Tag Archives: terrorism

#BookReview STREET SOLDIER by Andy McNab (@The_Real_McNab) Action packed, with an engaging protagonist and a hopeful and inspiring message

Street Soldier by Andy McNab
Street Soldier by Andy McNab

REVIEWS FOR LITERARY WORLD REVIEWS

Title:   Street Soldier
Author:   Andy McNab

ISBN13:  978-0857534705
ASIN:  B019CGXV08
Published:  August 11th 2016
Pages:  348
Genre:  YA, Survival, Action & Adventure

Description:

Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.

A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around.

Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy.

Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war. 

Body of review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Andy McNab and I was intrigued by his foray into young adult writing and particularly by the main character. Sean Harker is a young boy (sixteen at the beginning of the novel) who loves cars and speed, whose life has been quite difficult, with no male role figure, a mother who has struggled through difficult and often violent relationships and he find his identity and his sense of self through his belonging to a gang. He ends up in prison and is given the opportunity to join the army and make good. Although at first it sounds to him as if he’d be betraying his friends, when one of those comes to a bad end, he rethinks his priorities. But not everything is plain sailing and old acquaintances and new temptations come his way.

The story is set in the UK (and it uses its location, and particularly London at the end, in a very effective and spectacular way), told in the third person, from the point of view of the young protagonist, Sean, who is street wise but not always good at fully appraising his circumstances or seeing the whole picture. He has his heart in the right place (he feels for his friends, is loyal and wants to protect his mother, and dislikes the racist and sexist comments of some of the other members of his unit) but he can be manipulated and influenced by those more experienced than him. Although the story does not go into psychological depths regarding Sean’s personality and thoughts, and it does not dwell in detail on his past, there is enough to make him sympathetic, and his reactions, doubts, mistakes and fears are all too recognisable and real. He is the small guy everybody tries to take advantage of, who doesn’t know whom he can trust, but he eventually finds his way.

There is plenty of action, including violence (and traumatic and sad events) and use of swearwords (although this is not extreme considering the genre), and the novel deals with difficult subjects throughout, including: suicide, extreme maiming and death of a teammate by bombing, terrorism, ultra-right politics, gang warfare, domestic violence, imprisonment… The pace is fast, fluid, and there’s not let down of tension and intrigue. It is a true page-turner, and although at times it seems about to go on a dangerous direction, it pulls it all together beautifully at the end. The protagonist is put to the test emotionally, physically and psychologically and although his reasons might be good (or so he thinks) he makes many mistakes. Thankfully he is given a second chance and he proves himself worthy of it.

At the end of the book the author identifies himself with the main character and explains that his life circumstances were quite similar to those of Sean Harker and how he was also given a chance and now he spends part of his time going to schools to spread the word.  The character and McNab’s own story made me think of many young men I’d met in prison (when I worked as a forensic psychiatrist) whose lives and circumstances were not that different to those of the character depicted in this novel. I just hope they all have the chance, the opportunity and the will to make good too.

Street Soldier is a great read for young adults (and adults) who like action, a well-plotted book, full of tension and emotions. It also delivers a positive and wholesome message and I can see it turned into a successful TV series or an action film. I’m sure this won’t be the last of Andy McNab’s books I’ll read.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $7.78
Kindle: $ 14.09

Hardback: $ 7.93

Audiobook: $25.06

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

 

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Interview with Mark Donovan of Waterkill.

mark-donovanToday’s guest is Mark Donovan , author of Waterkill, a book I recently reviewed here on LWI as well as Amazon and Goodreads. He currently resides in New Hampshire where he has spent his career working in various high tech engineering and marketing positions. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and business, and is a private pilot.

How much of Waterkill was influenced by the headlines?

The headlines of 2015/2016 did not influence me to write Waterkill. It was, however, the headlines from 2014 that compelled me to finish the book. I began writing Waterkill in November, 2013 and then after writing around 25K words I shelved it in January 2014. I Waterkilldidn’t go back to it for another 10 months and completed the first draft in April of 2015. It was the Ebola outbreak that hit the United States and Europe in late 2014 that caused me to decide to complete Waterkill. It was during this time that I realized how feckless our federal and state governments were in dealing with a major epidemic. This fact, along with the constant and real threat of radical Islamic terrorism, made me realize that I needed to complete Waterkill. I felt compelled to raise public awareness to the vulnerability of a biological terrorist attack, and that our public water supplies are soft targets.

I was able to read your first version of Waterkill and then some of your professionally edited version. You’ve done your work justice by doing so. What brought about your having the book edited?

I had half a dozen close friends and family review my “final” draft version of Waterkill and their editorial comments and reviews were benign and very positive. So, I decided to release the book. The first “official” reviews that came in on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads were also very positive. However, as time went on, and the reviews continued to come in, I began to see comments about the book needing some professional editing. So rather than continue to see the book take negative hits, I got proactive and began searching for an editor. After about a week I found a person who had been an editor for the past 25 years and had an impressive resume. I commissioned her immediately to do a Line-Edit and she did a great job, albeit I had a bit of a hard time at first accepting her reduction of the word count by 15%. In the end, after reading her completed work, I had to admit the book was much crisper and to the point. She also gave me a great deal of constructive advice for my next book. One important nugget of advice she gave me was to try to keep one point of view throughout the book. “No head hopping” was her constant reminder to me.

What was researching for the book like? You go into quite a bit of detail as far as geography for certain locations as well as some military weapons.

I’ve spent over 30 years in high tech as an electrical design engineer and product marketing manager. Along the way, I’ve designed or defined radar systems, infrared missile guidance seekers, telecom and datacom equipment and semiconductors, advanced computers that went on the space shuttle, and for the past 7 years, magnetic sensor semiconductors that are used in robotics, automotive and industrial markets. So from this background it was easy for me to write about the surveillance and weapon technology in Waterkill.Mark Donovan image

From the geographical perspective, I have traveled far and wide throughout the world during my career, including North America, Europe and Asia. In addition, I was able to interview my parents who spent nearly 10 years in Saudi Arabia, including 3 years living near the Yemen border to get the perspective on the culture, geography and people from that area.

What authors do you think have influenced your style of writing?

When I decided to begin writing the “Dave Henson” series I wanted to write books that were akin to Clive Cussler, but instead of an ocean/marine background theme, I chose to focus mine on technology and aviation since I have a passion for both. So, Clive Cussler novels certainly influenced me.

Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand and Wilbur Smith have also influenced my writing style. With Michael Crichton and Ayn Rand it’s the technology and willingness to be politically incorrect with the Zeitgeist of the day that inspires me to write. Both told compelling stories that also had messages that went against the grain of the prevailing political winds.  With Wilbur Smith, it’s his human rawness of both good and evil, along with his excellent storytelling, that influence my writing style.

Why a water based bioterrorist threat?

Today when we think of terrorism attacks we normally think of airplane hijackings or bombings and mass murder with semi-automatics. I wanted to make people aware that there are other ways that terrorists can attack, and that it can be fairly sophisticated. Many of the radical Islamic terrorists are well educated people, who have engineering degrees, and I might add provided by the United States College and University systems. Water is our most valuable resource and critical for our survival. It is also a commodity that many of us take for granted and that is also easily accessible to those who want to harm it.

What is your experience with Islam? I ask because there are times you do show a good knowledge during the story. I know because I had several Muslims work for me.

I have worked with many Islamic people over the years due to my high-tech background. Some have been, and are, good friends of mine. This is why I tried to be fair in my book to the Islamic religion, but not hesitating to point out that radical Islamic terrorism is a real problem that must be faced and dealt with. As I also mentioned, I had my parents perspective of them living nearly a decade in Saudi Arabia.

How much of the tech in the book is possible?

