February 2, 2018

Fiction by Jacqui Murray

Born in a Treacherous Time

by Jacqui Murray

Available only on Kindle

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

 

Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.

What Kirkus says about Born in a Treacherous Time:

The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout. — Kirkus Reviews

Book information:

Title and author: Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US

Book I of the Man vs. Nature collection


To Hunt a Sub

by Jacqui Murray

Available only on Kindle

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

Summary

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.

Long summary

The USS Hampton SSN 767 quietly floated unseen one hundred fifty-two feet below the ocean’s surface. Its task for the past six months has been reconnaissance and surveillance. The biggest danger the crew faced was running out of olives for their pizza. That all changed one morning, four days before the end of the Hampton’s tour. Halfway through the Captain’s first-morning coffee, every system on the submarine shut down. No navigation, no communication, and no defensive measures. Within minutes, the sub began a terrifying descent through the murky greys and blacks of the deep Atlantic and settled to the ocean floor off the coast of Cuba and perilously close to the sub’s crush depth. When it missed its mandated contact, an emergency call went out to retired Navy intel officer, Zeke Rowe, top of his field before a botched mission left him physically crippled and psychologically shaken. Rowe quickly determined that the sub was the victim of a cybervirus secreted inside the sub’s top secret operating systems. What Rowe couldn’t figure out was who did it or how to stop it sinking every other submarine in the American fleet. 

Kali Delamagente is a struggling over-the-hill grad student who entered a DARPA cybersecurity competition as a desperate last hope to fund a sophisticated artificial intelligence she called Otto. Though her presentation imploded, she caught the attention of two people: a terrorist intent on destroying America and a rapt Dr. Zeke Rowe. An anonymous blank check to finish her research is quickly followed by multiple break-ins to her lab, a hack of her computer, the disappearance of her three-legged dog, and finally the kidnapping of her only son. 

By all measures, Rowe and Delamagente are an unlikely duo. Rowe believes in brawn and Delamagente brains. To save the America they both love, they find a middle ground, guided by the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago. 

Extra:

What sets this story apart is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking used to unravel the deadly plot and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kali Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Comments:

Her premise is so exciting! 


Beautiful, intriguing book!


I am already hooked on the story in spite of the chills running along my spine.


Hooked! Sharing…


is a satisfying read from a fresh voice in the genre, and well worth the wait. The time devoted to research paid off, providing a much-appreciated authenticity to the sciency aspects of the plot. The author also departs from the formulaic pacing and heroics of contemporary commercialized thrillers. Instead, the moderately paced narrative is a seduction, rather than a sledgehammer. The author takes time rendering relatable characters with imaginatively cool names like Zeke Rowe, and Kalian Delamagente. The scenes are vividly depicted, and the plot not only contains exquisitely treacherous twists and turns, but incorporates the fascinating study of early hominids, and one ancestral female in particular who becomes an essential character. –Michael Smart on Goodreads


A fusion of technology, academics, and archaeology make “To Hunt a Sub” a thrilling ride. The stakes are high as a Ph.D. student and an ex-Seal risk all to stop terrorists from stealing American submarines carrying nuclear weapons. The writing is clipped and crisp, fitting well with the genre—there’s little fluff. The author’s expertise in technology shines through. A quick read I finished in just a few days. Solid debut novel. – Carrie on Goodreads


A thriller with a pace that entices, rather than pushes, you forward. This book which has long been in the works finally seems to make the wait worthwhile. In creating a scenario which is quite technical, the author’s knowledge and research into the subject guides the reader through the plot quite effortlessly. Though a writer of long standing, this first fiction novel of Jacqui Murray leaves one wondering and waiting for what else is still to come from her pen. A study of prehistoric hominids adds another element of intrigue to the plot.  –Ankur Mithal at Goodreads


So last night I couldn’t sleep and finally got up about 3 o’clock in the morning and thought I would just read for a while and maybe I would get to sleep unfortunately, I read your book. Needless to say, I was only halfway done when I started at 3 a.m. and by 6 a.m. I had finished the book! too good to go to sleep. Excellent book.  Can’t wait for the next one.  WOW


This is a complex layered story that successfully blends well-researched archaeology and cutting-edge technology, with a high stakes terrorist plot to steal nuclear submarines. It’s got characters to root for, and villains to loathe. 

