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Prodigal Avenger

Prodigal Avenger: A Story of the Secret War in Afghanistan by [Moynihan, Tim]

Jake Drecker, a special operator, pursues a mission across country borders to neutralize a terrorist cell, which may be holding an American missionary hostage. When Jake’s boss, Lt. Colonel Mike Sanchez, wonders at Drecker’s insistence and the CIA’s apparent carelessness for his and his team’s safety. The mystery of motivations and history of the missionary begins to settle in for both men. As the rescue operation becomes more and more dangerous, Drecker and Sanchez begin to believe that they may have bitten off more than they could chew.

Military thrillers are always ripe with adventure and thrilling pacing, yet Tim Moynihan’s Prodigal Avenger, seems to subvert his trope. His style is crisp and light and sails over the narrative with ease. There are plenty of nitty-gritty details and numerous mentions of military jargon to please even the most extensive army aficionados. Set in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the setting is immediately visceral and relevant, given the extensive USA presence there in the last 18 years, although Moynihan avoids labeling or commenting on the political foibles that led to the conflict. The mentions and reflections of faith were unexpected, but felt surprisingly welcome, especially in the face of such dire circumstances.

Drecker and Sanchez play off one another quite well and give an almost classic “brothers in combat” that is present in most military dramas, yet Moynihan plays his hand slightly closer to his chest by not allowing either man to be too intimate to the reader. This keeps us at a distance when observing the violence and chaos that occurs throughout the story. There is special attention to show how in war, black and white isn’t clear and that no one is purely at fault nor innocent in war. That kind of appreciation for warfare is rare in these sorts of patriotic, Americanized thrillers and Moynihan must be commended for his discerning prose.

The only fault I found in this book would be the loose ends. Considering how complex and confusing the operation becomes over time, this is no surprise, but the careful narrative never becomes overtly twisted so as to confuse the reader further. The loose ends otherwise will have us begging for answers and one can hope that Prodigal Avenger does not leave Drecker and Sanchez behind.

Any reader of military thrillers or military adventures stories surrounding the Middle East would be well served by reading these.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07KX5K894

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Callie’s Ghost

Callie’S Ghost by [Christian, James]

You know you’ve started a good mystery story when within the first few pages you’re hooked and questions are flying. Ben is eagerly awaiting a trip to Morocco that he has been planning to undertake for some time when he’s given an offer. From here the book takes the reader on an exploration of how money is used around the globe to sponsor terrorists and undermine countries. The pace picks up quickly, and the intrigue is built up well, making the book hard to put down.

Author James Christian’s career as a university professor at universities around the world shows as he builds up the different locations in the novel. I really felt like I was being taken across the world as I was zipped from the United States to Morocco. The writing style is clean and descriptive. It’s clear that Christian really understands how to pull together an engaging plot and create characters that feel real and easily pull the story along.

From the very beginning of this book, I found myself questioning everything. Government employees, a secret offer, an international trip, and add to that the mysterious title of the story. I was sucked in and was captivated beginning to end. This has an exciting plot that really makes you think about the world around you. Christian was very successful on this front as he was able to deliver a clear message with a thought-provoking plot while never sounding preachy.

The story is action packed and full of fun twists and turns that kept me on my toes. I really liked Ben as a character. He’s smart and dedicated to his job and shows a lot of passion. He’s a great vessel through which to enter into this story. If you like international mystery stories, or political corruptions and espionage stories, then I would definitely suggest that you pick up this book. A unique and wonderfully written story.

Pages: 258 | ASIN:  B0794ZKBHH

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The Money Trail

The Money Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 5) by [Fields, J.C.]

The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.

It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.

Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.

Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ

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Six Minutes Early – Trailer

Max Kenworth, a former Delta Force officer and nuclear weapons expert, is tasked with stopping a major attack on US soil in this thrilling adventure.

FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has stolen a cache of man-portable nuclear devices from a secure American facility in Panama. The weapons end up in the hands of ex-special forces officer Bart Madison. With the help of ISIS, drug cartels, and a US senator, Bart is planning to use the devices to create an atrocity in the American heartland.

