Category: books

Dead in a Week Book Review

What would you do if your daughter was kidnapped and given only a week to live?

About Dead in a Week

Lauren Pennington is celebrating her junior year abroad when life comes to a screeching halt. At Munich’s Hofbräuhaus, she engages in an innocent flirtation with a charming stranger for the length of a drink. Drink finished, Lauren leaves—only to be snatched from the streets and thrown into an unmarked van.

Officially, Aidan Deveraux is a communications expert for one of the largest financial firms in the world. In his secret life, the former Marine heads the Zermatt Group, a covert team of military and spy agency operatives that search the data stream for troubling events in an increasingly troubled world. When his artificial intelligence system detects Lauren’s kidnapping, Aidan immediately sees the bigger picture.

Silicon Valley: Lauren’s father, Vance Pennington, is about to launch a ground-breaking technology with his company NanoUSA—a technology that the Chinese are desperate for. No sooner does Aidan arrive on Vance’s doorstep to explain the situation than the father receives a chilling text message: hand over the technology or Lauren will be dead in a week.

In a globe-spanning chase, from the beer halls of Germany, to the tech gardens of California, to the skyscrapers of China, and finally the farmlands of Croatia, Aidan’s team cracks levels of high-tech security and complex human mystery with a dogged determination. Drawing in teammates from the Forensic Instincts team (introduced in The Girl Who Disappeared Twice), the Zermatt Group will uncover the Chinese businessmen responsible, find the traitors within NanoUSA who are helping them, and save Lauren from a brutal death.

My Thoughts

Dead in a Week is a fast paced novel with a complicated plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Our main character, Aidan, is a former Marine that heads a very secretive agency that deals with military, spy and various threats. In this novel, his team uncovers the kidnapping of Lauren Pennington. Lauren is just a young girl enjoying a trip in Europe to gain freedom when she is kidnapped. Why would any one want to kidnap her?

Aidan with his expertise discovers that the technology that her father has developed and managed to keep top secret, is highly desired by the Chinese government. But who is selling secrets? How did they find Lauren? Who can the team and Lauren’s family trust? Her father is faced with quite the dilemma – trust those he has worked with for years or the former marine that shows up at his door in his time of need.

We are led down a fast paced story at this point, with each page turning another exciting development happening. I could not put this book down! There are little twists and turns at every corner, that leaves you guessing and hoping for more. I also enjoyed the human side we see of Aidan – while a tough operative, we are also introduced to his young daughter and how he balances these two opposite worlds.

This is an excellent novel from start to finish that will leave you on the edge of your seat. A definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-nine novels, including fifteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, Dead in a Week, adds the Zermatt Group into the mix—a covert team of former military and spy agency operatives. With a week to save a young woman from ruthless kidnappers, this globe-spanning chase, from the beerhalls of Germany, to the tech gardens of California, to the skyscrapers of China, and finally the farmlands of Croatia will keep readers guessing until the very end. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks, The Murder That Never Was, and A Face to Die For.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, Echoes in the Mist, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

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Book Excerpt

Munich, Germany

20 February

Tuesday, 4:00 p.m. local time

Normally, Lauren Pennington loved the sound of her combat boots clomping across the cobblestone apron. But right now, all she could think about was the growling of her empty stomach, urging her to move faster. She was oblivious to everything else—the couple on the corner sharing a passionate, open-mouthed kiss, the guy puking up his over-consumption of beer into the storm sewer grating, and the man watching her every move as he talked into his cell phone in a language that Lauren wouldn’t have recognized had she been paying attention.

She walked into Hofbräuhaus’ main hall, took a seat at one of the wooden tables, and placed her order. Minutes later, the waitress came over and brought Lauren’s food and drink. Barely uttering a perfunctory “Danke,” Lauren bit into a pretzel the size of her head and took a healthy gulp of Hofbräu.

The semester had ended, and she was entitled to some carbs and a dose of people-watching at the historic Munich brewery. Pretzels and beer were addicting, but people-watching had always fascinated her. Despite a whole winter semester of her junior year abroad studying art history at the Ludwig Maximilian University at Munich, she still enjoyed playing the tourist. Not at school, but every time she strolled the streets, studied the architecture, chatted with the locals.