 I loved the way the author combined vulnerability and strength in her main characters. I loved where the macho character ‘Rowe’ takes Kail’s hand even though she pulls away. And there is this beautiful raw, insight into what it can cost you to be a mother. Otto is very cool too.

Book information:

Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray

Release Date: August 2016 by Structured Learning

Genre: Thriller

Series: Book I in the Rowe-Delamagente series. See Twenty-four Days for Book II


Twenty-four Days

by Jacqui Murray

Available only on Kindle

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

What Kirkus says about Twenty-four Days:

A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. … A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale

Summary

World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.

At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.

In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.

But the second, Otto can’t locate.

Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi–the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.

And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.

As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.

Extra:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the sentient artificial intelligence who thinks he’s human.

Comments:

Cue the cameras, because this book would make a great movie! I could see it playing out in my mind while I read. While I normally don’t read military or techno-thrillers, I was in good hands with Murray. The author explains things without slowing down the action. While I can’t say I understood all the finer details and jargon, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and the final climactic scenes had me on the edge of my seat. Also, with this second book in the series, we get to know the main characters in more detail, including Otto, the AI that helps thwart the terrorists. In this book, Otto gets a robotic body, and it’s a hoot seeing him adapt to it.


Murray’s technology and naval knowledge, including the inner workings of a sub, are impressive. The amount of research that went into the book must be great. “Twenty-four Days” is a strong and exciting follow-up to “To Hunt a Sub.”


Twenty-Four Days takes us into the world of military technology, with two countries hurrying to find their missing nuclear submarines. As with To Hunt a Sub, I was amazed at the author’s level of knowledge about all things military. I especially loved the way each chapter was part of a countdown to the 24 days referenced in the title. It added urgency to the story that intensified the reading experience. You’ll love this one!


Twenty-Four Days keeps you going with all sorts of wonderful elements. The characters are well developed and intriguing. There are wonderful cliff-hangers throughout the book. This would make a fantastic movie.


I was an avid fan of Murray’s military thriller To Hunt a Sub, and her second book, Twenty-four Days, somehow managed to top the first. Though it isn’t necessary to have read the first book before diving into Twenty-four Days, I do recommend it. Murray mentions backstory but doesn’t spend a lot of time on it, so I liked having a solid grasp of the network of main characters prior to jumping into the new novel. It increased my enjoyment of this torpedo-paced book. Torpedo-paced is an accurate description. This book starts off full speed ahead and keeps it up to the last page. For readers who love thrillers with twisting plots, plenty of intrigue, and a race against time to uncover and stop a multi-pronged terrorist attack, Twenty-four Days hits the mark. Not until the very end is the master plan understood, and foiling the plot takes right up to the last page. I’m a slow reader, and I whizzed through this book.

One thing I enjoyed about To Hunt a Sub was the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military elements of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. This book is just as convincing as the first but with the addition of a battleship. The operation, acronyms, and lingo were technical, realistic, and occasionally over my head, but never to the degree that I was lost. Rather, I was thoroughly convinced that Murry is a submariner!

The science behind both reads is well researched and felt completely authentic, from cutting-edge military science and technology to the capabilities of artificial intelligence. The first book introduces the reader to Otto, a computer-housed AI. He was effective and fascinating but not terribly engaging. In Twenty-four Days, Otto gets a mobile body and the algorithms necessary to acquire a personality. He becomes a captivating character in the story and was one of my favorites as he participates in problem-solving and saving the world from war. The whole cast of characters is well drawn, their personalities, emotions, and relationships believable. There isn’t a lot of downtime to get to know them deeply though – the main reason to start with the first book.

All in all, a thrill of a read – 5 stars and highly recommended. I’m already looking forward to the next one!


If you’re a Tom Clancy fan you will love this book.This tense, fast-paced thriller is a page-turner that will keep you up wondering if what Jacqui has written could really happen. The brutal Islamic terrorists were ripped from today’s headlines. Otto won my heart. I will not tell you who Otto is, you have to find out what he is capable of and how his special talents help win the battle over good and evil. Maybe this book was a top secret mission that was sent to Jacqui in a brown envelope. We will never know.

Book information:

Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray

Genre: Thriller, military thriller

Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada

Series: Book II in the Rowe-Delamagente series. See  To Hunt a Sub for Book I


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.


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