The Ericksons

Category Archives: Reviews


Twenty-Four Days

Less than a year ago, author, Jacqui Murray’s book, To Hunt a Sub, made its debut. She’s  now releasing the sequel, Twenty-Four Days. I’m so excited to share this with you as part of her book release blog-hop.

Here’s the Short Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:

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 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.

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

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. Hijackers have taken two submarines 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 hijackers kill one of his closest friends, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto. Otto 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. 

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. Rather, it’s payback against the country that cost him so much.

This is the second book in a series, so I asked Jacqui,

Do you have to read To Hunt a Sub (the prequel) to understand this book (the second in the series)?

She said, “No, not at all. The plots are stand-alone and the characters interact based on what happens in this story, not prior ones. There is sufficient backstory to cover any instances where that is not true.”

What does Kirkus Reviews have to say abut 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

Here’s a customer review of Jacqui Murray’s series

The research and technical details she included in this book had me in complete awe. A cybervirus is crippling submarines–and as subs sunk to the bottom of the ocean, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It’s up to Zeke and Kali to save the entire country using their brains. If you love thrillers, this is definitely one you can’t miss!

Book information for Twenty-Four Days:

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

Genre: Thriller, military thriller

Cover by: Paper and Sage Design 

Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada

Jacqui Murray’s bio:Jacqui Murray

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 thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe 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.

Jacqui’s Social Media contacts:

http://twitter.com/worddreams

http://facebook.com/kali.delamagente

http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

https://plus.google.com/u/0/102387213454808379775/posts

 

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. My husband, Dan has battled stage IV lung cancer since 2012. I help cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, despite their illness.

My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com.

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

 

The Memory Maker’s Journal is available in 5 different covers!

 

"<yoastmark

The Memory Maker’s Journal- Ruby Edition

 

"<yoastmark

The Memory Maker’s Journal- Turquoise, Red, and Orange Edition

 

"<yoastmark

The Memory Maker’s Journal- Navy and Violet Edition

 

The Memory Maker's Journal- Pink Edition

The Memory Maker’s Journal- Pink Edition

 

The Memory Maker's Journal- Turquoise Edition

The Memory Maker’s Journal- Turquoise Edition

 

Why a Memory Maker’s Journal?

When my husband, Dan was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, one of the things we soon realized was that our time on earth was finite. Would our children and grandchildren know our stories and what made us who we are? I made the Memory Maker’s Journal because it’s important to share your story.

Why is sharing your story so important?

It reaffirms your values for you and for others.

It was the very question of how to still be there for our children and grandchildren that prompted Dan to write his book, ABC’s of the Bible. He never wanted his kids and grandkids to guess how he felt about the Biblical principles he wrote about in the book. It was a way for him to leave a lasting legacy.

It didn’t, however, share the stories that our children and grandchildren will want to hear. I’ began to get on his case about writing some things down, or better yet, recording them. It’s been a hard task for him to undertake, though. It felt like studying for the finals at the beginning of the semester. It also seemed overwhelming. What should he write about?

The topic came up at a recent caregiver class we took part in. One gentleman had started asking his mom questions, and then later write down the stories she told him.

Connect the past to the present and the future.

Our daughter, Summer, has on occasion asked Dan certain questions she wanted him to answer on video. One of those was, “What would you say to the man who one day wants to marry me?”

The answers to these questions don’t take the hurt away. They do fill in some gaps, though. On the day each of my daughters gets engaged, they will be able to share their dad’s hopes and dreams with their fiancé via the video.

Helping others through your story.

The reason I began writing about our journey facing Dan’s cancer was to help others who were or would be facing cancer. We knew a lot of people facing the same situation. And worse, we knew that at some time, nearly everyone will have their life directly affected in some way by a cancer diagnosis, whether their own or that of a loved one. I needed to have something good come out of this situation. Which brings me to the last reason I will enumerate for sharing your stories.

To overcome the difficult parts of our history.

Each of us has a unique history of being an overcomer. Everyone has gone through something difficult. By sharing that experience, you can use your pain to bless and encourage someone else—especially the next generation. Why not make those lemons into lemon bars?

How to tell your story

Telling your story at this time in history can take many forms. We have at our fingertips unlimited resources that could never have been imagined a few generations ago. You can video yourself telling stories. You can record yourself using something as simple as your telephone. You can write your story down.

Participate

The best thing you can do is to allow others to participate in the discussion. If you are trying to learn your family narrative from a parent or grandparent, see if they will let you ask some questions, (like an interview). A good reporter will respond to the interviewee, drawing more details of the story out, looking for those golden nuggets.

Get the Memory Maker’s Journal!

With this journal, you are about to begin an exciting journey. The questions in this journal will bring to mind memories of your family, your youth, your early adulthood, and the family you raised. This is perfect for recording the memories you would like to pass on to future generations. It also makes a great family activity. Ask loved ones these questions and record the stories of their life. Your experiences and your memories are yours alone until you share them with others. By making a record of them, you leave a part of your life to live, even beyond your years. The treasure that is locked inside of you is a gift you can give future generations. This is priceless. More than a journal, this is an experience!

