Tag Archives: Military

Book Review: ‘Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir’ by Michael Anthony

Title: Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

Published: 27th December 2016

Publisher: Pulp

Author: Michael Anthony

 

Synopsis:

After twelve months of military service in Iraq, Michael Anthony stepped off a plane, seemingly happy to be home – or at least back on US soil. He was twenty-one years old, a bit of a nerd, and carrying a pack of cigarettes that he thought would be his last. Two months later, Michael was stoned on Vicodin, drinking way too much, and picking a fight with a very large Hell’s Angel. At his wit’s end, he came to an agreement with himself: If things didn’t improve in three months, he was going to kill himself. Civilianized is a memoir chronicling Michael’s search for meaning in a suddenly destabilized world.

 

Review:

Review might be late but this still goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A memoir. A biography memoir bringing to life what can happen when you get back home after war. You might physically be back but mentally and emotionally are two other matters entirely.

Michael was clearly struggling, like so many I’m sure, and this seems to be an almost therapeutic way of putting everything out there for people to see. The darker side of how people cope (or don’t cope) with when they get back. Drinking, smoking, drugs, sex, everything to the excess. It seems to be a way to drown out memories or feelings so you can just get through the day.

There was an interesting mix of people throughout that Michael met along the way in the first three months after getting back. The dating guru of sorts was funny in his methods, along with the others from the class. Finally going to PTSD and drug addiction meetings was a step in the right direction but maybe not the right kind of meeting with the other people that were there. With the meetings anyway you have to want to be there to see any benefit or else you are just going through the motions and not getting anything back from it.

I feel the abrupt ending worked well because in life nothing is tied up with a happy big bow on it to finish things off. This isn’t the end anyway but more like a true beginning. With fiction you can create the ending you want. With fact it’s real life and nothing in life that’s worth having is easy.

I did feel at times that the timeline jumped around a little. It’s only taking place within three months to begin with but at points days seemed to jump around. There was a good pace throughout though and it does keep you hooked to see how everything plays out.

The struggles shown throughout are hard at times to read but real in a way to show you what can really happen. But also that there is help out there to help you try and find a way back to the other side. Dark and gritty too but that’s needed to show the true perils of dealing with PTSD, depression and addiction. An interesting read all the same though that is worth checking out.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Author Interview: ‘Seven Days of Infamy’ by Nicholas Best

Pearl Harbor Across the World

About the Book:

December 7, 1941: One of those rare days in world history that people remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, and how they felt when they heard the news.

Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and James Cagney were in Hollywood. Kurt Vonnegut was in the bath, and Dwight Eisenhower was having a nap. Kirk Douglas was a waiter in New York, getting nowhere with Lauren Bacall. Ed Murrow was preparing for a round of golf in Washington. In Seven Days of Infamy, historian Nicholas Best uses fascinating individual perspectives to relate the story of Japan’s momentous attack on Pearl Harbor and its global repercussions in tense, dramatic style. But he doesn’t stop there.

Instead, Best takes readers on an unprecedented journey through the days surrounding the attack, providing a snapshot of figures around the world―from Ernest Hemingway on the road in Texas to Jack Kennedy playing touch football in Washington, Jawaharlal Nehru in India, Ho Chi MInh in French Indo-China, Mao Tse-tung training his forces in Yun’an and the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe cheering as the United States entered the war.

Offering a human look at an event that would forever alter the global landscape, Seven Days of Infamy chronicles one of the most extraordinary weeks in world history.

 

What people are saying:

“A brisk, suspenseful World War II narrative from a proven storyteller.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Outstanding… Excellent… The real strength of his book – what makes it in many ways the most interesting of these three [Pearl Harbor books] – lies in its taut sense of the wider impact the Japanese attacks had internationally, from Ottawa to Canberra.”
The Christian Science Monitor

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I grew up in colonial Kenya and was educated there, in England, and at Trinity College, Dublin. My father was a feckless waster with no sense of responsibility. I had a very difficult childhood because he didn’t look after his children properly.

