Book Reviews

Reviews of books by MWSA members. Reviews appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent review posted appearing first.
Note: Some older reviews are being reposted to this site and those will appear out of order.

Mining Sacred Ground

Title: Mining Sacred Ground
Author: David E. Knop
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Reviewer, Marcia J Sargent


Ancestral spirits demand that Marine veteran Peter Romero protect the secrecy of a sacred burial ground, and the world becomes a stranger place than he’d ever understood. He is pitted against a psychotic anthropology professor in a life-and-death struggle through the hills, arroyos, and caves of central Arizona, and into another world.

When Romero’s cousin is murdered, the former military policeman is astonished that the local sheriff shows no enthusiasm for solving the crime. He is forced to recognize that, after a military career, greater danger lies ahead in his civilian life.

Romero takes up arms to mete out his own justice, but he must decide if he belongs to the world he sees, or to a spirit world in which he discovers the strength of his ancestors. He makes their power a part of his being. As a spirit warrior, Romero battles self-doubt, his wife’s threats of divorce, and local law enforcement who plan his murder. He confronts an armed gang bent on revenge, skirts federal agents intent on stopping him, and evades the deadly fire of a deranged sniper.

Aided by a wise tribal elder, Romero uncovers a tangle of clues that link his cousin’s death to trafficking in ancient treasures and a deadly conspiracy that centers him in their crosshairs. Romero combines his combat experience and the fighting skills of his ancestors to dispatch his enemies and protect an ancient secret.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Knop, David E.

Believing in Horses

Title: Believing in Horses
Author: Valerie Ormond
Genre: Children Young Adult
Reviewer: jim greenwald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0973633026

Horse-crazy Sadie Navarro moves for the sixth time to Bowie, Maryland, only to find out her Navy dad is deploying to Afghanistan for a year. To ease the transition, Sadie's parents reward her with her dream of a lifetime, her own horse. “Lucky,” her beautiful tri-color pinto, quickly becomes her best friend and equine learning partner. Via the internet, Lucky and Sadie come across ten horses in a holding pen waiting to be sold at auction, and Sadie commits to saving them before harm comes to them.
With the help of her new teacher and classmates, a Maryland State Delegate, a local Washington TV reporter, a mounted policeman, her family and other colorful characters, she pursues her mission and faces unexpected roadblocks, some very dangerous for both her and her horse. Sadie faces head-on the challenges experienced by military families and demonstrates how young people can act to bring about change if they believe in what they are doing. In just a few short months, Sadie meets both good and bad people, and experiences joy, fear, disappointment, self-doubt, lost horses, and a level of responsibility she has never known before.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Ormond, Valerie


Title: Mischief
Author: Will McIlroy
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Thriller
Reviewer: Joyce Faulkner

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B005E070CC

A modern take on classic espionage.

At the start of World War II a British battleship mysteriously explodes at anchor inside a well defended home port. Given a final chance to resurrect a failed career, Intelligence Officer Richard Kast uncovers troubling evidence of espionage but his superiors whitewash the investigation and the attacks continue.

Without friends and unable to trust colleagues, Kast's pursuit of an elusive and unseen enemy becomes intensely personal, a jaded ex-boxer's stubborn physicality and resolve against the beguiling acumen and mischief of a master German spy in a shifting, deadly duel which weaves science, theater and early BBC television around real events. At stake, disclosure of illegal aid agreements between Churchill and FDR which threaten America's entry into the war and possession of a new device which revolutionizes radar and shifts the strategic balance of the war.

Similar societal outcasts, one man seeks redemption and the other retribution. Both alternate between hunter and hunted. Neither knows or expects quarter.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
McIlroy, Will

Ghosts Dancing

Title: Ghosts Dancing
Author: Steven Fortney
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: jim greenwald

ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): B0068UB4O2

Most Americans don’t know who Louis Riel is, nor who that remarkable people the Métis were; nor do they know that there were many important Americans influenced by the Empire-driven ideas of Manifest Destiny who had serious designs on acquiring for the United States all of what is now Canada west of Ontario from the 90th meridian to the North Pole and to the Pacific. These included US senators (Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota), Cabinet members (William Seward of Seward’s folly) and American Presidents (US Grant, for one, briefly).
Nor are we aware that our Plains Indian Wars of the 1840-1890s were a
mirror of the Métis-First Citizen wars of the Northwest Territories of
Canada. Louie Riel, Gabriel Dumont, the Prophet Wovoka and Sitting Bull had parallel careers. Little Big Horn and Duck Lake and Tourond’s Coulee are
shadows of each other as are Wounded Knee and the disaster of the battle of
Batoche in Saskatchewan. The Battle of the Little Big Horn, the assassination
of Sitting Bull, the Ghost Dance Religion, the religious agony and execution
of Louis Riel for treason against the Queen sadly mirror each other.
These events, dramatized in Ghosts Dancing, are all recounted as David St.
Clair and his Métis friend Pilgrim journey through the Western Frontier.
Overhead, the northern lights, the Dancing Ghosts, the Wawatay—which the
Ojibwe believe to be their ancestors’ spirits—swirl, warning of impending
With each on his own quest, David St. Clair and Pilgrim wander through the
recently surrendered lands of the Native Americans. Portrayed here is the
nightmare vision Riel’s execution and of the Wounded Knee Massacre. We see it clearly, as we have seen so much of the narrative, through St. Clair’s
eyes; but nothing could have prepared him for that bitter day of December 29, 1890. Sickened by what he witnesses, and powerless to do anything about it, his breaking point comes when he sees a fleeing Sioux mother pitilessly cut down from behind by a soldier’s rifle shot. St. Clair’s universe implodes in an instant and he sees, in his mind’s and heart’s eye, his childhood home and his father’s and mother’s lives being destroyed as the Sioux innocents’ lives are being destroyed in front of him.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Fortney, Steven