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Review: Nine Line by Zachary J. Kitchen – A Brilliant MUST Read

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“Have no fear of robbers or murderers. They are external dangers, petty dangers. We should fear ourselves. The great dangers are within us. What threatens our souls? It is forbidden to kill. Therefore, all murderers are punished. Unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets.” – The manifestation of Thomas Neill Cream, from River, British television series, based on a quote from Voltaire

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on Life’s parade shall meet
The brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
– Theodore O’Hara, American poet and soldier

 

 There is a quote from “Nine Line” that defines the book so very well.

“No, sir. It says here that you are deceased. As of two months ago.”

The ponderous, ‘file it in triplicate, we will get back to you in a couple of years’ mentality of a war machine weighted down by politicians and paper, upper echelons more interested in raising their profiles, and climbing their ladders, than protecting those under their care. “What a fucked up way to run a war.”

Nine Line is a paean to the stupidity of war – and the great and noble sacrifices of those who fight. And a scathing, horrific acknowledgement of the horrors these young men and woman suffer in a medieval land of savagery beyond all moral comprehension. Unconscionable waste – of resources, of potential.

Of life itself.

Nick Patterson grew up the son of a wrench monkey at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. A good, hardworking man, he raised a good man in Nick. A man who wants to help. To do what he can to make the world a better place. He wants to be a doctor, but a working man’s son can’t afford a good school without a bit of help. So, the Navy it is. “The Navy had covered everything: tuition, books, fees, room, and even a little bit of beer money besides.” An ER residency at SUNY, then it’s off to the wars – literally.

Life in the sandbox, a festering malignancy on the ass of the world. A land once rich with life and history, now brutally destroyed, driven to the lowest possible depths of human depravity by madness and hatred and greed. Vicious heat, sand and wind. Bombs and bullets and blood. Oh, so very, very much blood. Rivers of blood, bits and pieces of humanity, once vibrant, now simply meat. The reality of the barbarism of life in a land where savages hold no humanity, are the worst they can possibly be. Where the Dark Ages never grew into the light. Where life has no worth other than as cannon fodder. Unless, of course, you are a woman or child. Then? You are a possession. No rights. No love. No hope. Where all the goodness and love and light has been stripped away, until only hatred remains. Thousands of years of violence and death, justified by warped interpretations of religious beliefs, racial tensions, and warlords bent on controlling the few resources available by creating mountains of dead and dying. Medieval people existing in a medieval world. A medieval world filled with bombs and guns, IEDs . . .  and So. Much. Blood.

Have you noticed how we ignore it these days? We, with our smart phones and takeaway, golf games and video games, wrapped up in sheer self-interest. It’s all about us – about who gets kicked off the island, who has the newest electronics, what stupid stunt the celebrity of the moment just pulled. Petty, self-centered, and oh, so unrepentantly ‘entitled’.

“People like us don’t go off to war. That is for those people too poor to find a way out or too dumb to know any better. Uniforms are for the lower classes.”

While so many suffer – suffer and die, alone in the sand, those with the power to create change ignore the reality of lives snuffed out, lives destroyed.

Mr. Kitchen is that rarest of novelists – a man who writes from his heart about his own experiences and those of his closest companions, those who fought and died at his side. Marine. Pilot. A Navy scholarship to the Michigan School of Medicine. Then, Iraq with a Forward Resuscitative Surgical System team. This book made me laugh and cry. It made my heart pound and hurt and, at times, it lifted me up to see the utter goodness in the hearts and minds of young women and men in the worst of circumstances. It is an absolutely wonderful book, full of truth, pain, and the ultimate sacrifices made by those men and women, so young, so full of hope and life and plans, so violently snuffed out.

“There must be some kind of way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.

Business men – they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.” –
Bob Dylan & The Band, All Along the Watchtower

 Read this book. You really, truly should. There is hope, even in the pain. But we must never forget. Must never take for granted the sacrifices made, the lives lost, and the political machine which keeps it all running.

“These were guys who would never laugh or get drunk or screw again. Young, healthy, and with a lot more life left, they were cut down. For what? So one asshole can take land and power from another asshole?”

