I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior by Howard E. Wasdin book review

 

I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior

Howard E. Wasdin

Nonfiction/War

192 pages

 

This was a really interesting book for me to read.  I generally read fiction books, but this one is a nonfiction, a collection of memoirs from Howard Wasdin, an American Soldier who works his way through to be one of the elite warriors of SEAL Team Six.  He covers a necessary amount of his childhood and rocky relationship with his parents, and the circumstances that led him to join the Navy.  He talks about the different trainings that he went through in detail, and all of them sound terrible to me.  He does things that most ordinary people could never do; that I know I could never do.  Wasdin writes about all the preparation that he goes through to become a sniper on the Team he wanted to be on: Hell Week, SEAL Team Two, SEAL Team Six, and Marine Corps Scout Sniper School.

 

Early on, he remembers a mantra that the SEALs live by.  “The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war” (4).  The SEALs are all about training.  He talked about practicing during his free time or down time to get better at the things he felt he needed to.  This tight knit group of SEALs working together formed bonds that were, admittedly to Wasdin, more important than his marriage, which always took a backseat to his job.

 

These memoirs cover a few different missions that Wasdin was present during, but much of it takes place in Mogadishu, Somalia.  He recalls his own realization that the men he is fighting against are human, like him.  “Whether you’re winning or losing, war is hell.  It’s important to understand that our enemies are human” (60).  I think war is often glamourized, in video games and such, and this book certainly shows the horrific sides of it.  He said something else that really made me think, “Most Americans don’t realize how blessed we are – we need to be more thankful” (102).  Compared to the lives he described in Somalia, we have it pretty good elsewhere and it makes me sad for people living in other countries under those terrible conditions.

 

One last quote I really liked was toward the end, when Wasdin was recounting the day he was injured multiple times and almost died in battle.  “Anyone who says he wasn’t scared in combat is either an idiot or a liar.  Everyone becomes scared.  It’s a healthy fear.  I’d never want to go into combat with someone who wasn’t a little afraid” (137).

 

I thought this was a really good book, very interesting with a lot of terrifying information.  And it was cool to get a deep look into the training that the SEALs in particular go through.  One issue I had with the book was the typos.  I don’t usually even catch them when I’m reading, but I noticed quite a few in this that bothered me.  However, that didn’t outweigh my liking for the book near enough to not recommend it.  If you are interested in war, military, nonfiction in general, I think you will really enjoy this book.

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Created by Cindy Hogan book review

Created (Watched, #3)
Created
Cindy M. Hogan
Genre
336 pages
The exciting conclusion of the Watched series.  This book kind of worked out like I had been anticipating, with Christy, or Ari, as she is known throughout most of this book, training to become a spy.  Until the terrorist threat can be eradicated for good, Ari and most of her original group from D.C. are moved to Belgium, to a secret spy training school.  Here, they are placed into groups according to their strengths so that they can train to become spies.  With all of her previous training, Ari scores too high to be placed in a group at this school and is kind of teamed up with the class about to graduate.  She begins going on missions, that are designed to apply the training to real life applications and scenarios.  They are dangerous and scary to her, but she has come a long way from being “Christy” that she was a year ago, and is excited about the challenge.
Through all this, she is still working to try to win back the love of Rick, or Reese, as he has become in this novel.  Reese is hurt over everything that has happened, especially between Ari and Alex, as well as the fact that her death was faked and he mourned for her.  He is in a different group, so it is hard to find time to even talk to him, but Ari develops real feelings for him and knows that he is who she wants at her side wherever her new life takes her.  Their time together is cut even shorter than they thought, as a real life spy mission that Ari is suited for perfectly comes up, and Ari has the chance to take it.
Now, she is thrown head first into the life of a spy, where any mistake could cost her her life.  She needs to befriend the daughter of a brilliant scientist who intelligence fears is up to no good.  She remains in her “Ari” character to do so, and fits the bill for the job perfectly.  If she can just make this mission work, she will be a full-fledged spy!  I don’t want to give away important details or spoilers about the novel, but it is very entertaining and exciting to see what Ari gets herself into and how she works to get her mission completed.  Especially once she went on the mission, I had a hard time putting the book down and just wanted to finish it to see what happened.  The terrorist threat was finally cleared up, and when most of her group decided to go home to their families, Ari realized that she couldn’t go back to her old life and grabbed the reigns of a new spy life that awaited her.
Throughout this whole trilogy, one thing I’ve been really impressed with was that anyone could read these.  And I mean that in the sense that there was no swearing, crudeness, or anything offensive to anyone of any age.  It is great to sometimes see a book not riddles with things like that that often don’t even add anything to the story.  The series as a whole was a very enjoyable read.  I liked the way it ended, because it left the door wide open for future adventures with Christy, or whomever she becomes from here on out.  I enjoyed my first series from and contact with Hogan, and I will actively be watching for her in the future and following her career as she continues to write.

Crossed by Ally Condie book review

Crossed book

Crossed

Ally Condie

Dystopian Fiction/Romance

367 Pages

 

This book, for me, took on an entirely different feel to it than did the first one, Matched. There is more excitement, danger, and adventure. Also, a big difference between the two books is that the narration gets split up evenly between Cassia and Ky, so we get to hear from both of their points of view. Ky has been sent away to the Outer Provinces and Cassia is on a seemingly impossible journey to find him. Separately, both Ky and Cassia make their way into a dangerous canyon where there are rumors of the rebellion being headquartered.

 

There is still a love story in this second novel, as well as Cassia still feeling torn between Xander and Ky, but it felt less prevalent to me than in Matched. There was more excitement and physical danger than was in the first book as well. The feel of this book changed a lot for me, because the setting was so different and the story was really maturing. We got to learn more about Ky’s past and also about other people we meet in the book, and see what it is like for them living under the Society’s rule. The rebellion, or at least the idea of one, really took a bigger spotlight in this book as Cassia desperately wants to find the source of it, almost as much as she wants to find Ky.

 

If you liked Matched, you definitely have to continue on with the trilogy. The love triangle continues, the uprising continues, and Condie’s writing is getting better. I’m excited to see how she ends the trilogy and if the third book will be as different from the second one as it was to the first. Again, this series shows the importance of literature and being able to make our own choices. This book serves as a warning as to what could happen if our choices and rights get taken away from us. Another book that I would recommend to anyone; there is nothing inappropriate or offensive in the novel, just a great read for anybody! I’m excited for the third book!

Extras book review

Extras

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Adventure

417 pages

 

So, I didn’t love this novel as well as the first three in the series. It takes place a few years after the conclusion of the third book, Specials. It takes place in Japan, and has completely new characters. It revolves around the life of a girl named Aya Fuse in a city where popularity is everything. Where you live, the clothes you wear, the things you can get; everything revolves around your popularity, or “face rank,” as it is called. Aya desperately wants to be famous like her brother Hiro, who is a “kicker,” meaning someone who kicks interesting stories on his feed. Aya is a kicker too, but the small stories she’s put out haven’t led her to be famous.

 

She stumbles across a story she thinks will be great about a secretive group called the Sly Girls. To get the story, she has to go undercover to infiltrate them and sneak shots of what they are doing. However, as she starts to get close to them she finds herself torn; she likes the person she is when she is with them, but she can’t get rid of her desire to become famous. Things escalate when the Sly Girls themselves stumble onto an even bigger story, one that could potentially change the world forever. Now Aya feels like she has to kick the story no matter what.

 

When the story hits the feeds, Aya’s face rank immediately starts to climb, however, so does the interest of the odd group she uncovered things about in her story. The story also draws the attention of our old friend in the series, Tally Youngblood. Tally shows up with backup and combines forces with Aya and her friends to seek out the group in the story and get to the bottom of what they are up to.

 

For me, this book was just OK. Unlike the other ones in the story, it took me a long time to get into and really care about it or be excited to read more. In the end, it turned out all right, in my opinion, but I don’t feel like it added anything to the original trilogy. I feel like it might have just been better left the way it was. So, it’s up to you. If you liked the way that Specials ended as a trilogy, you might want to skip this one and end it there. If you want to see how Tally changed the world and what she might be up to now, read on and find out.