Max is briefed on the situation by SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and teams up with FBI agent Gail Summers and Mossad agent Danya Mayer to find the weapons before they can be used against American citizens. The three will face opposition from both foreign enemies and so-called allies as they follow Bart’s trail across the continental United States. Their foe is intelligent and well connected, but the three of them are determined to stop this terrorist before more lives are lost.

Patrick Parker tackles today’s most important issues in this sociopolitical suspense novel. He uses Six Minutes Early to explore the tension between intelligence agencies, holes in national security, and threats from around the world.

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The New Holy Warriors

The New Holy Warriors by [Sandoval, Alice ]

The world as he knows it is crumbling around him. Marc Bravo has just seen the twin towers in New York City fall and terrorism is on the minds of every American and dominates conversations across the globe. September 11, 2001 marks the beginning of a string of events that will change Marc’s life in a way he could never have predicted. When his parents go missing from their volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders, Marc drops everything to find them and bring them home safely. What Marc can never predict is what he will learn about their kidnappers, their true intentions, and how the entire world may ultimately be affected.

Alice Sandoval’s The New Holy Warriors is a timely piece detailing the events following the September 11th attack on the United States. Sandoval takes the story beyond the accounts that we have all seen and heard and breaks down the symbolism of the event itself. In addition, the author lays out for readers a story like no other as she follows Marc Bravo on a quest to find his missing parents who are assumed to have been kidnapped. Marc’s story and his journey for answers is based on true events and is stunning in every way.

One of the most striking elements included in Sandoval’s work is the way in which Islamophobia is addressed. In a very straightforward manner, the author reminds us all of the horrific treatment of anyone appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent. Via her main character, Marc, she drives home the fact that stereotyping immediately following September 11th was rampant and a danger to countless numbers of innocent people.

Another aspect of Sandoval’s story, which might go unnoticed by many, is the description she gives of the strange incidents in the skies above Mexico. Marc is treated to an elaborate explanation of the event and is informed that UFO sightings above Mexico are fairly commonplace. As this book reads as primarily nonfiction, it is almost chilling to listen in on the characters’ conversation about these “cigar-shaped” ships. As an added bonus to the already curious events, Sandoval includes the story of a suspected relationship between the Mayans, the pyramids, and Martians. The casual conversation included in this story inspired by real events is not in the least out of place, but it is truly fascinating.

Sandoval does not shy away from sharing the abject horror involved in terrorism and the groups involved. With color photographs and blatant captions, Sandoval openly shows readers the brutality carried out by organizations like Al Qaeda. If there was ever any doubt in the reader’s mind about the capabilities and intentions of terrorist organizations, Sandoval wipes it completely away with one swift stroke of the pen.

The New Holy Warriors is a fascinating and eye-opening account of terrorism as viewed through the lives of ordinary citizens. Marc, his brother, and best friend are the vessels by which Sandoval delivers an amazing story readers will wish was just that–simply a story.

Pages: 373 | ASIN: B0784QR76B

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The Incidental Jihadi: An Alternative Point

It is easy to forget that war torn countries are actually homes to some people. All I ever hear is of the fighters. I never hear of the people who watch beheadings happen so close to home. People who have gotten used to the smell of gunpowder. People who are no longer fazed by the sound of bullets cutting through the air. People whose mere presence amidst the chaos has made them parties in the war.

The Incidental Jihadi is a story about Len who later becomes Naim. Len is a geologist working at an oil exploration company. All is well with his family until he is sent on a risky exploration mission. A mission that will forever change the trajectory of his life and that of his family. He must liberate his family and therefore joins the war. He manages to sneak Omarm, his son, to safety. He cannot live in bliss though as he has to go back in for another try. Will he succeed in an endeavor that has little hope of success?

This is a very well told story full of excellent detail. You can almost smell the desperation and hatred in the air. You can feel the aggression. Samrat Mitra tells such a vivid account of events that the reader finds themselves plunged deep into the heart of war torn Middle Eastern locations. The reader will find themselves lost in a fight that very few understand anymore. A war whose collateral damage seems to be worsening with every line they read. It flows easily. In the author’s note at the back, Samrat says that this book is a depiction of actual events. The reader will be able to feel the air of reality, however unbelievable, in this story.

The author also seems to have a sober political mind. There is understanding of the political element of the events that take place. However, emotion seems to get away from him as he essentially calls some parties ignorant. Though somewhat truthful, it brings out the author’s passion and gives the book character.

