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Musings

  • For once, air travel was quite pleasant.
    • Seriously, even the TSA people were pleasant and helpful.
    • I can’t even complain about New Jersey drivers, much. The drive between Newark airport and undisclosed location was, for the most part, uneventful.
  • I do believe, however, that I shall never frequent the hotel I stayed at again.  It wasn’t the condition of the room (mediocre), the dearth of water warmer than piss, or even the lack of pressure for said piss-warm water.  It was the fire alarm sounding at odd times, usually when I was trying to sleep.
  • Scheduling a conference in Manhattan on the same day that the United Nations was meeting was probably not the best move somebody could have made.  Looking on the bright side, I got an opportunity to observe New York street life for three hours as we crept along through traffic.
    • Some people call it The Big Apple. I’m thinking it’s more like the The Big Anthill.  How can so many people stand being so close to each other?
  • Newark is one of those cities where there are islands of good places, surrounded by high fences and unarmed guards, in a sea of crackheads, strip clubs, and burned out cars.
    • Seriously, I expected to see roving bands of undead to complete the scene

Review – Heart of a Soldier

I first heard about Rick Rescorla as a young private in 1989.  My First Sergeant was a Vietnam vet with a 1st Cavalry Division combat patch, and among his war stories was talk of a fearless lieutenant he had met there.  I learned more about him when I read and reread We Were Soldiers Once, And Young a few years later.

Imagine my shock at finding out that Mr. Rescorla was not only among the dead of 9/11, but was also a hero of that infamous day.  Heart of a Soldier tells his story in a very human manner.

From Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart comes the extraordinary story of American hero Rick Rescorla, Morgan Stanley security director and a veteran of Vietnam and the British colonial wars in Rhodesia, who lost his life on September 11.

Heart of a Soldier is the extraordinary story of war, love and comradeship, danger and heroism, told by a Pulitzer Prize winner who is one of our finest writers.

When Rick Rescorla got home from Vietnam, he tried to put combat and death behind him, but he never could entirely. From the day he joined the British Army to fight a colonial war in Rhodesia, where he met American Special Forces’ officer Dan Hill who would become his best friend, to the day he fell in love with Susan, everything in his remarkable life was preparing him for an act of generosity that would transcend all that went before.

Heart of a Soldier is a story of bravery under fire, of loyalty to one’s comrades, of the miracle of finding happiness late in life. Everything about Rick’s life came together on September 11. In charge of security for Morgan Stanley, he successfully got all its 2,700 men and women out of the south tower of the World Trade Center. Then, thinking perhaps of soldiers he’d held as they died, as well as the woman he loved, he went back one last time to search for stragglers.

Heart of a Soldier is a biography of Rick Rescorla and his life-long friend, Dan Hill.  The story starts as they meet in post-colonial Africa, and progresses through a lifetime of combat, family, and friendship.

While both men’s leadership and heroism in Vietnam is discussed in detail, this is more than a gathering of war stories.  We learn about how they were brought up, their plans for life, how they diverged from those plans, and the ending one of them chose.  We get to know their families, their life after the military, and how they lived as men.

Heart of a Soldier isn’t an action story, although there is action throughout the first half of the book.  It’s not a romance, although romance plays a large part in Rescorla’s later life.  Heart of a Soldier is the story of two men from very different backgrounds who never forgot the meaning of honor and duty, even until the very end.

If you believe that such men deserve to be learned about and remembered, I think you’ll enjoy Heart of a Soldier.

Audiobook Review – Darkship Thieves

Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves is a fun romp that sucks you in and holds on tight.  I started out reading a bound copy I purchased from the author, but liked it so much I sprang for the audiobook so I could listen during my commute.

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips. You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the strangerwho turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help. But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime – if she managed to survive.

If you’re a fan of Heinlein, you’ll enjoy this book.  It is part Friday, part I Shall Fear No Evil, and part excellent world building and storytelling.  Hoyt’s attention to details in her settings and characters comes through in three dimensional Technicolor, and I found myself sitting in the car to listen to the end of a chapter more than once. The story has space opera, intrigue, and future history, all of which kept my attention.

Kymberly Dakin was an excellent choice to give voice to the main character, who narrates the entire book.  She did an impressive job of conveying the world and characters that Mrs. Hoyt created.

