Drone Strike Book Review

Italy Book Tours

Drone Strike takes you on a fast-paced adventure across the Mediterranean, into Mexico, finally arriving in the States.

About Drone Strike

Karim’s family is killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, collateral damage. The Islamic State in the Levant exploits his rage, recruiting him for a terrorist attack on the U.S., and only Anthony Provati can stop him. Drone Strike takes you on a fast-paced adventure across the Mediterranean, into Mexico, finally arriving in the States. Drone Strike explores the psychological realities that seduce Karim to commit an act of terror, includes a love story between Moslem Karim and Miriam, a Christian woman he defends in Turkey and highlights the plight of Middle Eastern and Central American refugees.

My Thoughts

Drone Strike is intense, full of emotion, raw, painful and touches on the human perspective of conflict.

Karim loves his family and will do anything to keep them safe in Iraq even though his wife has pressured him to move them, he feels they will be safe. This all changes one day when his family is killed by a US drone strike as collateral damage. He is left full of anger, hate and bitterness. He will do anything to avenge his family and these emotions make him prey to others with dangerous plots.

This takes Karim down a very dangerous path of death, murder and suffering. We witness Karim be conflicted at times on what he is doing especially after he meets Miriam, a young Christian woman whose family was murdered by the men he is helping. They develop a relationship that you never see coming but one that is built on shared pain and understanding. Despite being from different backgrounds, their shared loss brings them together.

This is an intense but thrilling novel from start to finish. It builds up dramatically and leaves you not wanting to put the book down. There are so many tiny pieces woven into this story and this adds to how the plot unravels. I loved every moment of this novel and could not put it down.

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

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

As a former International Executive Vice President of 3M, Joe Giordano’s
experience included running a business in the Middle East out of Athens, Greece. Born in New York, he’s had first-hand experience with the cultures and most of the locations in Drone Strike.

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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Paseka: A Little Elephant, Brave

Based on a true story, Paseka: A Little Elephant, Brave is the incredible story of an orphaned elephant calf.

About Paseka: A Little Elephant, Brave

Based on a true story, Paseka: A Little Elephant, Brave is the incredible story of an orphaned elephant calf. Having escaped the poachers who killed her mother, Paseka now faces other dangers in the African savanna. But when she mistakes a safari jeep for her mother, the miraculous happens. Even once Paseka discovers it’s a jeep, she keeps following it, right into camp! There, humans transfer her to an elephant rehabilitation center where brave little Paseka finds a new family.

Author Ruth James’s involvement in the African Children’s Book Box Society (www.africanbookbox.org) inspired her to write Paseka. Through the society, portable libraries of African literature in Book Boxes are distributed to local schools, primarily in Tanzania.

Told from Paseka’s point of view, the story raises important issues about the interaction between humans and wildlife, and our role in its protection and conservation. It also encourages empathy, so often the catalyst for positive change. While written to create African literature for African children, the book’s relevance is universal.

Our Thoughts

We could not wait to read this very special book that tells the tale of Paseka, an orphaned elephant calf in Bostwana and her journey of survival. We visited Botswana three years ago and the country is beautiful and works so hard to protect their wildlife. Despite this, you still have people that poach animals.

This story is beautifully written, it is honest without being frightening for a child but it is also full of emotion. Paseka is left without her mother and we feel her pain as she tries to find her in the beginning of the book not knowing she was already killed.

She encounters dangerous enemies in the wild and then once again meets up with humans. She is not sure if they are there to hurt her or help her. Paseka is transferred to an elephant sanctuary where she will either be accepted into a new family or not.

Elephants are beautiful, magical creatures. I will never forget the awe we felt as we were driving through Botswana and they would appear on the side of the road. My heart hurts to think of how any person could harm an animal but yet we witnessed it first hand as we visited sanctuaries. This book is so important to engage children at a young age in animal protection. We need to ignite that flame of caring, compassion and working to protect and save our wildlife. The book is honest, full of emotions and hope for a better future.

This is a truly special book with inspiring illustrations. We loved reading it together and it has found a special home in our library.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Ruth James is a former school teacher who loves children’s literature. She is a director on the board of the African Children’s Book Box Society (www.africanbookbox.org). The society, which began as a literacy project in Kenya, now works mainly in Tanzania, providing portable libraries of books by African authors to schools that have few storybooks and even fewer featuring African children. It was during a visit to Africa that Ruth met Paseka, the little orphan elephant, and was inspired to share Paseka’s story with children.

