Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sunday Post 19th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.


Last Week on the Blog:

  • Monday Highlights #32
  • Vera Made Me Read It: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Books We Got This Week:

Renegades (Renegades, #1)Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road, #2)The Nowhere GirlsTimekeeper
Renegades by Marissa Meyer: I've been excited for this for so so long! I love Meyer's writing and superhero/villain stories are always something I'm interested in!
Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman: I loved Vengeance Road. This is a companion novel following different characters and sounds just as good as the first book!
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: This is a sensitive topic for me but I've been wanting to read it anyway so finally caved and ordered it! This looks like it will be a very powerful read.
Timekeeper by Tara Sim: I've had my eye on this since it was released. The paperback was released last month so I decided to get it (Black Friday sale). 
No Good DeedNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan CrowTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
No Good Deed by Kara Connolly: I first heard about this at the beginning of the year and pre-ordered it immediately because female Robin Hood!! 
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend: I don't often read Middle Grade but the hype for this has been intense. Plus it's so beautiful under the cover. So beautiful.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: This was on my list as a release I was excited for and I somehow forgot to pre-order it? Thankfully Black Friday struck again and I bought it!



Reading Update:

Annie on My MindThe Seafarer's KissAs I DescendedOur Own Private Universe
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden: 4.5 stars, There are some books I just cant rationally comment on and this is one of them. I loved Liza and Annie and there were parts of the book that broke my heart but the ending put it back together mostly. It also made me hugely grateful for my family. 
The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember: 3 stars, There were a lot of things I loved about this book, the concept, Loki themselves. The romance fell a little short for me if only because we don't really get to know Ragna. But I loved the mother-daughter relationship of the book and I loved that Erie always did things for the right reasons. 
As I Descended by Robin Talley: 4 stars, This was so creepy and intense and I kinda loved it. It had flaws but they weren't enough to take me out of the story and I was gripped from first to last page.
Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley: 3 stars, This definitely felt weaker than As I Descended. I wasn't as attached to the characters and the plot didn't grab me as much. I definitely want to read more from Robin Talley in the future though!
The MountainBlackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)
The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea: 5 stars, Will have a full review up for this on the release date (30th) but in short I loved it. It was super creepy and atmospheric and I genuinely felt like I was inside the main characters head.
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman: 3 stars, This was interesting but perhaps not for me? I've passed it on to Ann because she was excited for it and hopefully she will love it. It had elements I really liked but then I just didn't really feel the setting as much as I wanted to.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: 4 stars, Not the best world building but a very fun story. I loved Safi and Iseult. Not so much Merik who mostly just got on my nerves.
Windwitch by Susan Dennard: 2 stars, I just want Iseult/Aeduan scenes forever. I will definitely continue the series but this was a much weaker book than the first. 
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, #1)The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)
Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge: 2.5 stars, I don't know. I loved Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound but the world building in this just didn't work for me and I never grew to like any of the characters. I rarely like Romeo and I think I disliked this Romeo even more than the original. And Juliet was so over-dramatic all the time. Whilst Paris and Ranaj were just straight up boring. 
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: 3.5 stars, I see absolutely no reason why this needed to be fantasy. It was basically upper-class English girl heads to America for a new life and ends up as a pioneer. There were very few differences with real history aside from place name changes. I did enjoy the characters and the romance but I don't think I'll continue the series. I'm not as interested in the other characters and this had a complete ending.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Vera Made Me Read It: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu


Vera Said: Picking Devoted for Clare was sort of an easy choice, as it is one of my all time favorite novels, and is very much on the underrated side, even though it DESERVES ALL THE LOVE. There are books with good, strong female friendships, but Devoted has, by far, one of the most beautiful and empowering female friendships I've ever seen. I 1000% needed to share that with Clare, and was hoping that she'd love Devoted as much as I do.




DevotedRachel Walker is devoted to God.

She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.











I didn't actually know much about Devoted before starting except that it was a favourite of Vera's! I had also recently read Mathieu's Moxie and loved it so my hopes were cautiously high! 