 

 

 

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Review: Sweet Deception by Angel Nicholas

Sweet Deception: HarperImpulse Romantic Suspense - Angel NicholasAnyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins. – Franz Kafka

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. – Bob Marley

Sweet Deception. It sounds like one of those “Boy meets girl. Boy saves girl from minor problem. They all live HEA. The end.”

I wonder who decided on that title? Because, though there are six five star and one four star very-well-deserved reviews, the people who are expecting a simplistic story are going to be disappointed, and the readers who would pick up a powerful, contemporary suspense/thriller would not normally pick it up offhand. And this is a powerful book. Oh, the whole HEA romance thing is in there – though it might have been better served in another novel. Just my opinion, because I found that it distracted from the overall story line.

Ally Thompson’s life is boring. Go to work in insurance claims, come home, have dinner, pour a glass of wine and read a book in bed. (Hey, that is my life!) Tired of listening to all the fun that her coworkers had over the weekend on Monday mornings, she decides it is time to do something adventurous. Well, not too adventurous, but riding a roller coaster is a start, right? Ensconced in the “special” seat at the rear of the coaster she finds herself seated next to (of course) tall blond and sexy detective “Surfer Dude”. When one of the riders is murdered and thrown from the car, Greg the Surfer Dude saves her life (of course) and thus begins a much more serious contemporary tale than I had expected based on the cover and title. In a word, this is one thrilling book – but it is also excruciatingly current in what is, to me, the best sort of way. Angel Nicholas rips the blinders off of modern issues that many would like to ignore – or pretend don’t exist in the first place.

Drug running, human trafficking, sex trafficking, dirty cops – all play a gut wrenching role in the tale. And this is why I would have been happier with the book if it left out Ally pining over Mr. “I’m too gutless to have a real relationship but I am more than happy to bang you blind – and if you try to have a relationship with anyone else I will stalk you and show up on your doorstep” Guy. Yeah, yeah, he finally “comes around” several months after the end of the ‘action’ – and yeah, yeah, she takes him back. Meh. It detracts from the importance of the book itself as it tries to pull in both the romance and the suspense crowd.

The person expecting a ‘sweet’ romance isn’t going to like this. There is brutality, rape, sex slavery of both adult women and children, (two instances of which Ally is forced to watch, as “training”), and several scenes where the heroine is subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation, though she is not actually raped.

Yes, yes, I know. I get psychotic over books that depict rape and sadism – but my problems with those books are where the actions are presented as being “acceptable”. This isn’t that sort of book. It brings into the light things that society would rather keep hidden, stripping off the blinders and making the reader truly see.

Something else it brings to light? How our government will allow these things to continue to happen as they “build their case” – no matter the suffering that women and children go through as the “case” is built. Sometimes YEARS of torture, rape and sometimes death – which can honestly be a blessing given what they are subjected to day after day. All enslaved  by monsters, of course. But the real monsters? The ones who live next door – who have wives and children and jobs, who attend PTA and host cookouts in the back yard and birthday parties for your children. And who slip away at odd hours to rape and brutalize women – and of course, children the same age or younger than their own little ones.
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So. My recommendation? READ. THIS. BOOK. But don’t expect “sweet and cuddly.” Expect realism, expect truth, expect good writing (well, except for the romance part – IMO Ally would have been better off sticking with being the strong, wonderful woman she was, and she does create something truly wonderful with her life before Greg comes back around) than sticking around for Mr. “It’s All About Me” but there was finally a HEA so those that wanted it got a sweet ending.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own, and I am very happy to recommend it! If you like my reviews, please let me know on your country’s Amazon.com! I post to US, CA, AU, UK.

Review: Heart Of Africa By Loren Lockner

 23355539Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. – Coco Chanel

 It’s estimated that across Africa 100 elephants are killed for their tusks every day. It takes nothing more than simple math to get to what that adds up to in a year, and it’s a distressing figure. – Graydon Carter


The unmerciful sun refused my commands and set unconcernedly behind the dry acacias, stealing with it any remaining warmth of the day.

 Poor Mandy Phillips. Dismissed as worthless by her mother and cousin since she was a child, she is shy, introverted, and never speaks up for herself, much less having an adventure. But when her up-and-coming physician fiancé decides to toss her over for 19-year-old blonde floozy, Mandy has had enough. So, she decides to take an even more adventurous trip than the African honeymoon they had planned.

