Army helmet
In February, the U.S. Army began outfitting a brigade in Texas with the latest consumer technology — including smartphones and even Kindles — to see whether it improved soldier performance in the field. Their director at the Mission Command complex told Army Times that “We’re looking at everything from iPads to Kindles to Nook readers to mini-projectors.” Some devices were for communication or data storage, but the smart phones even came with apps that can identify the location of friendly troops!

It got me thinking about the soldiers overseas at Christmas-time — and that always reminds me of Operation eBook Drop. (If you know someone in the military, let them know that there’s hundreds of authors back at home who are offering their books for free as a thank-you to the men in uniform.) And recently, my girlfriend interviewed a veteran with his own amazing story to tell. He’d ultimately realized his dream of writing his own first novel — a thriller that combines his love of the great outdoors with a very exciting story — and he’s published it as an ebook.

My girlfriend gives Sleeping Giant — by Matt Kuntz — a very enthusiastic review…


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Do you know someone who is or was in the military? Who loves reading a great thriller? Loves the great outdoors, and using logic and strategy to get out of sticky situations? Likes when into lone moralists work against evil corporations for the common good? Have I got a book for you!

Sleeping Giant mixes all of this and more. Author Matt Kuntz is a veteran, a lawyer, and now Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Montana — and he sells riverboards on the side! In “Sleeping Giant,” Matt has written a book that’s both thrilling and thought-provoking. Drawing us into the Montana wilderness, this well-written novel explores sweeping themes that impact one specific guy in a very personal way. Racing against time, wounds bleeding while ducking hired mercenaries, he finally completes his mission. But does he survive?

Years ago, Matt read that the invention of the stirrup changed the course of civilization. One simple item had changed warfare by allowing knight with armor to ride horses and also gave rise to the middle class, allowing millions to rise out of peasantry. What would be invented today, Matt thought, that could have the same profound effect on the way the world works today? His answer: a new source of energy that’s safe, inexpensive, portable, and re-chargeable. Something that could store enough energy to power a whole town. Now what would corporations who rely on energy and re-selling energy do to prevent such a device from coming to market?

Thus, a novel is born.

Stone McCafferty is a decorated ex-military guy taking Montana tourists on fly-fishing trips, living the simple life. Frank Galeno, a local fly-fisherman, is found dead in the river of an apparent heart attack. It turns out Frank is a physicist, and he’s left Stone a binder that contains his life’s work. As Stone reads, he begins to realize the implications of this new energy storage device. But when he visits Frank’s home, he finds his workshop has been stripped bare.

Then people around him start getting murdered, one by one, and Stone barely escapes. On the run with just the clothes on his back, he heads to a mountain hideaway to assess the situation. He realizes he’s been followed, grabs as much gear as he can, and evades his trackers using his military training to escape into the Montana wilderness. It’s well-written, with a great story line and just enough science to let you understand the enormity of the invention without making you feel stupid. (I quit science after 10th grade!)

An added bonus? Knowing that you’re supporting an amazing guy. Matt began advocating for the effective treatment of post-traumatic stress syndrome in returning vets after his own step-brother committed suicide after returning from Iraq. Matt’s work culminated in a Senate Bill which requires multiple face-to-face mental health screenings throughout America’s fighting force. Senator Ted Kennedy attached the bill to the Defense Authorization Act of 2010 and it was ultimately signed into law on October 8, 2009. The support system put in place under Matt’s guidance is now considered a model, and it’s being adopted by other states.
It’s not often you get a chance to enjoy a great read while supporting a true hero. Of course, you can also buy one of Matt’s riverboards but it wouldn’t fit in your Kindle!

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Click here to buy a copy of Matt’s ebook, Sleeping Giant

The Malacca Conspiracy by Don Brown cover

My girlfriend just finished reading The Malacca Conspiracy by Don Brown, a former U.S. Navy lawyer. And she’s also uncovered some important information about his true identity…

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That’s DON Brown, not Dan Brown, as I originally thought. (I’d been excited about reading another book on the Kindle to follow DAN Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.) I even read the description before I downloaded the book from the top of the Kindle 100 Free section. (Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that I spend a lot of time in the Kindle Top 100 Free section. My boyfriend lets me download anything on his Kindle as long as it’s free. If you want me to start reviewing stuff not in the free section, take it up with him!)

First, the positive. It is a good-sized novel, meaning it took me longer than half an hour to read it. (This is a step up from several titles I’ve downloaded recently.) Next, I learned a lot about the area around Singapore and Indonesia, with bonus points for several maps included with the text. Also, Don paints a great portrait of the Navy SEALS. Er, that’s about it.

The plot involves a power-hungry Indonesian general who wants to turn Indonesia into an Islamic superpower — the new Evil Empire (Islam) against the Christian USA. And yes, I mean Christian — specifically Republican Christian. The president in this novel quotes bible verses to himself at every turn and glows with Republican fervor. He mentions Ronald Reagan ad nauseam. He talks about the man, plus the people who fly in and out of Ronald Reagan airport in Washington D.C., and even named one of the critical air craft carriers in the plot after Reagan.

Don glows about fine Republican presidents of the past (although, strangely, neither of the Bushes are mentioned). His Republican president is strong, refusing to quit Washington D.C. because that would be bowing to terrorists. (Was that a reference to the fact that President G.W. Bush was in the air one hour after 9/11, and didn’t come down for hours, then went to an undisclosed location?)

But his president is also a bit whiney, asking God why HE has to deal with this terrorist attack; none of his predecessors had to contend with a nuclear attack on American soil. Why did it have to fall to him? Of course, whining is not weakness, as it leads to quoting bible verses and prayer. Let me be clear that in general I don’t mind people turning to God in times of great need. Also, it takes a strong man to turn to his God for help. However, it seems contrived in this story line as a way of quoting the bible. Kind of like when Charlie’s Angels contrives situations to show the girls in bikinis. (Yes, it’s in the plot line that they all of a sudden have to get on a boat, but it’s a stretch!)

Personally, I’m a bit tired of the “Evil Empire vs. godfearing Americans” plot lines. The new model has both sides talking to God (o.k., one side talking to God, the other to Allah). This is a step up from the godless communists but the intent is still the same.

OMG! Will the terrorists strike fear in the hearts of all Americans? Will the Islamic Indonesian Superpower rule the world ?!? Will they succeed in blowing up San Francisco, and then Washington, D.C.!?! How will it end?!? No spoiler alert here. You can guess the ending yourself.

Don wrote four other novels, this one published in June of this year, making me wonder why it was offered for free. Then I found that the Wikipedia page for Don Brown is flagged for removal because he’s a non-notable author who has no press coverage. Ouch. That explains why this book is in the free section — to get some press coverage! And I’m happy to oblige.

I would recommend giving this novel a skip, even if it is free.

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But if you’d like to give it a try, click here for a free copy of The Malacca Conspiracy by Don Brown!