Devoted is the kind of book you will never forget. The characters and their relationships stayed with me long after reading and I already know I will be re-reading it (probably soon). It was so emotional being in her head and I was so, so attached to her throughout the book. But I'll admit it was Lauren I properly fell in love with. She was so supportive and wonderful to Rachel even though it must have dredged up bad memories of her own time in the community. She was tough and loving and vulnerable and I adored her.

THE COMMUNITY though. OMG! It made me so mad. The way they treated women, and normalised it, was terrifying and super uncomfortable to read at times. They also humiliated and brainwashed teenagers - the book opens on a teenager who has just returned from a sort of brainwashing camp and is made to stand in front of the congregation and oh god did it make me feel anxious. But it made Rachel's struggle ever more emotional for me and just made me want more and more for her to get out and escape and find happiness. Because she deserved it. 

There is a really sweet romance here, although it's very much in the background of the story. Mark was really adorable and I loved him immediately and his interactions with Rachel were wonderful. As a romance this worked really well and I was so happy to have it there but not dominating a story that was so powerful on it's own. It complimented rather than detracted from the overall plot. 

But the best thing about this was definitely Rachel and Lauren's friendship. It felt so real and raw and they struggled at times because Rachel still held on to a lot of the beliefs she came from and was attempting to reconcile those with also believing in independence and equality whilst Lauren no longer believed at all. I thought both attitudes were really well dealt with and I could understand both Lauren's attempt to leave her experience behind entirely and Rachel's to find a good way to move forward and remain a Christian but in a healthy way. They supported each other throughout and encouraged each other, their friendship was such goals and I loved everything about it - even when they fell out. 

I am super grateful to Vera for getting me to read this because it's not necessarily a book I would have reached for otherwise and I am so glad I did read it! I am now well on my way to being a huge Jennifer Mathieu fan and obviously need to read everything else she has written or will write! 

If you want to check out Vera's review of the book I made her read - Dating Sarah Cooper - then you can click here! And hopefully we can try this out again in the future!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Monday Highlights #32



The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!


You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sunday Post 12th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Last Week on the Blog:



Books We Got This Week:

The BetrayalFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemThe Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1)
The Betrayal by Kate Furnivall: One of my favourite historical fiction writers ever. I had to grab this when I saw it in Tesco.
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling: The illustrations are insanely gorgeous. I am currently reading this and loving it.
The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes: This is apparently the perfect Christmas mystery so I'm putting it aside for Christmas and I am excited!


Reading Update:

Ann:
The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele: 4 stars, This was amazing but I didn't like the cliffhanger ending. Also the main male character got on my nerves a lot with his rudeness and stupidity. 

Clare:
The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grisha Verse, #0.5, #2.5, #2.6)Florence Grace: The Richard & Judy bestselling author
The Empress by S.J. Kincaid: 4 stars, This is a tough one. The ending was intense but I didn't feel the book as a whole was as good as the first book (The Diabolic). I also feel like I'm maybe on the wrong side by the end but I'll be very interested to see where this goes in Book 3.
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: 5 stars, Just. So. Incredibly. Beautiful. The illustrations, the tales themselves. It was all so perfect. If you love the Grishaverse you NEED this and if you've never read a Grisha book (then firstly go do that) then you would still enjoy these fairytales. 
Florence Grace by Tracy Rees: 3 stars, I adored Tracy's first book Amy Snow, this one had much the same enchanting writing. And as much as I loved the main character I just wasn't as entranced by the plot. And the ending wasn't to my liking. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Guest Post: 5 Tips on Writing Your First Novel

Never was there a more timely guest post! Today we welcome Aydin Guner to the blog to give us some helpful, unconventional tips on writing a first novel. Which is timely because Ann and I are currently writing our first novel so these tips will come in very handy! 

5 Tips On Writing Your First Novel by Aydin Guner

I wanted to provide a few unconventional tips on how to write your first novel. It’s probably a bit like having your first baby, you never quite expect it, its rarely planned and it’s never quite what you expected it to be. But that’s ok, that’s normal, and I’ll explain why.