Because this is the first book in a series, the author had to spend quite a bit of time describing the word in which it happens.  Some readers will find this to be a bit of a drag on the plot, but the world that Hoyt builds is intricate and well filled out.  Otherwise, the plot moves along at a good clip.

Like I said, this reminds me a lot of Heinlein’s later works, and so the story is probably a bit too adult for readers under 15 or so.  There is some language, but it’s not gratuitous.

I’ve packed the sequel, Darkship Renegades, for a business trip, and I can’t wait to get started.  I think that once you give Darkship Thieves a try, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Musings

  • There’s no “I” in “TEAM”, but there are a couple in “PEDANTIC TWIT”.  Make a note of it.
  • Taking Boo to the doctor for a suspected case of strep throat exposed me to some of the latest examples of the creeping crud.  Luckily, he doesn’t have strep and is already feeling better.  I, on the other hand, feel like I got hit with a truck.
  • I finally forced myself to sit down and get the middle part of the current work in progress down on paper.  4000 words later, it’s just shy of 20,000 words.
    • I was shooting for a short story.  Oh, well.
  • I’m going to be traveling to New Jersey and New York for business next week.  I’m not dumb enough to try to figure out how to take along a firearm, so I’ve been researching knife laws.
    • Holy crap.  Basically, if I don’t want to buy a folding butter knife for the trip I’m down to Boo’s Cub Scout knife.  I’m not even sure that would be legal.
    • Do people there just use their teeth to open things or what?

Musings

  • Boo has managed to forget his lunchbox at school for five days in a row.
    • I told him that tomorrow is the last day I put his lunch in a brown paper bag.
    • The day after that, he takes his lunch in a plastic grocery bag.
    • The day after that, he takes his lunch in a diaper bag.
    • Boo thought that was funny.  Irish Woman is afraid I might be serious.  I’m trying to figure out where I put the old diaper bags.
  • It’s amazing that there are people in the world who get peeved when told by someone, who is so high in the food chain that they’re not even breathing the same air as the rest of us, that they have to do as they’re told, when they’re told.
  • The grooming standard at work has changed enough that I can grow a beard out, so I am.
    • Last time I could grow one, something something years ago, I didn’t shave for over two years.  It got long enough that I could braid it, and it had quite a lot of red and blonde in it.
    • I shaved when I interviewed for the current day job.  Since then, I’ve never gone more than a few days without shaving.
    • Now, after a month of growth, I can see that Father Time has spent the last something something years kicking my butt.
    • All of the blonde and red is now white and silver, and there are only patches of brown.  Seriously, if I didn’t still shave my neck and scowl a lot, I’d look like Santa Claus.
    • Irish Woman has suggested dying it, but I’d rather look old than look like I’d just dipped my beard in a can of shoe polish.
    • Oh well, I’d rather look ‘distinguished’ than have my usual baby face.
  • Recovery from my surgery is going well.  I’m out of the bandages and the stitches in my finger are out.  I’ve got a rather nice scar, and I’m learning to type with the new normal in my index finger.
    • I tried dry firing with a pistol and a rifle this weekend.  The ‘fixed’ finger is still functional, but I think I’ll pull the living heck out of the trigger if I use it on anything but a hair trigger.  Time to start dry firing with my middle finger.
  • Speaking of guns, I’ve had a hankering for a suppressor lately.  Unfortunately, Irish Woman has a hankering for a new house next year, and Boo has hankerings for, well, just about everything that a boy needs to grow.  You know, like three whole meals a day, clothes that fit his growing body once month, and let’s not forget that whole ‘educate him so he moves out someday’ requirement.

Audiobook Review – Monster Hunter Guardian

Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia, two of my favorite story tellers, have come together to bring us Monster Hunter Guardian, a story centered on Julie Shackleford.

When Owen Pitt and the rest of the Monster Hunter International crew are called away to mount a month’s-long rescue mission in a monster-infested nightmare dimension, Julie Shackleford – Owen’s wife and descendant of MHI founder Bubba Shackleford – is left behind. Her task: hold down the fort and take care of her new baby son Ray. Julie’s devoted to the little guy, but the slow pace of office work and maternity leave are starting to get to her. But when a routine field call brings her face-to-face with an unspeakable evil calling itself Brother Death, she’ll get more excitement than she ever hoped for.

