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Amazon link: Answering the Call: With the 91st Infantry Division in the Italian Campaign During World War II
Author: Stephen L. Wilson
Thumbnail sketch: Well-written, straightforward memoir of one married couple’s experiences during World War II. Provides a good overview of later stages of Italian Campaign, a front often overlooked by Americans, but those looking for a grunt’s-eye view of combat won’t find it. 4 Stars
Note: This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the author for that purpose. It is my policy to only review books I enjoy; taste is subjective and what I dislike others may rave over.
My take on answering the call
The scope of an event the size of World War II is daunting. Millions upon millions of people were involved in some fashion, in nearly every corner of the globe. For most folks, what they’re taught about such a war and what they learn (not necessarily the same information) is reduced to broad strokes — battles, campaigns, etc. At times those directly involved in the fighting are featured, with their combat experiences usually taking center stage.
Such is not the case with Stephen Wilson’s Answering the Call, the WWII memoir of U.S. Army officer Allen Wilson and to a lesser extent his wife Barbara. Allen, who joined Army ROTC as a freshman at the University of South Dakota, served with distinction in Italy from mid-1944 to the end of the war, and then as part of the Allied occupation force in Italy and Austria.
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Amazon link: Europe in Winter (The Fractured Europe Sequence Book 3)
Author: Dave Hutchinson (@HutchinsonDave); website
My review of Europe in Autumn
My review of Europe at Midnight
Thumbnail review: Outstanding entry in series of imaginative genre-blend of SciFi and spy thrillers. Interesting and complex characters, engaging and fluid prose, and an inventive (and suddenly much-too-real) premise combine for a fast, fun read. 5 Stars
My take on Europe In Winter
I cracked open Europe in Winter believing it was the final entry in a trilogy (more on that below). The first book, Europe in Autumn, was a bit uneven at the start but throughout I enjoyed the author’s prose and imaginative dystopian vision of a Europe where borders are in flux and parallel dimensions possible. We met Rudi, a chef turned courier-slash-international spy, and accompanied him on several “Situations” that appeared to be isolated events. Continue reading
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Amazon link: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Author: Michael Lewis; website
Thumbnail sketch: As informative as it is infuriating. Follows the few folks who recognized the coming disaster of the Housing Bubble popping. Highly readable; doesn’t get bogged down in technical details of finance. 4 Stars
My take on THE BIG SHORT
A lot of folks have already reviewed The Big Short, and generally I don’t do big write-ups on traditionally published works. Mr. Lewis is a wonderful writer, making a subject that could be deathly dull very readable. Even though we know what’s going to happen, he’s crafted a gripping narrative that doesn’t get bogged down in technical details. I still can’t explain exactly how a derivative works — I know they were invented by already-rich folks looking to make more money — but that isn’t important to the story. Continue reading
Featuring an extremely interesting — and very well executed — core concept, and thrilling action scenes, Serengeti by J. B. Rockwell (@Rockwell_JB) is a very satisfying sci-fi read. In fact, it’s more like two great reads, which I’ll elaborate on below.
First up, that interesting concept: the story’s protagonist is Serengeti, a sentient Artificial Intelligence, or AI. Serengeti’s “crystal matrix” mind controls a heavily-armed space warship, which shares the AI’s name. There is a human crew onboard as well, including a grizzled and blooded veteran as captain, but Serengeti is in charge. One of the hottest military trends today is using drones and robots to remove people from the dangers of combat; Serengeti is a logical extension of that trend although the addition of a human crew seems to be a nod to tradition as well as providing redundancy.
The latest entry in this fast-paced and fun futuristic sci-fi series, Uroboros Saga Book 6 by Arthur Walker (@ArthurHWalker) opens with a flashback that explains a major plot point before returning to a decidedly more domestic scene with Kale and Brook in post-Shutdown Port Montaigne.
No spoilers, but I now know who, and what, the Cabal are, and continue to find very endearing the growing relationship between the nanotech replica and rescue drone. We don’t spend much time contemplating laundry and vegetable gardens, however. Soon enough Kale and Brook re-join colorful ex-mercenaries Perfidy and Heavy Dub to continue the fight against rogue elements of the Cabal for control of Earth. The pace doesn’t slow until the final pages and there will be some losses along the way as the action shifts to Mars and beyond.
Fast-paced and action-packed, The Killing Kind by Chris Holm @chrisfholm is a solidly entertaining read — the book equivalent of a “summer popcorn movie.”
Michael Hendricks is a former U.S. Army special forces operator who no longer officially exists after his unit was nearly wiped out in an ambush. To atone for his actions in the military, he’s taken up a new occupation as a hitman who only kills other hitmen. But as good as he is at killing killers — the first scene, set in Miami, is a thrilling intro — Michael’s new job has attracted attention from both sides of the law. Unknowingly hunted by the FBI and a sociopath contract assassin, Michael sets out to find his next client.
Spies. Parallel universes. Sudden and unexpected twists. Time and perspective shifts — everything I liked about the first book, amplified. Europe at Midnight (The Fractured Europe Sequence Book 2) by Dave Hutchinson (@HutchinsonDave) is less a sequel than an expansion of the fascinating concept introduced in the first book (see my review of Europe in Autumn).
I greatly enjoyed returning to this near-future version of Europe where a flu pandemic has greatly reduced the population and the map is in flux. New countries are created based on city borders, neighborhoods, or ethnic homelands — basically any somewhat-organized group can declare independence and create new borders to be crossed.