August/September Reading List

I have been a slacker with getting August’s Reading List out, but hey, we are coming to the end of COVID summer. It has been strange, but we have found ways to enjoy it. Now is a time to enjoy the weather and outdoors while we can. This is especially important in the PNW, where we will head into cloud cover and the rainy season for about six months.

Not only have I been slow to publish the August Reading List—I have not done much reading, nor listened to audio books like I normally do. Sometimes we need to change things up a bit. I rarely watch television, but I have been catching up on some shows, writing, spending time outdoors, and working around the house. We are still camping frequently, going every other weekend. This Friday we are off to Waldport, OR, which is on the coast, so I am sure there will be postings on Instagram of our trip.

As for writing, I am getting very close to finishing up my outline, and I am hoping to get started on the first draft in September. This has been a long process which I’ll post about in the next week or two. I have learned so much, and I am excited to move on to the next step in my journey to write this book. It seems like I have been working on this book for so long. Truthfully, at times it is discouraging. Then today I heard someone on one of my regular podcasts, say that it is common for the first book to be a long process, and that it gets better with time and experience. They also said that it is common for an author’s first book to not be good. I am hoping I can buck that, but if it is not what I hope for—it is a stepping stone on the path to becoming an author. I won’t let that deter me.

I am going to combine this post with the September Reading List and keep it short.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER READING LIST

“ESCALATION (MAELSTROM RISING BOOK 1)” by PETER NEALEN

This book kept showing up in online suggestions from other books I have read, and it sounded interesting, but I kept pushing it off for one reason or another. Finally, I got around to reading it, and truthfully it took me a bit to get into it, which is surprising since it is action from the get go. Written in first person, which suits this book well, we follow Matt Bowen, a military contractor, through an action-packed adventure of survival at the outbreak of war and their situation rapidly deteriorates. This book fits solidly into military fiction and plot driven. I would have liked to have more depth to the characters. I wasn’t that invested in them. The story is heavy on action, and filled with in-depth knowledge of gear, weapons and tactics. I don’t see myself carrying on with the series, not that the book is bad—it’s not. It’s just not my thing. I want to care about the characters. I like military fiction, especially when you learn more about the principal character and those in their life; besides how they fare in combat. Not everyone can be W.E.B Griffin or Tom Clancy.

Here is the book blurb:

The mission was straightforward enough. Infiltrate civil-war-torn Slovakia, rescue the hostage, then get out undetected. Except that it’s not Matt Bowen’s first rodeo. He and his teammates know well just how badly things can go once the metal meets the meat. But even these hardened combat veterans aren’t ready for what’s about to go down… A coordinated surprise attack. Massacres in the countryside. The next world war might have just kicked off, in a storm of blood, fire, and betrayal. 

Read the visceral, hard-hitting action thriller that will leave your ears ringing! 

“THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, VOL. 2” BY ROBERT KIRKMAN

You can read about my thoughts on volume 1 (July Reading List/Goodreads, and I feel much the same about volume 2.

I haven’t read many graphic novels, but I am loving this series. I like TWD graphic novels more than the television series. I can’t recommend this series enough. Check it out.

“THE MOUNTAIN (RYAN DECKER #3)” BY STEVEN KONKOLY

I came across Steven’s “Alex Fletcher” series and I couldn’t get enough. After reading that, I burned through his back catalog and any recent work he has written. He has become one of my preferred author’s. I am late to get to “The Mountain” as I had other books in the reading queue, but the anticipation of getting to read it has not diminished in the slightest. As I write this now, I know tomorrow I am starting in on “The Mountain” and I am looking forward to it. With a 3 day camping trip coming up this weekend, this will be my go to book for the trip.

“The Mountain” book blurb:

Investigating a missing persons case on Murder Mountain means looking for trouble in a propulsive thriller by the author of The Raid.

When someone disappears on Northern California’s lawless Murder Mountain, it isn’t news. The vast terrain for illegal marijuana harvests is also a notorious black hole for outsiders. But when that someone is the family friend of the persuasive and righteous Senator Steele, finding him becomes covert investigator Ryan Decker’s mission.

For Decker, the risks of infiltrating a multibillion-dollar outlaw industry are greater than he could possibly understand. Especially when that industry has flourished into the profitable backbone of a secretive and influential DC-based think tank. And protecting its untraceable revenue in the Emerald Triangle is a band of ruthless white nationalists.