This book may need some polishing but the passion and compelling plot overshadow whatever writing errors one might encounter. You will experience a cornucopia of emotions as this book delivers an alternative view that will urge you to think about a different aspect of the wars.

Pages: 333 | ASIN: B073R5GQTV

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The Emerald Cave

The Emerald Cave (Ramsey Series Book 3) by [McPike, James]

The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is a fast novel. It’s not fast in the sense that it’s a short read. Rather, The Emerald Cave works by having prose and plotting that takes readers for a whirlwind of a story that involves action, firefights, terrorists, heists, and a dozen other elements that contribute to an engaging and incredibly engrossing novel. Being the third in its series, The Emerald Cave follows the story of Vince Ramsey, an Israeli detective searching for an arms dealer whose whereabouts are murky at best. He enlists the help of April Fulton, an expert on historical artifacts, and the two set off on an epic investigative chase that brings them from one part of the world to the another, with obstacles and betrayal meeting them each step of the way. The book is fast, and it starts off with a tense standoff initiated by terrorists of the Hezbollah organization. From there, the plot takes no chances, pushing onward with a feverish speed that helps heighten the book’s sense of urgency and impact. This is juxtaposed by appropriately placed moments of quiet that allows both the characters and the readers to ponder on events as they unfurl.

Beyond these points, The Emerald Cave shines in its effective usage of characterization. The relationship between April Fulton and Vince Ramsey highlight a realistic dynamic that allows the two to play off one another. Sequences in which the two work together in solving a puzzle or identifying various clues reveal key differences in the characters’ logical approaches and methodologies that help make each character feel individual. In certain moments, I found myself working out these puzzles with April and Vince, identifying my own thought processes and “aha!” moments in conjunction with their own. At the same time, there is a clear sense of growth these two protagonists go through as the novel moves forward and while some trends are easy to note, this sense of maturity one finds is rare in many stories today. This characterization is aided by James B. McPike’s effective prose. Sentences are generally terse and filled with the details necessary for the story. Long, drawn-out sections are rare to find and each word McPike utilizes is one that is necessary for the story being conveyed. This helps create a tense atmosphere that works incredibly well with the fast plotting designed by McPike.

As a whole, The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is an incredible story that doesn’t let up. Events fly at neck-breaking speeds while readers becoming connected with the protagonists as everyone tries to uncover the mysteries and secrets the story presents. While the story could have used some additional quiet moments in order to allow the reader to collect themselves before continuing onward, The Emerald Cove remains an engrossing piece. The stories narrative design and effective characterization makes this story an incredible journey and an enjoyable ride.

Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07DSRKWR1

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Going Dark

Going Dark (Gabriel Jets Book 1) by [Grace, Jolene]

Amelia Sinclair, a foreign correspondent liaison for CWG news network, had worked on the bottom floor of the UN in a renovated steam-room for the last four years. Upon receiving a suspicious email with the subject line as her name written in Farsi, she opened the link embedded within to see a horrifying video. Fellow journalists, whom she knew personally, confronted with masked assailants. Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help her fellow journalists, one of which, whom she was very close to.

Simultaneously, the beginnings of a media frenzy are in the works as the government tries to prevent a leak of the video. To add to the chaos, a bomb detonates in Damascus, just outside of the hotel where the journalists had been staying before they were kidnapped. With 25 pronounced dead in Damascus, 4 American journalists kidnapped, and a seemingly related murder of a man on the streets of Brooklyn, everyone is on high-alert.

The author, Jolene Grace, gives two distinct perspectives throughout the novel. The first is the journey of Amelia Sinclair, from the UN basement level media department to a loft in Brooklyn. The reporter finds herself hurried along by her superiors as she tries her best to protect her fellow journalists who are held captive; whilst she herself is considered to be a suspect in their detainment.

The second perspective is from the inside of The White House, where the President is working on how to spin the situation to his advantage to gain a second term, whilst others are trying to hurry the CIA to gather intelligence. Equally, discussions are being had as to who to bribe and who can be trusted. This gives the novel a lot of freedom to explore espionage on multiple levels. An example of these two perspectives working together is when a sniper takes aim at Amelia Sinclair; Agent Jets is nearby and tries to help, whereas from inside the white house he has dropped off the radar.