He was just like Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield. That’s no coincidence. An American academic once made a study of it and found that a significant number of American novelists had a father who didn’t take care of them properly. Neglected children are forced to retreat into themselves, creating an alternative reality in their heads. That’s where writing comes from.

I was working as a journalist in London when I wrote my first novel. It was rejected everywhere, thank God! I was walking past Secker and Warburg’s office one day when I saw a history of the British in Malaya in the window. Nobody had ever written one about the British in Kenya, so I dropped a note in saying that I could do it.

I was invited to meet David Farrer, a wonderful old man who had been at Seckers for most of his working life. I didn’t know it then, but he was one of the top publishers in London. He had published George Orwell’s Animal Farm when he was starting out, taking a chance on a novel that no one else would touch. Now, at the end of his career, he took a chance on me. Happy Valley: The Story of the English in Kenya was my first published book. I followed it up with a first novel and have never looked back.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

At my desk, after breakfast every morning. It’s a job, not a hobby.

I’ve written most of my books in a 17th century barn across the drive from my house outside Cambridge. There’s a 400-year-old skeleton under the floorboards in the corner. It’s a cat, buried there when the barn was built to ward off evil spirits. Doesn’t work for the Inland Revenue.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

This is the question authors are always asked. Some reply that they would go there more often if they knew. I don’t know either. It’s mostly just a question of looking at a familiar subject from an unfamiliar angle. Either that, or click on ideas.com.

My short story The Souvenir beat more than 1,200 other entries to be long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times/EFG Bank prize, at £30,000, the biggest short story award in the world. It’s a humorous account of a convention of American salesmen sailing down the Amazon and buying fake souvenirs from the natives.

It was inspired by a photo of an American sales convention that I saw in a magazine. The salesmen were all wearing red sparkly dinner jackets, except for the star salesmen, who had exceeded their targets that year. As a reward, they were allowed to swagger about in gold lamé jackets, while everyone else watched in envy. I thought that was worth a laugh.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Both. You have to have a pretty good idea of where a book is going, particularly at the end. You shouldn’t start writing until you know what the last page is going to be.

I always have a plan, but I don’t necessarily stick to it, if something better turns up. Good ideas often come to you while you’re writing.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I’ve written novels and short stories, some serious, some satirical. Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4 and gets film inquiries from time to time.

I’d like to write more fiction, but my history books are better paid and come with a substantial advance up-front. They sell all over the world. I’m drawn by the genre that pays the bills!

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I was recently in the offices of Joe Wright (director of Atonement, Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice), surrounded by huge pictures of Keira Knightley. We were discussing another project, but what I would really like to see filmed is my Kindle No 1 best-seller Point Lenana.

It’s on Kindle because it’s a short story (actually a film treatment), too short to publish as a book. The San Francisco Chronicle gave it a rave review, calling it ‘a Hollywood blockbuster in miniature’.

Point Lenana is about a Kenya settler’s daughter who falls in love with a good German in September 1939. He has come from Germany to climb Mount Kenya. Fifty years later, his frozen body is discovered perfectly preserved in the ice on the mountain. He is still young and handsome when he is brought down. She is an old woman nursing the memories of their wartime affair when she goes to see the body and say goodbye.

Keira is a dead ringer for the girl I wrote it about, so she’d be ideal for the part.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read everything when I was younger (I was the Financial Times’s fiction critic for ten years), but very little now. The older I get, the more I see the flaws in other people’s writing. Some of our literary lions enjoy stellar reputations, but I don’t know why. Their books seem unremarkable to me. You look at their reputations, then you read their books and wonder if you’re dreaming.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’ve discovered Jane Austen. I had to do Emma for A level and have avoided her work ever since. But I loved the BBC’s Persuasion, the version starring Amanda Root. I’m reading the book now to see how they adapted it for film.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I have three. Gone with the Wind for a terrific story; Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop for the humour in the writing; Robert Ruark’s Something of Value, because it’s a novel about the Kenya of my childhood. Every halfway pretentious author needs to name at least one book that no one else has heard of!

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Apart from ‘Don’t’? Make sure that you have another source of income… a job, a husband, anything that will pay the bills.