Hofbräuhaus was less than a mile from campus, but the brewery’s main hall had a reputation all its own. With its old-world atmosphere of wooden tables, terra cotta floors, painted arches, and hanging lanterns, how could anyone not feel a sense of history just being within these walls?

Maybe that’s why Europe called out to her, not just here, but from a million different places. Museums. Theaters. Cathedrals. She wanted to experience them all, and then some. She’d be going home to San Francisco in July, and she hadn’t been to Paris or London or Brussels. She’d gotten a mere taste of Munich and had yet to visit Berlin.

When would she get another chance to do all that? Not for ages. And certainly not with the sense of freedom she had as a college student, with little or no responsibilities outside her schoolwork to claim her attention. On the flip side, she felt terribly guilty. Every February, her entire family traveled to Lake Tahoe together. It was a ritual and a very big deal, since her father rarely got a day, much less a week, off as a high-powered executive. Her mother usually began making arrangements for the trip right after the holidays. In her mind, it was like a second Christmas, with the whole family reuniting and sharing time and laughter together.

This year was no different. Lauren’s brother, Andrew, and her sister, Jessica, were both taking time off from their busy careers to join their parents at Tahoe—no easy feat considering Andrew was an intellectual property attorney in Atlanta, and Jess was a corporate buyer for Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Lauren was the only holdout. Lauren. The college kid. The baby. The free spirit who always came home from Pomona College to nest, especially for family gatherings and rituals.

Her parents had been very quiet when she’d told them about her plans. Lauren knew what that silence meant. After the phone call ended, her mother would have cried that she was losing her baby, and her father would have scowled and written off her decision as college rebellion. Neither was true. But no matter how she explained it, her parents didn’t understand. They’d traveled extensively in Europe, and to them, it was no big deal. But it was Lauren’s first time here, and to her, it was like discovering a whole new world—a world she felt an instant rapport with. It was like discovering a part of her soul she’d never known existed. And she had to immerse herself in it.

She’d entertained the idea of flying to Lake Tahoe for the week and then returning to fulfill her dream. Her parents would definitely pay for that. But given the long international travel, the flight changes, the time differences, and the jet lag, Tahoe would put too much of a crimp in the many plans she had for her break between semesters. She’d had invitations from school friends who said she could stay with them during her travels—friends from Germany and so many other countries.

The world was at her feet. No, despite how much she loved her family, she had to do things her way this time. There’d be other Februarys, other trips to Tahoe. But this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

She was still drinking her beer and lamenting her situation when a masculine voice from behind her said, “Hallo. Kann ich mitmachen?”

Turning, Lauren saw a handsome, rugged-featured guy, gazing at her with raised brows. He was asking if he could join her.

“Sind Sie allein?” he asked, glancing to her right and to her left.

“Yes, I’m alone,” she answered in German. “And, yes, please join me.”

The man came around and slid onto the bench seat. He propped his elbow on the table, signalling to the waitress that he’d have the same as the lady. The waitress nodded, hurrying off to get his refreshment.

He turned his gaze back to Lauren. “You’re American,” he noted, speaking English that was heavily accented.

“Guilty as charged,” she responded in English. “Is it that obvious?” She gave him a rueful look.

He smiled, idly playing with the gold chain around his neck. “Your German is quite good. But I picked up the American…what’s the word you use? Twang.”

Lauren had to laugh. “It’s my turn to take a stab at it, then. You’re French? Slavic? A combination of both?”

“The last.“ His smile widened. “You have a good ear, as well.”

“Your German and your English are excellent. I guess I just got lucky.”

“Speaking of getting lucky, what’s your name?” he asked.

His boldness took her aback, but she answered anyway. “Lauren. What’s yours?”

“Marko.” He held out his hand, which Lauren shook. “I’m in Munich on business. And you?”

“I’m an exchange student. I’m on break, and I’m looking forward to enjoying some time exploring Europe.”

Marko looked intrigued. “I can give you a few tips.” A mischievous glint lit his eyes. “Or I could travel with you for a few days and give you the best taste of Munich you’ll ever have.”

