Monday, November 9, 2015

Marines don't only storm beaches - they bring the thunder in the sky as well!

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Tippy: Tales of Flying Sergeants by Michael Uva is a tale of a backwoods mechanic turned Marine auto mechanic turned pilot turned war hero turned pastor.  That seems like a lot of twists and turns, but Michael Uva spins a tale that anyone who loves military stories should read.

Typically, Marine enlisted men are not pilots - officers are.  But during WW II, necessity meant that rules were more like guidelines.  Thus, enlisted Marines were thrust into the pilot seats with little formal training and expected to uphold the Marine fighting spirit in the sky.

"Tippy" is a Marine's Marine.  He is the type of guy you want in your foxhole, or in the case of air combat "protecting your six".   But like all hero's, there is much more to the story than many around them know about.  Tippy's story is told through the eulogies that are given at his funeral, which makes them all the more poignant.

So, with this posting date being on the Marine Corps birthday and just a day before Veterans Day - take a little flight with this short book and learn what the men of WW II were made of.  Thank God that America produced such men who sacrificed so much and expected little in return.

While this is a work of fiction, you can tell the author is a Marine himself and knows what he is talking about.  As a Marine myself, the flavor of the book brought me right back to my days when I was fortunate enough to wear the uniform.  Uva is even able to pull off the strong "Esprit De Corps" that only one who has experienced it can even attempt to explain.

I will even admit that some of the stories almost brought a tear to my eye.  It just reminded me very much of the bond that only brothers in arms can know.  Again, this is a work of fiction, but I feel that it captures the spirit and the essence of the men who had to do the dirty work for our nation to survive.

The book is a short read, and I was very fortunate to have been gifted the Audible version of it.  It does have some "film elements" in it - but I found it an interesting insight as to how people who are in the entertainment business think about stories.  (Michael Uva was in the entertainment industry for over 30 years).  I finished it very quickly and wanted more when it was over - which is how anyone in the entertainment business wants it to be.  "Always leave them wanting more...."

Semper Fi, Michael Uva, and Happy Birthday Devil Dog - you have written a book that brought a smile and fond memories back to this Marine and I am sure any others who read it as well.  

(This review was part of a paid package by the author.  This only gave the author "front of the line" privileges.  This review is an honest review based on the opinion of the reviewer)

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's not easy putting together a "super group" of warriors without getting yourself killed!

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The Summoner once had it all in the Empire's land of Malvia.  Huge armies to command against the fight against the Rell and the Orcs, money, power, fame.  He was a true rock star of his age.  But he is also known as the Renegade General - which is what seems to happen when you turn your back on the same Empire that helped make you that rock star.  Now, branded with "The Black Rings", everyone in Malvia knows that The Inquisition would be more than happy to get their paybacks.

Tired of being on the run and having no place to call his own in years, The Summoner, embarks on a yearlong quest in search of the best warriors, mages, holy men, thieves, prodigy's, and psycho's that Malvia has to offer.  There is just one little problem The Summoner has - how to convince these people to meet him months from now in an out-of-the-way pub without telling them the reason for the meeting.  Giving information out is the same as The Summoner writing his own death warrant, especially when you can't be sure that those you invite to the meeting won't just attack you, or even worse, call in the Inquisition on you with the information. 

Oh, and before he can even get started, The Summoner must gather enough Messenger Stones (Malvia's version of holograph walkie-talkies) to be able to communicate with his group.  Unfortunately, these are usually only carried by the best and the brightest of The Inquisition.  Killing off a bunch of their agents isn't going to endear the Renegade General to the Empire or The Inquisition any further.

And, as The Summoner discovers, it sometimes sucks when you ask someone to join your team - only to have them beat the snot of you as a response.  Not that The Summoner can't handle himself (magic in the form of summoning elementals and deadly swordplay come naturally to the Renegade General), but healing yourself after time and time again of getting whooped tends to get old after a while.
The author, who goes by the pen name General Asa, does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing and in a good way.  The book is large, but if you view it as many different short stories of The Summoner trying to recruit the different members to his cause - it becomes much more manageable.

Asa also does a great job developing the characters.  The Summoner is strong and powerful, but not invincible.  He also is a very trusting soul, probably a leftover from being a great leader and having people follow his every command without question.  However, this can become a weakness with The Summoner placing trust in those who may have motive or bad memories of previous dealing with him.

This novel is chock full of magic, battles, sword play, and even an arena scene that will bring down the arena! 

Give Black and Gold: Formation a chance and soon you will be sucked into a world wondering which of The Summoners recruits will join him, ignore him, try to kill him, or just rat him out........   A great blend of mystery, magic, and some good old fashioned butt kicking!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Does A Backwoods, Lowly, Enlisted Mechanic Become A - P-51 - Ace Fighter Pilot?

