Tag Archives: Fiction

Review: Gulf War Ghosts by W.P. Armstrong

I will admit up front that I normally shy away from historical fiction like it is the plague.  Gulf War Ghosts has made me rethink that position.  This is historical fiction that uses a historical period as the setting but dos not try to play what if games with events.  The setting is the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf war and the plot revolves around mysterious attacks on several American soldiers. With the exception of one mistake one of my biggest pet peeves about any writing having to do with military units was a non-issue.  That is, he gets the format and style of unit designations correct.  There is none of the typical mistake of saying A Company, 1st Division or other mistakes of that nature in the book.  The one mistake I noticed is when he refers to the 2nd Squadron, 8th Cavalry.  Squadron is typically the designation for battalion size Cavalry units but 2-8 Cav was and still is an Armor Battalion and is so designated as 2nd Battalion, 8th US Cavalry.  That is nitpicking though and I am probably one of the few people who looks out for that kind of stuff in books anyway. Because this is a novella the plot moves fast and while by the middle you get an idea where it is going it is written so well that you keep reading to find out exactly what happens.  At just shy of 70 pages printed, this only takes an hour or two to read.  That is an hour or two well spent.  This is an excellent story with an interesting twist and I highly recommend it.

Update:  My quibble about unit designations has been corrected in an update to the novella.

Book Review: Under a Graveyard Sky & To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

Under a Graveyard Sky & To Sail a Darkling Sea together are yet another excellent offering from John Ringo, one of the masters at writing combat sci fi today.  These are the first two books in the Black Tide Rising series, the next book in the series, Islands of Rage and Hope is due for release in August, 2014.

The concept behind the series is the Zombie Apocalypse, a popular theme in fiction in the past 5-10 years.  This is a variation on that theme with the difference being that the zombies are not undead, they are still alive just infected.  The zombies have been infected with a virus that essentially eliminates higher order thinking in its victims leading them to revert to unthinking savagery.

The story essentially follows the activities of the Smith family consisting of a father, mother, and two daughters as they try to rebuild society.  Book one focuses on the outbreak of the viral plague and the way in which the Smith family escape the mainland and end up starting their rescue efforts on the high seas.  Book two is focused on the efforts of the Smiths to rescue as many people as possible from boats and ships stranded or parked in the Atlantic in the months after the virus outbreak has turned out the lights on the world.  The eventual goal of the Smiths is to retake some medical facilities at Gitmo to allow them to synthesize enough vaccine to inoculate the crews of the US subforce and the last American command center in Omaha, Nebraska allowing them to surface and rejoin to effort to start clearing the mainland of the continents from the legions of infecteds, as they are termed.

Ringo does not stint on the action scenes and as usual he is very inventive when it comes to devising weapons systems and TTPs for attacking the enemy, in this case zombies.  It is a rollicking good read and at just over 350 pages a decent length.  I finished the book in two days but then I always do that when I find a good book.

If you like combat fiction or enjoyed Ringo’s Posleen War series then you will love the Black Tide Rising books as well.  I highly recommend this book and series.

The third book in this series is due out later this summer.

Book Promotion: The Mogadishu Diaries: Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins

Loyal readers,

I was approached by Mr Thompkins via email about reviewing his novel The Mogadishu Diaries: Bloodlines. This is a self-published work and one I will not be able to read for at least a month because of the pile of other books I have recently gotten from publishers. I plan on reading this book and writing up a review on it but in the meantime in the interests of encouraging other people to write and giving them a chance to publicize their own work I offered to let him post a promotional piece here at Battles & Book Reviews. Below is the text he sent me to promote his book. Notice that it is available for free on Smashwords.

The Mogadishu Diaries: Bloodlines-Book Cover
The Mogadishu Diaries: Bloodlines-Book Cover

In 1992 Somalia was on the brink of humanitarian disaster. Warring tribes had sparked a violent civil war following the collapse of the Barre government in 1991. The distribution of food and resources was heavily disrupted, leaving the people of Southern Somalia to starve; 300,000 would die in the famine. As the death-toll rose and the intensity of the conflict increased, a team of United Nations Peacekeepers, led by the United States, entered Somalia with the aim of creating a protected environment for humanitarian operations.

The mission was known as Operation Restore Hope.

Eddie Clay served as a US Marine peacekeeper during Operation Restore Hope. The Mogadishu Diaries: Bloodlines is based on his personal experiences in Somalia between 9 December 1992 and 21 March 1993. Clay recounts the pursuit of a beloved and revered warlord, the disarming of an entire community – and its unexpected consequences – and reveals how he fell in love with a beautiful Somali interpreter named Ayan. He explains the challenges, the fears and the crisis of ‘conscience versus the Rules of Engagement’ he shared with his fellow Marines, Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers during this notorious humanitarian mission.


Book Review: 11/22/1963 by Stephen King

I will say up front that I have read every book by Stephen King.  He generally hits it out of the park but he has had some books that I just hated, Gerald’s Game and The Dark Tower Series come immediately to mind as duds. 11/22/63 is not one of them.  It is a great book that you won’t want to put down until the end.

Ostensibly, this is the story of a man who goes back in time to try and stop the assassination of JFK in Dealey Plaza.  That is how it starts and for the first little bit you will think that is all it is about.  Stopping Oswald ends up being peripheral to the story in the end, but that does not affect how great this book is.  This is not your typical Stephen King horror book either.  It has elements of Sc-Fi, adventure, and love story to it.  I actually don’t think this book fits into any specific category other than being a Stephen King book.  It has his signature vivid writing style and storyline that sucks you in.

If you liked other King works such as Roadwork or Shawshank Redemption, you will love 11/22/63. This is similar to those stories, a compelling plot with little horror but plenty of suspense and drama.

Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

This improbable tale of brave rabbits is a classic and one of the best stories I have ever read.  It first came out in the seventies and a movie adaptation was made in 1978 by the BBC.  It is the tale of a group of rabbits who leave their home warren because of a premonition and the many adventures they have as they cross the English countryside in search of a new home and go through the struggles of establishing one on Watership Down.  The story itself is outstanding but what makes it even cooler in my opinion is that all the places in the book actually exist.  A Google Maps search fro Watership Down will take you to it and there are several pictures of places featured in the book that someone has uploaded.

One of the best parts of the book are the several asides to tell the stories of el-Ahrairah, a legendary rabbit who had many adventures.  They are the rabbit equivalent of Greek Myths and just as entertaining in their own right.  My personal favorite is the story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog.

I first read the book when I was 8 and have read it several times since then.  It is ostensibly a children’s Book but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  In the end it is not a morality tale so much as a tale of survival and prosperity against the odds.  Excellent book and on a par with To Kill a Mockingbird or All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics.  Everybody should read this book.

The Yuotube video of the BBC produced movie is embedded below: