Book Review

The Terminal List by Jack Carr – Part 2

Jack Carr The Terminal List

Okay, I’m a few days late, but here is the second part to my review of The Terminal List by Jack Carr.

I want to get into the conspiracy theories promoted in this story.  To tell you the truth, I started getting pissed.  First from the prologue, wanting to know who the hell sent this SEAL team to die, to murder them while they are doing what they’ve been trained to do, while they believed they were serving their country.  I can only imagine thoughts like that have to be in the back of the mind for those out there putting their lives on the line.  What a betrayal! These guys risk their life for the mission, for their country, because they believe in their country. They are trained to trust their teams, and the people in authority over them. These teams are made up mostly of fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers with a deep sense of duty and honor.  It’s a hard job and they can get lost at times, lose sight of the mission, lose themselves beneath stress and pressure, but at their heart they’re our heroes.  To have someone betray that trust, and then use that betrayal to cover their own selfish agenda is deplorable.

I’m not naïve. I know the world is full of greedy bastards that kill, manipulate and plunder for their own material gains.  There’s a lot more than I’d like to admit, but that’s the way of the world. In this story, this betrayal comes from the leaders that our protagonist, Lieutenant Commander James Reece, trusted and obeyed, not only who tried to kill him, but killed his brothers-in-arms. So, I was asking, ‘What the hell was this level of betrayal for?’ thinking money was the root. Yes, ultimately, money was the root to this evil, but author Jack Carr doesn’t just give us that simplistic single reason – no, we get slapped with another double whammy with an even bigger betrayal – the Team guys were murdered because they were evidence, they were guinea pigs for experimental drugs.  Before they were terminated by enemy bombs, they were first terminal victims of a biological weapon.

Man, oh man.  Fear is a bitch, and I can imagine that again these types of fears of betrayal are on our Team guys’ mind at times. I found myself getting angry the more I read this story. I know its fiction, but its plausible issues that our SEALs could face and it just makes me irate that it probably has happened in some fashion, or probably will happen at some point.  What a messy business.  Rescuing and killing. I can’t imagine how hard that can be on a soul.

The Terminal List by Jack Carr definitely stirs the mind and pushes my buttons. I do recommend it, it’s very well-written, it’s a great read, but it’s not for the faint-hearted or the weak-minded.  An ostrich can’t read it, a sheep couldn’t understand it, a wolf would be offended, and a shepherd would be ashamed.

I planned on a third part of this review to talk about all the guns and weapons described in this book, but I really don’t understand them. I love that a glossary was added, but while I can’t appreciate the beauty of the weapon (but I’m sure a weapons guy would love those parts best) I got the gist the story. They served their purpose, but I’ll leave those details to those who know what they’re talking about; I’ll stick to the writing, the pacing, and dialogue, the moral of the story, the emotion, and the writer’s voice.

Jack Carr is a natural story-teller, a silver-tongue, and I love listening to his interviews and podcasts.  He writes a really well story, with great pacing, and good structure.  I look forward to reading True Believer.

If you haven’t read Terminal List by Jack Carr – go read it now!  You won’t regret it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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The Joy of Writing

The Joy of Writing

I’ve read many of stories or books that start the title “The Joy of Writing,” but never really consigned myself to the concept.  Writing was anything but a joy. It was exciting, thrilling, frustrating, stressful, mind-blowing, and confusing and every other emotion on the spectrum from one extreme to the other. But, joy?

Do we categorize breathing as a joy? Or how about urination or yawning, or sleeping?  Well, I can see where sleeping might sometimes be a joy.  But how can we categorize natural occurrences, something that so much a part of you and instinctual be considered a joy?    Writing is part of who I am. Constructing a story is a part of my every day, every moment existence. I see the world as one long epic tale, and each major event it’s chapters, and each segment a paragraph, a sentence, or a word. Those moments are what makes up life and as a writer I am a recorder, a scribe, and an observer of life.