Before you panic, the first rule of creating a novel, and this rule is your North Star, the place you come back to when your lost – is establish your story. This doesn’t mean a detailed plot and all the dialogue, it just means, “What is the story about?” It can be as brief as two sentences. Something like:

Man becomes a tennis player, has some drama with someone in the industry, his dream of playing in the finals is sabotaged, he evades and overcomes his career being destroyed to eventually lift the trophy.

So there you have a basic outline of a story. But of course, there’s 80-100,000 more words to add in, what do you do?

Again, don’t panic. Firstly, try to understand your lead character, who is he? What does he like to do? What are his flaws? What motivates him? Once you’ve established these things, you can start writing about it. At this point, I wouldn’t even worry about ‘telling a story’, just write – it’ll all start making sense as the story goes on and its character building. So, let’s say Eric, our tennis player, has a crazy competitive streak, to the point he is neurotic and OTT when playing a game.

It’s Christmas and the family are gathered around the dining table, playing our annual game of ‘Monopoly’. My wife, Carrina, is to my left, wearing a red Christmas jumper, complimenting her blonde curly hair and my in-laws are opposite us (I hate my in-laws). I am next to wide rolling the dice for my next move, my eyes open with anticipation, eagerly awaiting a good roll so I can land on ‘Mayfair’. My plastic Christmas hat is to the side, almost falling off as I frantically shake the dice and plunge them onto the board.

As you can see, we are starting to bring him to life. This scene could go in so many different ways. You could have him argue with his inlaws over ‘cheating’ allegations. You could have him really drunk and saying something inappropriate. You can have him spill a drink. Several options. This leads to my next tip, let your imagination run wild.

Sometimes you don’t need to have the story or scene mapped out. As long as you know what traits the character has, and if you’re character building, you can just write those traits into the scene. Often I’ll write a chapter, without knowing what I’m about to write. I just have the character discuss something – something random. It’s ok to do this, it helps the reader connect with the character you’re writing. Writers are sometimes so focussed on the story, they forget to character build in an organic way. Be patient, it’s ok to have your character talk about potato chips and movies for a few pages, it makes him/her human.

So, you’ve established your story and you’ve analysed your lead character and written some random chapters to highlight some of his/her character traits. Now you have a foundation to tell your story.

Make sure you have a good supporting cast. The characters in the book are crucial to the feel of the book. Give them depth, provide a back story for them, let the reader know who they are, bring them to life. A good supporting cast is so important. The reader won’t feel engaged if the other characters aren’t interesting. To write good characters, I always used a mixture of people I’ve met along the way in life. Fact is stranger than fiction and, I can guarantee you’ve met some interesting people in your life! Merge the traits together to create unique and interesting characters.  

My next tip – write about something you’re passionate about. If you write about something you’re passionate about, your enthusiasm will shine through the page. There will be times when you don’t want to write, or you’re just not feeling up to it, and that’s ok, and normal. But if it’s a story you’re passionate about telling, those times become less and less.  Try to think of themes and character traits that excite you and motivate you. Writing is a platform for your imagination and it gives you a voice. Think about what you want to say and write about it.

My final tip is, be patient. You will hit blocks when you don’t know where the story is going to go, but take a step back from it and be patient. If you’re completely stuck, you could take a complete left turn and go back to the characters childhood or a flashback of some kind. Dreams are also a good one, to help immerse the reader into the characters mind. Patience is key, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s important to realise a book really does last a lifetime. So take your time with it and make sure you’ve told the story you want to tell.

