Wednesday, 13 November 2019


Title: Day Zero
Series: Day Zero Duology
Author: Kelly DeVos
Genre: Teens & YA
Publisher: Inkyard Press, Harpercollins, 
                      Harlequin Teen (US & Canada)
Release Date: 12th November 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
If you're going through hell...keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Goodreads Link


It was the cover of this book that originally attracted me to it, along with the title, Day Zero. I wanted to know why it was Day Zero and what Day Zero was too, so this curiosity led me to read the blurb. I find prepping fascinating, so when the blurb says that the main character whose nickname is Jinx is used to doing drills that her father thinks necessary for an impending doomsday that interested me even more.

I like the rather desolate looking cover, with the one female character on it, whom I would say is Susan, the main character in the book. Though throughout the majority of the book she is being called Jinx by her family and friends even though she hates the nickname and what it suggests. The genres I have seen listed for this book are Teens and YA, which though I agree with, as an adult reader I have to point out I really enjoyed reading this book, so think Adults would read this book too, I would also add post-apocalyptic to the genres.

The books main character is Susan Marshall, but everyone calls her by the nickname of Jinx even though she really hates it. Susan/Jinx lives with her younger brother Charles, her mother and her new husband Jay and his two children from his previous marriage, Toby, who is older than Susan/Jinx and Mackenna who is the same sort of age as her. Jinx takes refuge in her own room a lot and plays video games such as Repulicae. Jinx has been planning a marathon session with her computer and Republicae all day at school, right down to calling at the Halliwell’s store for snacks and energy drinks. It’s whilst she is at the Halliwell’s with step sister Mackenna and little brother Charles that there is the first indication that something strange is going on. Their biological father Dr Maxwell Marshall is a computer science professor and is really into “being prepared” and as part of their childhood both Jinx and Charles have re-enacted so many possibilities for natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Dr Maxwell Marshall has even written a book on the subject called Dr Doomsday’s Guide To Ultimate Survival. So, when there’s an explosion nearby, whilst everyone else panics, Jinx and her brother Charles slip straight into “drill mode.” However, this is only the very beginning of things turning bad for the combined Marshall-Novak family.

Jinx see’s a cryptic message, and
It seems with all evidence pointing towards Jay Novak being the guilty party that sent the computer malware to the bank along with being involved the bombing of the bank, he will be charged and convicted. When he is arrested and his wife Stephanie Stephanie (Jinx & Charles mum) decides she goes wherever he is being taken, it leaves Jinx, Mackenna and Charles to fend for themselves and try to keep one step ahead of those trying to capture them too. Stephanie manages to call Jinx and instructs her to stay on the move and find her father, apparently Maxwell Marshall may be the only one who can help Jay and restore the banks to what they were before the political terrorist attack. Stephanie seems to think that her ex-husband Maxwell can help to clear Jay’s name somehow, or knows someone who can help.

The book covers the journey, adventures and misadventures that Jinx, Mackenna, Toby, Charles have whilst trying to lay low, yet find their way to Dr Marshall.
Their odds of staying hidden do improve when Dr Marshall aka Dr Doomsday sends them some help and an evacuation plan in the form of Gus Navarro. Navarro attended a convention that Jinx was at with her father and had kept in touch with Dr Doomsday ever since.

My favourite character was of course Susan aka Jinx, the way she slips straight into the drills her father has had her and her younger brother doing is what protects her and those around her. Jinx and Mackenna begin their journey being at odds and having lots of differing opinions. When it comes to Charles, the two girls do come together to protect him, though Mackenna and her older brother Toby tend to let him eat whatever he wants despite the fact he has type 1 diabetes. Jinx ends up having to be the bad guy and try to find healthy food, test his insulin levels and give him his injections too. Jinx and Mackenna do end up coming together and displaying a united front when them and their little family are under threat. In fact, Jinx has to do something she would have never thought herself to be capable of to save her step sisters life at one point in the book.
I immediately loved the character of Gus Navarro, and was hoping he would feature more as the book and plot developed. I loved the relationship slowly blossoming between him and Jinx. I hope there is much more of this couple in the next book.