I don’t just write for fun, or therapy, or clarity, or need. I write because it’s who I am.  It’s like being a mother. While there are all the books out there in the world that tell us how to be a mother, I found out that being a mother is a natural thing, a instinctual thing.  My choice comes into play by deciding what type of mother to be – nurturing or neglectful, etc.  I am a writer and the only choice I have within this vocation is what kind of writer to be – and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you will find that I am a multiple-faceted writer – a writing diamond. I’ve dabbled in journaling, blogging, novels, novellas, epics,  punditry, op-eds, technical, business professional, auto-biographical, legal, free verse, poetry, screenplays, reviews, editorials, memes, short stories, flash fiction,  and songwriting lyrics. If I think about it, I’m sure I could add a few more in there – but I think you get the picture. Writing is just something I do. It’s natural.

Yet, writing isn’t without its own rules, standards and styles.  So, I have to learn them. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are just basic skills needed to be a writer, because after that comes tense, perspective, pacing, style, structure, threads, inciting scenes, prologues, forwards, and on and on and on.  These are skills developed over time and experience.

So, how is writing a joy?  I suppose the joy of writing is the ability to do it, and love doing it in the first place. I do love writing. It’s a part of me that comes alive and thrives within me. I am a collector of stories, a re-teller of tales, a silver-tongue, a scribe, a keeper of legends. How can one not find joy in that? When we leave this world, all we leave behind is our story.  Who will read it or hear it unless it has been written? I don’t need a Sorcerer’s Stone to make me immortal – I just need to write. While my body will leave this place one day and turn to dust, my stories will remain until it is no longer retold or pages are lost.

That’s one thing that makes me sad – the forgotten of those that were here before.  I sometimes walk graveyards and whisper to the headstones, “Hey, I see your name. You existed. You once were here and you once lived.” I know it’s probably crazy, but I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t others to be forgotten. I don’t our history to be forgotten. I am an orphan and often feel forgotten in the world, so I write. Oh, the joy of writing.


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


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Sleight by Sloane Kady

Sleight Sloane Kady

I promised this review a few weeks ago, but life got in the way and I’m late.  I apologize to author Sloane Kady for my lateness. I made a promise, so here I am.  Please visit Ms. Kady’s website here.

It’s actually hard for me to review this novel.  The first paragraph grabbed hold of me and I actually got a little scared to read any further.

“I’m the daughter of two defective people.  They came off the factory line dented and chipped.  If you could pick them up and look underneath them, you’d see that they’re just hollow molds, meant to look like real parents, even sounding like them sometimes, but you know you can’t keep them because those chips left sharp edges that will make you bleed, and they’re not real, anyway.  No one wants a cheap knockoff.”

It was too real for me.  Too familiar.  Too raw.  Not from anything that’s happened recently, but with things I’ve put behind me many years ago.  I could feel the pain this author poured into this work, because I recognize it.  I haven’t read anything else by Kady, nor have I met her personally, but I do interact with her at times on Facebook because many of her posts speak to my soul.  Her writing does the same.  I’ve grown a great fondness for Ms. Kady.

Sleight is raw and not for the tender-hearted, yet tender-hearted is exactly what Bryce is beneath the tough, cold exterior.  She’s full of pain, full of loss, full of confusion and all of it together has her stuck… stuck in the pain of a past she can’t forget, stuck in the confusion of a present she doesn’t know how to handle, and stuck in the fear of not knowing which future to choose.  The anger she’s held onto for so long because of the things she once knew, is tossed into chaos as she struggles to re-identify herself as her father struggles to hold onto to his own identity among the identity-stealing grasp of Alzheimer’s.

“The woman looking back at me in my oval bathroom mirror is a stranger to me.  I can see in her eyes that she doesn’t know me, either.  I watch her, trying to familiarize myself with her shocking appearance.  Inside, I’m still casual girl, with my torn skinny jeans and black turtleneck sweater.  The woman in the mirror would pass me on the street and at best glare at me from the corner of her eye in contempt of having to share the sidewalk with me.”

When do we form that inner soul? Mine is still a scared little girl acting tough in a violent world. Even now, she is the voice that moves me forward, reminds me of what I’ve already overcome, and compels me forward.  It’s paragraphs like this that resonate with me, and why this author has a fan for life.

What I saw in this novel is the beauty and ugliness, but most of all the reality, of love.  The chaos of pain.  The consequence of pride. The scars of hate, prejudice, and ignorance. Oh, if we could only get out of our own way sometimes.

