Review Round-up Feb ’16

Hi readers, we hope you all found something exciting to do with your extra day in February. We have been looking forward to the beginning of Spring, even though I did actually wake up to a coating of snow this morning!

We have just celebrated Mother’s Day here in the UK, and whilst I didn’t receive a book myself, I did have some chocolates to share (or not to share!) whilst enjoying Alan Jones‘ thriller BLOQ, to be released on April 1st. I do hope you all had a good day. Feel free to share your weekend reads with us in the comments below 🙂

Although a leap year, Feb is always still short and therefore we have a smaller review list. That said we still have a range of genres for you to choose from, whether it be a Young Adult post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy action/adventure horror in Mark King‘s Daniel Jones series, historical romance in Sinful Possession by Samantha Holt, or a futuristic sci-fi paranormal in Em Taylor‘s Discovered. There is also a contemporary, military romance with C.J. Pinard‘s new series prequel, Antihero novella and a hot erotic read in Love Yoga by Serge de Moliere, plus more.

As always, please click on the title and author to read our full review post!

Thanks for following. Your views, likes and comments are always appreciated. Have a great month!

Caroline & Tina ❤

The Iron WebDiscovery (The Iron Web #1) by Kristin Ravelle, NA dystopian (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Penrith, Wales. Bryn is turning 22 and must register for One Earth Dynamic ID.

Buried in the mysterious N800 texts is a horrifying secret, an ancient evil that Bryn feels compelled to unearth. A secret that may underpin One Earth, the global agency that monitors and tracks everyone.

Curran, gorgeous, tortured OED fugitive, finds sanctuary with Penrith’s underground, Luxent, and discovers Bryn and her strange ability to throw condensed light. And unexpected love in a world suddenly seeming to go mad.

Can Bryn’s primeval earth magic help Luxent overcome other-worldly forces and the OED or will her growing feelings for Curran and learning the horrifying reality of the OED only lead down the road that goes straight into its ancient and evil web? 

***

Discovery is book I in the Iron Web series. Immortelle, Book II, finds Bryn and Curran on the run from One Earth to the mythological Dinas Affaraon. If they find Dinas in the Snowdonia mountains, they may learn new ways of fighting the OED.

AntiheroAntihero (Imperfect Heroes prequel) by C.J. Pinard, contemporary military romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Can a street punk on the wrong path be transformed into a Special Forces killing machine? Once he’s been “rehabilitated”, Ellis Anderson is determined to show the woman he loves that he’s nothing like both the lives he’s left behind. But actions speak louder than words – and he has a lot of work ahead of him.

sinful possessionSinful Possession (Cynfell Brothers #5) by Samantha Holt, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Cynfell brothers are the very embodiment of a sinful existence. But could the right woman change that?

Sloth

Miss Lila Radley was set to be the belle of the ball this summer. With her charming manners, beautiful looks and excellent connections, everyone anticipated her receiving endless proposals.

However, no one expected her to be kidnapped.

After she witnesses a murder, Lila finds herself in the hands of two overwhelmingly attractive brothers—entirely against her will. However, while the twin Cynfell brothers might be as devastating in looks as each other, only one intrigues her—the brooding Lord Ash Cynfell.

Unfortunately, he is the very reason she is in danger.

Already battling with his own demons, Ash finds himself with an additional burden to bear—Miss Lila Radley’s safety. He cannot very well abandon her as it was due to his inaction that a man ended up dead and a serial killer is now targeting her. Unfortunately, keeping the vivacious Lila protected until the murderer is found is going to test him in every way possible.

Can he resist her charm and beauty, aware a worthless man like himself is no good for a woman like her? All he knows is that when Lila turns her sunny smile onto his twin brother, his finds himself unable to summon his usual relaxed attitude. Has Ash Cynfell, the most reclusive brother, finally found something worth fighting for?

LachlanDiscovered (The Forsaken Blood series #1) by Em Taylor, futuristic, sci-fi paranormal romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Edinburgh is a city that’s slow to change. Which is why in 2061, Professor Lachlan Mackenzie still lives there. He hasn’t changed in the 1000 years since he and his shipmates abandoned ship, forsaken by the Vampyras millions of light years away and left to fend for themselves, feeding off the blood of humans.

Lachlan is drawn to sexy psychologist Kate the moment he steps into her office. He wants to protect her and help her overcome her PTSD. Ignoring the warning signs of his growing attraction he agrees to be her cabin mate on the journey to the new colony on Mars. But when Kate discovers him feeding on bagged blood, all hell breaks loose. Has he been set up by the Vampyr council leader? Will Kate ever forgive his lies? And how does he explain what he is to his long lost daughter who he meets on their journey?

As Kate starts to trust, outside forces threaten to rip them apart. Will Lachlan lose the only woman he’s ever truly bonded with?