The character I enjoyed hating was of course, Tork, the ruthless guy who is tracking Jinx and her group, as well as seemingly wanting to speak to her father too. He always seems to be that one step ahead. At one point the possibility of “someone on the inside” the banking system is mentioned, and yes, I did have that in the back of my mind as well as thinking that Dr Maxwell was too obvious to be the culprit. Having said all that, when it gets to a certain point in the book when the “insider” is revealed I was, like wow! I hadn’t thought of that, but it is an amazing twist.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were Wow I really didn't see that end coming! Seriously looking forward to reading more!! Brilliant, this book held me firmly from first word to the last.

To sum up I really did enjoy this book, it grabbed my attention within the first few words and kept a hold of me until the very last words. I honestly did not see that ending coming at all. I felt so sorry for Jinx, she had lost a lot by the end of the book. I can’t wait to find out what she will do in the next book. She has proven herself more capable than she ever thought she was in this book, and hopefully she will have the help of Navarro as well as her step family. 


Be prepared

Don’t wait for help

Stay together. Stay safe.

Do what you have to do.
Things will break down faster than expected.

Be prepared to leave everything you know behind.

Trust no one.

You can never tell what some people are capable of.

It is essential to establish a chain of command.

Cover your tracks.
Let your plans be dark as night.

It’s better to avoid trouble than beat trouble.

Save yourself.
In the end that might be all you can do.

Don’t get comfortable.

People who panic don’t survive

Never surrender.
Don’t put your fate in the hands of your enemy.

There will always be casualties


Dr Doomsday says…..

Everyone in this world seeks power. Those who will stop at nothing to attain it will also never willingly relinquish it.

Failure to understand your adversaries is dangerous. Failure to identify them can be fatal.

Certain situations don’t call for brains or brawn. They take nerve. Survival is an act of will.

Survival mode is the ability to tune out anything unrelated to one’s current situation. Disaster is rarely sudden. It builds like a storm, apparent to anyone paying attention to the weather.

There’s no such thing as a worthy adversary. Opponents whose skills match or exceed your own are terrible, existential threats. If they must be dealt with, understand you’ll never experience a sense of triumph and maybe never find any relief.

If you can’t outrun the past, you can hide from it.

Stay focused on what’s in front of you. Worrying about the big picture will get you killed.

Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies in the morgue.

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

You can lie to everyone but yourself.

In a disaster situation, your principles will always be pitted against your odds of survival.

We often give our enemy the means of our own destruction.

Violence is not only an acceptable solution. Sometimes it is the only solution.

Survival is relative.

Maintaining a constant state of awareness is draining. Yet, the time you think you can relax is the exact moment disaster will typically strike.

It’s always a surprise when you realise that love can do more damage than hate.


Dr. Doomsday’s Guide to Ultimate Survival

Rule One: Always be prepared.

I exhale in relief when Makenna pulls the car into the Halliwell’s Market parking lot. The store is one of the
only places in town with Extra Jolt soda, and I have to buy it myself because Mom won’t keep any in the house.

She thinks too much caffeine rots your brain or something. Halliwell’s is a low squat brown building that sits across the street from the mall and is next door to the town’s only skyscraper.

The First Federal Building was supposed to be the first piece of a suburban business district designed to rival the hip boroughs of New York. The mayor announced the construction of a movie theater, an apartment complex and an indoor aquarium. But the New Depression hit and the other buildings never materialized.

The First Federal Building alone soars toward the clouds, an ugly glass rectangle visible from every neighborhood, surrounded by the old town shops that have been there forever. Most of the stores are empty.

We park in front of the market.

Our car nestles in the long shadow of the giant bank building. Charles gets out and stands on the sidewalk in front of the car. Mackenna opens her door. She hesitates again. “Listen, I know you might not want to hear this or believe it. But my book report wasn’t about hurting you or getting revenge. I’m trying to get you to see what’s really happening here. That Carver’s election is the start of something really bad.

