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USERNAME by Joyce Faulkner, Performed by Mike Mullins

 Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

USERNAME, the title an indicator of the time frame of the novel, we live in a world of technology with all its benefits and pitfalls. What follows is a chilling tale, exciting and so inventive it will become one of the great set pieces of the genre.

Faulkner demonstrates fluidity in her story telling that few match. From page one on she draws the reader in thoroughly. You will become immersed in the story and absorbed into her twisting tale as it unfolds.

Reaching into the wellspring of her imagination Faulkner displays a superb ability with words and as the drama unfolds the reader will be left engulfed in what will become one of the great thrillers.

Do you feel safe as you go about your daily life? Are you comfortable enough and do you feel secure enough? Read USERNAME and your perceptions and comfort zone will be rattled. 

Reviewed by: Greenwald, Jim (2012)

Available as an Audio Book - Performed by Michael D. Mullins


A little more than a year ago, Joyce Faulkner published Username, a taut, well-written and very recommendable thriller about two people who live by adopting fake identities and scamming others.  Now the story has been issued in audiobook format.  A good audiobook, the Library of Congress notes, is an "art form related to acting and oral interpretation, but is neither.  Rather, it is a niche in the performing arts that blends some elements of both."  In other words, it's a challenge to create an audiobook. 

A great many decisions need to be made.  Should the "book" be available only as a sound file, for use in a laptop or ipod or other device; should it be on CDs; or both?  Should the author decide to read the book herself or employ another voice?  Or even a multitude of voices, for some audiobooks are in essence rendered into a dramatic broadcast, using multiple voices to perform the book's characters.  This option is a technical challenge and usually so expensive that it drives the price of the audiobook up beyond what many readers wish to pay.  Then there are questions of sound effects, background music (with attending copyright issues) and/or narrative asides.  Every choice has consequences -- it's a notorious fact that more than a few avid readers tend to "hear" a specific voice for each character while reading; in this media age, some readers even imagine a specific actor playing the part of a book's "cast."  In such cases, the reader of the traditional text often can be disappointed with a much different voice in the audiobook.   

Given the complexity of these choices and consequences, Faulkner has wisely chosen to release the audio version of Username as a straightforward narrative read by Mike Mullins, with no distracting music or special effects.  The heart of Username is the manner in which the two main characters – a serial killer, and a scam artist who lives by stealing the identities and financial information of other persons -- slowly come into a confrontation with one another.  Mullins relates this story in a well-modulated, strong voice.  The volume and timber of the narrative is good, the pacing is excellent.  Mullins narration conveys the sense of the text to the listener, using an appropriate emotional level for each scene in the story.  He does not overplay the narration, avoiding dialects or accents that might confuse the listener or detract from the story.  This book is a thriller, so Mullins is careful to adhere to Faulkner’s narrative pace and tell the story in a way that builds the suspense.  The audiobook succeeds in the same way a good book succeeds: it tells a good story.

Some readers, who like to merge their own imaginative elements to the text of a book, will never be entirely satisfied with the audiobook as a narrative mechanism.  But for all others, most especially those who enjoy thrillers, this audiobook is strongly recommended. 

Reviewd by: Terry Shoptaugh (2013)


Author's Synopsis

Identity theft, scams, and a serial killer. Username is a must-read for every person who has a credit card or uses the Internet. Who’s using your name? Your username? You may not know until it’s too late. See yourself as a mark through the eyes of Maureen and Jennifer, master identity thieves. Their scams will shock you as you realize how vulnerable you are. Then there is the nice gentleman you could meet in a chat room, or perhaps he sends you a persuasive e-mail. He couldn’t possibly be a serial killer … could he?