HuntHunt for the Enemy (The Enemy series #3) by Rob Sinclair, international suspense thriller (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: The breathtaking and action-packed finale to the bestselling Enemy series. The Hunt is on. They’ve erased his past. Wiped out his very existence. But Carl Logan isn’t finished yet. On the run in a harsh Russian winter, Logan – once an invaluable asset but now branded a traitor – has been framed for murder. His own firm, the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency, have labelled him a rogue operative after two decades of loyal service. The agency is hunting him down… and they’re not the only ones. But there’s much more at stake than just Logan’s life. One by one, agents and informants from all sides, all allegiances, are dying. And Carl Logan is the only man who can put a stop to it, once and for all.

Love YogaLove Yoga by Serge de Moliere, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Morgan Love is one of the few African American yoga instructors in town. After her studies in India with the legendary Swami Monda, students flock to her classes. But without her own studio, money remains tight, and her personal life is a wreck after the last man in her life cheated on her.

When an attractive man enters her yoga studio, Morgan is instantly drawn to him. When she discovers the attraction is mutual, things quickly escalate, taking a dramatic and passionate turn. Eli is like no other man she’s ever met, and that includes his incredible sexual prowess.

But when Morgan’s past comes back to haunt her, she finds herself forced to turn to Eli. Are her hopes and dreams safe with this seemingly too-perfect man? Or will Morgan end up once again as a man’s sex toy?

Frenzy & Doom (A Daniel Jones Story #1 & 2) by Mark King, YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic action/adventure, fantasy horror (reviewed by Caroline)

Frenzy 3 v2Frenzy (book 1) blurb: Daniel leads a peaceful life with his family until he finds out a repulsive secret about the Over-seers, the ‘saviours of humanity’, and his security is blown to smithereens. He enters a world where death is the only certainty and quickly learns to kill – or be killed.

Enter Gwendolyn, with the charm of a snake and a bite that’s twice as dangerous. People skills aren’t her thing but she knows how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world; she’s a hotshot with a bow and arrow and can rustle up a mean rat soup.

Mary is the only person left alive over forty. She’s not too good at fighting but she knows where to find the one thing that could save their lives. Only Mary can remember life before the invasion, before humanity was brainwashed into following the procedures.

Pursued by the Over-seers, the Triclops and the barbaric hunters, can the three brave rebels triumph in their quest for survival? The odds are stacked against them – hold tight for a white-knuckle ride through a landscape of devastation!

Daniel Jones Doom Cover LargeDoom (book 2) blurb: Daniel’s peaceful life has been destroyed after discovering the hideous truth about the Over-seers – the new masters of humanity. Hiding in centuries-old flint mines from Hunters and from the terrifying Triclops machines, Daniel’s recurring nightmares lead him, once more, into danger. With mankind brainwashed under the false hope of a glorious new life in the Achievement Centre, he must return home through a devastated landscape to save his father
from certain death.

Daniel reunites with two fellow fugitives – Mary and her young companion Gwendolyn – to undertake a rescue mission so dangerous that death is the only guarantee. Is it too late for Daniel’s family or is it too late for humanity itself? Daniel Jones DOOM, the exciting new sequel to FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story, is another fast-paced, engrossing chronicle of three rebels who once again risk their lives in a vividly depicted world peopled by memorable new and known characters.

**INTERVIEW** Interview with Bestselling Author, Howard Kaplan: Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series #2)

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series Book 2)We are absolutely overwhelmed to be interviewing espionage thriller author, Howard Kaplan, for a second time with regard to his second book of The Jerusalem Spy series, Bullets of Palestine. You may remember we interviewed the best selling author last October when his first book of the series, The Damascus Cover, was about to be filmed as a movie.

DAMASCUS COVER, KaplanWith the author’s personal experiences that inspired The Damascus Cover, and with stars such as Jonathan Reis Meyers (Match Point, The Tudors), Jürgen Prochnow (Das BootThe Da Vinci Code), Navid Negahban (Homeland, character Abu Nazir), Igal Naor (The Honourable Woman), and Sir John Hurt, we are very excited about it’s forthcoming release! For more on the film visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3457508/  With the movie now in post-production and many people awaiting it’s release, now is a great time to check out both books!

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy series, Book 2)

Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy Series Book 2)

Synopsis:

Two agents. Two opposing sides.

Israeli Agent Shai is dispatched to eliminate a terrorist threat. To succeed in his mission Shai must win the trust of Palestinian Agent Ramzy who will help him gain access to the infamous and dangerous Abu Nidal.

Shai is under orders to kill Ramzy when the mission ends. Instead, they forge a friendship that transcends the hatreds of their heritage. Loyalties are tested. Will they capture Abu Nidal or betray each other? In a conflict where both sides dehumanize each other, two extremely human men, are caught in the cross-hairs of the larger war.

Buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK

INTERVIEW

Hello Howard, Welcome back to A Reader’s Review Blog. The last time we interviewed you for The Damascus Cover you certainly opened our eyes with your fantastic travel and life experiences. Thank you so much for your time and speaking with us again.

1. The last time we ‘spoke’ you were about to visit Casablanca on the film set of The Damascus Cover. How was your experience?

I spent a fabulous week in Casablanca and went out every day on the ten hour shoot. I’m beyond fortunate at the caliber of the cast. John Hurt was not there while I was, but I saw a lot of the romantic scenes shot with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Olivia Thirlby. Jonny, as JRM likes to be called, is intense, passionate and a perfectionist. His cover is Hans Hoffman, and he does the entire film with a remarkable German accent, his hair dyed blonde. A language coach from Berlin was on the set full time and listened to every take. Both of them were zealous that none of his Irish brogue slip into the German accented English. At breakfast in the hotel, I asked the German actor, Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot, DaVinci Code) who plays a former Nazi in Damascus how it sounded. With a smile, he said, “Familiar.” Thirlby, best known as the sister in Juno, was particularly interesting. Unlike Jonny who hit the same delivery on take after take, Olivia roamed and tried each one a little differently until she and the director found a remarkable spot in both dialog and facial expressions. The producer told me I’d be bored and want to head off to the more exotic Marrakesh or Fez, but I stayed on set the entire week I was there.

 

2. Shortly after your visit to Casablanca the 2nd edition of Bullets of Palestine (The Jerusalem Spy series #2) was released. Could you tell us when the first edition was published, and if it brought back some memories for you from that time?

 

Bullets of Palestine, first published in 1987, is set 10 years after Damascus. What I was most reminded of in rereading it was all the locales I visited throughout the Middle East and Europe, such as Albufeira on the Portuguese coast to research events that actually happened there, in this case, the shooting at the Socialist International there. This was during Israel’s War with Lebanon and the army took me into Lebanon for a day, as part of a foreign press junket. I did not make it as far as Beirut then, though I had been in Beirut years earlier, but we reached Sidon on the coast and then on the way back to Israel I was able to visit the outdoor Ansar Prison Camp which the Israelis had set up just inside Lebanon. In truth reading it and reliving all this was more fun than I expected, as like many writers I’m among my harshest critics.

3. The bigger picture of Bullets of Palestine is the character, (Israeli) Agent Shai trying to eliminate a terrorist threat, however it is also a story of a growing friendship, between Shai and (Palestinian) Agent Ramzy, and how that friendship is tested to it’s limits. Albeit, not on the same scale of things, being a man of extensive travel, have you experienced a testing/trying relationship due to cultural or religious differences?

I traveled freely to Arab villages in the West Bank and a number of those scenes and meals have made it into Bullets. I’ve spent a lot of time with Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem. Recently a Palestinian merchant I’ve bought silk carpets from over the years took me on a tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the back alleys of the Arab Quarter. This spring, after the shoot in Casablanca, I went to Jerusalem. Unlike the characters in my novel I have not had a battle with trust with people from a different culture. I find if you approach people with interest in their world, they’re generally eager to share it with you.

4. Are there completely new characters in Bullets of Palestine, making it a stand alone read, or is there a cross reference with the characters or story with The Damascus Cover?

The common thread between the two books is the Colonel, the head of the Israeli secret service, who is the puppet master in both novels and is played in the film by John Hurt. I created new protagonists for Bullets, because while Damascus dealt with the conflict between Israel and its nation state neighbors, I wanted now to turn to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the great challenge for both societies. So I created a Palestinian terrorist-novelist, based on a real person, Ghassan Kanafani, who is well known in the Arab world though not in the West. He was so dangerous as a writer that the Israelis blew him up in a car bomb in Beirut. For his Israeli counterpart, I used a very old friend of mine from Jerusalem, Avraham Infeld, as the template. He’s President Emeritus of Hillel worldwide on college campuses, and a larger than life exuberant guy. I wanted characters who were the salt of the earth, deeply ingrained in their own cultures and at the same time thoughtful contemplative men. So I drew on real such people.

5. Are you aware of any plans for Bullets of Palestine to be filmed? Do you think the success of The Damascus Cover will have any bearing on this?

Both the producer and director of the film have asked and have copies of Bullets now, but they’re focused on finishing this film which is in post production. I expect it to hit theaters early in 2016. Sure success matters a lot, it causes people to knock on your door, or the lack of it, to not open theirs.

6. You have some photographs on your Facebook page of meeting the cast and crew? Were there any highlights that you’d like to share?