We could use you at the rally. You’re one of the few people who understands Dr. Doomsday’s work. You could explain what he did. How he helped Carver cheat to win.”
“I’ve been planning this raid for months,” I say. My stomach churns, sending uncomfortable flutters through my in-sides. I don’t know what it would mean to talk about my father’s work. What I really want to do is pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend the world is normal and whole.

I reassure myself with the reminder that there’s no way Mackenna is going to the rally either. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Charles give us a small wave. Before Mackenna can say anything else, I get out and grab my backpack.

Inside Halliwell’s, I pick up a blue basket from the stack near the door. The small market is busy and full of other people shopping after school or work. The smell of pine cleaner hits me as we pass the checkout stations. They are super serious about germs and always cleaning between customers.

We come to the produce section, and I leave Mackenna and Charles at the Click N’Go rack checking out the seed packets that my brother collects. Dad got Charles hooked on this computerized gardening that
uses an e-tablet and a series of tiny indoor lights to create the ideal indoor planter box. Each
week, they release a new set of exclusive seeds. Their genetic modifications are controversial.

All the soda is in large coolers that line one of the walls of the market. They keep the strange stuff in the corner. Expensive root beers. Ramune imported from Japan. And! Extra! Jolt!
I put a few bottles of strawberry in my basket. I snag some grape too. For a second, I consider buying a couple of bottles of doughnut flavor. But that sounds like too much, even for me. The chips are in the next aisle. I load up on cheese puffs and spicy nacho crisps.

They keep the Click N’Grow kiosk in the store’s tiny produce section between small tables of apples and bananas. Charles has selected several handfuls of seed packets. My brother dumps them in my basket.

Mackenna grimaces at the top packet. “I still don’t like that first one. It’s pretty. But still. It’s…carnivorous.”
Charles smiles. “It’s a new kind of pitcher plant. Like the Cobra Lily.” He points to the picture on the front of the seed packet. “Look at the blue flowers. That’s new.”
“It eats other plants,” Mackenna says.
“You eat plants.”
“But I don’t eat people,” Mackenna says. “There’s got to be some kind of natural law that says you shouldn’t eat your own kind.” Charles giggles.
My brother’s gaze lands on my selection of soda and chips. “Can I get some snacks too?”
I usually don’t buy unhealthy snacks when I’m with my brother. I smuggle them in my backpack and have a special hiding space in my desk.
“What’s your number?” I ask him.
My brother has type 1 diabetes, and he’s supposed to check his blood sugar after meals. He can have starchy or sugary snacks only when his glucose level is good, and usually only on special occasions.
Charles pretends he can’t hear me. That’s not a good sign.
“Charles, what’s your number?”
He still doesn’t look at me. “I forgot my monitor today.” “Well, I have mine.” I kneel down and dig around for the spare glucometer I keep in the front pocket of my backpack. By the time I get it out, Mackenna has already pulled Charles out of his blazer and rolled up the sleeve of his blue dress shirt. I wave the device
over the small white sensor disk attached to my brother’s upper arm.
After a few seconds, the glucometer beeps and a number displays on the screen.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Charles! What did you eat today?”

My brother’s face turns red. “They were having breakfast-for-lunch day at school. Everyone else was having pancakes. Why can’t I have pancakes?”
I sigh. Something about his puckered up little face keeps me from reminding him that if he eats too much sugar he could die. “You know what Mom said. If you eat something you’re not supposed to, you have to get a pass and go to the nurse for your meds.”
My brother’s shoulders slump. “No one else has to go to the nurse.”
Charles is on the verge of tears and frowns even more deeply at the sight of my basket full of junk food.

“Look,” I say. “There are plenty of healthy snacks we can eat. I’ll put this stuff back.”
 “That’s right,” Mackenna says, giving Charles’s hand a squeeze. “We can get some popcorn. Yogurt. Um, I saw some really delicious-looking fresh pears back there.”
“And they have the cheese cubes you like,” I add.

