Category Archives: Book Reviews

THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE TRIPOLI PIRATES

Title: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Author: Brian Kilmeade

This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America faced a crisis. The new nation was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.

Over the previous fifteen years, as a diplomat and then as secretary of state, Jefferson had tried to work with the Barbary states (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco). Unfortunately, he found in impossible to negotiate with people who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy–at least not while easy money could be made by extorting the Western powers. So President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S Navy’s new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli–launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.

As they did in their previous bestseller, George Washington’s Secret Six, Kilmeade and Yaeger have transformed a nearly forgotten slice of history into a dramatic story that will keep you turning the pages to find our what happens next. Among the many suspenseful episodes: 1. Lieutenant Andrew Sterett’s ferocious cannon battle on the high seas against the treacherous pirate ship Tripoli. 2. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s daring night raid of an enemy harbor, with the aim of destroying an American ship that had fallen into the pirates’ hands. 3. General William Eaton’s unprecedented five-hundred-mile land march from Egypt to the port of Derne, where the Marines launched a surprise attack and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.

few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air and, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas.

SOME KIND OF HERO

Title: Some kind of Hero

Author: Suzanne Rrockmann

Suzanne Brockmann’s signature mix of high-octane action and electrifying passion leaves readers breathless–and eager for more of her ultrasexy operatives. Now the author USA Today hails as “the reigning queen of military suspense” makes an explosive return to her best selling Troubleshooters series.

Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Green. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe–until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller–or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes–and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still working alongside Pete has its own perils–like letting the heat between them rise out of control, intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps….or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

RED SWAN

Title: Red Swan

Author: P.T. Deutermann

Written with the authority of twenty-six years of military and government service at sea and in Washington, Red Swan is a brilliant, provocative thriller about the contemporary war that no one sees but will shape the future of America and China.

Set in contemporary Washington, D.C., Red Swan begins with an ominous phone call from Carson McGill, the deputy director of operations at the CIA, to retired CIA officer Preston Allender. Henry Wallace is dead. A behind-the-scenes operator at the CIA, Wallace was integral to the Agency’s secret war against China’s national intelligence service, which infiltrates government and military offices, major businesses, and systems crucial to our security. Wallace had severely damaged China’s Washington spy ring with a devastating ruse, a so-called black swan, in which a deep-undercover female agent targeted and destroyed a key Chinese official. Now Wallace’s mysterious death suggest that the CIA itself has been compromised and that China has someone inside the agency.

But as Allender quietly investigates, he makes a shocking discovery that will upend the entire American intelligence apparatus: Wallace’s black swan operation may have been turned against the CIA. A red swan is flying, and the question is: Who is she, what is her target, and where will she land.?

P.T. Deutermann is a master of both World War II naval historical fiction and the modern thriller set in the nexus of the CIA. Red Swan is Deutermann at his best.

DOWN A DARK ROAD

Title: Down A Dark Road

Author: Linda Castillo

Two years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire, putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. This is personal for Kate. She grew up with Joseph King. As a thirteen-year-old Amish girl, she’d worshipped the ground he walked on. She never could have imagined the nightmare scenario that unfolds when King shows up with a gun and takes his five children hostage at their Anish uncle’s farm. Armed and desperate, he has nothing left to lose. Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate makes contact with King only to find herself trapped with a killer. Or is he? All King asks of her is to help him prove his innocence–and he releases her unharmed. Kate is skeptical, but when the facts and the evidence didn’t align, she begins to wonder who she should trust. Spurned by some of her fellow cops she embarks on her own investigation only to unearth an unspeakable secret–and someone who is willing to commit murder to keep it buried.

THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR

Title: The Unwomanly Face Of War

Author: Svetlana Alexievich/strong>

For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Novel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kink of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions….a history of the soul.”

The Unwomanly Face of War is the long awaited English translation of Alexievich’s first book, a groundbreaking oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia. Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women–more than a million in total–were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.

Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war–the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories.

Translated by the renown Rchard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Unworthy Face of War is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war.

THE LYING GAME

Title: The lying Game

Author: Ruth Wre

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal millage of Salten, along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister.

The next morning three women in and around London–Fatima, Thea, and Isa–receive the text they had always hoped would never come from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both follow boarders and faculty. But their little game had consequences, and as the four converge in present-day Salten, they realize their shared past was not as safely buried as they had once hoped.

Armospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill to keep you wrong-footed, The Lying Game is told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, lending itself to becoming another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

ARMISTICE

Title: Armistice – The Hot War

Author: Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove is the master of vivid and visionary alternate history. In this, the final book of the blistering trilogy the Hot War, old hatreds and new chances for revenge are unleashed on an already devastated world-as the cold War becomes a roaring inferno.

