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A Troubling Tale of One Woman Behind Iraqi Lines and Her Journey Home 

Enemy Combatant by Ron Albury Published November 25th 2013 by Createspace ISBN 1494201887
I tend to be attracted to beauty and all things feminine, and the titles I read reflect that. I read poetry, vegan cookbooks, and women's fiction; never in a million years would I ever imagine myself gravitating towards political fiction, and certainly not books pertaining to military life and combat in Iraq.  The violence, strategic missions and men's comradery existing between soldiers that have experienced combat together are lost on me. I see them as irrelevant in my own life, and frankly, boring. 

I received a review copy of Enemy Combatant, and was attracted to it immediately because of its stunning cover art. I briefly skimmed the back face of the oversized paperback I held in my hand, looking for clues as to its content, but none were forthcoming. I was intrigued by more artful photography and the question, "Is she saving our country or destroying it?" I began to read.

Ron Albury's newly self-published novel, Enemy Combatant, begins in the unwinding of anti-terrorist agent, Samantha's, past self. As one of two siblings of a single mother, Samantha and her sister, Chris, live in shadows and silence, young girls whittled down into one, invisible presence trying to stay out of striking range of their drunken mother. One month to the day after 9/11, Chris is removed from the home and placed in state care following a brutal beating, and Samantha is left on her own, spending her days aimlessly wandering and contemplating suicide.

Samantha joins the military not to begin a new life, but to bring meaning to her death. What she discovers in basic training, however, is a level playing field with the other recruits, in which she was no longer identified as "the daughter of a drunken whore" or assigned temporary value based on her skills under the bleachers and on her knees..  Her former identity is stripped of her, and along with it, the inhibitions that kept her a prisoner of her low birth. She gives herself, willingly and in entirety, to the army, and is formed into a human weapon of worth and authentic, earned value.

The Wishing Hill: A NovelThe Wishing Hill: A Novel by Holly Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bathed in the lush, golden hues of Puerto Vallarta, Juliet Clark spends each sitting on the beaches of Mexico's Pacific Coast, painting landscapes and vaguely feigning a Mexican heritage to the tourists who come to buy her work as the waves lap at the shoreline. When faced with unexpected desertion of her husband, Juliet Clark is at a loss; her tranquil bliss comes to an abrupt halt. Like the native Huichol Indians performing breathtaking ritual, the dance of the flyer, her life has taken on the feel of a free fall ballet.

Furthering her sense of loss of gravity, a phone call, explaining that under no uncertain terms, she must leave her idyllic life and return home to care for her aging mother, a woman who, during Juliet's childhood, was constantly preoccupied with creating a grandiose public facade, while covering her personal inadequacies in a garnered sense of entitlement and self importance, drawn from the admiration of others. Her preoccupation with success in her career as an actress overshadowed the authenticity of her relationship with her childen, who were often neglected while Desiree, her mother, pursued her own interests and romantic relationships that would both serve as fuel for her narcissistic need to be constantly adored and who would supplement her personal income.

In the The Wishing Hill: A Novel, author Holly Robinson takes us to a place of hidden intimacy between mothers and daughters, exposing the pain of their choices and the fears that lay behind them. Written with tender honesty, she holds out her hand, offering her characters with a vulnerability that is, at times, unsettling. The fragile nature of generations of women is beautified in their heartbreaks and their uncertainties, even as they are made strong through the power of their convictions.

Disposition of RemainsDisposition of Remains by Laura T. Emery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'm usually reading several books at a time (a bit like channel surfing) but I started reading it last night, and its been all I can do to keep from slacking all day and keep my nose in Disposition of Remains. THANK GOD the weekend is coming up and its a satisfying 384 pages!