Grand Slam Grooming Dogs Speak Out, by Pat McGrath Avery

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Written as  a series of fictional "first-hand" memoirs by various breeds of dogs, describing their lives with their owners, the book is written in simple clear language, in which each dog's breed, relation to its owners and details of its life are revealed.  There are almost 40 narratives in all, and the dogs are mostly terriers, spaniels, poodles, and similar small breeds; no outdoor hunting dogs here. The one other common factor linking these pets is the fact that all are groomed at one local Grand Slam Grooming pet salon (the first chapter focuses on the salon).   Each narrative highlights the strongest factors of these types of pooches – their fervent loyalty toward their owners and their cuteness and mischief.  Two Bichon Frise pups named Ben and Bart “testify” to their fondness for chewing on everything from rugs to table legs to “stuffed bears and little squeaky toys.” The narratives are illustrated with film clips in the ipad format copies, highlighting the sound and visual powers of that device. Still photos are used in the print format copies. Some of the clips and photos are quite sharp, others are "phone camera" quality. The writing becomes somewhat repetitive: phrases like "yummy treats" and "mommy and daddy" -- to indicate the dogs' owners -- are used throughout the book. The book will appeal to fans of house pets and is recommended to dedicated owners of such small breeds as noted above. It should also appeal to young adult readers who own such pets.

Reviewed by: Terry Shoptaugh(2013)


Author's Synopsis

The dogs of Grand Slam Grooming tell their stories to Luke the Detective Dog turned Investigative Reporter. Funny, clever -- and sweet as only dogs can be.

Famous Dogs, by Pat McGrath Avery

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Writing a good book lies in the eye of the reader.  Pat McGrath Avery has brought to me the reviewer a good book.  In fact it is an excellent book.  Her writing is very direct as she also uses the efforts of our imaginary co-author Luke the Reporter Dog in describing these stories. In fact Luke reminds me of Duke the dog trying to tell the secret recipe of Bush Beans commercials.  And so it goes.

The author takes new and old stories of canine and oh yes one cat story and their relationships to the human genre.  The book is short and simple and did I mention very excellent and compelling.  This compilation of short canine and oh yes one cat story tells the true story of man’s relationship to dog-dom and oh yes cat-dom!!

Very well told and highly recommended to any dog and oh yes cat lover!!

Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2013)


Author's Synopsis

As human companions, dogs have taken part in much of man's history and in some cases, actually created change by their actions. These stories of twenty-six dogs and a cat are suitable for adults and children who want to know more about dogs and their role in history.

Backcountry Fury, by Tom Zeiss

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Backcountry Fury is 18th Century history made interesting to 21st Century young audiences. Sixteen-year-old Thomas Young participates in the American Revolutionary War for personal reasons rather than philosophical -- which is often the rational for young soldiers. As an adult reading this book, Thomas' courage, strength of character, and bravado at the beginning of his adventure is a heartbreaking reminder of teenage angst -- when youngsters struggle with their environment to transit from childhood to maturity -- and for some, their journey is complicated by world changing events. 

I am partial to the use of first person point of view in general but especially for historical fiction because it helps the reader appreciate the thought processes of folks living in different times and places and cultures. It is one of the quickest ways for an author to create empathy. In the case of Thomas Young who was a real person, Dr. Zeiss' choice of voice was appropriate and effective. We experience Thomas' adventures as Thomas does -- and eventually, the distinctly old fashioned use of language and world view seems less alien. There were moments where I got a chuckle though -- like the dated expletive "Bull Manure" or the time when Captain Jolly, reported to Thomas' Company that while they only lost three men killed and five wounded, the enemy had lost at least ninety men killed and seventy-five wounded during a battle.  The soldiers responded to this news with the quaint, "Oh Yez, Oh yez." These were examples of the many small moments that give this novel texture and fun.

However, at the heart of this story, was a sense of family -- and a balance between independence and solidarity as neighbors and countrymen. 

Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2013)


Author's Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Young vows revenge against the British Army and local Tories for murdering his older brother in the spring of 1780. The South Carolina backcountry is rife with civil unrest as British General Cornwallis attempts to take command of the Carolinas and suppress the great American rebellion. Thomas matures quickly in the life and death struggles at Kings Mountain where he fights bare-footed against Major Patrick Ferguson and 900 Tories and at the Cowpens where he leads a cavalry charge against Bloody Banister Tarleton and his fierce Dragoons.