In 1952 American cities lid in ruins. President Harry Truman, in office since 1945, presides over a makeshift government in Philadelphia, suffering his own personal loss and fearing for the future of democracy in the sake of Hitler’s reign, Germany and America have become allies, and Stalin’s vise hold on power in the USSR persists. Unwilling to trust the Soviet tyrant, Truman launches a long-planned nuclear strike on the city of Omsk–killing Stalin and plunging the Red Army into leaderless, destructive anarchy. Meanwhile, The Baltic states careen toward rebellion, and Poland is seized by rebels bred on war. In a world awash with victims turned victors, refuges, and killers, has Truman struck a blow for peace or fueled more chaos?

As these staggering events unfold, the lives of men and women across battle lines, ethnicities, and religions play out around the globe. In Los Angeles, an extended Jewish family builds a future, while the foul smell of a refugee camp in Santa Monica blows in on the ocean breeze. In Korea, a U.S. fighter struggles to bring his Korean interpreter stateside as a full American. In Siberia, two German women fight for their survival in a guiag–and begin a strange, harrowing journey home.

From the terrifying global chess match between superpowers to the strength of individual human conscience, Armistice captures a world that’s been split to its core by the violence only mankind can create. Through the thunder of battle, the clashes of armies, and the whispers of lovers, how humanity will be rebuilt, and who will do it, are the questions that resound in this marvelous work of imagination and history.

THE REASON YOU’RE ALIVE

Title: The Reason You’re Alive

Author: Matthew Quick

After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard–that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It may be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It may also help him to finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.

As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and good-hearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.

Through the controversial, wrenching, wildly honest David Granger, Mathew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful vies of America’s polarized psyche. By turns irascible and hilarious, insightful and inconvenient, Davie is a complex, wounded, Honorable, and loving man. The Reason You’re Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.

DEMOCRACY

Title: Democracy

Author: Condoleezza Rice

From the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the soviet Union to the ongoing struggle for human rights in the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice has served on the front lines of history. As a child of freedom, when her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, became the epicenter of he civil rights movement for black Americans.

In this book, Rice explains what these epochal events teach us about democracy. At a time when people around the world are wondering whether democracy is in decline, Rice shares insights from her experiences as a policymaker, scholar, and citizen, in order to put democracy’s challenges into perspective.

When the United States was founded, it was the only attempt at self-government in the world. Today more than half of all countries qualify as democracies, and in the long run that number will continue to grow. Yet nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Using America’s long struggle as a template, Rice draws lessons for democracy around the world–from Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, to Kenya, Colombia, and the Middle East. She finds that no transitions to democracy are the same because every country starts in a different place. Pathways diverge and sometimes circle backward. Time frames for success vary dramatically, and countries often suffer false starts before getting it right. But Rice argues, that does not mean they should not try. While the ideal conditions for democracy are well known in academia, they never exist in the real world. The question is not how to create perfect circumstances but how to move forward under difficult ones.

These same insights apply in overcoming the challenges faced by governments today. The pursuit of democracy is a continuing struggle shared by people around the world, whether they are opposing authoritarian regimes, establishing new democratic institutions, or reforming mature democracies to better live up to their ideals. The work of securing it is never finished.

DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES

Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes

Author: Holly Seddon

In a bustling suburban neighborhood in Manchester, England, sits an unassuming house. There is no sign of life behind the unwashed windows, but Robin Marshall is inside. Driven by fears and obsessions racked by anxiety, Robin is frantically pushing her body through punishing workouts, eating little, haunted by what happened to her family when she was a girl. Robin’s only connection to the outside world is through her rear windows and the lives she spies upon in the apartment house across the way. Then a stranger starts pounding on her door.

Sarah Marshall is Robin’s twin, estranged from her sister after their parents’ betrayal and a violation at the hands of a man she should have been able to trust. Sarah has recently lost custody of the child she loves more than anything and has set off on her own, hoping that somewhere in England she can find Robin the braver twin, the rock star, the survivor, the savior.

These two young women, polar opposites, cannot go on unless they reckon with the past. While Sarah, slowly unraveling, searches for her sister’s hiding place, Robin sees another life hanging in the balance in the lighted windows across the street. It is a life only Robin can save–as long as she never looks away.

In a novel that is stunning in its twists, shocks, and gripping psychological suspense, two sisters find themselves on the razor’s edge of sanity. Untold secrets, a ghostly lie, and suffocating hold them back. Only one astounding act can set them free. And one last revelation will leave readers gasping in surprise.