As an editor, I found the writing fluid, like it was poured directly from the heart.  The pacing was consistent, slow in the moments of reflection, and then fast in the heat of emotion.  The language was raw and real, which gave an authenticity to the character’s voice.

I don’t recommend this book for those easily offended or those blind in their preconceived boxes.  It’s a must-read for those with minds wide open, who’ve experienced some shit in their lives, or those who aren’t afraid to face some raw truth and emotion.

Good job, Ms. Kady.  I look forward to reading more of your work.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Published Author, Georgia Author of the Year Nominee, Editor at North Star Literary Agency


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No Punchline – Jeff Suwak

I don’t often recommend stories, but I became a huge fan of this author last year when he started sharing his short stories for me to critic. Sometimes you just come across a writer that does more than tantilize your mind, but moves your soul.  Suwak does that for me in a similar way that Patrick Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, J.K. Rowling and Anthony Ryan move me, or touch my soul the way Jack Kerouac does.

No Punchline: Or, the Night Chale Thayer Blew His Head Off at the Punch Drunk Comedy Club   is one of those such stories and I can recommend it more.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any period of time,  you know how I look at the world, you know I see things with a deeper perspective, often touching on the emotional nerve that is connected to the heart of a story.  This story will deliver.  

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The Five Best Fantasy Authors You Should Read and Why

by T.L. Gray

by T.L. Gray

As an author I’ve had the honor and privilege of not only getting my hands on a some of the best literature this world has to offer, but I’ve been very blessed to get to know many of the authors behind those great works of art.

Writers are a strange and peculiar brand of people.  They see the world with wide, yet narrowed eyes.  What I mean by that is that they can see beyond boundaries, borders and boxes to view bigger pictures and brighter scenes.  That broad vision comes with an acute precision, able to pinpoint what others can easily pass over or pretend doesn’t exist.  We see the beauty and the ugliness, the gift of hope and the curse of doubt.

There are a few people and books that haven’t simply touched my imagination, but reached deep into my soul and stirred my very being.  I’ve laughed and wept with their stories.  Some have fueled my desire to write, others intimidated me and pushed me to reevaluate everything.  Some have made me so jealous of their gift, I literally weep with appreciation just to be able to call them my friend.  Some have become my true friends, inspiring and pushing me in personal ways.

There are many, yet simple but complex, reasons for these five particular novels/authors.  I hope you will give them a chance and allow them to touch you as they’ve touched me. They’re in no particular order:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’ve never had a book move me through every emotion more than this one. I’ve cried, laughed, been excited, angry and outraged while reading this fabulous tale.  Rothfuss is one of the few authors who intimidates me as a writer.  I know when I meet a good, talented writer, but Rothfuss’ skill makes me feel inadequate.  Then he goes and reproduces that same feeling of awe in the sequel – The Wise Man’s Fear. I don’t particularly like feeling inadequate, and everything in me wants to fight against it, but I admire his skill, imagination and genius so much – I’m truly in awe. I’m truly a fan – not just a colleague.

That leads me right into The Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.  Actually, you should start with book one, The Prince of Thorns and read through The King of Thorns to finish with The Emperor of Thorns.  What impressed me most from this writer wasn’t necessarily the plot, but the wisdom, personal reflections, platitudes and proverbs he planted in these books.  I’d sincerely consider this a philosophical series more than an epic fantasy.  Some readers only read for adventure the plot offers, but to me, I find myself meditating on certain phrases, often forgetting the plot for a time as I grasp for deeper meanings and pearls of wisdom.  Lawrence blows me away as much as Kerouac or Bukowski do.

My third selection is from writer Jeff Suwak, author of the novella Beyond the Tempest Gate.  While Tempest Gate is a beautiful heroic tale that stretches the imagination and fuels the warrior spirit within me, it is an unpublished short story called “Rusted, Busted, Beautiful Things” that moves me most.  There was sadness, need, a crying out from a thirsty soul in that piece that has stayed with me for many, many nights.  I’ve cried often because this story came to me at a time when I felt my lowest, when I felt Rusted, Busted, but also Beautiful, deserving to not be forgotten and discarded as many of those pieces and buildings listed in that story.  I’m getting emotional thinking about it.  His words touch my soul.  There have been many other short stories I’ve read from this particular author that also moved me: one about a man on the edge of a crisis of doubt taking a walk in the middle of the night and finding a friendly cup of coffee, polite conversation, and the meaning to life, another about boy coming of age and stepping into his destiny under the mysterious music of a guitarista,   Exceptional talent.  He’s destined to be one of the greats.