We go around the store replacing the cheese puffs and soda with healthy stuff. I hesitate when I have to put back the Extra Jolt but I really don’t want to have to make my brother feel bad because I can drink sugary stuff and he can’t. We pay for the healthy snacks and the seed packets.

I grab the bags and move toward the market’s sliding doors. I end up ahead of them, waiting outside by the car and facing the store. The shopping center behind Halliwell’s is mostly empty. The shoe store went out of business last year. Strauss Stationers, where everyone used to buy their fancy wedding invitations, closed the two years before that. The fish ’n’chips drive-through is doing okay and has a little crowd in front of the take-out window. Way off in the distance, Saba’s is still open, because in Arizona, cowboy boots and hats aren’t considered optional.

I watch Mackenna and Charles step out of the double doors and into the parking lot. Two little dimples appear on Mackenna’s cheeks when she smiles. Her long braids bounce up and down. Charles has a looseness to his walk. His arms dangle.

There’s a low rumble, like thunder from a storm that couldn’t possibly exist on this perfectly sunny day.

Something’s wrong.

In the reflection of the market’s high, shiny windows, I see something happening in the bank building next door. Some kind of fire burning in the lower levels. A pain builds in my chest and I force air into my lungs.

My vision blurs at the edges. It’s panic, and there isn’t much time before it overtakes me.
The muscles in my legs tense and I take off at a sprint, grabbing Mackenna and Charles as I pass. I haul them along with me twenty feet or so into the store. We clear the door and run past a man and a woman frozen at the sight of what’s going on across the street.

I desperately want to look back.

But I don’t.

A scream.

A low, loud boom.

My ears ring.

The lights in the store go off.

I’ve got Mackenna by the strap of her maxidress and Charles by the neck. We feel our way in the dim light. The three of us crouch and huddle together behind a cash counter. A few feet in front of us, the cashier who checked us out two minutes ago is sitting on the floor hugging her knees.

We’re going to die.

Charles’s mouth is wide-open. His lips move. He pulls at the sleeve of my T-shirt.

I can’t hear anything.

It takes everything I’ve got to force myself to move.



Leaning forward. Pressing my face into the plywood of the store counter, I peek around the corner using one eye to see out the glass door. My eyelashes brush against the rough wood, and I grip the edge to steady myself. I take in the smell of wood glue with each breath.

Hail falls in the parking lot. I realize it’s glass.

My stomach twists into a hard knot.

It’s raining glass.

That’s the last thing I see before a wave of dust rolls over the building.

Leaving us in darkness.

Excerpted from Day Zero by Kelly deVos, Copyright © 2019 by Kelly deVos. Published by Inkyard Press.

Kelly DeVos is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the "50 Best Summer Reads of All Time" by Reader's Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.

Kelly's work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

Twitter: @kdevosauthor
Facebook: @kellydevosbooks
Instagram: @kellydevos

Tuesday, 12 November 2019


Title: Beneath London's Fog
Author: Iona Caldwell
Genre: Occult Fiction, Ghost Story, British Literature
Publisher: FyreSyde Publishing
Release Date: 30th October 2019

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tours
Jonathan is the immortal master of Raven Hollow Manor – a decrepit mansion riddled with superstition, murder and restless ghosts. Beneath it lies a restless malice. 
Its previous owner driven mad, violently kills his guests with a rusted ax, creating the perfect venue for Jonathan to seclude himself in a prison of his own device.
When the streets of London begin to run red with blood; the bodies exhibiting disturbing signs and baffling wounds, the identity of the killer remains elusive to police.
The bodies are just the beginning of Jonathan’s troubles. A mysterious letter accusing Jonathan of committing the murders appear, raising suspicion in the police. Hidden beneath the mangled bodies, Jonathan soon realizes he is being forced to face demons he thought died in a forlorn past he attempted to escape.
One thing Jonathan knows for certain: He must deal with the demons of his past if he is to survive his future. Not only him but those he has come to love as well.
For fans of Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Darcy Coates and Nick Cutter.