Kent Laforme is a stone carver who loves to draw. In fact, he’s loved drawing and stones all his life. While working on this book, Kent stumbled upon a 15,000 lb (almost 7,000 kg) boulder that looked just like an elephant! Inspired by this story, Kent is now carving Paseka in stone. He lives in Victoria, BC, with his wife, Tamara, and their two children, Aya and Koen. You can view his work at www.kentlaforme.com

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Wish Book Review

Rabbit has never had a wish before; but one day he gets not just one, but three!

About Wish!

Rabbit has never had a wish before; but one day he gets not just one, but three! Wish is a touching story about the power of kindness and the magic of friendship, with beautiful and emotive illustrations from Chris Saunders.

Once every year wishes take flight,
filled with hope and twinkling light.
They dance in the air, with a swirl and a swish,
you have to be lucky to be chosen by a wish.

Rabbit cannot decide what to wish for, so he asks his friends Mouse, Fox, and Bear what they would do if they had a wish. Being selfless and kind, Rabbit grants all three wishes to his friends. They are so grateful for his kindness and generosity, they share their wishes with him.

Our Thoughts

Wish is an adorable story of friendship, kindness and caring for others. A much needed book in times when we hear so much about bullying. Rabbit is a breath of fresh air. He has such a good heart – he is gifted with three wishes in our story but he is not quite sure what to do with the great gift he has been given.

Does Rabbit use the wishes for himself? What should he wish for? He decides to speak to his three closest friends to get a good idea of what a wish should be. Rabbit decides to grant his wishes to his friends and he is rewarded in return with a very special surprise. A great reminder that when we put good out in to the world we receive it back.

We loved the message of the story and the delivery. It was a great read to our youngest son and really helped us begin that conversation about kindness, helping others and friendships. It was easy to read out loud and to not only be serious but also add a little humour as we acted out the characters (I loved the Fox!).

The illustrations were just beautiful. They are whimsical and fit the story perfectly. They really helped to bring the story alive.

This is an excellent book for young children that teaches a very important lesson on friendship and kindness. A perfect addition to your home library!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Chris Saunders is a freelance illustrator who received an Illustration BA Honours Degree (First Class) from the University of Northampton. He was awarded the 2010 e-Creative nomination for new talent in the field of illustration. Chris lives in Bishop Auckland, in the northeast.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

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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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Countdown America Book Review

In Countdown America, Isabella fights her way through assassins, cyber-terrorists, and duplicitous fellow agents, leading her to uncover a Russian threat that is hell-bent on destroying the United States.

About Countdown America

After the loss of her husband, CIA agent Isabella Bendel accepts a promotion to Chief Supervisor—a much less dangerous position than what she’s accustomed to—so she can raise her two children without fear of leaving her children without any parents. But any illusions of safety are shattered when, while on her Sunday morning jog in a Washington, DC park, Isabella survives a brutal assassination attempt. She hauls her assailant into CIA headquarters, confident she can get to the bottom of why he was after her. Her blood runs cold when she learns the truth… as he was trying to take her out, armed terrorists abducted her children and mother right out of her home. Pushed to the brink of what any mother can endure, Isabella calls on all of her training and deadly skills to get her family back. During this mission, she fights her way through assassins, cyber-terrorists, and duplicitous fellow agents, leading her to uncover a Russian threat that is hell-bent on destroying the United States.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with this fast paced, intense story that will keep you on your toes from start to finish!

In this story we have a strong, independent female character, Isabella Bendel. She is the Chief Supervisor of the CIA and came into this role because of her quick thinking, gut instincts, knowledge and strength. We also learn of the death of her husband due to cancer shortly after the birth of their twins. This gives an element of fragility to an otherwise incredibly strong woman.

We dive into quite the plot as Russian forces are determined to destroy America. There are so few people to trust in this story and at times we are left questioning why would any one want to cause Isabella harm? Why would they want to kidnap her family? What is her connection to the attack?

Once her family is kidnapped, Isabella goes into fierce battle mode and will do anything to get them back. With the amount of people she can trust on one hand, her world is constantly shattered as we turn the pages. Will she be able to save them? Will she stop the Russians?

This was one intense and full of suspense novel. I never saw the twists coming (which I love!). My heart was sore for our main character but wow is she one tough cookie. She never gave up hope and fought to the end. You admire her determination, her strength and her ability to trust her instincts. You are left on the edge of your seat praying that her family is okay and she makes it there in time. This is a definite must read novel – I could not put it down!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

As a writer, I’ve long been fascinated by the world of espionage. Working as an accountant in New York, I’m constantly inspired by the sights and sounds of a large city, and how that forms the perfect environment for a fast-paced thriller. Given our currently unstable political climate, as well as the Russian hacking of the election, I knew that now was the time for a spy story set in the world of political cyber-espionage, led by a fierce female protagonist.

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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