What begins as a seemingly straightforward favor soon pulls Decker and his partner, Harlow Mackenzie, into a high-stakes conspiracy linked to the most cold-blooded puppet masters and power brokers in the country. The harder Decker and Harlow work to expose the insidious faction, the harder it’ll be to make it out of Murder Mountain alive.

“LION IN THE WHITE HOUSE: A LIFE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT” BY AIDA D. DONALD

I am intrigued with Theodore Roosevelt because of the tidbit of information I have heard about him, but in reality I know very little about him. From what I know, he sounds like a person with whom I can relate. I could be wrong, but this is why we read about historical figures. My impression is that he is into firearms, which I am to a point (in a practical sense). I am not into collecting guns or gun culture, but I see them for practical/utilitarian purposes and that has guided my purchases (sorry I got side-tracked). I understand that he was a conservationist and environmentalist, and I can appreciate that. Who can’t appreciate all the public lands he has designated for public use over private consumption? He was an explorer and an adventurer which I envy, as I have little to no experience. He was a veteran who led by example by the accounts of those who he lead into battle. All this from a child who was asthmatic and frail. We’ll see how my assumptions and understanding match up with the man himself.

The book blurb is:

New York State Assemblyman, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, New York City Police Commissioner, Governor of New York, Vice President and, at forty-two, the youngest President ever-in his own words, Theodore Roosevelt “rose like a rocket.” He was also a cowboy, a soldier, a historian, an intrepid explorer, and an unsurpassed environmentalist-all in all, perhaps the most accomplished Chief Executive in our nation’s history. In Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt, historian Aida Donald masterfully chronicles the life of this first modern president. TR’s accomplishments in office were immense. As President, Roosevelt redesigned the office of Chief Executive and the workings of the Republican Party to meet the challenges of the new industrial economy. Believing that the emerging aristocracy of wealth represented a genuine threat to democracy, TR broke trusts to curb the rapacity of big business. He improved economic and social conditions for the average American. Roosevelt built the Panama Canal and engaged the country in world affairs, putting a temporary end to American isolationism. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize-the only sitting president ever so honored. Throughout his public career, TR fought valiantly to steer the GOP back to its noblest ideals as embodied by Abraham Lincoln. Alas, his hopes for his party were quashed by the GOP’s strong rightward turn in the years after he left office. But his vision for America lives on. In lapidary prose, this concise biography recounts the courageous life of one of the greatest leaders our nation has ever known.

“THE BOURNE IDENTITY (JASON BOURNE #1)” BY ROBERT LUDLUM

This is one of my favorite movie series and I am ashamed to say I have not read the novels. I plan to right that wrong now. This movie is one of the defining reasons that has inspired me to write thriller stories. I can not tell you how excited I am to read this series, and I am hoping the books are far better than the movies.

The book blurb:

Who is Jason Bourne? Is he an assassin, a terrorist, a thief? Why has he got four million dollars in a Swiss bank account? Why has someone tried to murder him?…

Jason Bourne does not know the answer to any of these questions. Suffering from amnesia, he does not even know that he is Jason Bourne. What manner of man is he? What are his secrets? Who has he killed? 

“A FAREWELL TO ARMS” BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY

I read this book in school, oh probably some 30+ years ago. I want to incorporate some classics into my reading queue. I don’t remember what my thoughts were of this book. But I feel it has been long enough since I read it, that it will be mostly fresh. I hope I can pull some influence from this book, but time will tell how well it holds up to an advancing society.

The book blurb:

A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield – the weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote his ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right.


What are you reading as we come to the end of Summer 2020?


If you haven’t read “We Were Like Brothers” – A Dystopian Short Story, if you subscribe to my email updates and news, I’ll send you a gift copy.

July Reading List

Please note that some links below are affiliate links that may pay me a small commission. There is no extra charge to you, but it goes towards helping fund this blog. Which means providing me coffee while I write the blog. I am not being paid or posting these books at the request of the authors or their agents. Thank you.


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” —Dr. Seuss


Welcome to my July Reading List. I am late with the blog post this month, but I have an excellent reason—work was crazy with a new fiscal year and spent time with my family. Reading and writing time has taken the back seat during this period, but I am back on track now. We all deserve a break right.