Julie is the Guardian of a powerful ancient artifact known as the Kamaresh Yar, and Brother Death wants it. In the wrong hands, it could destroy reality as we know it. Julie would die before giving it up.

Then Ray goes missing, taken by Brother Death. The price for his safe return: the Kamaresh Yar. If Julie doesn’t hand over the artifact it means death – or worse – for baby Ray. With no other choice left to her, Julie agrees to Brother Death’s demands. But when you’re dealing with an ancient evil, the devil is in the details.

To reclaim her son, Julie Shackleford will have to fight her way through necromantic death cults, child-stealing monsters, and worse. And she’ll have to do it all before Brother Death can unleash the Kamaresh Yar.

It’s one woman against an army of monsters. But Julie Shackleford is no ordinary woman – she’s one tough mother!

I attended Sarah Hoyt’s reading of the first chapter of this book a couple of years ago at LibertyCon, and I’m very happy to see how it came together into a full length novel.  Julie is expertly painted as a young mother desperately searching for her child.  Between the writing and exceptional narration by Bailey Carr, the listener feels her anguish, anger, and determination in every word.

Guardian moves quickly, only occasionally slowing down to let you catch your breath.  Where MHI stories usually center around a team of people with a few principle heroes, Julie spends the vast majority of the story on her own, with not much more than her wits and a gun to aid her in her search.  Hoyt and Correia used this to develop her as a character, and I hope that they continue this in more MHI novels.

Ms. Carr’s narration is excellent.  Her voice and pacing keep the listener riveted as the plot moves along.  She was a perfect fit for Julie Shackleford.

Guardian is definitely a great addition to the MHI series and makes for a wonderful listen during morning commutes and long summer evenings.

Review – Gold on the Hoof

Peter Grant’s latest in his Ames Archives series, Gold on the Hoof, is the best of his fiction that I’ve read.  Go, read it now and see for yourself.

OK, that’s the short review.  Now for the details:

The Comanche and Kiowa are painting for war in the Texas Panhandle. The US Army is preparing to stop them – but it needs horses to do so. Lots of horses. Walt Ames knows where to find them, and breeding stock for his horse ranch, too. All he has to do is ride down to Mexico, buy them, and bring them back safely. That’s easier said than done.

He and his men will have to cover more than two thousand brutally hard miles, and deal with Indian raiders, Comanchero renegades, bandidos, and would-be horse thieves… not to mention a certain Irish-Mexican redheaded beauty who can make him forget everything else in the emerald glow of her eyes. Walt’s going to need every ounce of his grit and determination, plenty of firepower, and a lot of luck if he’s to convert the gold in his pockets to gold on the hoof.

Gold on the Hoof occurs a few years after Rocky Mountain Retribution.  Ames is looking to expand his business into providing horses for the Army, so he puts together a plan to acquire them in Mexico.  He and a band of good men head south to do business and end up crossing the path of several bad men.  Grant gives the business end of this story a light touch, but lays it on thick with the action and characters.  I read the entire thing in one gulp.

Grant has a special knack for getting into the heads of his characters and exploring the world through their eyes, and this is on prominent display in Gold on the Hoof.  The character of Ames is especially well fleshed out, and the new characters Grant introduces quickly become three dimensional and interesting.

The author did a good job of pacing the story, and the research to paint the people and places we encounter is top notch.  Like I said, I read it all in one stretch, so don’t be surprised if you find you can’t put Gold on the Hoof down.

Review – The Grey Man – Down South

Jim Curtis has returned to his Grey Man series with a short, well-written entry that fills us in on the earlier life of the series’ principle character in Down South.

After too much action, too much peace gets on a man’s nerves. John Cronin’s back from Vietnam and bored, when Billy Moore suggests he check out the brand new Drug Enforcement Agency. He’d expected paperwork and meetings; he got on-the-job training in South America with stakeouts gone wrong and ambushes exploding into firefights.

This isn’t Cronin’s first rodeo, and now he’s taking the fight to the cartels, from the laboratories hidden deep in the highland jungles to the enforcers in the cities and secure compounds!