Specials book review

Specials

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Romance

372 pages

 

The original conclusion to the Uglies series. I say original, because Westerfeld later decided to add a fourth book to the trilogy called Extras. Tally is back in Specials after having become a Special herself. She is teamed up with Shay, who is the head of the Cutters, a very special branch of Special Circumstances. They can basically do whatever they want. Their goal is to locate and bring down the New Smoke, and they are authorized to do whatever is necessary to accomplish it.

 

Tally is struggling throughout the whole book, and we get an inside look at her struggles and her thought process as she is trying to adapt to what she is, as well as who she used to be. She seems to enjoy being a Special for the most part, and is completely content with it, until she sees Zane again. Zane is just a normal Pretty, although his brain is damaged from attempting to cure himself from Pretty-mindedness. When she sees him, she still has feelings for him but is simultaneously disgusted by the way he is; after all, he isn’t Special. Zane tells her to change her mind again and cure herself of being Special-minded like she cured herself when she was a pretty. This makes Tally start to question her happiness. She wants to do whatever it takes to be with Zane, but sometimes finds herself unhappy with what she has become.

 

Zane and some other Crims escape the city to find the New Smoke and Tally follows them. She is supposed to tail them to the new location and report them to Special Circumstances so that they can bring them down once and for all, but will her love for Zane sway her decision? This book is largely a struggle of the mind. Tally is fighting between what she has been programmed to accomplish and trying to do what she believes is right. Her true friends never stop believing that the true Tally is under there somewhere.

 

This book was a decent conclusion to the series. I didn’t love the way it ended, but I didn’t hate it either. Overall, I enjoyed the novel, and loved the series as a whole, I just didn’t love the ending. I am interested to see what happens in Extras, however, as I felt like this novel did conclude and wrap everything up effectively. If you are looking for a good series about a dystopian setting and especially if you liked the Matched series, I think you will be a fan of these books.

Michael Vey Rise of the Elgen book review

Michael Vey Rise of the Elgen

Richard Paul Evans

Science Fiction/Adventure

335 Pages

 

Michael Vey and the rest of the Electroclan are back to battle Dr. Hatch and the Elgen empire in this second installment of the series. If you liked the first book, I think you’ll like this one. I thought it was really fun and I read it over the course of a few days because I was really into it and excited to see what would happen. Michael and his friends who helped bring down the Pasadena location of the Elgen set out to do whatever it takes to find Michael’s mother. It takes them a while, but they finally find out where she is being held and realize they need to travel to South America to get her back.

 

This book is packed with excitement. When the gang gets back to Idaho to regroup, they are met with traps laid for them by the Elgen and have to use their skills and cleverness to escape more than once. Then they have to figure out how to get to South America to find Michael’s mother. While they are figuring everything out, the electric kids try to practice and expand their powers, so they will be ready to face Dr. Hatch, his electric kids, and the rest of the Elgen army. Meanwhile, joining Dr. Hatch is a new electric kid with a dangerous power of his own, making the mission even more troubling.

 

When Michael and his friends make it to South America and find the compound that his mother is being held in, they see how daunting their situation is. There are thousands of guards there, the other electric kids, and even Dr. Hatch himself. Now they have to find a way inside the heavily guarded compound, rescue Michael’s mother, and escape with everyone safely. There was a lot of adventure in this book, it was very exciting to read. They are constantly getting into trouble and hairy situations, and it is often the ones without powers, Ostin, Jack, and Wade, who are most helpful at getting past them. I was glad to see that Jack and Wade stuck with Michael and the Electoclan to help them rescue Michael’s mother. I have come to really like all the characters in the book, they each have an important role and work together great as a team.