This true story is perfect for young adults and lovers of American history and adventure of all ages.

Butterfly Dust, by Nubby Grumpins (David Michaelson)

MWSA Review

David Michaelson (aka Nubby Grumpins) once again delights us with rascally tales taken from his childhood. Butterfly Dust and Other Animal Adventures offers a range of stories, vignettes, sayings, and poetry about animals and children. All are done in age appropriate language and simply styling. Some stories, such as “Ollie the Orca,” are written from the viewpoint of the animal. Although it seems to leave the reader hanging, but Ollie turns out to be a page turner, that it, it’s concluded in the book. An interesting way to keep the reader interested.

Most of the stories in the book are about animals the Tuttle family—in reality the Michaelson family of long ago—owned or knew. Grumpy is at his story telling best here. His irrepressible sense of mischief brims over in “Budgie Fights Back” and “Spinning Poor Spooky.” For those who read Michaelson’s Rapscallion Summer, there’s no denying Timmy Tuttle is Michaelson at his rascally best. Poor bird, to have mashed potatoes flung at him. Clever bird, to fight back with a well-aimed green pea at Timmy Tuttle’s head! And who but a rapscallion and his sister would spin a hapless cat on a waxed floor for the pleasure of watching it walk away like a drunken sailor?

Other tales are glad with a sad ending, such as the chronicles of Feisty, the cat, and Tippy, the dog. The latter gave his life to save the Tuttle children from a rattlesnake. The former met a cruel and untimely end at the hands of a neighbor’s child. Yet the boy’s punishment, helping out at the local animal shelter, so suited his crime, that he not only regretted what he did, but ultimately led to his becoming a veterinarian devoted to healing animals, not harming them.

The book’s many drawings are suitable for the under twelve set, some photos, some line drawings. Done in black and white, they represent the respective animals, but the resolution of the pictures occasionally is fuzzy. The three wise camping sayings lack pictures but not wit. My favorite was number two, “No matter where you stand near a campfire the smoke will always find you.” True, very true.

Entries like these make Butterfly Dust a treat not only for children but also for adults who remember what it was like to be a child. Better still, they can be read to children by adults, alternately with a smile of nostalgic longing—or rascally identification.

Reviewed by: Barbara Peacock (2013)


Author's Synopsis

BUTTERFLY DUST is a fanciful collection of animal adventures drawn from actual incidents as well as the author's imagination. This book is an entertaining look at our animal friends, sometimes from their point of view, and how we humans often interact with them.

Lion's Pride: A Tail of Deployment, by Grace Anne Remey

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Deployment is hard on families of that no one should have any doubt. Long separations are a part of military life. But, what about for children that are forced to deal with it?

Helping your child cope with what surely is the toughest challenge of their young lives. Though temporary, it is forever for a child, causing fear, anger, anxiety a hundred fold more for them than the adult in the situation.

Deployment is the price children are forced to pay without having the right to say anything about it. Imagine how that seems to a young mind.

Grace at the ripe old age of eight has created a path to deal with those issues. Join her on her trip through this clever story line written from the perspective of a Lion's pride.

This is a book that should be part of a families package of assistance to help deal with upcoming or repeated deployments. Helpful hints and aids to help children deal with separation are provided in the back of the book, all written from a childs eye view of the world but apply well to all members of the family, regardless of age.

Reviewed by: Jim Greenwald (2012)


Author's Synopsis

Lion's Pride: A Tail of Deployment is written and illustrated by Grace Anne Remey who is eight years old. She has experienced 7 deployments in her young life. In her book, Grace Anne tells her story from the perspective of an 8 year old lion cub who shares her experiences and feelings through all the stages of the deployment cycle. The book also includes a 'How To' section where Momma Lion describes ideas families can use at home during a deployment.

Spanky a Soldier's Son, by Sue LaNeve

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

“Spanky: A Soldier’s Son” is a young adult novel that tells the story of a Middle School student, Seamus “Spanky” McDougal and his struggle against a bully, his wish to get a girl’s attention, prove himself during an Outdoor Education camping trip and deal with his mother who has depression. All of this takes place against the backdrop of his father’s deployment to Afghanistan.