Much of it is possible. The work in Nanotechnology, and MEMs technology, has just been astounding over the past decade. Case in point, the drone technology that we have today. Some military drones are as small as a housefly today, and there are companies/research institutions that have demonstrated swarm behavior with these micro-drones. The nano-dust that is mentioned in this book is still for the most part theoretical, however, due to nano-material science I believe we are only a decade away from realizing this concept. Michael Creighton discussed this technology in his book PREY that he released in 2002.

You handle Islam very carefully in Waterkill. Some authors could have made it a one-sided affair but you took the time to show the degrees of the faith. Was this a conscious effort or did the book lead you in that direction?

I made a conscious effort to be fair and not to confuse individuals with twisted minds, for whatever reason, and a population of 1.2B people that practices Islam, most of which is comprised of peaceful people.

There is a quote you use at the end of the book, where did you get that from? (Meaning, did a friend lead you to it, did you stumble on it. Something like that. And I’m talking about the Muhammad quote.)

Through my research on Islam I stumbled upon that phrase/quote and felt it had a great deal of relevant meaning to my story.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a new book with the working title “ROBOGOD”. It is a departure from my “Dave Henson” series and delves into the world of robots and how they will impact our lives both professionally and personally in the not-so-distant future. In my current day job I am heavily involved in the robotic industry, and the stuff that I see coming is exciting from a technologist perspective, but also very frightening from a human and ethicist. The book raises questions on how ready the human race is prepared to work and live with robots that look and act very similar to humans. See an article that I recently had published in RoboticTrends.com on the topic of robots: http://www.roboticstrends.com/article/the_role_of_magnetic_position_sensors_in_robots_and_the_iort

Mark Donovan's Lake View imageWhat do you do for fun?

I love to fly, read, hike and be with my family. I am fortunate enough to live on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire where it allows me to do all these things.

What authors do you read?

As previously mentioned my writing has been influenced by reading the works of Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith, Ayn Rand and Michael Creighton. However, my reading is quite eclectic. For example I love reading Lee Child, Ted Bell, and James Patterson. However, I just finished reading the Great Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald. I remember reading the book in high school, and saw it a couple of weeks ago just before I left for a job trip. So I grabbed it and read it on the plane.

Give us one word to describe your book.

Techno-thriller.

What’s your favorite word and why?

My favorite word is “Do”. I have always been a big proponent of personally doing things rather than just thinking about doing them or watching others do something, e.g. laying on a sofa and watching a sporting event rather than playing the sport yourself. Life is too short to just dream and think, or watch others live life, but never personally do something big yourself.

Get Waterkill at:

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#BookReview of Waterkill by Mark Donovan.

WaterkillWaterkill

By Mark Donovan

Fiction: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Technothriller/Terrorism. 302 Pages Print. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

4_stars_gold

Author Biography

Mark Donovan is the author of the thriller novels “Nano Surveillance” and “Waterkill”. He has also authored 32 eBooks and 2,000+ articles on a wide variety of home improvement topics through his website HomeAdditionPlus.com. Many of his articles are nationally syndicated. He currently resides in New Hampshire, where he has spent his career working in various high tech engineering and marketing positions. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, and holds a private pilot’s license, and seven U.S. patents associated with sensor and communication technologies.

BookReview

Waterkill is the second book in the Dave Henson series and a Terroristic TechnoThriller by Mark Donovan, author of Nano Surveillance, book 1 in the series. In Waterkill, we have Dave Henson going head to head with the Al-Qaeda terrorist Aref Zarin, a techno savvy villain with a new form of terror weapon that makes nuclear weapons obsolete. Along the way Henson runs into an old friend with a new mission and travels from Germany to Iran and around the world. All in an attempt to stop the deaths of over a million innocent people.

When Mark offered the book for review I couldn’t say no. It’s a paperback, not an ecopy and a thriller. How could I say no? The first chapters were a bit slow and hard for me to get into at first. So I stopped. I don’t force myself to read a book or it’ll be a bad review. Then I decided it was time to read and emailed Mark I was getting ready. He told me he had hired a professional editor who spent over a month editing the book and that thrilled me. I read the book, then looked at the edits and I have to say, it was money well spent and Mark has done his work justice.

