Sunday, 16 June 2013

Latakia, J F Smith

-Review by Letti

Matt lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his two best friends, Bret and Jim. He’s on a gay softball team and he volunteers for Doctors Without Borders. Matt also has a boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been dating for over a year, and seems to be extremely happy with.  But Brian begins to start acting strangely and his actions begin putting the seed of doubt into Matt. Bret and Jim even begin to question Brian and his fidelity to Matt.

Matt volunteers to go to Syria with Doctors Without Borders, so far he is enjoying himself. Until he leaves a small café and heads towards the direction of waiting taxis, where he is abducted and thrown into a van, later finding himself in a small dark prison. He is fearful at this point but begins to panic when he hears a gunshot coming from the next room. That is when he realizes that he is in imminent danger, facing something unimaginable, that perhaps his death may be lurking just around  the corner.  And his first thought is:

“Please God, let me get out of here. I’ll never doubt Brian again. I’ll deserve him, I promise. Just let me get out of this room alive.”

 Matt is rescued and finds himself aboard the USS Iwo Jima surrounded by a group of bigoted Navy SEALs, or so he thinks.  But loyalty and trust is earned and a brotherhood is formed. Matt finds himself a changed man and in return he has changed the lives of his newfound brothers.

Mope: He is the leader of Navy SEALs Team 8. He is also hiding the fact that he is gay, due to DADT. His true name is Travis but he earned his nickname because he seems to have this faraway look and mopes in his depression. Ever read a book and you find yourself loving a character and you ask yourself 'well, when did that happen?' that is how I found my love for Travis. It was an unexpected surprise.

 Petey, aka Colorado: Seems to be a bigoted jerk. He is ruthless and cut-throat but is incredibly loyal, when he claims you he does for life and you find yourself  stuck with him, whether you want it or not.  I found myself laughing at his humor and the banter between him and Matt.  When Matt finds himself in a dangerous situation again - he’s crying, having a panic attack - Travis transmitted this quote through the radio to Mope.

“Tell him to stop all that damn crying! Tell the bitch to stop menstruating himself into an early menopause! He still has plenty of time to take it up the ass and have a bunch of little faggot babies.”

Matt hears that and ends up laughing uncontrollably, it was Petey’s way of saying 'you’re going to be fine, and live a happy long life, my brother. I love you.'

Here is another quote that mad me think, 'Petey your mouth will get you into trouble one of these days.' Team 8 is at a bar and Matt is hit on by a cute girl. Petey informs her as politely as he can:

“He’s as gay as my dick is long.”

Let’s just say the girl was horrified and contrite on Matt’s behalf.

Brian: I despised his character, he was a selfish user who preyed on those that lacked confidence and self-esteem and only wanted to do things that would benefit him. He may have had the good looks, but he was damn ugly on the inside and it ends up finally showing on his outside.

JF Smith blew breath into these characters and brought them to life. You will fall in love with each and every one of them, even the ones you thought you wouldn’t. There is some sort of a magical spell he must have cast because you find yourself submerged and unable to come up for air. This is the first time that I’ve read this authors work and I can say with all honesty it will not be my last. I would hate to ruin this novel by divulging too much of the story line because even the smallest detail can give away a whole lot.

I understand the saying “Never judge a book by its cover” because this has been sitting on Kindle for months, but I always passed it up because I was not feeling the cover. And because of this I almost missed the most fantastic book I’ve read in a very long time. I do not give out 5 stars lightly, those are for the crème de la crème. And I’m pleased to say this is one of them.

I could also write a two page review on every aspect of this book the good, the bad and the funny, but personally I think you would appreciate it a whole lot more when you know less going in. If you love reading about military, have a love for humor, and enjoy some really funny and amusing banter, and bits of action and self-discovery with a fantastic bunch of characters you will enjoy this read. I loved everything about Latakia, especially the camaraderie and the snarky and sometimes sarcastic banter. The story was so engaging I dreaded turning the pages because I knew at some point the story would end.

WOW!! I loved every hour, minute, and second of this read.

5 Stars


  1. Thank you so much Letti for your heartfelt review of Latakia. I know what you mean, I've had it on my Kindle for ages as well - I'll have to read it now, won't I? :)

  2. To reiterate what Kazza K said, thank you for your honest and fair review of Latakia. I have also had this book on my Kindle for quite awhile. After reading your review I may have to bump it up on my list. :)