About the Book:
The Devil in I
Damon West is a twenty-eight-year old living in New York City. His life appears to be perfect. He has a loving girlfriend, good friends, lots of money and a job on Wall Street, everything a young man could ask for. However, Damon has a secret. Damon is the Devil. For centuries, Damon has roamed the Earth enjoying everything the human world has to offer. Sex, entertainment, travel and new discoveries. Damon's life appears to be perfect but takes an unexpected turn when he meets a co-worker, Latasha. Damon is suddenly submerged in a spiraling obsession with Latasha he can't control. She plays him for the fool. For all his charms, Damon is unable to deal with those emotions. Is it love? Whilst Damon's world starts to spiral out of control, we start to question who Latasha really is. Is she who she appears to be? Was this all part of a higher plan? Has she been conspiring with the suspicious new boss, Jason Godfrey? In The Devil In I, Damon faces the ultimate battle to hold on to everything he has: his job, his reputation, his girlfriend, and his life. This is a fast paced, sexy, violent modern day thriller. It is the ultimate story of Good vs Evil. Based in New York City, The Devil In I is not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Guest Post: The Stanford Prison Experiment by Dylan Callens

The Stanford Prison Experiment


In Interpretation, Carl wakes up in an institution that is part psych-ward and part prison.  The building itself, I imagined being similar to an old asylum known as Bedlam.  More interestingly, however, the way that the guards behave in the novel was inspired by the Stanford Prison Experiment.

There is a section in the novel where the antagonist, an artificial intelligence known as psychology, designs an experiment based on Philip Zimbardo’s notes on the prison experiment.  Since Psychology is constantly running experiments, I figured that the prison itself should be a part of that process.  So, what was the Stanford Prison Experiment?

Conducted in 1971 by Philip Zimbardo in the basement of Stanford University, the experiment was supposed to show how prison guards and convicts would slip into predefined roles, behaving in a way that they thought was required.  Zimbardo thought that both groups would abandon their own judgements and morals in favor of conforming to their roles.

What happened, however, was unexpected.

Subjects were randomly assigned to play the role of either prisoner or guard.  On the day that the experiment was about to start, the Palo Alto Police Department arrested the prisoners, deloused them, and gave them prison garments.  They then transferred the group to the makeshift jail.

Day one went more or less as predicted.  There was nothing particularly surprising. 

On day two, however, a few inmates blockaded the cell entrance.  In order to stop this, extra guards volunteered to work overtime to fix the situation.  They attacked the inmates with fire extinguishers. 

After quickly learning that it was difficult to control nine prisoners with three guards, the guards attempted to control the prisoners with rewards and punishments.  For example, those that did not participate in the ‘riot’ were rewarded with higher quality meals.  Those prisoners, however, did not eat the meals, in solidarity with the other prisoners.

The problems escalated.  Guards mentally and physically abused the prisoners.  Sanitary conditions declined rapidly.  Prisoners were sometimes not allowed to use the toilet.  Instead, they were forced to use a bucket, which they were not allowed to empty.  Mattresses and clothing were taken away from some prisoners and they were forced to sleep naked on the concrete floor.  Clearly, many of the guards were showing very sadistic tendencies.

Soon after, one inmate showed signs of great mental distress, to the point where he had to be removed from the experiment.  A replacement prisoner for the one that left as a result of mental distress was introduced to the prison.  He was instructed to go on a hunger strike in order to help improve the conditions in the prison.  Instead of being welcomed, he was seen as a trouble maker that was going to make things worse for them.  Because of his hunger strike, the new prisoner was placed in solitary confinement.  The other prisoners banged on walls and taunted him while he was in confinement. 

On the sixth day of the study, a graduate student, Christina Maslach, came to view the experiment.  Upon seeing the poor condition of the prisoners, she asked Zimbardo to stop.  She convinced him to end the experiment on day six of what was supposed to be a two week experiment.

The results show us a few interesting things.  First, the result favor situational attribution over dispositional attribution.  That is to say, the situation, rather than their personalities, caused the participant’s behavior.  Second, the experiment illustrates cognitive dissonance theory.  Cognitive dissonance theory states that individuals seek consistency in their beliefs and opinions and when there is an inconsistency, something must change to eliminate the dissonance.  In this case, their attitudes and behaviors had to change to suit their roles.    