As we move into mid-summer, this is where we usually take a family vacation, often traveling back to my mom’s place in Michigan where the kids have so much to do on the ranch. This summer we find ourselves amid a pandemic that is getting worse. No news to you, I am sure. I don’t want to complain about having to stay at home, because I recognize we are in a good situation compared to many others in our country. I feel for these people and I hope we, as a country, can help our fellow citizens through these hard times. We as a family have been shopping more at the local farmer’s market and trying our best to shop local establishments instead of the big chain stores. We’ve tried to find elderly people in our neighborhood who may need help, but that isn’t easy without violating their privacy. Or Postal Carrier Bill has been a good liaison, but he has to be careful of violating people’s privacy as well. I wish this would bring our country together, as it has when we faced challenges in the past. Unfortunately, like most things these days, opportunities to bring us closer as a nation are brushed aside in favor of dividing us further. This isn’t what this post is about, so let’s wrap this side trip up by saying, instead of looking for villains, look for opportunities to be kind.

The kids and I have been home basically since mid-March, with only the occasional running of errands around town. This gave my wife and I the incentive to pull the trigger on something we have wanted to do for sometime. We bought a 22 foot Forest River Travel Trailer. With the pandemic rearing its ugly head again, and the possibility of going away anytime soon, we figured now is as good a time to as any to join the ranks of the RV weekend warriors. It gives us a safe way to get away for a trip and to make memories with our kids before they leave the nest.

Being newbies to the RV’ing lifestyle, and because of how my brain works, I have spent a ton of time researching and watching RV videos. So much so that I drive my wife crazy with it all. Not to mention when you buy a travel trailer, there are many accessories you need to get to get started. Who would have known? You got to have a ‘stinky slinky’ among other necessities.

Anyhow, our first two overnight trips went great and we are looking forward to many more trips. You can see more photos of our excursions on my Instagram. It was great to sit by the campfire and get some reading and writing done under the stars. I didn’t get as much of either done, but I am hoping with future trips, as we get settled into the normality of RV camping, that I’ll get more time to write and read when we are getting away from the bustle of life.

How’s that for a transition?


Before I get to the reading list, I want to share a format change for these blogs posts. I will share what I am reading or planning to read during the month, and share the published blurb for the book. If you would like to see what I thought of the book and my review, please consider following me on Goodreads. Going forward, I will post reviews there.


JULY READING LIST (non-RV related)

NON-FICTION

“DARK TERRITORY: THE SECRET HISTORY OF CYBER WAR” BY FRED KAPLAN

The never-before-told story of the computer scientists and the NSA, Pentagon, and White House policymakers who invented and employ the wars of the present and future – the cyber wars where every country can be a major power player and every hacker a mass destroyer, as reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning security and defense journalist.

I choose this book for research for my current work in progress, a dystopian thriller trilogy. What are government is doing with cyber warfare almost writes itself as a dystopian setting, but more so, I can’t imagine writing a dystopian story set in the near future that doesn’t include a cyber componet.

FICTION

“THE PASSAGE” BY JUSTIN CRONIN

IT HAPPENED FAST.
THIRTY-TWO MINUTES FOR ONE WORLD TO DIE, ANOTHER TO BE BORN.

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. Wolgast is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors, but for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—toward the time a place where she must finish what should never have begun.

I don’t remember who recommended this trilogy, but I looked interesting and worthy of a read. I am listening to it on audio book and this one is about 36 hours long. Plenty of listening time to fill the day as I plug along filling out spreadsheets to keep my part of the world running during a pandemic.

“ESCaLATON” (MAELSTROM RISING BOOK 1) BY PETER NEALEN

A Storm is About to Break… 

The mission was straightforward enough. Infiltrate civil-war-torn Slovakia, rescue the hostage, then get out undetected. 

Except that it’s not Matt Bowen’s first rodeo. He and his teammates know well just how badly things can go once the metal meets the meat. 

But even these hardened combat veterans aren’t ready for what’s about to go down… 

A coordinated surprise attack. Massacres in the countryside. The next world war might have just kicked off, in a storm of blood, fire, and betrayal. 

This one has been on my list for a while and I thought it was about time to get to reading it. It has a good rating on Goodreads, so I am sure it will be an excellent read.

“THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM 1” BY ROBERT KIRKMAN

Introducing the first eight volumes of the fan-favorite, New York Times Best Seller series collected into one massive paperback collection.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. With The Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, The Governor.

I bought this on kindle for my son to read on our recent camping trips. I didn’t realize they packed so much of the story into this first volume. Since we had it, and I like the television series, I read it myself. It is a cool read in graphic novel format, and I like the way how you can scroll by each box (I am sure I am not using the right terminology for that—please share in the comments what you call the boxes in a graphic novel so I know for next time) of the graphic novel. I am enjoying it more than the television series. I wish it was in color, but the black and white graphic novel is cool as well. It is pricy for a kindle purchase, but you get so much for the price, it is worth it.