Going Dark is full of tension, built up by a switching of perspectives at crucial moments, allowing the reader to hear both sides of the story. As the government tries to keep a lid on the story that numerous media outlets are trying to expose to the public, the reporter Amelia Sinclair tries to save her fellow reporters whilst being hunted down.

The reader, the characters and at times Amelia herself, question why she received the video in the first place. However, we also get the sense that she knows more than she is letting on. Among the possibility that there’s a government mole, leaked CIA safe-house locations, government tracking and a sniper on one’s doorstep, it’s hard to know who is the ‘good guy’ and who to trust.

Through it all there is a real sense of connection with the characters. For instance, Amelia is plunged into a situation where everything seems out of control. Sitting in a Philadelphia CIA stash-house and all she wants to do is call home to her daughter, Ava, and make sure she’s safe.

Jolene Grace creates so much tension in the book as none of the characters know, or at least don’t seem to know, the full story of what is going on. The author develops the characters superbly, and a real sense of empathy is created. But there is a fragility in knowing them as it’s hard to tell if they will live to see the next chapter or not. Everyone is at risk and everyone is on high-alert.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07H8WV36R

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Kidnapped: A Personal Account of John Doe #2, Oklahoma Bombing, April 19, 1995

This is a personal account of a young women’s journey of being kidnapped and surviving dangerous encounters with this man. Juan Carlos Parraga. From Carlos’s personal connections to El Salvador and his training by Che Guevara as a young boy of fourteen in the jungles of Guatemala. Carlos is a violent man destined to live on the edges of crime and violence. Judith not being allowed to communicate with others lives in silence but is observant of all activities he did around her. Changing her name to save her life and living a secluded life to protect herself from being kidnapped and murdered by Carlos was her life after being his victim. Realization of how dangerous he became was revealed on April 19, 1995, as Judith watched the unfolding and recognition of Juan Carlos Parraga as John Doe #2. Judith turning him into the FBI and letting him go her home in White Rock, British Columbia was arson with the intent to murder her per the RCMP investigation.

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Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, written by Suzetta Perkins is a book which draws the reader into an entangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. Military wife Persenia is married to Brigadier General Reggie, who’s been committing adultery for years, and she’s just about had enough of it. Fueled by a meeting with the woman she suspects to be his lover, she vows to divorce him and drag his name through the mud. But, this is all before he is called away on urgent business in the Middle East, where ISIS are increasing their presence.

Perkins narrates the story from a number of different viewpoints – mainly Persenia’s, but also from Reggie’s and Rasheed – a terrorist. The relationships are complicated and fiery, full of arguments and strife. Without the different narrators, it would be hard to keep up – but the variety allows a range of different perspectives. It doesn’t stop readers being on Persenia’s side though and feeling sorry for the women of the story, who are regularly messed around on by their husbands.

The book is an emotional one, powered by lots of strong feelings – thoughts of jealousy, revenge, and anger. But through this, we can see there had once been a lot of love in the ruined relationships, and can’t help but feel sad at the loss. Throughout, it’s easy to find yourself getting involved, which is a testament to how well the book is written. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a suggestion of real love forming, amidst a story full of unhealthy relationships and immoral behavior.

Alongside the emotional turmoil is the contrasting stoic, male-dominated world of the military. Persenia is known for her upstanding reputation as a wife and party planner and has been Reggie’s rock, supporting him whilst he has built his career. This draws a comparison to what occurs behind different types of closed doors – such as people’s homes and in classified military offices. To the people looking in, Persenia and Reggie’s relationship is perfect and strong, and the government officers are handling the issues in the Middle East. From the outside, it all seems to be in hand. The issues that face military wives are highlighted – the extensive adultery, emotional and physical abuse from dominant men who are used to getting their own way. Persenia’s character also draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel, as she is moved from place to place as her husband is posted all over the country and overseas for months at a time.

Perkins’ book is a story of intrigue – you really want to find out if the characters will reconcile and how they will react when all is revealed. It runs alongside a mysterious terrorist plot that adds pressure to the boiling relationships and forces the plot lines to meet and come to blows.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B073MC9ZN7

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