poisoning. What exactly was Khattib working on? And who was he working for? DHS Agent Lee Jansen is rushed to Boston and paired with expert toxicologist Dr. Emma Hess to crack the case. All evidence points to the creation of a dirty bomb, but the clues seem too clean, too obvious. During the course of their investigation, they discover the horrible truth. This new weapon is far more deadly than anyone had expected. It isn’t just capable of killing hundreds—it’s capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what’s been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it’s too late?

About the Author:

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Michael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, was raised in Long Branch, NJ. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1985 after graduating high school.

Dr. Shusko cut his teeth in the military in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. As his first assignment, he attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, where he studied Arabic. Upon completing his language training, he worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. He spent time in Liberia, served as a Marine during the first Gulf War, and worked for several years with the Defense Attaché’s office at the US Embassy in Kuwait.

After returning to the States in 1995, Dr. Shusko focused his attention on earning his bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University while studying Persian-Farsi at Princeton. He then transferred to the Navy Medical Corps and enrolled in medical school at Wake Forest University, obtaining his Medical Degree in 2002. He also studied at Harvard University, earning his Master’s of Public Health degree in 2013.

Dr. Shusko is a family medicine physician, an occupational medicine physician, and a preventive medicine physician. His Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with his background in special operations and intelligence keep him busy deploying around the world. He has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 17-year-old triplet sons.

My Thoughts:

Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero is a compelling fast-paced thriller that deals with the idea of a bio-chemical weapon that can end the life of hundreds of people easily. The plot is well thought out and right from the beginning, the foundation is set for an entertaining read. The reader is drawn into a web of secrets and deceit without ever knowing who is really involved and who isn’t.

Starting with the suspicious death of researcher Jawad Khattib, to the meeting of some brilliant minds, the author has created some wonderful characters with whom we can relate. Each one has their own story that has shaped who they turn out to be. The experience and expertise of the author in this genre and area are clearly distinguishable through his writing. The author has included a lot of technical information, be it medical, bio-chemical or even military but it is easy for the reader to understand this.

The protagonist is a strong character, though he has been dealt some serious blows in life and is trying to deal with it. Dr. Emma Hess on the other hand was a winner for me, along with Dr Sue. They are women with in-depth knowledge of their field of work and among the foremost. It was a pleasure to read about them and their role in this story.

This book has all the elements for a good action-packed entertainer and will certainly ensure that the reader gets pulled in for the ride. Who can be trusted and who cannot is one part of the major plot with some serious twists at the end, giving us a hint that there is more to this story.

The Good Dictator I – The Rise of an Empire free on Amazon and Smashwords on 12th April 2017

The Good Dictator I – The Rise of an Empire by Gonçalo JN Dias will be available for free download from amazon and smashwords on 12.04.2017

Synopsis:

The Good Dictator I: The Birth of an Empire by [Dias, Gonçalo JN]

There’s an object parked on the moon, but curiously, the unfolding of the story does not take place in New York, but rather, in Lisbon suburbs and in a small village between Portugal and Spain.

The main character, Gustavo, does not get along well with his parents-in-law, and his wife does not like Gustavo’s friends.

A genre-busting book that includes adventure, thriller, dystopia or utopia and an exciting love story.

Book download links:

amazon

smashwords

Author Connect:

author’s official blog.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33014831-the-good-dictator

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01A77NFNO

In Conversation with Dane Cobain

Here at redpillows, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with author and poet, Dane Cobain.

Dane Cobain

His work is quite diverse and spans fiction, non-fiction and poetry. His first work No Rest for the Wicked was released in the summer of 2015.

Read on to know what Dane would like to share!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Dane! I’m a British writer who works across all sorts of genres, from horror and literary fiction to non-fiction and poetry. You can check out my work over here: www.danecobain.com/amazon

  1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I suppose it all started when I was six or seven years old, singing parodies of popular songs with my own lyrics. When I was a teenager, I started to take it a lot more seriously, and the rest if history (and sweat, a lot of that too).