Third, participants’ behavior was modified when they were being observed.  This is called the Hawthorne Effect.  Whenever a participant believed that they were being observed, they acted according to how they thought they should act.  When they knew that there was no one watching, participants acted quite a bit differently.

In my novel, I wanted to imagine what an artificial intelligence might come up with if it ran its own prison experiment.  The prison scenes are only a small part of the novel but I wondered what such a place might look like in a dystopian setting.  I found this thought experiment very fascinating to write.

About the Book:
Interpretation
Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster. 

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above. 

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.
Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Dylan Callens
Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.
Author Links:

Excerpt:
Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy. 
But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome. 
A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur.  Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him.  Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle.  That was the slogan, right?  Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell.  For all he knew, he was dead.  The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around.  Darker. Darker.  Clock, what the hell was that clock song?  Darker. The shadow drew nearer.  Or maybe it was the darkness.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride… Ah yes, there it is.  But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.  That’s the one.  Darkness.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Guest Post: Tradecraft in Literature and in Our Lives

Clare: I recently read and really enjoyed Shifting Sands by Michael Shusko - you can check out my review here if you would like to know more about it! I'm excited to welcome Michael on to the blog today to talk about Tradecraft!


Tradecraft in Literature and in Our Lives by Michael Shusko

Thanks so much, Clare and Ann, for your thorough review of my latest book, Shifting Sands, and the opportunity to write a guest post for your blog. 

Your guess about the epilogue indicating another book in the series was spot-on! Shifting Sands in the second title in my military thriller series, Tradecraft, which will ultimately include six books. Vector was the first, and the third title, Evil Winds, is slated to come out Spring 2018.

While each of these books follows a different cast of characters, they're tied together by the common theme of tradecraft, and also by a brewing international crisis building up behind the scenes as featured characters try to resolve the immediate problems at hand. In the first two titles of the series, the rumblings of a greater threat is just surfacing. By the final book in the series, the depth and breadth of the global plot — and the Herculean effort required to resolve it — will be revealed. 

So, what exactly is tradecraft? Tradecraft is the art of gathering intelligence — or the way in which intelligence operatives obtain the information they need to succeed in their missions. Tradecraft is obtained in formal schools and informal on-the-job training.  There are many varied tools and techniques used in the world of espionage to assist agents and operatives in their quest to gain intelligence, ranging from high-tech gadgets to simple day-to-day activities.

But the art of tradecraft is more than just using tools to gain insight into the world around us. How this information is used is just as important as the information itself — if not more so. The complex world in which our characters find themselves in the Tradecraft series is very dynamic and ever changing, not unlike our own. Unique scenarios arise and quickly evolve, requiring on-the-spot decisions based on the information at hand and the experience of the individual. It is the art of tradecraft that helps the characters successfully negotiate the fine line between life and death.

Protagonist Nick Shane experiences this reality repeatedly in Shifting Sands. Obstacles arise at every turn, disrupting meticulously planned operations forcing him and others to rely on their experiences and ability to understand their environment and decipher clues around them in order to achieve the goal of delivering Dr. Sara Qaderi safely to the UN with the precious intel she must share with the world in order to save it from a devastating war.

It's my hope that as people read the book, they see a bit of themselves in the characters of Nick and Sara. In the book, innovation and perseverance is key to accomplishing the mission. Much like in our everyday lives, we overcome obstacles by continually moving forward, assessing our progress, learning from our mistakes and making adjustments as necessary.  That's called resilience and it's one of the most powerful tradecraft tools an operative has at his or her disposal.

~

Dual Reads readers can enjoy the first chapter of Vector free when they sign up to join my email list at michaelshusko.com. And to nab both titles at 10% off the list price, your readers can use the code E4SH6SFT for Vector and code MZ35LFGY for Shifting Sands. (As a heads up, the codes will only work when buying the books from the CreateSpace store. But not to worry — just follow the links in the earlier sentence and they'll take you where you need to go.) 

Thanks again, Clare and Ann, for the opportunity to connect with your followers. Happy reading, all!