Down South opens as John Cronin is getting over his post-Vietnam hangover and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  He can’t sit and watch the grass grow, and he can’t find a place in local law enforcement, so he looks further afield to a new organization.  Soon, he’s in the thick of the drug war, and he’s taking the war to the enemy.

Like I’ve said before, Curtis is one of the best story tellers I’ve ever encountered.  In a few short lines, he paints the scene of a steaming jungle or a dark alley, then fills it with well-rounded characters and well-paced action.

Of course, by now, we know John Cronin, but as we delve into Down South, we learn more about his family and the friends that we encounter in the rest of the series.

I’m not sure if the author meant for this to be the start of another story arc in the series, but I certainly hope so.  There’s a lot to explore, and I can’t wait for more.  Down South is definitely recommended.

Musings

  • My hand surgeon was less than enthusiastic about my suggestion that it might be easier to just take my finger off rather than fusing one of the knuckles.
    • In my defense, I had already been given my pre-surgery meds and I was as high as a kite at the time.
  • A nerve block that makes it so I not only can’t feel your entire right arm, but cannot even twitch my fingers is one of the oddest things I’ve ever experienced.
  • Irish Woman is always watching out for me.  She even took away my phone when my stoned self was looking to buy $1700 plane tickets to North Dakota.
  • You know, if Boo’s out in the front yard and I’m in the basement, and I can hear him scream when he falls out of the tree swing, you know he hurt something really bad.
  • Poor Irish Woman.  She was just getting me to the point where I was semi-functional when Boo needed to be taken for X-rays.  I’m just glad we stocked up on bourbon during our mini-vacation.
  • Boo ended up with a broken foot, a set of crutches, and a bad attitude.
  • He does, however, seem to enjoy the knee scooter the orthopedist rented to us so that he has a bit more mobility.
    • Now to convince him that it’s not a skateboard.
  • I’ve been trying to write, I really have.  But typing when you don’t have use of one of your index fingers is really, really hard.

Impossible Hope

 

Impossible-Hope-Generic

A few months ago, a friend put out the call for folks to do a good deed, and I was fortunate to donate a few thousand words to the cause:

My desire is to help my sister in any way I can. Being a man of modest means and resources, aside from being there for her and assisting whenever possible, there is little I can do alone. However, with help, I intend to do more. I was able to get in touch with a number of writers, all of whom have donated their time and effort and art for an Anthology of short stories, entitled “Impossible Hope”. Anyone who donates through here will receive a copy of the book as a thank you for their generosity. All of the money you donate will go to paying for the costs of the surgery and what it will take to get Bonnie and her husband there and back again. We ourselves will cover the costs of publishing the book, and once the book is published, all proceeds from it will go to the Ehlers-Danlos Society for the benefit of those like my sister. https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/ All those who donate through this effort will receive their copy before we officially publish the material.

I’m honored that my short story, Battle Buddy, is part of this remarkable collection of stories.  Each one shows the importance of never giving up, of always having hope, even an Impossible Hope.

Here are the stories and authors in the collection.  I really struggle to name a favorite, because they are all great, uplifting yarns.

  • Do Something – Logan Lewis
  • Battle Buddy – Tom Rogneby
  • Queen’s Gambit – David Freiberg
  • Glastonbury Abbey – Josh Griffing
  • Four Funerals and a Wedding – L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • A Random World of Delta Capricorni – John C Wright
  • Shoulders of Giants – Dave Higgins
  • Sir Ronan and the Smooth Road – Frank Luke
  • Buddy – William Joseph Roberts
  • Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones – Woelf Dietrich
  • Battle Within – Musaab Sultan
  • Take My Breath Away – Sam M. Phillips
  • Ghosts of Camlan Hill – Ben Wheeler
  • Moulin Rouge’s Last Secret – Denton Salle
  • Life on the Fringe – B. Michael Stevens
  • Blue Pearls – Benjamin Tyler Smith
  • The Other Side – Heather Hood
  • Invisible Battles – R.J. Ladon
  • With Royal Beauty Bright – Nicholas Arkison
  • The Switchman’s Lantern – James Pyles

The other authors got together to discuss their stories, and it is really interesting to hear about how things came together.

 

So, if you’ve got a few extra dollars you can spare, and you’re in need of something hopeful to read, please consider donating to Bonnie’s fund.  Enjoy!

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