Tag Archives: military

Going Commando

Going Commando by Mark Time

Going Commando

Going Commando

February 2014, Troubador Publishing

Rating: * * * *

Hilarious, absurd, and impossible to put down!

Thank you, author Mark Time, for recommending this selection.

Thunder in the Morning Calm

Thunder in the Morning Calm (Pacific Rim Series #1) by Don Brown

Published by Zondervan.  Distributed by Brilliance Audio.  Performed by Dick Hill.

Rating:  * * *

Action-packed from start to finish, this unabashedly patriotic tale has the makings for a made-for-TV movie.

Lt. Commander “Gunner” McCormick hears rumors of a North Korean prison camp holding elderly American prisoners of war from the Korean War 60-some years prior.  The possibility of finding and rescuing the POWs strikes a chord with him because his grandfather disappeared during the war and is officially listed as missing in action.  When the opportunity arises, Gunner and his hastily formed commando group advance into North Korea to search out the camp and rescue the prisoners.

You may recognize performer Dick Hill from the Jack Reacher audiobooks.  If you like his narration in that series, you will almost certainly enjoy this performance.

This work is labeled faith-based fiction, and that theme is prominent throughout.

On Two Fronts

On Two Fronts by Sgt. Adam Fenner and Lance Taubold

Copyright 2013 by 13Thirty Books

Rating:  * * *

Sgt. Adam Fenner, deployed as a medic to Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard, and his friend at home, Lance Taubold, write about their separate experiences of the deployment.  The book, written largely during the deployment, consists of each of them writing chapters in their own style and from their own perspective.  The story concludes shortly after Adam’s return from Afghanistan.

I love the asides:  notes from Adam included in a chapter by Lance, and vice versa.  Often as simple as [Adam:  Eye roll], the interactions make me chuckle.  Lance’s splashy style contrasts with Adam’s pragmatism, making an interesting combination.

Lance is in patriotic, save-the-world mode from start to finish, as a way to support Adam.  Adam is more matter-of-fact, only showing depth of emotion at one point, in the form of disillusionment following an explosion in a village thought to be friendly.  Adam’s chapters convey mind-numbing boredom interspersed with fierce activity, which he indicates is usual for deployments.  He speaks in broad terms about friendship and love, but rarely displays the emotion with which Lance’s chapters vibrate.  Lance deals more directly with the fears and feelings of separation experienced by those at home, the things Adam downplays or puts out of mind in order to focus on the here and now in a combat zone.

I struggle with the timeline in the book, sometimes unable to determine what is present day and what is being recounted from earlier.  All in all, an interesting read.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Publish Date:  January 21, 2014

Rating:  * * * *

Lord of the Flies meets The Brotherhood of the Rose meets Dead Poets Society

This is a chilling story of survival and humanity.  Chilling because humans are capable of doing terrible things to each other.  Survival because in order to survive, sometimes humans become inhuman.  Humanity because humans are capable of rescuing each other and upholding each other’s safety, dignity, and sanity.

Carl Freeman, sentenced to 2 years at the Phoenix Island boot camp for juvenile offenders due to fighting one too many bullies, soon learns the judge was unwittingly correct about it being a “terminal” stop:  kids die on Phoenix Island.  Even more terrifying is that nobody on the outside knows or cares because everyone on the island is an orphan.

Carl finds that on Phoenix Island bullying is often rewarded.  He learns that conformity would be easy, but maintaining one’s own identity and morality is both difficult and dangerous.  He learns that friendship is both painful and necessary.  He learns that contingencies, interpretations, could have turned his life into something entirely different.  He learns that he needs to follow his own code of ethics, regardless of the cost to himself.  Ironically, the island ultimately teaches him exactly what the court system wanted him to learn (albeit in a manner the court hopefully would not have sanctioned):  to control his own behavior.

This is a difficult book, but an affirming one.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart by Barbara Longley (Perfect, Indiana #3)

Rating:  * * * *

Hope.

Cory, battling PTSD, broke, unable to access veterans benefits, living in a trailer home with her mother, somewhat reluctantly accepts the push to start over with a new job in a new town, surrounded by other veterans dealing with PTSD.  Although she learns to trust all those she works with, her strongest bond is with Ted, the only non-veteran in the bunch, a man struggling with his own identity issues, being seen as a kid and feeling like an outsider in the business he dreamed up and co-founded.

For every bit of progress Cory makes, she also experiences horrifying nightmares.  Although she recognizes the progress, she also notes that “one notch above miserable can feel like relief.”  I recently saw an episode of Star Trek:  DS9 that sums up what Cory finally understands:  “Running may help for a little while, but sooner or later the pain catches up with you, and the only way to get rid of it is to stand your ground and face it.”  And so Cory faces it.

This book brims with hope.  And pain, yes, but always the hope that a better, fuller life is possible and that the characters can achieve that by facing down their pain.  Periods of hopelessness do not equal giving up.  And that is why I will read this book again and again.

I received an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

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