Lauren felt flushed. She was twenty years old. She knew very well what Marko meant by “the best taste.” She should be offended. But she couldn’t help being flattered. He was older, good-looking, and charming.

Nonetheless, she wasn’t stupid. And she wasn’t in the market for a hookup.

“Thanks, but I’m tackling this trip on my own,” she replied. “I’m meeting up with friends later, but I’m good as planned.”

“Pity.” The glint in his eyes faded with regret. “Then at least let me give you some pointers about the best sights to see and the best restaurants and places to visit.”

“That would be fantastic.” Lauren rummaged in her purse for a pen and paper. Having found them, she set her bag on the floor between them.

She spent the next twenty mesmerizing minutes listening to Marko detail the highlights of Munich and other parts of Bavaria, as she simultaneously scribbled down what he was saying.

“Thank you so much,” she said when he was finished. “This is like a guided tour.”

“Once again, I could do it in person.”

“And once again, I’m flattered, but no thank you.” Lauren signaled for her check, reaching into her bag and retrieving a twenty euro bill when the waitress approached the table. “The rest is for you,” she told her.

“I’ll take care of that,” Marko offered, stopping Lauren by catching her wrist and simultaneously fishing for his wallet. Evidently, he was still holding out hope that she would change her mind.

“That’s okay. I’ve got it.” Lauren wriggled out of his grasp, leaned forward, and completed the transaction.

“You’ve been a tremendous help,” she said to Marko as she rose. “I’m glad we met.”

This time it was she who extended her hand.

Reluctantly, he shook it. “I hope we meet again, Lauren. I’ll look for you the next time I’m in Munich.”

Still smiling, Lauren left the café and walked through the wide cobblestone apron outside. There were little tables with umbrellas scattered about, with patrons chatting and eating. Sated by the beer and pretzel, she inhaled happily, and then, walking over to the sidewalk, began what she expected to be a thoughtful stroll. Maybe she’d text her parents this time, try explaining her position without all the drama of a phone call.

She was halfway down the street when she heard a male voice call after her, “Lauren!”

She turned to see Marko hurrying in her direction. “Here.” He extended his arm, a familiar iPhone in his hand. “You left this on the table.”

“Oh, thank you.” How could she have been so careless? She protected her cell phone like a small child. “I’d be lost without that—“

As she spoke, a Mercedes van tore around the corner and came screeching up to them.

The near doors were flung open, and a stocky man jumped out, his face concealed by a black hood. Before Lauren could so much as blink, he grabbed her, yanking a burlap sack over her head and tossing her over his shoulder.

“Merr në makinë,” he said in a language Lauren didn’t understand.

By this time, Lauren had recovered enough to struggle for her freedom. Her legs flailed in the air, kicking furiously, and she pounded on the man’s back as he carried her and flung her into the back of the van. Marko jumped in behind her, slamming the doors shut and barking out something in the same dialect as the other man—neither French nor Slavic—as the stocky barbarian held her down. Finally finding her voice, Lauren let out a scream, which was quickly muffled by the pressure of Marko’s hand over her mouth. She could taste the wool of the sack, and she inclined her head so she could breathe through her nose.

A short-lived reprieve.

Marko fumbled around, then shoved a handkerchief under the sack, covering her nose and mouth. Lauren thrashed her head from side to side, struggling to avoid it. The odor was sickeningly sweet and citrusy. Chloroform.

Tears burned behind her eyes. Shock waves pulsed through her body.

Oh God, she didn’t want to die.

Marko clamped his other hand on the back of her head, holding it in place while he forced the handkerchief flush against her nose and mouth, making it impossible for her to escape. Dizziness. Nausea. Black specks. Nothing. “Shko,” Marko ordered his accomplice, shoving him toward the driver’s seat. The van screeched off, headed to hell.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The High Court Book Review

iRead Book Tours

In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to The High Court alive.

About The High Court

High atop Mount Olympus, as dawn breaks on a new academic term, normalcy returns to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students.

Zeus and his fellow Olympians now prepare to testify in The High Court where Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos and Kronos will stand trial for the murder of MO Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.

