recommendations

Ranty Recs – 5 Military series that will blow your socks off!

I love books that feature soldiers, especially book series that follow the career of a soldier. Over the years I have read many books with military themes, I started off reading British series written by ex-SAS soldiers, but I quickly diversified into reading quite a few series written by authors from all over the world. This list of 5 series incorporates finished series and ones still in progress, from both the US and around the world. If you love characters like Jack Reacher, some of these series might be up your alley. I’ve included a link to the Goodreads series page, and the book cover links to the Amazon page for the first book of the series.

19221094Geordie Sharp series by Chris Ryan

Geordie Sharp was my first exposure to a series that follows the career of a soldier, and it has stuck with me after finishing the series many years ago. Chris Ryan is an English ex-SAS soldier who has now turned his attention to writing, and the Geordie Sharp series was his first foray into writing fiction. Stand By, Stand By is the first book in a completed series of four, and each one gets better and better. The final book was like a punch in the guts while standing next to a claymore, and I was a mess of tears for a good chunk of it. While not particularly spectacular writing – Ryan’s later books are of a higher quality – this series gets an A+ for plot.

144738Stratton series by Duncan Falconer

Stratton is written by another English ex-Special Forces soldier and is in some ways, similar to the Geordie Sharp series. However, these books follow the career of a SBS soldier, and so much of the action takes place underwater, in boats, submarines and on oil rigs. For me, this is perfect because I love nautical themes. Stratton is a really aloof character and over the space of 8 books you get to know a little bit about him, but it’s nice to read a book in which the main character isn’t socially capable or a glory hound. There are 8 books in this series, and although it hasn’t officially been ended, there hasn’t been a new book since 2012’s Assassin. Rumours of a Stratton movie have made me very excited, but at the same time, cautious – it’s hard to portray such a anti-social but good intentioned guy. The first book in this series is The Hostage, and while it is interesting, the books get better and better.

1959583Kyle Swanson series by Jack Coughlin

The Kyle Swanson series was the first American series that I fell in love with. It is a series of 7 books (the 8th is due later this year) with hopefully many more on the way. Coughlin is superb at telling a military action story from an emotional standpoint. Kyle is an interesting character, and he is supported by a great cast of other characters. My favourite female character in a military novel appears a couple of books into this series, and she is affectionately known as Coastie, and she is kick ass awesome! It’s refreshing having women painted as being competent in a skill that is usually considered to be the man’s prevue. As Kyle Swanson is a sniper and is attached to his special custom rifle, known as Excalibur, this series is great for fans of sniping or precision shooting.

17559237Sniper Elite series by Scott McEwen and Thomas Koloniar

I added the first Sniper Elite book, One Way Trip, to my TBR by accident – I thought it was a Jack Coughlin book for some strange reason (I get my snipers mixed up, apparently). Sniper Elite is a newer, still ongoing series, with three books currently published. McEwen balances political intrigue and military action really well, and I find often action thrillers tend to avoid any political intrigue in fear of making it  a political thriller. I am also in love with the main character, Gil Shannon – he is the perfect blend of soldier and good guy. Some parts of this series are a little bit too ‘MURICA! for my own sensitivities, but compared to many other American action/military fiction, this is sedate. I think coming from reading Australian/UK fiction this aspect is the hardest for me to acclimatise to. I also find American novels to often have more of a team feel – as opposed to the single operator dominated British fiction – and a lot more gun loving. Overall, this series has been a solid four star earner, and I am looking forward to the next instalment!

13154311Tom Buckingham series by Andy McNab

The Tom Buckingham series by McNab is a new, ongoing series that is more accessible than McNab’s previous works. I’ve always been a fan of McNab, I find his writing to be action packed and his plot lines tight, but felt that they sometimes lacked emotional depth. This new series rectifies that. I’ve read the first two books in the series, with the third, and latest book, waiting on kindle. The second book, Fortress, gained a rare five star rating – it was sensational. A lot of purists who loved McNab’s Nick Stone series dislike the Buckingham series because it has some feelings in it – but I think it improves the plotlines to no end. I would recommend anyone who likes fast past thrillers to pick up the Tom Buckingham series, because it is a more traditional thriller as opposed to a military thriller.

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Recommendations: War Narratives

Recommendation postsI was asked to write a list of historical fiction and war narratives that I would recommend to readers, while I was part of the Bookish People collaboration. I’ve decided to share part of that list with my usual blog – the war narrative part. The following are four excellent books that I have enjoyed over the years – for differing reasons. Some are well known, others are obscure or not discussed much by the blogging community. One’s a classic, another, a pulpy action novel. I love them all.

In my opinion a war narrative can be written about current events but must be fictional, no autobiographies or memoirs, however they can be written by experienced soldiers about fictional characters.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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The Book Thief is a wonderful exploration of WWII from a unique viewpoint. It produced torrents of tears that I cried in public. It is very well known and much loved, for good reason. If all the people saying how wonderful this book is scared you from reading it, pick it up right now and you can thank me later. It is so wonderfully accessible and loveable and popular so you can squee about it with other bookish people.

2. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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All Quiet on the Western Front was the first war narrative I read, and I used it for my final year assignment in high school. Its high on my list of favourite novels and it is widely hailed by critics as ‘The Greatest War Novel of ALL TIME.’ It’s the book I always point people towards when they ask for a war novel recommendation.

3. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

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If All Quiet on the Western Front was the novel that started me on the path of war narratives, Matterhorn would be the narrative I fell in love with. It is not an easy read – it is long, full of jargon and a heavy plot to digest. However, if you stick with it the rewards are astonishing as Marlantes has crafted the perfectly poignant and devastating account of the Vietnam War. It took Marlantes 30 years to write, and it has been honed to perfection. READ THIS BOOK.

4. Tenth Man Down by Chris Ryan

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All of the other books on this list have been somewhat literary, and my last addition, Tenth Man Down, breaks the literary tradition in half, double taps it and throws a witty one liner. The tagline of this book is ‘Who wins? The SAS or the Navy Seals?’ but if I remember correctly, *plot twist* everybody loses. It is book four in the Geordie Sharp series, and is epically good if you have read the previous instalments, but still good as a standalone. One of Ryan’s other novels, Strike Back, has been adapted into an excellent miniseries with Richard Armitage if you want some man candy to accompany your war action-y goodness. Avoid the US version, it’s rubbish.

Well – I’m sure I’ve missed some canonical gems. Please feel free to tell me I got it all wrong, although I possibly will argue to death. If I’ve just rec’ed a book you have read – is its inclusion in my list justified, or am I completely off my head? Am I missing your favourite war novel? I probably am!