 

This book has enough excitement and twists to keep you guessing a bit. You hope that everyone will come out all right, but there are a couple times in the book where you just don’t know if that will happen. The ending of the book was a surprise to me, not what I was expecting, but it left me excited to read the next book for sure. I just wish that I didn’t have to wait and that it was out right now! I really enjoyed both the books in this series so far, and I can’t wait until the next one!

The Tristan Betrayal book review

The Tristan Betrayal

Robert Ludlum

Spy/Thriller

505 pages

 

I’ve always been a Robert Ludlum fan; his books were some of the first that rekindled my love for reading. I’ve read several of his novels, some amazing, and some I didn’t really like at all. For me, this one fell in between those two extremes. For the past several years, I’ve almost started this book several time, but never quite did, so this time, I finally set out to read it and get it off my “to-read” shelf.

 

It took a long time, over 150 pages, for me to really get grabbed by this book. The story just dragged on at the beginning without an adequate amount of excitement for me. The story predominantly takes place during 1940, and is about an intricate network of spies that is determined to bring down Hitler and the Nazis. It follows Stephen Metcalfe, an undercover USA agent through various parts of Europe that he is called to work in. At the beginning of the novel, he is based in Paris, but the operation there gets exposed and destroyed, and Metcalfe is sent to an extremely sensitive and important mission to Moscow.

 

Here he finds and rekindles his love with an old flame, and secretly they set in motion plans to overthrow the Third Reich. The plan they proceed with has the potential to decide the outcome of the war, and Hitler’s fate. It accounts for the decisions that Hitler made during WWII to attempt to invade Russia. Many of Ludlum’s novels seem to revolve around these times, or Nazis, as this one did. There were times of great action and suspense in the novel, but for me, more obvious were the times of almost complacency, were not much was happening.

 

One thing I disliked about his book was some of the language. Occasionally Ludlum will, in his novels, use a lot of foreign language, as he did in this one. I don’t mind it when the words are defined afterwords, but many of them were not in this one. I feel using foreign words can lend authenticity to a novel like this, but without a translation, sometimes I was left to guess, which may or may not have been accurate.

 

There was very little crude language in this book, and no details of sex, which I found surprising because the main character was known as a wandering playboy. All in all, it wasn’t the worst Ludlum that I have read, but not close to stealing top spot as my favorite either. It was an OK story, just one that I felt dragged on and could have been better if it had been more concise. I found that I was forcing myself to just push through it once I started it. If you are unfamiliar with Ludlum’s works, I could recommend other novels that I found much better.

The Things They Carried book review

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Realistic Fiction/War

233 Pages

 

The Things They Carried is a collection of war stories from the Vietnam War. O’Brien points out more than once in the book that it is a work of fiction, and not real; however, the stories certainly have a ring of truth. I’m sure that they are altered, but I would imagine that there is a lot of truth to many of the stories in this novel. It tells of O’Brien’s own experiences in the war, and over the course of the book, you get to know him and some other members of his platoon.

 

This novel begins by talking about what the soldiers carried, both by necessity and by choice. There is a lot of information and specifics here, but I found none of it boring. It was very interesting to learn about the specific weights of weapons, supplies, and other things that they carried. I imagined myself in their shoes, and thought about how hard it would be to lug everything around in the middle of a war that they were required to carry. I have never been to war, and I respect those that have. This novel brings to light some of the unimaginable things that those in war have to deal with. It shows the skills they pick up in order to cope with what becomes everyday life to them, things many of us might find savage and unable to understand.

 

O’Brien had a lot of thoughts in this book that I really liked. One thing he said was, “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” (33). He writes because he was there. He writes because he can’t forget and this is his way of dealing with it, almost like a therapy, it seems. He goes on to talk about war stories and they purpose they serve. “That’s what war stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night where you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story” (36). O’Brien isn’t able to forget, and he doesn’t want us to forget.

 

I can understand why this book might be hard for some to read. I imagine that for those who have been to war, this might bring back some memories that had been repressed. I imagine that for those who have been affected by relatives who have come home from war different, it could be a hard thing to read. I also think that it is an important book that could lend some understand to those of us who haven’t been to war. One other quote from the novel that I liked is this: “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead” (76).

