In Honor and Remembrance

 no act of kindness

I haven’t taken much time on my blog to talk about the senseless tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday, December 14, 2012.  I posted a poem about the loss, but otherwise, I’ve been relatively silent about it.  This isn’t because I don’t want to talk about it.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  I think it needs to be talked about.  I think, all too frequently, we forget tragedies like this as well as others such as Columbine and 9/11.  Like a lot of other things, those memories fade with time.  I get that.  Our heart guards itself. 

I don’t believe that we should all walk around in fear of each other or of what the future could hold for us.  Instead, I think we should each make a concerted effort everyday to see the pain in other people, and to make a positive difference in the lives of those we come into contact with.  I’m not saying that these tragedies could have been prevented – sadly, there’s no way to know if that’s the case.  And I’m not sure that any of us would actually feel better if we knew that those tragedies could have been stopped beforehand simply with an act of kindness. 

I do believe, however, that it’s time to focus on ‘paying it forward.’  Have you seen that movie?  Pay It Forward?  It’s an incredibly poignant and touching movie.  If you can watch it and not cry, then I think perhaps you might be broken. 

As I’ve been reflecting on the tragedy at Sandy Hook over the last few days I keep coming back to the fact that in a month, this story will be forgotten by the majority of the populous.  That makes me sad.  I know that the grief of that day will forever live on in the families and loved ones of those 26 souls that went to meet their Savior that day.  Thinking about this tragedy makes me sad.  My heart cries for those families. 

So the question remains: how can I remember this tragedy without being overwhelmed with sadness?  I think, perhaps, I have the answer (at least for myself).  In honor of those 26 souls, I will, over the course of 2013, pay it forward.  On the 14th of every month, I am going to practice a random act of kindness to a complete stranger.  This might be paying for the guy behind me at Starbucks, giving clothing and food to a homeless person, or cooking dinner for a family in need.  There aren’t any specifics or ‘rules’ except the date… the 14th

To my friends, family, and to those complete strangers that read this blog post I ask this of you… would you practice a random act of kindness on a regular basis if you knew that it might have the potential to prevent a tragedy like this?  I heard a story the other day about a lady driving through Starbucks and when she got to the window, the cashier informed her that her order had been paid for by the person in front of her.  She, in turn, decided to pay for the order of the person behind her.  She asked the cashier how long this had been going on, and the cashier said ‘at least the last two and a half hours.’  I realize that it’s coffee, but how profound is this?  That with one simple random act of kindness this started a trend that lasted for hours and brightened the lives of who knows how many others. 

Will you join with me in honor and remembrance of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary by practicing a random act of kindness on the 14th of every month?  I hope you will. 

I would love for you to post ideas for RAOK’s or your own personal experiences with them.  Please feel free to put the button below on your blog. 

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Book Review: Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

So back in June I told you about this great book I’d read called American Assassin by Vince Flynn.  Well, I ended up insisting that my husband read it and he loved it just as much as I did.  So, he started buying all of Flynns’ books.  Presently we own the entire series.  The next book comes out in November. 

So the first book, American Assassin, is actually the 11th book in the series but it’s the prequel to the first 10.  This book, Kill Shot, is the sequel to the prequel (say that 10 times fast).  Basically that means it’s the 12th book he wrote but it falls 2nd chronologically. 

Here’s the synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Vince Flynn is back with another nail-biting political thriller that follows the young Mitch Rapp on a deadly mission to hunt down the men responsible for the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack.

For months, Mitch Rapp has been steadily working his way through a list of men, bullet by bullet. With each kill, the tangled network of monsters responsible for the slaughter of 270 civilians becomes increasingly clear. He is given his next target: a plump Libyan diplomat who is prone to drink and is currently in Paris without a single bodyguard.

Rapp finds him completely unprotected and asleep in his bed. With confidence in his well-honed skills and conviction of the man’s guilt, he easily sends a bullet into the man’s skull. But in the split second it takes the bullet to leave the silenced pistol, everything changes. The door to the hotel room is kicked open and gunfire erupts all around Rapp. In an instant the hunter has become the hunted. Rapp is left wounded and must flee for his life.

The next morning, the news breaks in Washington that Libya’s Oil Minister has been killed along with three innocent civilians and four unidentified men. The French authorities are certain that the gunman is wounded and on the loose in Paris. As the finger pointing begins, Rapp’s handlers have only one choice-deny any responsibility for the incident and pray that their newest secret weapon stays that way, avoiding capture and dying quietly. One person in the group, however, is not prone to leaving things to chance. Rapp has become a liability, and he absolutely cannot be allowed to be taken alive by the French authorities. But it will soon become clear that nothing is more dangerous than a wounded and cornered Mitch Rapp.

