No Hero

9780525954521_p0_v3_s260x420What makes a hero? 9/11 changed the way we view heroes, and how we define the word hero. Mark Owen wants you to think he’s No Hero. Owen (which is his pen name) was a member of Seal Team 6 – the group that not only bravely rescued Captain Phillips at sea from Somali pirates, it was also the same team that raided Bin Laden’s compound. In his first book, No Easy Day, he details the mission his team was given to raid the compound, and the shots he claims he fired that ended Bin Laden’s life. I read that first book of his – and although I did enjoy the story, I wondered why he wrote the book. He’s not the only to have claimed to have shot Bin Laden, so I think his motives behind writing both of these books is somewhat questionable.

Shortly after his first book was released his true identity was revealed. So much for writing under a penname! Mark Owen, or Mark Bisonette, explains the evolution of a seal in No Hero. What makes a seal?? Even after reading the book I’m still not that sure.  I think even in this second book he takes readers back to Afghanistan, following him on some of his toughest missions.

SEAL training is the toughest of all of the military special forces training. Called BUDS (I’m not quite sure what that stands for), he talks about this life-changing experience. Being a SEAL was a lifelong dream for him, and talks about the difficult journey of completing the training.  As he continued in his career, the training got more intense. For me, this was the most interesting part of the book. He became a member of Seal Team 6, the elite Seal team – which was a huge accomplishment for him, and a huge honor. One thing he focuses on, as an important part of a Seal is trust, and how trust is earned. Trust was an important part of their mission – they put their lives in each other’s hands.

With this recent book, there has been a new round of interviews. Just a few weeks ago he was featured for the second time on 60 Minutes. Again, his identity was disguised, and he talked not only about No Hero, but his new battle with the first book and the accusations that he revealed secret information about the raid on Bin Laden’s compound. There is the possibility that he could be prosecuted under the espionage act. Seems harsh!

I questioned his motives while reading the first book. He claimed be an average guy – just doing his job, although an important one, and wasn’t seeking any special recognition. Hence the name of his second book I guess. If he didn’t want to be recognized as a hero, or want to be recognized, then why write a book about it?  So he makes this important point in his second 60 Minutes interview that he’s not any different from any other top commander or secretary of state who have also written books. Most recently, Hard Choices. Hmm.. That definitely changed my opinion of his motives.

Another thing that I thought about while reading the book, is his talk of the agency. He works with members of the CIA, who are members of a special task force, trained to work alongside and do similar missions to the Seals. He describes them as part of a pissing contest, as if being special forces is any different?? As America’s longest war has continued, the rules of engagement had changed. Military members in the field are bound by stricter rules now. He complains about them – and having to work side by side with members of the agency.  Is he looking for sympathy??  Perhaps.  He won’t get any from me though.

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This Is Where I Leave You

9780452296367_p0_v4_s260x420With the end of our 15 day book challenge on Tuesday, we posted our 200th post!  And with that we’d like to celebrate by sharing one of the best books I’ve read this past year – This is Where I Leave You.  Who doesn’t love a good story about a highly dysfunctional family? I don’t think I stopped laughing the whole time I was reading it. Before watching the movie, I had to read the book. Of course – just like all new releases I had to wait until the movie came out on DVD to watch it!  There are so many good movies I’d like to go see – but the only new releases I ever get to see are the ones my daughter and I can see together.  I am dying to see Inherent Vice and American Sniper, but again, I wait…

The book had once been on my TBR list – way before the movie came out.  It’s about the Altman family, and their collective dysfunctions.  This mildly Jewish family has experienced a death in the family. A family of 3 brothers and 1 sister has lost their father, and his dying wish was for the family to sit Shiva. Shiva, a Jewish tradition, is a week-long mourning period, where immediate family stays in the house of the dead, along with the dead body. I saw this in the preview for the movie and seemed misleading, the family wasn’t grounded, they were sitting Shiva. In sitting Shiva all of family’s craziness comes out, and it is hilarious. I seriously never stopped laughing while reading this book!

Judd is the story’s narrator, and the middle of the three brothers. Just after his father becomes ill, he learns his wife Jen had been cheating on him. He happened to have walked in on his wife and his boss – and totally lost it, landing his boss in the ER. He feels the marriage is over, and he’s lost his job, all on the same afternoon.   So when his dad passes away, he’s already at a low point. Let’s add one more thing to the chaos that is his life: Jen is pregnant.

I think what I loved most about the story was the characters – they all had such different personalities. They’re all so different and unique, it’s almost unbelievable that they all grew up in the same house. What makes this such a great movie adaptation is the actors who are playing these great characters. Judd is played by Jason Bateman (which reminds me so much of his role on Arrested Development), his sister Wendy is played by Tina Fey, his youngest brother is played by Adam Driver (of Girls – who is hilarious and adorable). One of the best parts of this movie adaptation is the mother, who is played by Jane Fonda. It’s slightly ironic because at one point in the book Judd mentions that in the 80s his mother was obsessed with Jane Fonda’s workouts. Wendy’s ex-boyfriend who comes to pay his respects during Shiva is played by Timothy Olyphant. Need I say more?

I loved loved this book – it was hilarious and touching, and endearing.  It’s one book I really wish had a sequel??  Are there any books you’ve wanted a sequel to?

15 Day Book Blogging Challenge: Day 15

unnamedWe are at the end of this blogging challenge.  It has been fun, and now that we’re done, we have a bunch of new books to share!  Today we’re sharing who our book blogging mentors are.

Kel – Um not sure I have any other than Amy.  I kind of dove feet first into the blogging world without really reading a bunch before I started.   That’s kind of sad actually.

Amy – I’m with Kel – I thought of the book blog idea and said “hey let’s do this!”.  I read several other blogs and have a couple I really love.  Some of these really great blogs have blended books with other great things – crafts, recipes, life.  Two of my faves are The Modern Mrs. Darcy, Maybe Matilda.  I think I’ll stick to just books – but these are two great blogs that inspire me!

Do you have any blogging mentors?  Any blogs that you totally love and are inspired by?

15 Day Book Blogging Challenge: Day 14

unnamedSo, as a reader, do you have any deal breakers?  Day 14 is asking us to share ours:

Kel – I’m assuming this means when it comes to books. Poorly written books lose me fast.  I read the first chapter of 50 Shades on the B&N website and just couldn’t.  There was no way, if you like books of that genre there are better written books out there.  Books with lots of editing mistakes.  Books that are incredibly wordy in their descriptions may be why I’ve never finished The Simarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein, and why Goblet of Fire was not my fave HP book.  I really wanted to take a red pen to sections of it.  Books where I can’t maintain my suspension of disbelief lose me.  Dry nonfiction, I prefer my nonfiction to be at least partly narrative.

Amy – I have a few deal breakers – and because I’m picky about what I read, I won’t even pick up a book if I don’t think I’m going to like it.  One thing I really don’t like – and Kel is kind of hinting at it here, is books that are too wordy.  I always tell my students that it’s not the quantity of their words, it’s the quality.  I’m not afraid to read long books – I love Stephen King, and his books are often in the thousand page plus category.  But, in those many many pages I never think it’s too long or too wordy.  That for me is a deal breaker!

What are your deal breakers??