The Streets Ran With Blood

I want it known before this tale begins – I am not a hero but a villain. I want no sympathy from whomever reads this recalling of my story; no mourning for the tragedy that befell my life. I am not an innocent man but a sinner forced to face the ravaging demons and ghosts of his own creation.
My story began as many do – a lie, a fire and murder. One of my kind murdered the woman I loved in the coldest of blood in one of history’s darkest times at the behest of a possessive noble.
After a run in with him in Nottingham, I soon found myself fleeing for my life from hunters, framed for a murder I had not committed.
Forgive me, I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me begin where this part of my story took place.
A bloody civil war ravaged London followed shortly by the Great Fire in 1666. A glorious time for me and those like me to take advantage of the chaos and remain hidden in the shadows.
I managed to pursue the one responsible for nearly getting me killed two centuries prior to the plague which befell London before the fire.
Within the shadows of the flickering flames of St. Peter’s Cathedral, I struck him down and departed the city, thus avoiding my demise.
I had yet to escape him, however, when his vengeful spirit devoured the souls of the innocent in a mad bloodlust.
Though greatly injured, I managed to drive his spirit to my new home Raven Hollow Manor in London, imprisoning him in stone coffin in the crypt beneath it.
Peace resumed in my life and nobles of all kinds enjoyed lavishly hosted parties within the halls of my estate.
Unfortunately, the short lived splendor at the hands of the hauntings filled the ears of the locals and my beloved home decayed into a tangled web of blood-filled rumors and superstition.
My once glorious halls became infested with dust, its crystal chandeliers covered with cobwebs, their spiders fat on the insects buzzing around the decay and mold-covered wallpaper.
Yet, there I remained as it proved a decent place to not only contain my greatest sin but served also as a castle of solitude.
The tides of time swept by in a cacophony of modernization and the movement from superstition to things only mortal science could explain.
I still needed to venture into the city, not only to feed but also to purchase other items needed for everyday living.
It wasn’t until the winter of 1910 that my silence would be disrupted in the form of a girl named Holly, a young street urchin accused of theft. I took her with me after using a bit of “persuasion” on the local officers to let her go.
They did not need to know where I would take her and she soon grew into a wonderful messenger on my behalf. She became a rather attractive young woman with bouncy blonde curls who kept me company with stories of what went on in the city.
I am sure, at one time, she became infatuated with me. It did not surprise me. To mortals, my kind held a certain allure they found difficult to ignore. I ended her infatuation quickly following a stern talking to and dousing with cold water.
One day, while in my labyrinthine garden, Holly came to me in tears.
When the people of London learned where Holly lived, the townsfolk dubbed her a practitioner of black magic.
One day, I found Holly sitting on one of the marble benches in the garden, sobbing. I picked a flower and put it in my daughter’s hair, sitting next to her beneath the statue of a praying angel.
“You need not worry about them, dearest. Mortals are always quick to place labels on what they do not understand.”
Holly sniffled and sobbed, wiping her nose and offering me a smile. “But why do they avoid this place, Jonathan?”
“Mortals fear what they cannot comprehend. Pay them no mind. You are a wonderful young woman,” I purred, brushing a blonde curl from her face.
The words appeared to have placated her as she smiled and joined me in a moonlight stroll through the garden.
Around midnight, after dinner with Holly, I dismissed her to bed. Once she departed, I sought out sustenance in the city.
A dense fog rolled in due to the cool winter weather and the recent days of rain.
Combined with the darkness of the streets and alleyways, I managed to meet a young working woman on the corner and wooed her into joining me for a walk to the park. As with other women, I made sure she understood I respected her body with gentle caresses and loving words murmured into her ears.
Once I placed her deep under my spell, I kissed the tender flesh of the woman’s throat and exposed shoulder, thanking her for her gift.
My fangs pierced her flesh, earning a moan of pleasure as her body surrendered its precious life force without any significant damage. Her body pressed against mine, her moans increasing with pleasure at my kiss.
