Book Review: Redeployment by Phil Klay


I mentioned Redeployment in my previous post but it deserves a full book review so here it is.

According to Amazon, I bought this book in December 2014 after it won the National Book Award (because I love buying those books with every intention of reading them) but apparently, I forgot I did. It wasn’t until I got the audiobook a few weeks ago that I realized I did have the ebook. I just couldn’t remember which platform since I alternate my reading between Kindle, iBooks, Audible, and Scribd. But I finally found both versions and started reading a few weeks ago.

Redeployment by Phil Kay is a collection of short stories about the Iraq War.  it’s unflinchingly raw, unforgiving, and powerful. It’s listed under fiction but as a layperson with no army experience whatsoever (I probably did formation once or twice as part of ROTC during my senior year in high school before they sent me to the office afterward to do flyers), I could swear every word I read felt so real. And that’s probably because Klay is a former Marine and he wrote the stories as a way to process what happened.

There are twelve stories in this collection and the first one, Redeployment, got to me right away. It’s about a Marine who had to shoot dogs in Iraq because they were eating corpses. When he gets back, he wrestles with what to do with his faithful dog who’s grown too old.

The second story, Frago, recounts one Army Sergeant’s mission that lands them inside a house with two tortured Iraqis and a video that ran out of film just before they got there.

Real quiet he says, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. But we all know what this is. Lance Corporal McKeown looks at the camera and says, Al-Qaeda makes the worst pornos ever.

All the stories are powerful and a few that stood out the most to me were Bodies, narrated by a Mortuary Affairs Marine.

There are two ways to tell the story. Funny or sad. Guys like it funny, with lots of gore and a grin on your face when you get to the end. Girls like it sad, with a thousand-yard stare out to the distance as you gaze upon the horrors of war they can’t quite see. Either way, it’s the same story.

Psychological Operations is probably the second longest short story in the book and I almost gave up on it. It’s one of the reasons I like listening to the narration sometimes because it puts me right back into the story, although the opposite works as well. When I find myself drifting while listening to the narration, I go back to reading the text so I’m right back in. Anyway, Psychological Operations took a long time to get to its point but when it did, I was horrified in a way a story gets to its conclusion and you say, wow.

“Propaganda is sophisticated,” I said. “It’s not just pamphlets and posters. As a PsyOps specialist, as anything in the Army, you’re part of a weapons system. Language is a technology. They trained me to use it to increase my unit’s lethality. After all, the Army’s an organization built around killing people. But you’re not like an infantryman. You can’t think about the enemy as nothing but an enemy. A hajji. A gook. A bad guy needing a bullet. You’ve got to get inside their heads.”

And then there’s Ten Kliks South, the last story in the collection as told through the eyes of a 19-year-old artilleryman who wonders who cleans up the mess after he and the rest of his nine-man team are done with their job.

So there’s no indication here of what happened, though I know ten kliks south of us is a cratered area riddled with shrapnel and ruined buildings, burned-out vehicles and twisted corpses. The bodies. Sergeant Deetz had seen them on his first deployment, during the initial invasion. None of the rest of us have.

Bottom line, I loved the collection. I needed a break from all the romance books I started but never finished and so I needed something that got me back into my reading groove, one that I’d actually finish because it hooked me and wouldn’t let me go. I also have to accept that the stuff I write is so far from the stuff I like to read. And this is one of them.

Sunday Pick: Challenge Accepted by Amanda Abram


WordPress just informed me that this month marks my five year anniversary since I started blogging. That’s when I moved my original blogs from another platform to WordPress and I haven’t looked back. I love the community that WordPress fosters and I enjoy discovering new bloggers every day. What’s even more fun is that if they happen to be writers, I get to learn about their stories and their books!

One author I just discovered is Amanda Abram. I added her latest release, Challenge Accepted, to my Kindle Unlimited library last night and this morning I started reading it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read YA but I love Amanda’s writing style. The story (at 28%, so far) is smart, tight, and well-written, reminding me of Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, and basically, all John Hughes movies. It definitely is bringing out all the feels… and the smiles.

And when you find yourself yelling at your Kindle for something the hero does that’s just oh-so-irredeemable, you know you just got sucked right into a charming and witty story. So if you’re in the mood to read a smart YA enemies-to-lovers romance (wait, can you use lovers in YA?), then it’s high time to check out Challenge Accepted by Amanda Abrams.


by Amanda Abram


When the popular boy-next-door botches book nerd Emma’s chance at finding her perfect match, he’s going to help her find him

But what if they already are perfect for each other?