Don’t try to get published before you’re 30. Your writing will be immature before then. Use the time before then to have experiences and learn the job. Work as a reporter, magazine writer, script editor or whatever until your writing is good enough for you to take the plunge.

Avoid the temptation to self-publish online. It will come back to haunt you.

Remember that most writers have a seven-year window in which they do their best work and enjoy their greatest success. The rest of their career is either before that time or after it. Literary London is full of one-hit wonders desperately hoping for a second coming.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I’m on Twitter and Facebook, but the best place to see me on my website.

Website: www.nicholasbest.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authornicholasbest

Twitter: @NickBestauthor

 

 

About the Author:

Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya and was educated there, in England and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked as a journalist before becoming a fulltime author.

Formerly a literary critic for the Financial Times, he writes both fiction and non-fiction and is translated into many languages. His novel Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4. His short story The Souvenir was long-listed for the Sunday Times-EFG Bank £30,000 award, the biggest short story prize in the world.

Nicholas Best lives in Cambridge.

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Author Interview: ‘D.O.G. Executive Order’ by Robert Barlow Jr

About the Book:

To save his presidency and assure re-election, an arrogant, power-hungry president must end his illegal connections with a terrorist leader before that leader follows through on his threat to make public their relationship. Gunnery Sergeant Zach Hinson and Sergeant First Class Jason Jones, sniper team D.O.G., are ordered to assassinate the terrorist leader, but for the president, it is not enough.

Fearful the sniper team will let slip their involvement, the president agrees to the mission to kill the terrorist leader on the condition the two snipers do not return home alive. But, his effort to save his presidency becomes a war when it is learned the man with whom he has dealt with to kill team D.O.G. has failed to act on his agreement.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

My first venture into writing occurred when I couldn’t sleep. A single line kept turning in my head. To erase it, I got up and started typing. What started as a line became my first book, At the Water’s Edge. That line was originally the opening sentence, but it was eventually edited out. I continue to write because I love creating the story, and enjoy the research component.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I don’t have a favorite time. Between work and night classes, my available writing time is limited to weekends, and not every weekend is viable.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Various places. Time Passed was the result of something I experienced in a dream. I woke, having remembered the dream, and developed the story around it. D.O.G.: Executive Order was the result of a conversation I had with someone following the 2008, presidential election. It resulted in the creation of the sniper team. The historical fiction novel I’m currently writing came from the desire to write a novel based on early, American history.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I don’t plan or outline my stories. When I have an idea, I start writing. As the story progresses, I think ahead to try and improve the story, and I do a lot of rewriting while writing the original draft.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Three of my five have military subjects. It’s possible my military service is the reason for this. My sixth, still in the works, has nothing to do with the military. It is historical fiction set in the 1800’s. I love history and wanted to incorporate that into a novel.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Zach – Chris Pine, J.J. – Jeremy Renner, The President – Denzel Washington or Ed Harris

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I don’t read as much as I once did, except to reread my manuscripts. My job and attending night class occupy my time, and I use what free time I have working on my own manuscripts. I still purchase books that I wish to read, and one day I’ll have more time to get caught up.

My favorite authors include: Allan W. Eckert, Ian W. Toll, Erik Larson, David McCullough, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown and J.R.R. Tolkien.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

My wife recently bought me Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution. I may have to make the time to read this one soon. I love books on the American Revolution, especially those about the war in the south. (I believe the efforts in the south saved the war which allowed us to be the greatest nation ever.)

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I have three favorites, two fiction and one non-fiction. One fiction favorite is The Alienist, by Caleb Carr. I love period movies and television shows, and as it turns out, period books. Mr. Carr does a wonderful job of telling the story and incorporating some of the science that is taken for granted today.

The other fiction book is Lonesome Dove. It’s the only Larry McMurtry book I’ve read, and I can’t get enough of it. The characters are wonderfully crafted and the dialog flows so well with the story.

