One Rough Man

I have been on a spy novel kick of late. So I had read Ghosts of War, another Pike Logan book earlier in the year. It was, I think, the tenth book in the series. I decided that I needed to start at the beginning. One Rough Man is the first Pike Logan book. I listened to this book on audio and had picked up the hardcover at a library sale. I think I am going to have to read the paper because the audio book’s narrators annoyed me at times so much that it pulled me out of the story.

Pike Logan is a former special ops soldier who works for the Taskforce – a top secret anti-terror group. He is about to deploy for a mission when his family is killed. He goes off the deep end and is kicked off the Taskforce. He settles on a boat in South Carolina, where he meets Jennifer Cahill one night. Her uncle is an archeologist, working in Guatemala who finds a secret tomb, and possibly, a WMD. Arab terrorists, working with a Guatemalan smuggler, learn of the WMD and try to get it. The archeologist sends an MP3 file to Jennifer and the chaos starts.

One Rough Man is a roller coaster ride of Pike, no longer with the Taskforce, and Jennifer, a civilian, trying to stop a terror attack while forces within the U.S. Government are trying to let the attack happen.

Like I said, the book is a roller coaster ride. But, if you listen to the audio version, the way the two male narrators made Jennifer sound whiny and weak and it really bothered me because she is anything but. Overall, the story, while having some unbelievable points, is pretty good. I’m going to read book two and see if Pike is someone I’m going to stick with.

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The Trident

This is Jason Redman’s story of his life. He was wounded in Iraq. I say wounded. He was shot twice in the arm and once in the face. That shot destroyed his nose and has required many surgeries to repair the damage. But this is also the story of his life.

I’m going to flat-out say that I hated him in the beginning of this book. He was arrogant and didn’t take responsibility for anything he did. But, as I learned later. That was the point. Jason learned – the very hard way- how to be a leader.

What I loved about this book is that he admits fully and completely that he was arrogant and obnoxious. But he overcame those characteristics before he was wounded. He’s honest about how hard his recovery has been and how depressed losing SEAL buddies has been. He founded a non-profit and has made his life after the Navy meaningful.

I also loved that he loves his wife. I admire her for her strength, character, and unwavering supports of Jason. This book is also a good reminder that many of us who have not served do not do enough for those who have. We tend to ignore the war because it’s been going on so long and it’s not every other headline any more. That is wrong. I hope he knows that the vast majority of use, while we may not outwardly say so, appreciate his service and anyone who serves.

I listened to the audio book and I really liked the narrator. His voice was calm and commanding. If you are interested in Navy Seals or anything related to Jason, this is a good book to read. I really enjoyed it.

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So Close To Being The Sh*t Y’all Don’t Even Know

I love Parks and Recreation. It is one of the funniest shows ever. So when I saw Retta was writing a book, I was excited. And the book didn’t disappoint. When I say this book is laugh out loud funny, I am not lying. My daughter told me to be quiet twice when I was reading it while she was watching tv because I was laughing out loud.

The book is a collection of essays about her life. She doesn’t really talk much about Parks and Rec and I thought that would bother me, but it doesn’t. My favorite chapter was actually the one she wrote about Hamilton. Though I haven’t seen it, I want to now, more than before.

The worst part of the book was the mention Fresno got. Some asshat (pardon the language) from my hometown threw out a racist tweet about her when she was live tweeting a show. She handled the situation with such grace. Just know not all people from Fresno are backwards racists.

I’m not a huge reader of celebrity memoirs. That being said, the cast of Parks and Rec has a lot of talented writers. I’ve read Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please and Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, both of which I truly liked. And Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe is on my TBR. And while I really loved Yes, Please, I have to rate Retta’s book at the best. Truly the funniest thing I have read in a really long time.

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Rising Out Of Hatred

I grew up in a middle class home. My parents are both white. I attended public school and went to a public college. Derek Black was raised in a lower-middle class family, whose parents are devout white nationalists. He was home schooled and was a rising star in the white power movement when he went to New College in Florida. While at school, he was outed as a racist.