 

My one complaint with the novel was that the timeline was a little messy. He jumped back and forth a bit to before the war, during the war, later in the war, earlier in the war, etc. That aspect of it made parts of it harder for me to follow. However, I think that most of the chapters in the book would have worked standing alone on their own, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, I just prefer things in chronological order. I think that anyone interested in war or learning about the Vietnam War experiences in particular would like this novel. As I said, it is a work of fiction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if much of it was true, or at least derived from true events. I enjoyed reading this book, and will look at more of O’Brien’s works in the future. I wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers, because of some of the content included. I mean, it is war, so there are going to be things disturbing inside. There is also some course language, but I felt like it was purely in context with the soldiers and lifestyles they were in. However, if it would bother you, beware, because it is in there.

The Jester book review

The Jester

James Patterson

Historical Fiction/Adventure

470 Pages

 

I’ve read a lot of James Patterson books, but none quite like this one. This one had almost a The DaVinci Code or The Last Templar feel to it. It takes place during the Crusades, and begins in 1096 A.D. It follows the life of a simple bondsman, Hugh, who finds the desire to leave his wife and go fight in the Crusades. He promises he that he will return no matter what. He leaves and fights hard, learning to be a soldier and doing things he never imagined himself doing. Finally, one day, he decides that he can’t be away from his wife any longer fighting for a cause he’s not even sure he believes in, and he deserts his army.

 

He makes his way home, excited to see his wife again and show her the souvenirs he has brought back with him. However, upon arriving home, he discovers the terrible truth that his wife has been taken captive and everything he loves destroyed. Everyone in his town fears that she is certainly dead, but Hugh cannot accept this and sets off to find her and return her safely home. With the help of new friends he meets, he devises a plan to implant himself close to where he believe he will find her, and bring justice to those who have destroyed his life.

 

This book was exciting to read about, because although it is fiction, it was fun to learn about how things could have been during this time. These is a lot – and I mean a lot – of violence, and very descriptive acts of torture and murder. There was also a surprising amount of sex and sexually related content included, which I had not expected, so I would certainly not recommend this for younger readers. There was a lot of humor strung throughout the novel as well, which is not surprising considering the title. Overall, I found it to be a very entertaining book, although it isn’t my favorite of the work that Patterson has put out. Especially if you are interested in this time period, I think you will enjoy it!

Michael Vey The Prisoner of Cell 25 book review

Michael Vey The Prisoner of Cell 25

Richard Paul Evans

Science Fiction/Adventure

336 Pages

 

This book was awesome!  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it because I had never even heard of it, but I really enjoyed it.  Michael Vey is a high school kid with a secret.  He’s electric.  He has the power of electricity running through him, but he must keep it a secret to ensure nothing bad happens.  When he starts to get stronger though, it becomes harder to contain his power and those who have been searching for him since his birth finally discover him.  Michael is catapulted into a new world of danger and adventure as he must fight to protect the ones he loves.

 

This book had some similarities to other books where kids discover they have powers, such as Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, but it was certainly its own story.  Also, some of you reading might think, “electric kids, really?” and in some cases, I would be right there with you.  However, Evans has come up with a way to explain these powers that seems plausible enough, so that it makes sense that something like this could happen in a normal world, without the explanation of something supernatural, like magic.  There are very few kids similar to Michael, but they are out there, and Michael must discover who his allies are and who his enemies are.

 

Michael must confront those behind the organization looking for him and causing his family pain.  With the help of his friends, both new and old, Michael must get to the bottom of the organization and fight to get his life and freedom back.  Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in this thriller that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  I got so excited when I finished this book to continue on with the adventure that I went out to search for the next one in the series.  I was sad to find out that it isn’t out yet.  However, it is coming out in August of this year, so it will shortly be here, and I will be anxiously awaiting its arrival.  This book is great.  It’s not too out there, like some books in this genre, and it is full of adventure and excitement.  It is a book that is suitable for any age, but in my opinion, even a very entertaining read for adults.  So pick it up and check out this new name in teenage adventurers!