Navid Negahban who played Abu Wazir in Homeland plays General Sarraj, the head of the Syrian Secret Service, in my film. He arrived in Casablanca a couple of days after I did and they fitted him with a black wig. Since I’m bald I asked if I could have it after the shoot. We had a lot of fun joking about it and someone online photoshopped a picture of me with it on. Jonny is more private, for example ate breakfast in his hotel room rather than the dining room, but I got to spend some time with him between takes. He’s remarkable, left school I think at something like 7th grade but is an autodidact. He can converse easily on a vast range of subjects and in several languages. It was interesting too to watch him with all the people who approached him, many young Moroccan women who wanted a photo with him. He obliged them all. He was particularly charming with children, and you’ll see a photo on my Facebook author page where he’s with the daughter of the owner of the carpet factory where we shot that day. The little girl was nervous and he charmed her into letting me take the photo for her father.

7. Although a story of defence, friendship and loyalties, are there any moments of love/romance in Bullets of Palestine, as you had in The Damascus Cover?

The love stories in Bullets are very different than the one in Damascus. In Damascus, Ari is recently separated from his wife and begins a new torrid romance with someone he’s not sure he can trust. The Palestinian character, Ramzy, in Bullets is in a wonderful marriage but struggling with the difficulties of being gone so much, always in danger, and trying to maintain a home life. The Israeli, Shai, lost his wife in a car accident, has begun a new relationship at home with a younger woman who works in administration inside the Service. It is new love, but there too, like his Palestinian counterpart, they are separated more than together and feel the strain.

8. Are there any moments in Bullets of Palestine that you have based loosely on your own life experiences?

Bullets is not at all based on my life, though it is vastly based on real life events. The Palestinian and Israeli are edged into working together to capture Abu Nidal, who was in fact, the most dangerous terrorist of the 1980s, and a real person. The novel opens with the assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain, Shlomo Argov, which is an historical event. Abu Nidal wanted to goad Israeli Prime Minister, Arik Sharon, into invading Lebanon to crush the PLO, who Bu Nidal viewed as too moderate. He succeeded. I land my Palestinian character, Ramzy, in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps when the Israelis surrounded the camps lit the night sky for the Christian Phalange fighters so they could eliminate the PLO fighters hiding in the refugee camps. This too is an historical event. The fighters had already fled and Ramzy witnesses the massacre of old men, women and children by the Lebanese Christians as the Israelis paved the way unaware the fighters were gone. It tests Ramzy to remain working with the Israelis. Then too, unbeknownst to Ramzy, his budding Israeli friend has been ordered to kill him once Abu Nidal is dead.

9. Despite not reading too much fiction yet on the threat of terrorism, I am an avid fan of the tv series Homeland and 24. Do you tend to watch movies/tv programmes in this genre? If so, which ones are your favourite?

I love great suspense films and TV. Emphasis on “great.” Homeland is great, one of the best things of the genre ever done. I watched the Maggie Gyllenthall miniseries The Honourable Woman. She’s marvelous. Igal Naor who played Shlomo in that show is also in my film as a Syrian General and the nemesis of Navid Negahban. But the miniseries was full of cliff hangers and turns meant to be exciting but ultimately were impossible to both follow and believe, as were all the complications. Gary Oldman did an honourable turn as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy but it is such a magnificent and dense book that that too was very hard to follow. The earlier 7- part British mini-series with Alec Guinness of the same LeCarre novel is a wonder to behold. The miniseries Dig set in Jerusalem was a mess and unwatchable. Again, some writers and directors think that throwing nonsense cliffhangers at the end of episode creates suspense but ultimately it creates annoyance. Great characters are crucial,which is why too that Homeland is so wonderful and successful.

10. Your work on both books has been extremely successful despite the subject of terrorism being a sensitive one. Have you had any negative reactions to your work?

Bullets has a 4.8 Customer Rating on Amazon out of 5 with only one negative review. Though written in 1987, it seems to have found its time in the current environment. It is greatly realized, or should be, that reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is the only future for Israel and Palestinians. The book has been widely lauded in both the Arab and Israeli press as well as in mainstream newspapers. However, I expected blowback from those who see Palestinians as “the other”, and who believe might, which is a requirement for deterrence, alone is sufficient. So far it hasn’t come. Maybe those people too, deep down, known a deal needs to be done.

11. After the success of both The Damascus Cover and Bullets of Palestine, have you any plans to release another novel in the Jerusalem Spy series?

I’m working now on a new book that has not been published before called To Destroy Jerusalem. It will deal with the nuclear issue and have the same two protagonists as Bullets. The Colonel will be there though he’s a bit potty now, long in retirement, and rather than pulling the strings, is the moral center Shai, where he goes when trouble or in doubt.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Howard Kaplan Author Photo 1About the Author:

Howard Kaplan, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, he had his own spy experience while attending school in Jerusalem, when he was sent on two missions into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, however, he was arrested in Khartiv and interrogated for two days in the Ukraine and two days in Moscow, before being released. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley, an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA, and is the author of four novels. Follow him on Twitter at @kaplanhow.