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How Does A Backwoods, Lowly, Enlisted Mechanic Become A - P-51 - Ace Fighter Pilot?
Based on an “Enlisted Marine” who flew a P-51 aircraft during WWII. (Normally, only Commissioned Officers were pilots.) These "enlisted" pilots fought like hellions in air battles in the European and South Pacific theaters against greater trained enemy pilots and superior aircraft. They showed tenacity, guts, and heart in a belief they could stem the tide of tyranny. They crammed their bodies into tiny aircraft, and then hurled themselves across the skies, to protect America!

I wrote Tippy as a tribute to a Master Gunnery Sergeant Tippy that I had the pleasure and honor to have served with while I was enlisted in the Marines. I flew a few times as his crew chief.


Tippy was a salty old marine. A fair guy, but let’s just say, seasoned. Boy, did he have some stories. Some may have been “Fairy Tales," some the "God’s Honest Truth." You can never tell with the Marines. I was told early on in my Marine career, there are only two types of fairy tales told in the Corps; One begins with, “Once upon a time…” the other, “This is no Shit!”

Whatever the truth may have been, I wrote “Tippy” as a tribute, as I imagined this Flying Marine Sergeant might have been in WWll.

Enlisted Men Become Fighter Pilots!
(Eleven become Generals)

Only Officers were supposed to be pilots. But despite discrimination, over 2,575 enlisted men are officially, “In the books!” as Pilots. These men flew under the banner of "Sergeant Pilots." Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, and Walter Beech all started out as enlisted men.
These heroes are now lovingly referred to as, “Flying Peons.”

Authors' Note:
Lets' keep alive the histories of these enlisted, Sergeant Pilots who served bravely between 1912 and 1945. This is the story of just a few of those unsung heroes. One in particular, Tippy!
(This Is My "Fictional" Story Of Real Flying Sergeants!) 

Not a review - cover and book blurb as part of an advertising package

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I am calling in sick tomorrow - I am feeling a little "Afflicted"

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"Afflicted Dawn" by Gregory Napier is one of the reasons why I have fallen in love with the zombie genre.  I resisted the urge to view / read anything zombie related as if ignoring the upcoming apocalypse could somehow save my brain from being eaten.

I mean, really, how interesting could slow moving brain eaters be?  No real need to do any "character development" on a creature who might just shrug a limb off just as easily as you might sneeze.

But my milky white eyes have seen the light - and one of the main reasons are books like Napier has written.  You see, the best of the zombie genre don't even really feature the zombies.  Yes, they are there - and you can't really avoid talking about undead braineaters if they happen to have some role in your book - but that doesn't mean that everything focuses on them.  To be fair to Napier - they aren't even really zombies, per se, - they are "afflicted".  The cause of the end of the world - a cancer treatment gone really, really bad.

Dylan and his niece Aurellia are just a couple of survivors trying to make their way in this new world order.  Is it OK to befriend other survivors, or should they be more feared than the afflicted themselves?

This book has it all: zombies that seems to be able to "evolve", bad guys that are looking to make a bad situation good for themselves, survivors willing to take risks and sacrifice everything for a chance to leave their world just a little nicer place, and harrowing escapes (for some characters - not all).

If you've never given the zombie genre a chance - sit down, buy this book, and get ready to feast on some brains.  You won't regret it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Should I lounge in the sweats or rock the stilettos?

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Rachel Cleveland shares her journey through depression and just plain horrible things that daily life has to throw at you (sweatpants days) to coming out the other side killing it in the stilettos.  This is a journey that isn't unique to most people, but few people are willing to share their experiences in a book to try and help those come after them.

Written in a style of a memoir, the insights from her journey are shared in a logical, easy to read style.  You almost feel as if you are sitting somewhere with the author over lunch and lending an ear.

There were many "aha" kinds of moments, but I will share two that stood out to me so that you can get a sense of the "flavor" of the book:

  • Training that involves real learning is oftentimes painful and terrible, but that's the training that sticks.  "The lessons you remember best are often the ones you found to be the most difficult."
  • Sharing what she learned from author Kevin DeYoung - (paraphrased) - The reason why you are busy could be because you feel you are the only person that can do the job.  Sit down and ask yourself  "What makes my work or thought processes so superior to everyone else that they can't possibly complete the task?"   If you are being honest with yourself, the answer is that it isn't so superior to everyone.  Just let it go!
Having written a self help book, I went in thinking that if I could just get across a few "nuggets" that hit people at the right time when they were open to them - it would make it all worthwhile.

I believe Cleveland has accomplished the above.  It is a short book packed with a large book full of wisdom.  Dive in, read it, reread it - and then dust off your stilettos and get back out on the dance floor of life instead of watching from the sidelines.