#MemoryMakers


THAS-smallDo you like a good thriller? A book that takes you by surprise, grabs you and doesn’t let go? Then Jacqui Murray has a book for you!

Check out To Hunt a Sub!

Jacqui Murray is the author of one of my favorite blogs,  WordDreams. She is the author and editor of over 100 books on integrating tech into education. She shares “must-know” tech advice for anyone who likes to use a computer. This, along with her popular thesaurus style posts which offer a ton of different ways to describe things in your writing, is why her blog is so popular—especially with writers.

So, I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peek at Jacqui’s first novel. For me, a thriller has to have a special quality to grab me. Within the first two pages of To Hunt a Sub, I was hooked.

Here’s a short summary of the book:

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

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.

Here’s my interview with Jacqui Murray:

Q: How did your daughter’s experience of at the US Naval Academy influence the writing of this book?

Jacqui Murray: My daughter has been a huge influence on my writing. My very first book–Building a Midshipman–was about her struggles to transform herself from a lost high school student to a USNA Midshipman. Then, as I got to know her new friends and their families, I started blending their knowledge into both To Hunt a Sub and the sequel (due out next summer), Twenty-four Days.

Q: What prompted you to move from tech writing to memoir style writing, to writing a novel?

Jacqui Murray: Good question–what did motivate me? I’ll have to blame my muse. Each book popped into my consciousness. I had no choice but to write them.

Q: What was the hardest thing about that transition?

Jacqui Murray: The hardest thing about moving between the writing styles was adapting my style to the needs of the genre. Thrillers don’t include opinions and long personal reflections (which were fine in Building a Midshipman). Thrillers also is cohesive from beginning to end where my tech books are topical–I use images and To-do steps and then move on. The tech writing is so different, I use it as a break from my fiction writing, and vice versa.

Q: Will you continue to write novels?

Jacqui Murray: Yes, I love fiction writing. I have ideas for my next three–we’ll see if they survive being put onto paper!

Q: Who’s your favorite character in To Hunt a Sub?

Jacqui Murray: I do love my strong, gutsy female lead, but my favorite character is Otto, the artificial intelligence. Part of that reason–probably a big part–is because I know where he’s headed. In the next novel, he will become a fascinating, talkative character who adds a lot of levity to the thrills.

Q: What sets this book apart from other thrillers?

Jacqui Murray: 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 captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Here’s the long summary of To Hunt a Sub:

The USS Hampton SSN 767 quietly floated unseen one hundred fifty-two feet below the ocean’s surface. Despite its deadly nuclear-tipped arsenal of Trident missiles, 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 five miles from 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.

Enter and Unlikely Hero

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 with the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.

Book information:

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

Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning

Genre: Thriller

Cover by: Paper and Sage

Available on Amazon Kindle HERE

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray

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. She is 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, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, 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.

 

 


That Dragon, Cancer
When I first heard about the game, That Dragon, Cancer from my children, I couldn’t understand what the appeal would be. It is a “game” about a child having and dying from cancer. But, they kept asking for it, so when it went on sale, I bought it. I decided I would check it out before letting them “play” the game.

That Dragon, Cancer, is an immersive experience, more than a game. It is so real and raw. It’s like going through Eli’s cancer along with his parents. I cried through the whole thing.

Using Your gifts to Cope with That Dragon, Cancer

My husband has been battling stage IV lung cancer since 2012. I write about the journey our family has been on. You have to do something to sort out the emotions you are experiencing, and writing is my gift. Game development is the gift that Eli’s dad has. He has used his gift in an amazing way to share his family’s experience with the world.

So why would someone want to “relive” the cancer experience through a game, or through any other format for that matter? Because in seeing other people’s journies, you discover that you are not alone. One of the interesting things in That Dragon, Cancer, was the different ways that each parent coped. The struggles with faith, the reactions to events. It was beautiful to see that other people have the same questions when they face the Dragon. It is also inspiring to see them overcome.

Some Criticisms of the Game (not mine)

I have been thinking a lot lately about the phrase, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” There have been game reviewers who have criticized the game’s inclusion of the family’s faith in God.

It bothers me that our society has made God and faith taboo. God is how this family overcame the pain of their son’s cancer. faith in God is how our family, and many other families, overcome that dragon, cancer.

In Christ, we are overcomers, even of death.

Is it okay for kids?

You’ll have to be the judge of whether or not it’s okay for YOUR kids. Each child is different. Some are more sensitive than others. I decided it was perfect for my kids who were very aware of the pain that cancer causes families. It was a new and different way for them to process some of the emotions of living with their Dad’s illness.

Spoiler Alert!

Eli ultimately dies, but his parents’ faith in God makes the ending uplifting. We can see that Eli is no longer hurting. Instead, he is happy and healthy in heaven.

I would recommend this game highly. Have a box of Kleenex nearby, though. You will need it!

That Dragon, Cancer is available on the Steam Platform.

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. My husband, Dan has battled stage IV lung cancer since 2012. I help cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, despite their illness.

My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com.

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

Buy Facing Cancer as a Friend Today!

 

Sign up for my FREE Newsletter!

Check out Past Blog Posts HERE

Badges

A to Z Challenge