Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DISPATCH :: Operation Warrior Library salutes Charles Bock

Every once in awhile you read a book that just crawls into your DNA where it will stay for the rest of your life. So it was with BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN by Charles Bock. I hesitated reading it at first because its topic involves a child that goes missing, and as a parent, I already have that fear deeply ingrained in me and didn't know if I wanted to actually, y'know, face the fear writ on the page. But, in the hands of someone as skillfully righteous as Bock, the disappearance becomes something far more than a plot device, but the opportunity for an artist to explore and describe aworld in which we are living, but most of us are not, hopefully, living in.

It's been reviewed extensively and most of the reviews are right in that this is a major book by a major new artist. Bock has written a book that examines just how easily America can break a fragile soul. His journalistic skill is as enviable as his audacious technique - he can pull a narrative apart and put it together again in amazing ways. Not that I feel that I have to always draw things back to Jack London, but in THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS, London disappeared into the London underworld of 1902 and came out with a book full of the outrage at the way a society systematically destroys the spirit of an underclass. BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN is a fitting literary successor over a hundred years later. It's obvious Charles has spent much time out amidst the people he's writing about. Get this book. It will stay with you.

Thanks to Charles, we have delivered a box of signed copies of BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN to troops in Afghanistan. You can support Charles by buying his book. Remember, any purchase you make in the OWL store goes to helping us get more great books to our troops.

DISPATCH :: Operation Warrior Library salutes Lewis Robinson

I'm not the biggest fan of using the shorthand technique to describe a book, or movie, or anything else, for that matter. But I'm going to do in this case, for Lewis Robinson's great book, WATER DOGS and I mean it in the best possible way. This book reminded me of SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS and THE SECRET HISTORY. There, I said it. Robinson delves deeply into the rich lives of characters snowbound in their isolated Maine landscape as they struggle to come to terms with a defining event.

Quiet, expertly told, and wonderful. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Lewis, we have delivered copies of his book to troops in Afghanistan. You can support Lewis by purchasing his book. Remember, any proceeds from books purchased in the OWL shop go directly to sending even more great books to our troops.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I'm turning this post over to my wife, Audrey...

Author Meg Gardiner is incredibly prolific: she churns out top-drawer thrillers in two series at a fast clip, she really takes care of her fans with frequent signings and conventions, and she writes a witty and aspiring-writer-helpful blog ( And she’s taken care of the troops just as well: she sent us a box filled with a huge selection of her paperbacks and then was kind enough to mention OWL in her blog this week. Further highlighting my own crappy work ethic. Meg Gardiner knows how to keep a person up reading through the night. And the night she kept me up was over a month ago. So apologies to Ms. Gardiner.

I selected THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB out of her box of goodies; this is from her Jo Beckett series, and I need to check out her Evan Delaney series next. Jo is a “deadshrinker.” A nice change of pace from the morgue and scalpels, Jo dissects the psyches and lives of victims to help the police catch killers. Stephen King is absolutely right – he calls her “the next suspense superstar.” Her prose is modern and absolutely jangles with energy. I felt like I was in Jo’s head, the words and action tumble out in nearly stream-of-consciousness style. And the action never stops.

Jo is tough yet still vulnerable, and as she solves the mystery of why seemingly unconnected people are committing suicide in spectacular and public ways, we also slowly learn about her broken past. The satellite of characters around her aren’t just cutouts to hold together a clever plot, each feels real and we are given insight into their side of the story. And the surprise twist of the ending is very believable in our political times, where we are faced with lack of ethics and lack of regard for consequences every day lately. Meg Gardiner is fairly new on the scene here in the U.S, but she has been a bestseller in Britain for a while. Which allows readers here the great pleasure of plowing through one of her series in a single swoop. Enjoy!

Thanks to Meg we were able to send her books to troops in Afghanistan. You can support Meg by buying her books. Remember, any purchase you make in the OWL store goes directly to covering costs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

DISPATCH :: Operation Warrior Library DELIVERS!

Lots of excitement here today as the mission has been accomplished. Thanks to some wonderful people, yesterday we were able to deliver around 700 books to 1 of the 48th Brigade's Infantry Battalions leaving for Afghanistan next week! The Battalion getting the books is the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry - commonly called 2nd Foot because of its descent from the 2nd battalion of Infantry raised in the pre-Revolutionary Colony of Georgia.

Here's how it went down.. The first step was to collect a bunch of books from great authors and here are the people who answered the call:

Jon Fasman * Tess Gerritsen * Meg Gardiner * Jason Pinter * Charles Bock * Daniyal Mueenuddin * Trish Ryan * George Mastras * Bob Drury and Tom Clavin * Lewis Robinson * Tiffany Baker * Jon Guenther * Robert Buettner * Angie Fox * Chris Ryan * Lily Burana

And here is how their contributions stacked up in my garage after we affixed a sticker. To give you an idea of scale - my son, Wesley, who is standing in front of them in his picture is 5' tall! Well, not really, but it's still an impressive stack of books.

So now we've got what's known in the military as a logistical supply chain problem: How do I get these books from our "headquarters" in NJ to Fort McPherson in Georgia. In the past we've paid to ship a few boxes at a time from our own pockets but this, this was much too expensive for us. It's a good kind of problem to have. While the army looked into ways to deliver, we did too.

What we came up with was UShip - my new favorite company. These guys let you post your shipment and then truckers can bid on it. Many times trucks have extra room, or are returning from a delivery empty, and it's always good to have a fare. Fortunately for us (and something I didn't know about until I was filling out their simple forms) they have a charity option. This lets drivers know that they might consider bidding less than the usually would. I posted on a Tuesday night. Within a day I had several offers to do it for almost next to nothing. But on Friday, I heard from Jacqueline Wilts, who was in my part of the world and heading south. Jacqueline could be at "headquarters" in a few hours and would deliver the books for nothing. Zero. Zip.

A few hours later, as good as her word, the truck rumbled up and out popped Ms. Wilts and her daughter Emmy who was spending spring break on the road with Mom. Here they are with my wife, Audrey...

...and a few of their other traveling companions.

Off to work we went...

...and, soon enough, the books were ready to go.

Yesterday, Jacqueline delivered the books into the care of Major Robert Davis who has been helping us distribute the books on his end. He tells me that the books that aren't going out next week with 2nd Foot will be distributed amongst the rest of the 48th Brigade. Several cases of Lily Burana's book, I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM, will be delivered to Family Readiness Groups (really the wives groups) to distribute to their members as Lily had hoped they would.

Each book has a sticker on it with our logo. The stickers also invite the troops to join the authors and discuss the books with them in a special forum which we've just kicked off.

Here's what you can do to help. Obviously the books the authors have donated are books they can't sell. You can buy their books, support them, as they support the troops. You can find all the OWL authors in our OWL Store. Any proceeds from any sales there go directly to helping us send more books. Also, consider UShip the next time you buy a jukebox from ebay.

Sometime very soon I'll be able to post photos from Major Davis of the troops receiving the books. Stay tuned. And if you're an author and want to kick in contact us as warriorlibrary [at] gmail [dot] com.