  1. You write such diverse things, novels and poetry, how do you manage that?

Honestly, I just don’t stop. I constantly work on finding ways to optimise my time and to cram as much productivity in as possible. I write a poem a day during the week, and I work on them while on cigarette breaks. Because my poems aren’t too long, I usually also get to spend a little time outlining stories, novels, marketing plans and other things that are stuck in my head. I write longer form things at the computer, while switching between other activities in a ridiculously specific routine I call ‘The Schedule’.

  1. Where do you find inspiration for your poetry?

Life, mainly. But my poetry is unique in that I only include maybe 5% of the poems that I write in the published collections. Sometimes, there isn’t much inspiration, but I still write poems – I just don’t share them.

  1. What are your favourite genres and your favourite books?

I like to read modern classics and ‘alternative’ books, as well as plenty of indie books and new releases thanks to my book blog (SocialBookshelves.com). Some of my favourite writers include Graham Greene, Charles Bukowski, Phillip Pullman, Terry Pratchett and, lately, Stephen King.

  1. Which kind of writing (genre) do you prefer?

They all have their pros and cons and, to be honest, when I’m writing, I don’t usually have a genre in mind. That comes when I get to the marketing stage. I don’t think I can answer this – sorry!

  1. Tell us a little about your research process while working on a novel.

It totally depends upon the novel, but I’m trying to carry out quite a lot for a current project. Unfortunately, the project itself is a bit of a secret, but it involves interviewing subject matter specialists from charities, reading books and documentaries and spending a hell of a lot of time looking at photos and videos that I’d much rather not look at.

  1. Who is your favourite character among those you have created and why?

Hmmm. It’s a tough one to call, but it’s probably Maile O’Hara from my upcoming series of detective novels. She’s basically me, if I was a woman and had specialised in computer stuff instead of writing.

  1. Describe a perfect writing day for you.

I wake up whenever I wake up and stay at home, working until I go to sleep while watching Netflix and chillin’ with my girlfriend. She’s only able to put up with me because she’ll quite happily play Skyrim while I’m working and we both have good taste in documentaries.

  1. What do you find most difficult while writing a novel?

Getting started during the planning stage. The more you plan, the more it all starts to come together, but the early days can be overwhelming. Once you’ve got a plan in place, it just becomes a case of endurance. You just need to stick with it.

  1. What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

There are no rules. It’s just you and a blank piece of paper. It’s liberating, but it’s also terrifying – especially if you’re like me and you hate rhyming poetry

  1. Do you have any advice to share about writing a novel/poetry?

You just need to be prepared for heartbreak, do your best and stick at it. And you’d better make sure that you work with a decent editor if you want your book to be at its best.

Connect with the author:

Goodreads, Twitter

Author Website

Book Review: Granjy’s Eyes by Matt McAvoy

About the Book:

Granjy's Eyes

Meet Ollie.
Well-educated and spoilt – a rich kid, fun-loving party-goer and brutal sociopath. Ruthlessly arrogant Ollie takes what he wants, when he wants it. But Ollie’s going to learn, the hard way, that for every action there’s a consequence, and for every bounty a price.

Because living with Granjy isn’t the bed of roses he thought it was going to be; the blind old lady sees everything – sees him – and most of all sees the monster he is becoming. It was she that made him rotten-to-the-core, and now his payment is due – Ollie will tear apart his own dark soul, and Granjy will teach him new meaning of the word ‘remorse’.

My Thoughts:

I come away with mixed feelings after reading this book. At the end, I just gave a sigh of relief that it is over. Some parts of the book had me cringing in horror and wonder at the kind of things the protagonist gets up to. More than that, it amazed me to read about his justification and rationalization of various events.

Our protagonist lives with his grandmother for a good number of years after being kicked out of his parents house. The dynamics between Ollie and his grandmother is weird enough to raise eyebrows, but is well portrayed in the book. However, it is sad that even though Granjy knew everything about Ollie, she didn’t have the mental strength to stand up to him and put him right, and in the end it cost her dearly.