So I got about a quarter of the way into this book and I texted my husband to tell him that he was going to be hell to live with when he started reading this book.  He asked me why and I said ‘because it’s going to piss you off.’  You see, there’s a character in this book (well, several actually) that you just are itching to run over with your car.  He repeatedly does stuff that just infuriates you as the reader!  My husband actually just started reading the book so I’m doing all I can to keep him in a good mood when he comes home.  LOL.  This book was fantastic!  Yes, I was miffed at the characters but I totally got sucked in.  I’m so glad that we’re reading this series!!

Book Review: American Assassin by Vince Flynn

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It’s been a good book month for me.  I told the Hubs last night how happy I am that I buy my books at garage sale.  Mostly, it’s because I find things that I never would have picked up had I strolled into Half Price Books all by my lonesome.  It’s also because when (and fortunately this happens rarely) I get a book that I just can’t stand, I probably didn’t pay more than a quarter for it.  Whoo hoo! 

Anyways, like I was saying, it’s been a good book month.  Everything I’ve read this month I’ve liked. 

We’re going to start with this book, American Assassin by Vince Flynn.  I’ve never read anything Mr. Flynn has written.  Also, just in case you’re wondering, I never read the back (or in the inside cover) of a book before I start reading.  I just dive in without any expectations.  I sort of love that. 

I loved this book.  Period.  It’s about a black-ops CIA operative named Mitch Rapp who’s just a badass.  Here’s the synopsis via Barnes & Noble:

Before he was considered a CIA superagent, before he was thought of as a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he was both loathed and admired by the politicians on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world . . . and then tragedy struck.

Two decades of cutthroat, partisan politics has left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. The rise of Islamic terrorism is coming, and it needs to be met abroad before it reaches America’s shores. Stansfield directs his protégée, Irene Kennedy, and his old Cold War colleague, Stan Hurley, to form a new group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command—men who do not exist.

What type of man is willing to kill for his country without putting on a uniform? Kennedy finds him in the wake of the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. Two-hundred and seventy souls perished that cold December night, and thousands of family and friends were left searching for comfort. Mitch Rapp was one of them, but he was not interested in comfort. He wanted retribution.

Six months of intense training has prepared him to bring the war to the enemy’s doorstep, and he does so with brutal efficiency. Rapp starts in Istanbul, where he assassinates the Turkish arms dealer who sold the explosives used in the Pan Am attack. Rapp then moves onto Hamburg with his team and across Europe, leaving a trail of bodies. All roads lead to Beirut, though, and what Rapp doesn’t know is that the enemy is aware of his existence and has prepared a trap. The hunter is about to become the hunted, and Rapp will need every ounce of skill and cunning if he is to survive the war-ravaged city and its various terrorist factions.

As action-packed, fast-paced, and brutally realistic as it gets, Flynn’s latest page-turner shows readers how it all began. Behind the steely gaze of the nation’s ultimate hero is a young man primed to become an American Assassin.

Normally, this isn’t the kind of book I’d take off the shelf and start reading but I truly enjoyed this book and wouldn’t mind picking up another one of Flynn’s books sometime soon.  Here’s hoping there’s more in my garage sale stacks! 

It’s interesting because this is actually book 11 in the series but it’s the prequel to the first 10.  I always think it’s interesting when things are written out of order like that.  It also touches on something sort of close to home… I was in my first semester of college when 9/11 happened.  I remember that day so clearly and I honestly don’t think I could ever forget it.  At the time, I didn’t know anyone serving in the military or anyone who was directly affected by the tragic events of that day.  It didn’t make the day any less powerful though.  I think, most of us wanted to do something (at least once the shock wore off).  I totally get the way this guy feels… he lost someone he loves and now he wants to do something about it.  Even if you didn’t feel that way on 9/11, wouldn’t you feel that way if someone you loved was murdered by some guy with a gun in an alley?  You’d want justice.  And there are some people who want that justice with their own two hands.  I’m totally that kind of person.  Still, you don’t get the impression that the main character, Mitch Rapp, is fueled with anger.  He’s just determined.  He wants to make a difference (he wants payback too, it’s true).  I think mostly he just wants to make sure that what happened to his fiancé doesn’t happen to anyone else. 

Anywho, I could go on and on and turn this into a post about the uses of covert operations and whatnot but it’s supposed to be a book review so here’s my sell:  it’s a great, light read.  It’s quick.  It’s funny in places.  I enjoyed every minute of it and couldn’t put it down.  Go read it!