Emma Dawson thinks her neighbor, Logan Reynolds, is a callous jerk who thinks only of himself. He thinks she’s a stuck-up goody-two-shoes with no life.

But when Logan lies on the school’s Summer Fling Compatibility Test to get out of a casual dating situation, the program concludes that he and Emma are a perfect match.

To make it up to Emma for ruining her chances with the perfect guy, Logan decides to help her win the heart of her lifelong crush, his best friend, Matt.

But as the summer heats up, they’re suddenly faced with the biggest challenge of all—falling for each other.


“I’ve been giving it a lot of thought since yesterday and I’ve come up with a few ideas.”

“Like what?”

“Like, for starters, we have got to do something about your wardrobe.”

I glanced down at myself. I was wearing a pair of flare jeans and a gray t-shirt that said, “BOOK NERD”, where every straight vertical line of each letter was the spine of a book. I thought it was clever. “What’s wrong with my wardrobe?”

“Honestly, nothing…if you weren’t trying to attract the attention of Matt Fisher. Which, by the way, is confusing to me. What about him makes you so hot and bothered? It can’t just be his good looks because I’m good-looking too and you hate me.”

Start reading Challenge Accepted by Amanda Abram


Loving Riley Book Review | The InkedIn Book Blog

Let it be said that I am a complete Liz Durano fan and LOVE HER WORK. I’ve been following her work since she was on Wattpad and I am so happy that she’s making a name for herself in the published world too, because frankly, if you’re a romance fan, you absolutely need to read Liz’s books. There’s no two ways about it.

I read the first book in this trilogy, Loving Ashe, sometime early last year and absolutely adored it. In case you need a reminder, here’s my review – Loving Ashe.

In the sequel to Loving Ashe, things have really come together for both Ashe and Riley. Ashe is making a name in Hollywood and Riley is learning to let go of her past. They’re building a life together and both of them are extremely happy in their relationship. All is good for the couple until a blast from Ash’s past threatens to destroy everything that they’ve tried to build together.

Continue reading at Loving Riley, Liz Durano – Book Review | The InkedIn Book Blog

Thank you so much for this lovely review! What a sweet surprise to wake up to and if you’d like to read her full review and her other book reviews, make sure to head on over to her blog and follow!

Book Review: Holiday Heat by Carrie Lomax

Last night, I stumbled on Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax, a seemingly “holiday” novel with its Christmas glitter and mistletoe on the cover that’s not exactly a holiday novel. It’s set during the holidays, yes, but it’s *not a holiday novel. Family dynamics? Check. Sibling rivalry and protectiveness? Check. Steamy AF hot scenes? Checkcheckcheck.

The first thing that caught my attention was the smart and witty heroine, Alyssa Carlisle, who lives in a studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan and she’s just been stood up by her rich boyfriend of two years, Zach. He was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve but he’s five hours late and when he does show up, he’s drunk and tells her he got cold feet. Apparently, it’s not the first time Zach has pulled something like this and so, with a plane to catch in the morning where they were supposed to spend Christmas with her parents in Tampa, Florida, she tells Zach they’re over, to have a great life, and not to talk to her ever again.

Tampa is where we meet Marc Del Luna, the oldest son of the Del Lunas who live next door to her parents. He’s never finished college but he’s smoking hot, “the kind of guy who made girls’ panties wet just by walking into the room—at least, the ones like her who wore undergarments.” And apparently, Alyssa has been secretly crushing on him since her family moved into the neighborhood almost ten years ago… but there was something about Marc being known as the resident man-whore that made her steer clear.

While taking out the trash, they bump into each other and sparks fly, especially when Marc learns she’s suddenly single. Who knew the (play)boy next door liked her all these years?  To Alyssa, the prospect of a one-night stand or a vacation fling with Marc before she returns to New York is looking better and better every minute.

But before one assumes that Marc is simply the manwhore everyone thinks he is, there’s actually more to him than meets the eye, just as there’s more to the sibling dynamics between him and Julian as well as Alyssa and Janelle, her younger sister stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loans.

What I love the most about Holiday Heat is that it’s a refreshing take on romance from the usual fare that I’ve been picking up lately (dark romance, secret baby, and let-me-top-the-sex-in-this-book-with-more-sex… oh wait, that’s my book!). It’s a new voice and I love me some new voices especially since I just finished A Man Called Ove and needed something light and fun and witty.

“Courtship had a new rule book. Somewhere. She’d never read it and doubted anyone else in her generation had either.”