(This review is part of a paid ad.  The ad only moves the book to the front of the line.  The review written above is the authors true feelings of the work.)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Author Interview: Kyle Garlett author of "Lessons From the Edge of Life"

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1.    Kyle, thank you so much for sharing your story with the world.  It is truly inspiring.  Like most inspiring stories, however, there is an element of struggle and dark days.
What is the one thing that you can attribute your “Thrive – don’t just Survive” attitude to?
I think it goes back to those dark days, as you suggest. I felt an element of anger at cancer, that it was disrupting my life so profoundly and threatening to take it. To put it bluntly - cancer really pissed me off. So I didn’t want to just beat it, I wanted to destroy it. I didn’t want to just win. I wanted to humiliate it. So the “thriving” that I strive for in my life is soft of me continually spiking the football in the face of cancer. It’s a reminder to me that I beat it, but also in a way it’s me trying to remind cancer that I am better than it. It is tough, but I am tougher.
 2.   Can you picture your life if you would not have gone through these struggles?  Do you believe you would have just fallen into the “complacent” category you warn against?

It’s hard me to picture a life without the struggles that I’ve survived because they are such an integral ingredient in who I am today. I suppose I probably would have fallen into the complacency that I warn against because that complacency trap ensnares so many of us. There is a natural instinct in all of us to click on the cruise control and just stay the easy and known course. Hopefully I would find my out. Hopefully I would get the kick in the pants that is often needed to seek more. Because I also believe that there is a natural instinct within all of us to reach for bigger and better. All it takes is the confidence to go for it.

3.            It seems that you are a huge “pay it forward” type of person.  What is the most rewarding thing you have done to give something back or pay it forward?
It’s hard to say what is the most rewarding thing for me, in terms of paying it forward. I do appreciate that because of being on television, going to Ironman, and writing books, I am somewhat known in the heart transplant and cancer communities. So often someone newly diagnosed with cancer will seek me out. Or someone waiting for a heart transplant, and terrified by what that means, will send me an email. Being able to speak to people like that. Giving them hope, or simply an ear that understands their fears, is something that I will always do. I’m so fortunate to be in a place where can pass along the same hope that got me through the worst of days. It’s truly a blessing.

4.            What would you recommend a person focus on when they are in the dark periods or feeling like everything they are doing just isn’t going to matter?
I talk about this in my memoir, Heart of Iron, which came out a few years ago. When I was in isolation during my bone marrow transplant, life was pretty horrible. Physically I was at my weakest and sickest. But also mentally, my hope was at its lowest point. So what I would do was try to find a good thirty minute period a day. It might be reading a good book, watching a funny television show, or having a conversation with a friend. If I could find an enjoyable thirty minutes each day, then I could bear the other twenty-three and a half hours. And if I could get a whole hour of good, then it was an extra special good day.

Find something in your life that is good. Because there is always something. Someone that loves you. A pet, a parent, something. Find something you love. Writing, reading, running, laughing, something. And then focus on that good. Zero in on the good, and the elevate its importance above all of the bad. Make that good be the reason for which you live. And in time, the bad will begin to recede, and more goods will begin to enter your life. As I point out in this book, light always illuminates the dark. It’s never the other way around.

5.            I see that you are a speaker – how rewarding is that and what is your favorite topic to speak on?

I love speaking, and especially speaking about the strength that we all possess to overcome the great adversities of life. And the nature of my speeches tend to be very personal, because my story is one that is relatable. So after hearing me speak, people feel like they know me. So they often approach me afterward as though I am already a friend. I have great conversations. I make great connections with people. We talk about life. They share things with me because over the course of my speech most of the normal walls that separate people are lowered. 

I always leave a speech in a really great mood. I hope that in the time people spend listening to me, I give them hope and optimism and an extra spring in their step as they take on whatever challenge they are currently facing. Because that is exactly what happens for me after giving the speech.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Horned grey Rells, Orcs, Greenskins, and Humans - oooohhhh this is going to be good!

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Malvia is a world caught in constant war. The three remaining races slaughter their way towards a victory that has escaped them and others for over a thousand years. In the west exists a great Kingdom belonging to the horned, grey skinned race of the Rell. To the north, behind walls of jagged steel and rock, are the Orc Territories where the savage Greenskins live. In the west, ever fortified and watched over by the Inquisition, is the Empire of the humans.
As the war continues there are many who seek to capitalise on its carnage, its pain, and its horror. One such man is the Summoner: a mysterious warrior whose name and past is well known to all in every corner of this violent world. But what plan has he concocted to make his mark on Malvia and what is in store for not only those who stand in his way but those he desperately seeks? 

(Not a review - part of a paid advertising package)