Ollie is a self-absorbed, money minded and materialistic human being, used to getting his own way and not being accountable for anything he did. This is re-enforced when his grandmother always stands up for him and seems to always see the good in him. This particular relationship and Ollie’s ideas will be severely tested later on in the story. The author’s style of writing is quite different and it took me some time to get into the book. It feels abrupt and there seems to be a lack of flow between chapters. This isn’t that much of a problem since the plot seems to flow on in a clear direction.

The characters are interesting and developed to some extent, though there could have been some more depth given to Ollie. There are many incidents that are not even described enough but are mentioned quite extensively, seemingly to make the reader imagine additional details by themselves. The author maintains the pace of the story and the atmosphere quite well. The story moves at a steady pace, the destination becoming clearer and clearer as we progress, with a climactic ending that I am sure no-one will see coming.

A decent pick-me up for those who enjoy psychological thrillers which also touch upon horror.

Inkitt – app launch for Android

I was asked by the Inkitt team to promote the app on it’s release date (which is today!) and spread the word. Read further to know all about it!

 inkitt

THE INKITT APP BRINGS THOUSANDS OF NOVELS BY INDIE AUTHORS TO ANDROID

Inkitt empowers readers and publishers to discover world’s next best sellers

BERLIN, JANUARY 7, 2017: Inkitt, the world’s first readers and data-driven book publishing house is introducing an Android app for phones and tablets, globally available from today.

Inkitt’s iOS app became available back in November and was well received by users: The app was not only featured on the US App Store but also on numerous other App Stores around the world, as well as on the front page of Product Hunt, ranking in the top 10 in Tech.

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Inkitt for iOS featured as a top Books app in the US App Store

Following the warm welcome by the iOS community, and in order to meet the demand of their own fast growing user base, Inkitt is now bringing their digital library with thousands of novels by emerging authors to Android devices.

“It was a great reward to see Inkitt featured as a top app in numerous App Stores around the world and receive such great feedback from users” says Inkitt’s Founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz. “Readers were really excited about the iOS app but kept asking when we’re launching on Android too. We heard them, worked really hard and today we’re bringing Inkitt to Android devices. All readers will now be able to discover tomorrow’s bestsellers on the go and read great novels by upcoming authors wherever they are.”

Inkitt for Android – 4 key features:

  • Access to thousands of novels from all fiction genres: fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, horror, romance, drama, action, adventure, YA and more
  • Personalized reading suggestions: hand-picked novels based on a reader’s favorite fiction genres

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  • Customizable look to match user preferences (e.g. font size, color combinations)

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  • Online/Offline: readers can save novels to their offline library to access them anytime

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Beyond being a platform connecting aspiring authors with book lovers, Inkitt’s mission is to become the world’s fairest publishing house: Its in-house developed algorithm analyzes reading behavior to determine the potential of a novel to become the next bestseller. Using this unique data-driven approach, Inkitt wants to ensure that great works by new and talented writers never again stay in the dark.

Since July, Inkitt has published 7 novels: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia (Fantasy), Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan (YA Romance), I Was A Bitch by Emily Ruben (YA Romance Mystery), Esper Files by Egan Brass (SciFi) and Caged by Onaiza Khan (Psychological Thriller),  King’s Lament by Lilia Blanc (Fantasy Romance) and Three Fat Singletons by J.M. Bartholomew (Humor Romance), six of which became bestsellers on Amazon.

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Inkitt for Android will be available to download on Google Play from the 7th of January 2017

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About Inkitt

On the surface, Inkitt (www.inkitt.com) is a platform where aspiring writers can share their novels and inquisitive readers can unearth fresh content. But under the hood, we are democratizing publishing: The Inkitt algorithm analyzes reading behavior to predict future bestsellers. In other words: if readers love it, Inkitt publishes it.

MEDIA CONTACT

marvin@inkitt.com