As the trial draws near, the MO Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness creeps toward his brain.

My Thoughts

This is the exciting sequel in this new series by Chris Ledbetter. I could not put this book down as I had to know what happens next to our young heroes.

In this book, we have our young heroes and future Olympians that we all know and love, preparing to testify in The High Court against Hyperion and Kronos for the crimes that they committed in the first book. The book jumps in where the story left off, so I would strongly suggest reading the first in this series (you can find my review here).

If you thought our characters would get an easy ride – no way. They face struggle after struggle in this book. It seems that someone would do anything to stop them from reaching The High Court to stand against Hyperion and Kronos. Enemies are at every turn and it is hard to know who to trust. They face multiple challenges with strength, wisdom and resilience. When it looks as though they may fall apart, they rally around each other and protect each other.

I loved the character development in this book. We are getting to really know and understand what makes each of the Olympians tick and how they developed into the Gods we know. Zeus is becoming the leader and I love watching him grow in maturity and wisdom. He constantly puts the needs of others ahead of his own. I am excited to see where the third installment will take this young group.

This is a perfect book for young adults and adults alike as you will enjoy the suspense, challenge and humour throughout.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Ebay and Indiebound.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USATODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel.

He’s a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Children’s Illustrated Bible

DK Canada

Written in conjunction with educators, scholars, and religious advisors, this retelling of favorite Old and New Testament stories retains the original feel and poetry of the Bible while appealing to contemporary young readers.

About The Children’s Illustrated Bible

Written in conjunction with educators, scholars, and religious advisors, this retelling of favorite Old and New Testament stories retains the original feel and poetry of the Bible while appealing to contemporary young readers. DK’sChildren’s Illustrated Bible features some of the best-known Bible tales, including, the Birth of Jesus, Jacob’s Ladder, Noah’s Ark, and the Resurrection, written especially for children in a clear, easy-to-understand tone. A “Who’s Who in the Bible Stories” section and quotations from the King James Bible, listed by chapter and verse, add even more value to this unique resource.

My Thoughts

A Bible is a truly special gift that you can give to someone important in your life. I have the Bible given to me at my Baptism in a keepsake box along with another Bible given to me at my Confirmation. It is an important part of my faith and learning about our faith.

For children, it is so important for them to understand and relate to their faith in a way that makes sense to them while still staying true to the original stories. They need to be able to see pictures and have the stories told to them in a manner that they understand.

The Children’s Illustrated Bible does this perfectly. It is hardcover and roughly letter sized. There is around 310 pages of stories, pictures and facts that help to bring the stories to life. It contains many of the most loved stories from the Old and New Testament, including Noah’s Ark, The Sacrifice of Isaac, The Prophet Isaiah, The Birth of Jesus, John Baptizes Jesus and so many more.

The stories are beautifully told with illustrations that are respectful and appropriate for the content. It is easy to read out loud if you are reading to a young child as well as being easy for an older child to read on their own.

As we head into the season where many children will be receiving their First Communion, this is definitely a book to keep in mind to gift them. It is definitely a special keepsake, that they will be able to cherish for years as they learn more about their faith and the community that they belong to.

You can purchase a copy of this Bible on Amazon and Indigo.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Explore Nature’s Deadliest Creatures

DK Canada

Come face-to-face with 150 of the world’s scariest killer creatures, from the lion and great white shark to the tarantula, anaconda snake, golden eagle, vampire bat, and even the fierce ant!

About Nature’s Deadliest Creatures

The book profiles every kind of animal–mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, insects, and arachnids. Chapters are arranged according to how these dangerous predators kill. Do they use jaws and claws, venom, stings, traps, tricks and cunning, or mass invasion?

With more than 200 spectacular photos in the book, every page has a stunning image of the animal in action, with data files giving a visual guide to its size, distribution, diet, and habitat, as well as a rating of its “scare factor.”

Each profile features bite-size text that will appeal to all readers. Discover key facts about how the animal lives (is it solitary or a pack animal?), intriguing anatomy (the platypus is famously one of the few venomous mammals, but did you know that the venom comes from the hind leg on the males only?), and of course, their method of attack (such as chasing prey to exhaustion, launching an ambush, or paralyzing with poison).