I like how Lomax explores certain social issues that are at the forefront today and for the most part, they’re deftly interwoven into the storyline. The sparks that fly between Alyssa and Marc are super hot and deserving of New Year’s Eve fireworks, and the scenes between them are super steamy as well. But that’s not going to mean that everything is smooth sailing either. They go through some rough patches like an unexpected visitor, a reality TV show-inspired contest, and some good measure of angst.  And for a holiday tryst that’s hot and heavy from the get-go, will their fling last long after the New Year’s Eve fireworks are all done?

So, yup, except for the ending which kinda felt flat for me because I wanted more Aly and Marc, I enjoyed Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax and highly recommend it if you like a contemporary romance with a chock-full of really well-written steamy scenes and high octave chemistry.

Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy is free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

10% of the proceeds from this book will benefit the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Find Carrie online:



*The only reason I say it’s NOT a holiday novel is that holiday novels get pigeonholed during the holidays. Which is a disservice to this witty and layered novel that’s more about relationships and romance than the holiday itself. It’s just SET in a holiday and that’s about it. But that’s also the Marketing me talking. I hate seeing good novels get pushed aside because people assume if it’s holiday-themed then it’s kinda “holiday-themed” which to me, would be sugar and spice and mistletoe and family and eggnog and chocolate with marshmallows and cuddles in front of the fireplace. None of which brings up steamy AF romance in all its glory. I mean, come on. When do you watch A Christmas Story? While You Were Sleeping and so many other stories that are set during the holidays???

What I’m Reading

I’ve been wanting to read this since it first came out but never got the time because of my deadlines and constant marketing stuff. Well, now that Facebook Ad Manager has finally broken up with me for the third and final time, I now have tons of time in my hands.

Actually, I don’t because I have a publishing deadline to meet although with characters refusing to talk to me, looks like it’s not gonna happen anyway. But I digress.

So needing some time to decompress from all the writing and marketing, I’m reading When Breath Becomes Air, the bestselling memoir of the late neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi who was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at thirty-six. “One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.”

I’ve actually been listening to the audiobook for the last three weeks but because of deadlines, I just haven’t been able to finish it. Not that I wanted to. There were passages I had to pause and repeat until I figured I might as well have the book in my hands so I could read the lines again and again. So finally, yesterday, I placed my order for the paperback and today it arrived.

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.” 
― Paul KalanithiWhen Breath Becomes Air



Book Review: The Disappearance of Ray Delgado by J.C. Cauthon

I follow J.C. Cauthon‘s blog and downloaded The Disappearance of Ray Delgado when she first announced its release a few weeks ago. I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to find it an interesting and fast-paced mystery with a touch of sci-fi.

The story starts with Jake recounting the disappearance of his good friend Ray Delgado from a logging site. They’d driven in together in dense fog and only Jake emerges when the job’s done. But when he does report the disappearance, he’s told that Ray’s been gone ten days. No one seems to remember that Jake and Ray had been seen around town just the day before or that the officer taking the report played poker with Jake and Ray five days earlier. Nope, Ray’s been missing ten days…

But Jake is determined to get to the bottom of his best friend’s disappearance and find him even if it means putting his own life in danger. Will he succeed?

This is more a short story/novella and if you’re on Kindle Unlimited, it’s free to read.

Here’s the book’s description:

Eventually, the past catches up with you…

Jake always wondered about Ray’s past, but he knew better than to bring it up. Ray seemed haunted by it.

But when Ray mysteriously disappears from a logging site in what appears to be a Black Ops-style abduction, Jake knows that Ray’s past has finally caught up with him. With two special agents breathing down his neck and a lot of evidence negating what he saw with his own eyes, Jake is forced to find out what really happened to Ray.

But is he ready to learn the truth about his best friend’s identity?

You can purchase The Disappearance of Ray Delgado here or read free with Kindle  Unlimited.


Book Review: Hungry Boss

So yesterday, while perusing my Kindle recommendations, this book popped up on my recommended list (don’t ask!). And I thought, why would anyone use a cover like that?

And then I thought, why the heck not? I’m staring, aren’t I?  

Well, I’m happy to say that I liked Hungry Boss by Luke Steel.  It’s a nice short read of not just one boss (the one featured on the cover) but two!  The heroine is just as independent and assertive as he is and knows – and gets – what she wants.  There’s not a lot of character development in this book but that’s not why you pick it up to enjoy for about two hours or so.  It is hot, though – that I can guarantee, and apparently, I haven’t been reading much of these types of books in a while.

I just might have to remedy that oversight since he’s got another book out called Hard Boss.