I preferred this method to those of many of my other brethren who tore their victims apart during a feeding, choosing power to subdue instead of sexual allure.
When signs of weakness began manifesting I released my hold, picking her up after licking the small puncture wounds, my saliva healing them, leaving no marks or scars.
To assure she received care, I took her to the nearest hospital and deposited her on the steps without anyone noticing.
As always, I used hypnotic suggestion to erase her memory and leave her with a pleasant dream.
During the wee hours of the morning, I tended to enjoy the calls of the birds and the chirping of the crickets to help relieve the burden on my mind.
Not a soul roamed the streets near the bridge where I liked to sit and write poetry or read a book.
In the midst of the silence, a horrifying shriek caught my attention, almost startling me.
My pupils narrowed to those one might see in a viper or a cat. I let my body dissipate into the form of a black mist, hovering over the city in search of the source of the scream.
I found it in the shape of the body of a mangled man.
The whites of his eyes consumed most of the portion of the glossy orbs in his skull, mouth gaped open mid-scream.
I knelt before him, my own brows furrowed in frustration at the recognition of the familiar puncture wounds on the man’s throat. This cannot be. No other has hunted here in centuries.
The disturbing find made something clear.
Many of my kind preferred not to hunt in one place occupied by another of higher status, or in another’s territory for that matter. We changed due to the growing number of human hunters who would kill any of us they came across.
Despite the city’s size, my reputation often kept others out of my hunting grounds, for which I remained grateful.
This new kill had been malicious.
If I allowed such behavior to continue, it could draw the attention of the hunters or the local police to my home.
Whomever the responsible party, I needed to locate them and have a word with them or kill them if necessary.
My eyes closed, a heavy sigh drawing up from within my lungs. I placed my fingers over the man’s eyes, using a gentle touch to close them. “Forgive whichever of us did this to you. You did not deserve to die in such a horrific manner.”
Searching through the pockets of his trench coat, I located his identification card and vowed to send some money and roses to his family.
Sounds of sirens and the calls of the corner watchmen announced the arrival of the authorities. I left them the man’s wallet so they could inform his family of their loss.
I lurked in the shadows listening to the inspectors scrutinizing the scene.
“Bloody mystery, it is. This is the second mangled body we found this week. One has to wonder if we might be witnessing the birth of another blighter of a serial killer.” One of the inspectors scratched his head beneath the dome shaped hat.
I recognized him as Bertrand Abrams, a well-known officer and one of the only men who aided Holly during her visits to town.
From his looks, one would expect him to hail from Scotland. A bushy mustache and stringy hair with the consistency of sheep’s wool held the color of fire. Dimples set into high cheekbones and a double chin made me smile. A portly belly betrayed his affinity for too many scones and perhaps Scotch.
He had been wrong. This death held no mystery. I merely needed to find the one responsible before it resulted in too much of a personal dilemma.
Following the release of the corpse to the medical examiner, I took the form of black mist and drifted back to Raven Hollow.
The beginnings of my night would be haunted by dreams of a past filled with love, vengeance and pain.
It would be filled with shining auburn locks and eyes the color of the fresh leaves of spring.

Iona Caldwell is the lover of all things arcane, folklore, nature and magic.
She is the author of the British Occult Fiction, Beneath London’s Fog set to be published by FyreSyde Publishing October 2019. Her second title, Hell’s Warden is forecasted to release in February of 2020. When she’s not busy weaving worlds of the arcane and dark, she’s spending time out in nature. An avid lover of books, Iona claims her biggest inspirations are H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Edgar Allen Poe.
She believes storytellers should tell the stories they want to tell. As such, most of her titles are stand-alone novellas she hopes will leave her readers immersed in magical worlds.
She is also an extremely active book blogger who will review primarily horror, suspense, supernatural thriller, mystery, and occult/gothic fiction.