The story is fast paced after the initial chapters setting up the story. You have the terrorists, the special forces teams, tech gadgets, the beautiful but not helpless damsel in distress. Did I mention gadgets? Mark brings some serious tech knowhow to the storyline. If these things exist, and I am not doubting some do, there is some seriously cool stuff going on in the world. Mark also does a good job of creating a sense of urgency in the story and an ending that just makes sense. He takes the hot topics of today and handles them very carefully and does a great job not overly sensationalizing them to get a cheap punch for his story. You learn a little about people in this book that may help open your eyes just a little bit.

Review by: Ronovan Hester

Get Waterkill at:

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#Bookreview ‘One of Us’ by Åsne Seierstad (@AsneSeierstad). A disturbing and touching account of true horror

  • Title: One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway
  • Author: Åsne SeierstadSarah Death (Translator)
  • File Size: 1208 KB
  • Print Length: 545 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374277893
  • Publisher: Virago (March 5, 2015)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00PS665GY
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Paperback
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Paperback

Thanks to Net Galley and to the publishers, Virago, for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is an extraordinary book. Like most of us, I remember the news of Anders Behring Breivik’s terrible attack that killed seventy seven people in Norway, in what later became clear had been an ultra-conservative terrorist attack. I remember reading accounts written by the survivors and some of the articles trying to provide some sort of explanation, at the time. But when I saw the book I realised I had lost track of what had happened next, and having worked as a forensic psychiatrist for some years I was particularly intrigued.

The book achieves many things. It’s an accurate account of the events of that fateful day (22nd July 2011), or as accurate as it is possible to gather. It also studies the information available to provide background as to the biography and development of Breivik, although it does not purport to provide an explanation or even a hypothesis as to the reasons for his actions, but readers are free to agree or disagree with the various opinions expressed by the experts. Thanks to the interview the writer obtained with Breivik’s mother, we also get background as to the circumstances of his birth and his early childhood.  Although the nature of some of the information might be subjective, Seierstad tries to use different sources, like school and child psychologist reports, to ensure that the account is not one-sided. The book also describes, at times in excruciating detail, the changes in Breivik’s thoughts and motivations; his writing of his manifest, and later the execution of his plan. I was worried at times by the amount of detail provided (although I’m aware that there are many sources to find out how to make a bomb, more or less easily available) but I can see how that helps paint a clearer picture of the functioning of Breivik’s mind. And, to me, the most successful achievement of the book is the inclusion of the victims and their families, in some cases in more detail than others (that is down to the cooperation and the feelings of the families involved), but all as individuals. If to Breivik they were only Marxists in the making, to us they are individuals, mostly young people, generous, fun-loving, sporty, karaoke singing, and beautiful.

The breadth and depth of investigation is outstanding, the variety of sources and the seamless interweaving of the different strands of the story, different settings, countries, cultures, political beliefs, is an achievement in its own right. I discovered things I didn’t remember having heard about (like the many mistakes made by the Norwegian police and the national security forces) and at times I felt I was there, a powerless observer, unable to warn or help, and hoping against all hope.

Apart from informing me of many facts I didn’t know, what One of Us achieves, in my opinion, is to touch the heart of the reader and to help keep the memory of those who died that day very much alive. A very touching book that made me feel, if not a part of the tragedy (although yes, I felt that too), that perhaps I, we, could all be part of the solution. Not for the faint-hearted.

As a side-note, as a psychiatrist I could not help but keep pondering about possible diagnoses for Breivik, but without first-hand knowledge I’ll reserve my opinion (he clearly displays traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but the rest is not quite as straight-forward).

One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Hardback cover
One of Us by Åsne Seierstad Hardback cover

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.4/5
Readability: 4.5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

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Thanks so much for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and click. 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com