The non-fiction book is The Frontiersman, but Allan W. Eckert. It is the first book in the Winning of America Series, which is a great series. It is non-fiction but is so easy to read. I’ve read it multiple times and listened to the audiobook.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Write because you love the story. Remember, you’ll have to re-read and rewrite your book. If you don’t like the story, rewriting will be difficult.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

My social media is limited to Facebook – www.facebook.com/Robert-Barlow-Jr-and-His-Books

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Book Review: ‘Code Name: Forever & Ever’ by Natasza Waters

Title: Code Name: Forever & Ever (A Warrior’s Challenge Series Book 5)

Published: 11th November 2016

Publisher: Waterfall Press

Author: Natasza Waters

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Natasza-Waters

Twitter: @NataszaWaters

Synopsis:

When an Ivy League girl falls for a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, all the cards are stacked against them except one. Love refuses to die in Code Name: Forever & Ever.

Harvard graduate Margaret Stines rejects the job offered on a silver platter by her father. With a modeling contract in one hand and her possessions in the other, she leaves the neon lights of Glittertown for San Diego. She’d rather enlist in the Navy than marry the Hollywood wannabe executives her father brings home for dinner. A rebel at heart, Marg is seduced into the arms of a sailor. Only he’s the wrong one and when she meets his best friend Patrick Cobbs, she realizes her impetuous act will crucify her in his eyes.

Patrick is given one chance to leave the slums of San Diego to become a Navy SEAL. Recently graduated from BUD/S training, he and his swim buddy Thane Austen are infallible and cocky, certain they’ll earn their Tridents. While celebrating their success at St. George’s, Patrick meets Marg, but there’s no time to start a slow burn between them when the club goes up in flames. Worlds apart, Pat is the last guy Marg’s anti-military parents want for their daughter. With her grandfather’s name etched on the Wall of the Fallen, Marg’s father will do anything to keep them apart. Pat’s father’s a drunk; his family is poor. He has nothing to offer Marg except the man he wants to become. Only one person believes in them, and he’s dead.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with an outstanding hero or heroine. Well this one had three of them – Marg, Patrick and Thane – so get ready for a great emotional read. This story can be read as a stand alone.

A bittersweet read where I almost want to pretend the very beginning and ending didn’t happen. Get ready for a few tears because this one will definitely pull at the heartstrings when you get back to the ‘present’ day. Lets live in the past for now though.

So this is where we find out how it all began with Marg and Patrick, though she does bump into Thane first. New in town after breaking away from her parents and wanting to make it on her own modeling in a new town – one that happens to be filled with Seals mined you, hello hotness – Marg feels the need to let off some steam. Enter Thane, one sexy Seal who will hook you with a smile. A one-time thing that she has no intention of repeating but that doesn’t stop her from going back to the same bar again. See its not him she’s looking for but the silver eyed dream man she saw earlier while out with her grandmother. One look and she was hooked, now she just has to find him.

She doesn’t have to look too far though as it turns out he is none other than Thane’s best friend and diving buddy Patrick. Now if Thane had any hope of getting her for a girl that went right out the window the moment she was in front of Patrick again. It’s like the rest of the world vanished and he was her centre. Glad it goes both ways but nothing is ever that simple. How will he cope if (or rather when) he finds out he was second? Not second choice though lets make that very clear, even if it takes him a little while longer to see that. From the moment they meet its like they can see their future but he is in the training stage of becoming a Seal and knows the danger that it entails. Something Marg is only too familiar with after hearing more of her grandmothers’ stories. Her first love and Marg’s biological grandfather was a Seal too it seems. She knows how quick a connection can come and the risks of being with one. She can also see her granddaughter is going to follow the same path she did. Well if Patrick can get his head out of his arse and realize that she is not going anywhere no matter what he or her family says. She seems to be a bit of a danger magnet herself anyway with fires popping up and trouble at sea. But she shouldn’t worry too much as it seems she has a guardian angel looking out for her and those she loves – that includes you Patrick. Love the theme of that throughout as it helped link with something that happens at the end – even if I’m pretending it didn’t happen. To me we are living in the past not the present so there.

Loved Thane and all the other Seals and their partners as it helped create a realistic world that Marg would become a part of. Secrets never stay secret for long but sometimes you can come out the other side of them for the better. Great bit of storytelling that will pull at the heartstrings and will keep you hooked until the end. A true love story about soul mates that once found will never truly be parted.

5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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