What are you reading? What are your suggestions? Share in the comments.


In 2038, the civil war had stalled. Fighting contained to border skirmishes between what remained of the United States of America and the Union of Reformed States. Corporal Caleb Thompson, 111th Mortuary Affairs, URSA, faced the hardest decision of his young life. Searching for deceased soldiers after a recent battle, he found himself in a situation he never expected. Would he help his lifelong friend or follow the orders of God and Country?

June reading list

Please note that some links below are affiliate links that may pay me a small commission. There is no extra charge to you, but it go towards helping fund this blog. Thank you.

Wow. After three crazy months of being at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, June has just said hold my beer. These are crazy times we are living in for sure. On top of an ongoing we now have most major cities in America hosting protests to support Black Lives Matter, black people who have been needlessly murdered by police and the need for police reform. With this all going on, I have watched way more news than I should be watching. Because of that and being hooked on MasterClass, my reading/listing time for books has taken a serious hit. I’ll post more about MasterClass at a later date.

If it weren’t for audible, my reading list would be far shorter. It would be great to have more time to read with a book in hand, but that is difficult with kids and everything else going on in our busy lives. I love being able to listen to books while driving, working, mowing the lawn or cooking. It took a bit to get used to listening to books, but after a bit you get used to the format. Once used to it, you can even bump up the speed of the play, having the choice of multiple listening speeds. When I first raised the playback speed it was odd, but I quickly became accustomed to it. I especially enjoy this option when listening to non-fiction, as many of the narrator talk so so slow. I like to bump the speed up to 1.2 – 1.5 times for non-fiction books. I do the same thing when listening to podcasts.

Let’s get down to what I have read and what is on my short list to read in June. My non-fiction is focusing on military memoirs and stories about resistance and espionage during world war II (this is research for my WIP writing projects).


Non-fiction

“Fascism: a warning” by MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT

This book should be on everyone’s list, especially when we are fighting the rise of fascism and authoritarianism in the United States. It is profound the similarities of actions taken by governments in the 1930s and what we are currently seeing in America and many other countries around the world today. This book is a delicate blend of personal stories and in-depth analysis from the rise of Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, through Hitler’s rise, to today’s fascist leaders. Much of the 20th Century has been a battle between democracy and fascism, and once again the fight is on our home soil. This is a warning, a warning disregarded by far too many.


“Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw

I have been interested in reading about resistance and espionage during world war II, as research for my dystopian thriller trilogy. I love world war II history, but I have been lacking in my knowledge of the resistance movements. Recently, I watched the PBS television series “World On Fire”, which has characters involved in the Polish resistance. This storyline was very interesting and gave me the idea to look into WWII resistance movements.

This book is about an American, Dr. Sumner Jackson, his Swiss-born wife, Torquette and their son Phillip’s involvement with the French resistance. Avenue of Spies gives a thorough insight into Paris during the Nazi occupation. I look at the courage of this family and the other resistance fighters and wonder if I would have the same courage as them. If it were just me, sure no problem. But risking my wife and kids, I don’t know if I could risk them. I will note, it was Torquette who was first recruited by the French resistance. Dr. Jackson took his own actions out of a sense of duty, being a veteran of WWI. When Phillip found out about his parents’ resistance actions, he took part in his own right. They all made their own decision to resist, and all faced their own persecution for involvement. The fortitude of these people is inspiring. It is cause for personal self-reflection.


fiction

“Path of the Assassin” by Brad Thor

Brad Thor has quickly risen to the top of my favorite author’s list. I am enjoying the Scot Harvath series, and I am excited to jump into the third novel of the series “State of the Union” soon. I am all-in for this series. Goodreads synopsis of the book is:

Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath follows bloody clues to silver-eyed elusive ruthless terrorist Hashim Nidal, who intends to topple Israel and America, and can be identified by only one person – Meg Cassidy. Across four continents, from Macau, Jerusalem, Chicago, Libya, Capri, and Rome, the deadly puzzle tests their limits and growing bond.”

If you like spy/military thrillers, this is a series for you. Brad Thor is one of the best author’s in the genre. 


