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Archive for November, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

By Mirah W. (mwelday)

 

 

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website, Veterans Day is ‘a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good’.  This year I will be celebrating Veterans Day without my husband, who is currently deployed to the Middle East region. But we are counting down, what we hope will be, the remaining days of this deployment for us.  I am a very proud Navy spouse and, even with the periods of separation, I believe in our choice to serve and have never regretted our decision to join the Navy.  I say ‘our’ because we made the decision together.  However, I also recognize my husband’s service is just one part of the much bigger picture.  We are all protected every day, every hour, and every second by someone else’s child, parent, sibling, spouse, or friend.

In honor of this Veterans Day, I decided to read a recent book that has been the cause of much condemnation by some and praise by others: No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden.  My husband read it and recommended it to me.

No Easy Day, whose title is derived from the Navy SEAL philosophy that ‘the only easy day was yesterday’, is a firsthand account of what it is like to train to be a SEAL, the toll that being a SEAL takes on a person, and the events leading up to and the night of the mission which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the book I laughed at the tales of camaraderie and practical jokes and cried over the physical, mental, and emotional toll it took on the SEALs and their families. Once I got to the chapters regarding the research, preparation, and completion of the mission, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t put the book down.  My chest felt tight and I was practically holding my breath. When I read Owen’s account of his fellow SEAL calling in and reporting, “For God and country, I pass Geronimo. Geronimo E.K.I.A.”, I had tears streaming down my face.

I remembered crying over this mission when it was reported in the news. It’s hard to explain my emotions; I was relieved, sad, proud, and angry all at the same time.  I’m not implying I felt the impact of this moment more than others, I just felt it deeply from my perspective.  The events of September 11 are the reason we are a military family now.  We made a choice to change the direction of our lives after that day.  Because of the impact that day had on me and my husband, I felt I needed to know what happened to the man who orchestrated the event that would change not only our lives but America as a whole.  I had a right to be able to come full circle.  And Owen was very careful not to divulge information that would endanger missions of the future, which I respect and understand.

This year for Veterans Day, I encourage everyone to take to heart Owen’s message in the epilogue of No Easy Day: “I challenge every person who reads this to sacrifice a little something as well. I’ve been asked a question: ‘I’m not a SEAL and probably couldn’t do it if I tried, but what can I do to help?’  Two answers come to mind. Don’t just live, but live for a purpose bigger than yourself.  Be an asset to your family, community, and country. The second answer is that you can donate time and money to a veterans’ organization or one that supports wounded warriors.  These men and women have done their part and need our help.”  The SEAL who wrote this book is going beyond his own service and is donating the majority of the proceeds of No Easy Day to charities to help veterans.

I accept this SEAL’s challenge.  I will try to be an asset to others in my words and actions. Veterans Day means so much more to me now that I am part of a military family.  I recognize I truly am a part of something bigger than myself. I take to heart that while my husband wears the uniform there are things I can do, too, to serve my country.  I feel a swelling of gratitude and pride every time I see a military family’s reunion on television or hear our national anthem. I will continue to support veterans’ organizations and be the best possible supporter and encourager of our military as I can be.  And for me that starts at home.

Paranormal Romance Review – Darkness Rises

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

 

Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

Darkness Rises – Immortal Guardians 04

 

This is the fourth book in the Immortal Guardians series and I have enjoyed them all.  This one is no exception. First a word about the series: there is a network of good guys – including humans, gifted ones, and Guardians.  The guardians are fang-bearing, blood-sucking good guys with assorted powers, the gifted ones are individuals with special powers, and the humans are just regular guys with skills and dedication. The bad guys are vampires – fang-bearing, blood-sucking ex-humans on a fast track to crazy. There is a vamp virus – if the person who contracts it is a gifted one they become an Immortal Guardian – if the person is a regular human they end of a vampire, a so far incurable transformation. Enough said.

The hero of this story is Étienne, one of the Immortal Guardians. While out looking for vampires one night he finds Krysta who is out trolling for vampires by pretending to be easy prey. To his astonishment she is apparently human and an extremely skilled fighter.  Since she intrigued him and was vastly outnumbered, he steps in and helps finish off the group of vamps she had lured. She is startled and assumes he’s a vamp also (it’s the whole fang thing) and escapes him with the help of her brother.

Étienne goes from intrigued to obsessed, following her on her nightly vamp-killing tours while trying to decide what to do. Then a paramilitary group starts hunting the Immortal Guardians (again) and they don’t care how much mayhem is caused to bystanders in the process. Étienne is hit with enough tranquilizer darts to bring him down while ensuring she has the time to get away. She doesn’t, of course, and he ends up at her home with her brother healing him. Now there are two humans with knowledge they shouldn’t have. And then there’s the paramilitary guys who might have followed them home…

The rest of the book proceeds with the developing relationship between Krysta and Étienne, the pursuit of the human mercenary threat, and, of course, killing vampires. Lots of action, I really enjoyed it. I look forward to more in this series…

There’s a series thread continuing from earlier books concerning Ami who is now pregnant. And then there’s Zach, and enigmatic character with wings who drifts in and out of the storyline – also introduced earlier. Their threads are unresolved and will undoubtedly form the basis for other books. Other characters from previous books continue to be major players in the storylines so it is better to read this series in order…

 

Immortal Guardians series

Darkness Dawns #1

Night Reigns #2

Phantom Shadows #3

In Still Darkness in Predatory #3.5

Darkness Rises #4

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – Murder by Matchlight

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Readers that like novels set in wartime London – Like Ministry of Fear (Greene) or The Untouchable (Banville) will like Murder by Matchlight, a 1944 mystery by now neglected E.C.R. Lorac (the pen-name of Edith Caroline Rivett). The danger of air raids is described:

He was soon driving westwards along the empty darkness of Marylebone Road – a darkness slashed by the incredible brightness of the traffic lights shining out at the road junctions ahead. Belfort Grove had the same quality as every other London street during the blackout: it seemed completely blank and dead, as though it were impossible that cheerful normal human beings could live and move behind the dead facade of blackened houses.

But that’s not all. When one character complains why go after the killer of a lazy thug who needed killin’ given that civilization is endangered by the war, series hero CID Inspector Robert MacDonald mildly observes that if private justice through murder prevails, it’d really be a nazified world then.

The climax also involves an incendiary bomb crash through the roof of a rooming house of the vic and the colorful characters who lived there with him. The characters are fun if thin, the plot strong, the solution surprising, the writing top-notch, as the quote above shows. I recommend this without reservation.  Dover Publications reprinted it in the 1980s so it pops up at PBS every now and then. Sadly, though Lorac was a prolific author, her mysteries are hard to come by.