My fourth selection is The Riyria Series by Michael J. Sullivan.  To know a man is to know his heart, and I absolutely fell in love with Sullivan’s characters Hadrian and Royce.  Their chemistry, their connection, their stark sense of humor pours off the page.  I love these two characters.  I’d want to know them in real life, and I’m sure they come from various parts of Sullivan’s own personality.  He’s one of the nicest and helpful people I’ve met in this business.  But, these two protagonists stole my heart and I find myself often thinking about them and wanting to know more, revisit their adventures, and read them all over again. Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron,

My last selection was really hard to narrow, to define, to highlight, because there are so many great authors out there right now, so many whose works I’ve fell in love with, whose craft and artistry I admire.  But I have to stick with the ones that totally move me in a very deep, almost spiritual, way.  So, rising to the top amongst a sea of favorites is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Valen al Sorna snatched my attention, stole my heart, and didn’t let go until I turned the last page, and then left me wanting more. Even now I feel a bit overwhelmed.  You’ll have to check out my review on my blog to see how I really felt about the story.

Well, folks… those are my top five.  They may change in the coming years or months, but for 2013 those would be my favorite picks.  My advice would be to read these books and form your own opinion. Some of you will agree and some will not, but that’s not really my problem.

Thank you for reading.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

I’ve recently been introduced to a new author, well, he’s not new to be, but I’ve never read him, and was recommended by an author friend of mine – Ray Bradbury and his book “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.  I’ve since downloaded the book onto my Kindle and have read the first couple of chapters, and so far I really like what I’ve read.  The narrative voice for me, takes me back to a time of great youthful story-telling and I can’t wait to see how the story turns out.

In the meantime, read this wonderful write-up by author Jeff Suwak here:  Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.

Mr. Suwak has attached a link to the movie at the end of his review – and I, for one, plan to watch it tonight.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


Here’s a little snippet of his post:

“I never understood the appeal of ‘cool,’ and I doubt that Bradbury did, either. In the grave we’ll be damn cold forever, and shivering wish we had time to run again beneath the open sky and be wild and loud and alive. Ray understood that. He knew it and  never forgot it and embedded that wisdom in his stories.
See, Uncle Ray wasn’t cool. No, he was full of fire and compassion, venom and love, fits of dancing. He was alive. Even in his later years of life, in interviews he shook the camera glass with the force of his vitality. He always said a writer should love life first. Only after loving life should he or she touch pen to paper. That internal fire is on display in Something Wicked This Way Comes. The book is a gift left behind by crazy old Uncle Ray, for us to return to whenever we need to be reminded of certain things.”
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Review of Robert R. Mitchell’s “Only Shot at a Good Tombstone”

Check out this very insightful review of Robert R. Michell’s book “Only Shot at a Good Tombstone” by author Jeff Suwak.  Make sure you leave a comment for Mr. Suwak to let him know how much you appreciated the review.

Review of Robert R. Mitchell’s “Only Shot at a Good Tombstone”.

Here is a snippet of the review:

“The book is fairly unique in that it combines a simple narrative with extended contemplation on various subjects, everything from history to science to sexuality. Obviously, those who do not appreciate that kind of intellectualization might not appreciate those qualities, but I found them to be some of the most fascinating aspects of the book. The history of queer culture in San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, for instance, was endlessly interesting.”


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Review of Robert R. Mitchell’s “Only Shot at a Good Tombstone”

Check out this latest review written by author Jeff Suwak:


Review of Robert R. Mitchell’s “Only Shot at a Good Tombstone”.

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Song of the Goddess in West Georgia Living Magazine

Check out my latest review of Song of the Goddess by author Jason Argos in this issue of West Georgia Living Magazine. Check out the article on page 55-56.


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Beyond the Tempest Gate Review by Matthew Keith

Beyond the Tempest Gate Review by Matthew Keith.

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