“The darkest path” by jeff hirsch

I don’t remember where I came across this YA novel, but since I am working on a trilogy set in a second American Civil War, such as this book, I gave it a read. On a side note, I end up reading more YA than I care to admit, because that seems to be where the dystopian readers and writers focus. I would like to read more adult dystopian, and that is what I plan to write. (Share any adult dystopian you recommend in the comments). That said, I went into this book with low expectations and it surprised me to find a good read that kept me engaged. The story starts with two young brothers as prisoners of a religious sect that has taken over much of America. Circumstances lead to them escaping the camp and making a run towards their home across the country in New York, with one brother’s new found dog friend in tow. The younger brother has totally bought into the Glorious Path, and heads back to the camp, leaving the older brother and his dog to escape the war and return home. It is a quick and entertaining read, which is followed by another book written by Jeff Hirsch called The Darkest Path: Bear’s Story, which is written from the dog’s perspective. If you don’t mind YA perspective, and you want a quick read, this is an excellent option. I recommended my son add it to his summer reading list.


What am I reading the rest of june?

Currently reading “Savage son” by retired US Navy Seal jack carr.

Deep in the wilds of Siberia, a woman is on the run, pursued by a man harboring secrets – a man intent on killing her. 

A traitorous CIA officer has found refuge with the Russian mafia with designs on ensuring a certain former Navy SEAL sniper is put in the ground. 

Half a world away, James Reece is recovering from brain surgery in the Montana wilderness, slowly putting his life back together with the help of investigative journalist Katie Buranek and his longtime friend and SEAL teammate Raife Hastings. Unbeknownst to them, the Russian mafia has set their sights on Reece in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

In his most visceral and heart-pounding thriller yet, Jack Carr explores the darkest instincts of humanity through the eyes of a man who has seen both the best and the worst of it.


“The War of Art” by Steven pressfield

Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself.

Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us.Resistance kicks everyone’s butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.


“Hhhh” by laurent binet

HHhH: “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. The most dangerous man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague.” He was feared by all and loathed by most. With his cold Aryan features and implacable cruelty, Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service, killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History. 


Short stories

“The Trash Collector” by monica shaugnessy

When objects begin to disappear from porches, Lydia Strichter suspects the neighborhood hoarder, Dale Kreplick. He’s a strange man with an even stranger habit of digging through people’s garbage. But when she sets out to prove the “Trash Collector” is behind these thefts, she discovers more than the culprit. She discovers some things can’t easily be discarded. A heart-warming story of tolerance, grief, and the persistence of memory.


“Space walk: a apocalyptic sci-fi story with a side of dark humor” by tammie painter

Maya has convinced her husband Joel to forego their usual holiday to take her own idea of a trip of a lifetime. The company SpaceWalk promises adventure, unparalleled views, and, for those who purchase the Enhanced Package, a chance to take part in an actual space walk.

Eager to experience the final frontier, Maya spends all of her and Joel’s savings on the enhanced package. But when she ventures outside the ship for her first walk, Maya soon discovers she’s not alone. Not in the depths of space, nor within her spacesuit.

What starts out a dream vacation quickly turns dangerous, not only for the passengers and crew, but, thanks to corruption from within SpaceWalk, for all of humanity.

If you like a little snarky humor with your apocalyptic terror and aren’t squeamish, you’ll love Space Walk.

“Testing the waters (A mythic short story)” by tammie painter

You can get away with many things in Port Athens. Breaking contracts is not one of them.

The founders of the prosperous fishing village of Port Athens have each agreed to give up certain luxuries and a great deal of power to settle into a new life.

So when one of the founders, Eli P. Marin, returns from the city with a suspicious purchase, the rumor mill churns into action. Is he only showing off? Is it even real? Most importantly, will Eli break their contract and reclaim his former influence despite knowing how harsh the punishment might be?

Find out today as you wander the quaint streets and meet the mysterious founders of Port Athens in Testing the Waters. 

If you’ve ever wondered how the Greek gods would behave in the modern world and what tricks they might get up to, you’ll love this quirky tale of temptation, rules, and rivalry.


Don’t forget “We were Like brothers” a dystopian short story is available on kindle and free on kindle unlimited.

In 2038, the civil war had stalled. Fighting contained to border skirmishes between what remained of the United States of America and the Union of Reformed States. Corporal Caleb Thompson, 111th Mortuary Affairs, URSA, faced the hardest decision of his young life. Searching for deceased soldiers after a recent battle, he found himself in a situation he never expected. Would he help his lifelong friend or follow the orders of God and Country?