I wish to book a trip to Africa, but not to Kenya. Perhaps you could recommend a destination full of intriguing sights and wild animals? A first class safari to… um… somewhere else?”

Such begins Mandy’s Big Adventure. An adventure that will take her beyond the boundaries of Kruger National Park and into the wild in a desperate race to survive. A race through a land where every step may mean her death.

This is a beautiful book. The world building is amazingly gorgeous, filled with the life of Africa, the joy and the heartache, the poverty and pain, and the overwhelming beauty of a country ancient beyond belief, the home of humanity and of life itself. And where humans think nothing of killing a rare rhino for its horn, leaving the animal to rot in the sun, and a simple misstep can cost your life.

While this is a romantic suspense, it is much more than that. The romance portion is well done and believable – the hero is not perfect by any means, nor is the heroine. But that is what makes everything so perfect. They have to fight every step of the way simply to survive. But it is the reality of the suspense that made this such a special book. Well, and the beauty of Africa, the birds and beasts, the flora and fauna unlike any other. It fills the book with wonder, tugging my heart to its mysterious shores. There is pain there, poverty and death, but overall it is a country which calls to the soul. Lockner blends and weaves the country and its people into a story of love and survival which will touch your heart, and open your soul to adventure beyond any you might image.

Highly recommended!

Review: The Trading Society – Eric Martin

For Marcus Cowle everything in his life revolved around business and the singular matter of making money, obscene amounts of wealth other men with similar aspirations only imagined of acquiring in fanciful, hopeful daydreams. – Eric Martin, “The Trading Society”

There are no heroes…in life, the monsters win.
― George R.R. Martin

When bad things happen to men we say it’s terrible, but when bad things happen to women we say that’s just a cultural practice says Lou de Baca, U.S. Ambassador at Large, Office to Combat and Monitor Human Trafficking. Nita Belles, In Our Backyard: A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States

trading
Buy this book if you like INCREDIBLE thrillers. Just click!

Eric Martin ripped my heart out. He tore my soul and poured salt into the wounds. He ripped and shredded and broke. Listen to me. I sound like one of those sicko BDSM groupies, reveling in my own self-humiliation, don’t I? But I mean this in a totally different way. A deep and heartfelt way that opens up my eyes and pours acid into my soul.

Martin has written a gripping, horrifying fictionalized book on the revolting subject of modern day slavery. As Siddharth Kara says, in Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery: “Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and children are abducted, deceived, seduced, or sold into forced prostitution, coerced to service hundreds if not thousands of men before being discarded.”  It is easy to think of this as being a ‘foreign’ problem. Sure, it could happen in India or the Arabian countries, but it could never happen in the good old U. S. of A.!

R.i.g.h.t. Martin brings the problem home, setting his story in the Windy City itself, Chicago, the heart and soul of the Midwest. Set within the prestigious confines of Great Northern University, Martin pulls you deeply into his story, a story of politics and power, of horror and greed and brutal, bloody deeds beyond the comprehension of normal human beings. This is not just sex slavery, in all its horror. This is blood lust and brutality at it’s most savage. Savagery carried out by the wealthy and the privileged, those whose selfsame power places them beyond the reach of the law, beyond the reach of morality or honour. Further, this is a story of the people who provide the victims, as Martin writes, “. . .(who) dealt with clients of a prominent stature with refined tastes, men such as Commander Omega and Sheik Rahm, demanding quality merchandise of a higher grade. To obtain this fine product required precision and thoroughness in preparation.”

These are men with no souls, whose only goal is to find the prettiest, the smartest, the most profitable young women, whose sale will enrich their own coffers by millions of dollars. Young women who can look forward to a short, sharp life of pain and brutality, blood and savage death.

Martin doesn’t pull his punches in this book. He doesn’t wrap things up in a neat little bow and end it all with a happily-ever-after. He writes a very real thriller about a very real problem, and he does it in a manner that will literally take your breath away. I wouldn’t recommend this for the weak of stomach. Instead, I highly recommend this to the reader who is willing to go where many won’t – into the deepest, darkest corners of the human psyche. Who isn’t afraid to look straight into the eye of evil and accept the consequences. This book is, in so many words, amazingly brutal, horrifying and breathtaking by turns, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I have read many horror books over the years, but none of them can beat the horror that resides within truth.

Very highly recommended. Not for the weak-willed.

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