My Thoughts

With two boys at home who love animals and all things scary, this book was bound to be a huge hit. We watch so many documentaries around the scariest, most dangerous animals that they couldn’t wait to read more about these terrifying creatures. What I wasn’t expecting was just how much we would learn.

The book is hardcover and just slightly smaller then letter sized per a page. The contents of the book are broken down into the following categories: muscles/jaws/claws, venomous bites, stings/poisons, trapped, deceivers/tricksters, deadly numbers, skills/tactics/cunning and disease/destruction. You can jump to a specific animal or section or read the book from start to finish, the choice is really yours. You can start one section, come back the next night – it would make a great nightly read just before bed time as well. The book also contains a danger factor scale rating from one to five for each animal.

There are few animals that you expect to find on the list (great white shark, tiger, wolverine, black mamba) but there are a few that surprised me like the leopard seal and humpback whale. Our youngest immediately jumped to the black mamba but then we began to explore the rest of the animals that we were not familiar with. We learned a lot about new animals, like the Sydney funnel web spider, hooded pitohui, antlion larva and the flower crab spider just to name a few! I loved the name of the flower crab spider, it sounded so pretty!

Each animal has at a minimum one page dedicated to them where we learn about their size, range, diet and a history on them. Some pages even include special facts about the animal, for example, I learned that the newt lifts its head, legs and tail to flash a yellow underside when it feels threatened. The pictures are bold and full of colour, capturing and demanding attention.

This is an excellent book for young children who will love spending their time learning about deadly creatures that roam our planet. They will learn about the familiar animals to them and so much more. It is the perfect gift for the child who loves animals, adventure and the exploring the world around them.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Debt by Rachel Dunning

Debt Spotlight Tour

In Debt, it is expected you pay your debts that you owe.

Debt Spotlight

About Debt

The Debt Collector:

I pay my debts and I expect others to as well.

I was raised in the slums of London, I knew nothing of privilege. My father was murdered when I was seventeen. Morty figured my father’s passing meant I would automatically take on dad’s debts. I refused.

And I paid for that refusal.

So did my sister.

So now I fight. All I know how to do is fight. The best cash is in the states, so that’s where I am now. A big fish called Vito came along offering me a “favor” when I arrived.

Another debt.

I paid for that one too.

I knew Kyla Hensley would be trouble when I met her. But I wanted her. I could see through the falsehood of her wannabe-slutty clothes and her sexy legs. So I chased her.

Besides, trouble is my middle name.

Kyla Hensley

I was brought up in privilege, but I lacked everything else. My father is a business tycoon who buys and sells and doesn’t care who gets rolled over in the process.

I never knew my mother, and all I have of her is a photo with a note scrawled on the back in French saying “I’m sorry.” The only Female Figure I had growing up is my dad’s wife who is a bleach blond with seven boob jobs. We never bonded.

I drink. I party. I meet guys.

But I wasn’t always like that.

I’ve had a string of lovers in the last few years, the worst and most recent of which was Vince Somerset. My best friend Vera was dating a guy called Rory Cansoom who is the opposite of Vince in so many ways, and yet so the same.

She and I hit the road for the summer, getting away from the two college psychos and just trying to have some fun.

But there’s a funny thing about trouble, the more you run from it, the more it finds you.

Which is when I met the Debt Collector.

It was only supposed to be sex. He made that clear. I made that clear.

That’s all it was supposed to be.

I never expected to fall in love. I never expected to fall so deeply, madly, uncomfortably in love with a man who is wrong, so wrong for me.

And yet…so unbelievably right.

About the Author

Rachel Dunning hit the scene in August 2013 and is the author of the highly praised Naive Mistakes Series, Truthful Lies Trilogy, Johnny Series and the paranormal romance series, Mind Games.

A prolific writer, she sticks to stories where Alpha Males aren’t pricks and where women have guts.

She’s lived on two different continents, speaks three different languages, and met the love of her life on the internet. In other words, romance is in her blood.

Where to Find Debt

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Amazon Canada, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads.

Enjoy!

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