Eli Saslow writes Derek’s story from being the heir-apparent of the white nationalist movement to disavowing his racist beliefs and renouncing his former life. Derek renounced his beliefs, not just because he was outed, but because a group of students who had befriended him and slowly and surely got him to see the error of his ways. Most important in this group was his girlfriend, Allison, who challenged his beliefs with facts and studies and educated him that what he had grown up believing and being told was wrong. Derek began to see the harm that his racist beliefs had caused.

I rated this book 5 stars, not because it’s well-written (and it is), but because it has a very important message. The last three chapters of this book are the most important. It explains how Donald Trump won the Presidency by mainstreaming alt-right beliefs and white nationalist language. It explains how frightening and dangerous and frightening those beliefs are. There is discussion about Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer – whose names wouldn’t be known today were it not for Trump. If for no other reason, this book is important to read for that.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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Warning Light

Zac Miller is on a flight from London to Singapore, sitting next to a lovely British woman, with whom he has a lovely conversation. The plane has engine trouble and makes an emergency landing in Iran, where there has been a devastating earthquake a few days prior. When Zac, who took some photographs of the mountains with his cell phone, gets up to use the restroom, he is escorted to an interrogation room. As he’s leaving the room, all goes black. He wakes up in a cell and is promptly
“interrogated” by the Iranians. This is a summary of the first 50 pages of Warning Light by David Ricciardi.

The book then becomes a question of whether Zac, an analyst, can (1) escape, (2) survive, and (3) get back to London so he can share the intel he gathered. This book is a roller coaster ride. Zac is like MacGuyver. He isn’t an agent. He had some training, but he doesn’t have the James Bond skills of Mitch Rapp or Pike Logan, or Courtland Gray. What Zac does have is determination. And a survival instinct. He is good at listening to his gut and acting on it.

I never thought that someone being trapped in the mountains without food or water or on a boat in really rough seas could be exciting, but Ricciardi has a gift for description and making suspense out of mother nature. This book is so well-written, in fact, that I read about 100 pages without realizing I’d read that much. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t even check the page numbers as they flew by.

I hope that this is the beginning of a long career for David Ricciardi, because he is a true talent and I look forward to see what he does next.

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A House In The Sky

I’m not sure how many stars to give this book. I have some extremely mixed feelings about it. Maybe writing a review will help with that. Amanda Lindhout had a rough childhood. She grew up without much and in a home with an alcoholic step-father. She got the travel bug and decided to see the world. So she went everywhere. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa. She decided to become a journalist and went to Iraq and then Somalia. She convinced her ex-boyfriend, photographer, Nigel to go with her and then they were kidnapped and spent 460 days in captivity. While being held hostage, she was exposed to unimaginable pain and torture, including being raped repeatedly. She and Nigel even converted to Islam in an attempt to get better treatment.

This was a hard book to read. Not hard because it was poorly written or didn’t have a compelling story to tell. Hard because it was emotionally hard. I cannot fathom being subjected to the kinds of things that she was subjected to. And I suppose she’s a bigger person than I, because I do not think I could find one ounce of sympathy or compassion for those who tortured and raped me.

Other reviews complained of her naiveté about travelling to Somalia, Iraq, and other parts of the world in conflict. I think that was related to her age and sense of invincibility. Enough about the things I didn’t like.

I did like a lot about this book. I liked her descriptions of places and people and food and everyday items. She has a gift at drawing a picture in your mind of the places she has been, people she has met, even the foot she ate. I could picture each house she was held captive in. I could picture the big brown eyes of the woman who tried to help her when she attempted to escape. This book is full of rich, vivid descriptions of places I will likely never see. Most memoirs have a photograph section. This book did not need it because of the way Ms. Lindhout was able to describe everything. And she did it in a manner that was not flowery or boring.

While it is a tough story to read, I’m positive it was a worse story to experience. Ms. Lindhout tells the tale in away that expresses the horror without leaving you devastated. She leaves you with the same hope that she managed to carry even when her situation was entirely hopeless.

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Lead Your Tribe

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a job. Period. It’s not just for those who own or run companies. Piyush Patel has written a treasure chest of advice to do better in your job, or how you run your company, or how to deal with other people. His writing style is clear and concise. He provides plenty of personal stories and anecdotes to show how he applied the philosophy he discusses.

The thing I liked most about this book is that Mr. Patel actually did everything he discusses. He is not putting forth some hippie/granola formula for success that has never been tested. I could tell from the first chapter of this book that he truly cared about his employees and believes that you lead by example. If more corporate and business heads led their companies like he led his, there would be less turnover and more happy employees.

Having been an employee who has left jobs because of managers (not because of the job), I really appreciate the concepts he discusses. If I ever am in a position to lead a group of people, I will implement these tools. I am even going to implement some of these tools in the next class I teach, as I think they will also translate to the classroom.

This book does something crucial for me-it puts employees first. Over money. Over product. Over customers. There is no way Mr. Patel could have built a company that sold for $45 million dollars if these tools did not work.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. Another reason I loved this book, it was inscribed to me personally – another indicator that Mr. Patel walks the walk.

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Gunmetal Grey

The Gray Man is back with the CIA after years of the CIA trying to kill him. He is tasked with getting his hands on a Chinese defector. But the mission is screwed up from the minute the plane touches down in Hong Kong.

As I read this book, I kept thinking, “This can’t get any worse.” And it kept getting worse. Court Gentry is trying to double-cross the Chinese and save his former mentor, Don Fitzroy. He is also up against the Russians. And his own handler at the CIA has not told him the entire story. Hamstrung and often finding himself without weapons or allies, Court tries to keep Don and the defector alive.

Can I just say that I love the Gray Man? These books are amazing. Full of action and so well-written. I started this series with Back Blast and then back-tracked and read them in order. Each book gets better. I cannot wait for Agent in Place. If you are a fan of Brad Thor or Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum, you will love these books.

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Hellbent

I didn’t think the first two could be topped. I was wrong. So very wrong. Gregg Hurwitz is writing a series that is, I think, the best I have ever read. Evan Smoak is a complicated hero.

When Evan’s phone rings and he finds the only father he every knew, Jack Johns on the line, he knows there is trouble. He finds out that Jack jumped out of a helicopter – without a parachute and died. Evan knows immediately who’s behind the death – his nemesis, Van Sciver. Jack leaves Evan a clue to a package. Evan finds out the package is actually a teenage girl and he must keep her alive as Van Sciver tries to kill her. During all of this action, his Nowhere Man line rings and Evan feels bound to help the caller.

I love these books. Gregg Hurwitz has written a compelling hero. Evan is a killing machine. Jack tried to keep Evan’s humanity and that is where a lot of the conflict occurs. And I love that. Evan doesn’t know how to normally interact with other people and how to have a “normal” life. He is a loner – in the best sense of the word. At one point, he takes the girl to Target and I think that part of the book was the best way to understand how out of his depth Evan is in normal life. I also think it was my favorite scene in the book.

If you have no read the Orphan X series, I highly recommend it. All three books are so very good. Full of action, but also full of humanity. I can’t say enough good things about Gregg Hurwitz and Evan Smoak. Check them out.

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Light It Up

Peter Ash is in Denver, doing a favor for his friend, Henry, whose daughter owns Heavy Metal Protection – a company that protects legal pot production in Colorado. Henry’s daughter, Elle, owns the company. Elle’s husband and another employee were ambushed while taking a large amount of cash to an undisclosed location and they disappeared. Peter’s truck, with three others in it, is ambushed. Peter is the only survivor. He decides that he’s going to find out who did it and why, and avenge his friend’s death. His friends, Lewis and June, come to Colorado to help him and chaos ensues. Peter is affected by PTSD, which he calls “white static.” He is unable to be indoors for long periods of time without having a panic attack that presents as static in his head. Peter is trying to fight the static and learn to be indoors. He is simple, yet complicated.

Light It Up was my introduction to Peter Ash, and I’m so glad I met him. This book is timely. It deals with issues like the legalization of Marijuana while it’s still illegal federally and the problems that causes, i.e. banking. Nick Petrie has written a really good book. I highly recommend it.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, lest I ruin the book. But I really liked this book. It’s well-written and tightly plotted. In fact, I liked this book so much, I picked up The Drifter, the first Peter Ash and ordered the second one, Burning Bright. He is my new favorite hero. I plan on reading every book in the series.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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