About the Books:
Vector: Tradecraft: Phase ZeroShifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase One
Blurb for Vector:
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:
Michael Shusko
Michael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, is an author, medical doctor and decorated Marine and Naval officer who has worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. Fluent in Arabic, he holds a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University. Post-undergrad, Dr. Shusko transferred from the Marines to the Navy Medical Corps and attended medical school at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Shusko's 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. Dr. Shusko has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 16-year-old triplet boys.

Clare: Thank you very much to Michael Shusko for taking the time to share this guest post with us! I greatly enjoyed reading it and am now even more excited for Evil Winds to release! If you're interested in military thrillers I highly recommend picking up the Tradecraft series! 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Monday Highlights #31



The idea is to just link your favourite blog post from the past week (for example a post you're very proud of or just had a lot of fun making) and then I, and hopefully others, can discover new blogs to follow and interact with and discover more posts from blogs we may already follow!



You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare), Facebook and Instagram to keep up with what we are reading.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sunday Post 5th November 2017

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Books We Got This Week:

The Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare, #1)The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency, #1)
The Empress by S.J. Kincaid: I've been waiting oh so impatiently for this since reading and loving The Diabolic! I am so looking forward to diving in!
The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano: Cover buy if I'm honest. The plot sounds good and I've heard some really positive things but I just couldn't let this cover go and that's what finally convinced me to pre-order!
The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera: One of those books I feel like I've been waiting for all my life. This is LGBT high fantasy with a gorgeous cover and an amazing sounding mythology! Definitely reading this soon!


Reading Update:

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Genuine FraudBefore the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3)Nemesis (Nemesis #1)
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo: 3 stars, This was let down purely because my hopes were SO sky high. Which is my own fault! I wasn't as connected to the characters or the setup as I wanted to be (although I obviously loved Diana). The ending wasn't hugely satisfying.
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart: 4 stars, I've seen some mixed reviews of this - the negative ones usually from people who loved We Were Liars. Which I have somehow never read (and haven't had spoiled for me, its a miracle). All I know is that I greatly enjoyed this. The story works backward from the present which threw me at first but I soon loved. The main character was compelling and strangely likable and the plot was so engaging!
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray: 4 stars, Another one with mixed reviews. And I get it. Kind of. It isn't my favourite of the series but The Diviners will always be a high bar to beat. I genuinely loved the way the love triangle went (although there was a bit towards the middle I did not like). I need more of these characters and it kills me to know how long I will have to wait for it!!
Nemesis by Anna Banks: This was one of the first Fairy Loot box books I got and I still hadn't read it. So decided to pick it up and found it... disappointing. The slave-romance angle will always and forever be something that loses me. Yes she was super outspoken anyway but he continually thought of her as a gift (she was "gifted" to him) and the whole thing left me feeling off. Other than that I found the plot to be pretty generic and the characters were... nice? But not overly interesting. 


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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Clare's October Wrap Up and November TBR

October Wrap Up:

There's Someone Inside Your HouseThis Mortal CoilWe Have Always Lived in the CastleMass Effect: Revelation (Mass Effect, #1)Mass Effect: Ascension (Mass Effect, #2)Mass Effect: Retribution (Mass Effect, #3)Mass Effect: Deception (Mass Effect, #4)Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising (Mass Effect: Andromeda, #1)The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age, #1)All the Crooked SaintsGone GirlThe Haunting of Hill HouseDaughters Unto DevilsFeed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)The Informant (Kaz Phelps, #1)The French Exchange Whale and Other Rejected Book IdeasLa Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)The Stars Are LegionLair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)


Favourite Read of the Month: We Have Always Lived in the Castle AND The Book of Dust. You can't make me choose!!


November TBR:

Renegades (Renegades, #1)Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road, #2)
Other than Renegades and Retribution Rails I really don't know what I want to read next! October was a very scheduled month for me, I had books I needed to read for review and some that just fit with Halloween so well I HAD to read them. So in November I'm just going to see where my mood takes me!!