“Make me proud,” Spanky’s Dad tells him just before he leaves. Spanky wants nothing more than his father’s approval and to fit into his new school. Throughout the 255-page book Spanky worries that he doesn’t measure up. Every time he has the chance to do something heroic, such as administering CPR to his teacher, he freezes.

By creating a character with depression (Spanky’s mother), and a father who is on deployment, LaNeve has opened the way for her young protagonist to grow. Spanky learns that inner strength comes from speaking one’s truth not from hiding it in an attempt to protect the ones you love.

Questions a young reader might have about war and depression are asked, but not answered, in the email exchanges between Spanky and his father. The questions include whether the US should do nothing when it comes to Afghanistan, whether the people in Afghanistan should be helping themselves, whether American soldiers should continue to die, etc.

LaNeve’s connection to the military comes from her late father. She explains how she never spoke with him directly about his experiences. Rather, she overheard his conversations with his friends. As a result she has created characters that initially hide their true feelings and thoughts to protect the ones they love. Ultimately, Spanky and his friends learn speaking the truth is not only liberating, it allows for growth.

The shelves are filled with many books about bullying and separation. “Spanky: A Soldier’s Son” stands out because its about so much more – its about learning to speak ones truth. 

Reviewed by: Cathryn Prince (2013)


Author's Synopsis

Spanky loves snakes, sketching, camping, and, well, maybe girls. While his dad is fighting grown bullies in Afghanistan, school bully, Mack Malone, has Spanky in his crosshairs. Worse yet, whenever Spanky needs to defend himself, help a friend, or. . . OMG. . . save his teacher's life, he freezes! The overnight Outdoor Ed camping trip is Spanky's best chance to catch the attention of a special girl. It could also make his dad proud to have him for a son. Turns out, it could get him suspended. Ultimately, Spanky learns to face his fears and what it really means to be a hero.

Pickysaurus Mac, by Sandra Miller Linhart

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Ms. Linhart has penned a book destined to awake people's attention to a problem almost always over looked or wrongly diagnosed. The focus is children and helping them to understand why they feel as they do, but adults, therapists, doctors, various professionals can and will gain from reading this book.

The inability to turn messages from the senses into appropriate motor behavioral responses is serious, many times the child is wrongly tattoed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

Pickysaurus Mac moves the conversation away from being different to being understood. Being different is difficult enough without having to deal with wide spread misunderstanding of the issues involved.

Reviewed by: Jim Greenwald (2013)


Author's Synopsis

Pickysaurus Mac is not your typical dinosaur. Mealtimes pose a special problem for our picky little friend. Sometimes foods smell too gross to eat, they taste different than they look and their textures feel like garbage in his mouth. His friends tell him to eat right to stay healthy, but some things you just can't fix with words. Will Pickysaurus Mac ever find something he likes? When he finds he likes it, will it be the best food for him? Will he find it in time?

Haysoos the Honu, by Kristin Barnes

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Haysoos the Honu is the beautifully written and illustrated story of Haysoos, a Hawaiian sea turtle. He struggles because he sees himself as being “different” due to having a hard shell, which is unlike the other sea creatures he swims with in the ocean. Being a Honu meant traveling the ocean alone, but Haysoos loved to be around other creatures. But he discovered that because of his heavy shell, he couldn’t keep up with the other creatures, or just when he was having some fun, he would have to leave to surface for air. Haysoos learns some important life lessons from both a great white shark and a wise old turtle. I can say from experience, that I’ve used this book with third graders who loved the story and could apply it to their own lives. I recommend this book for families and teachers, as the message comes through that we should each discover how our differences can make us special…if we only let them.

Reviewed by: Joyce M. Gilmour (2012)


Author's Synopsis

Haysoos the Honu is a Hawaiian sea turtle. He loves the company of other creatures, but he feels different from the fish, eels, and manta rays. His bulky shell slows him down, and his lungs mean he has to interrupt playtime to surface for air. Haysoos believes that being different is a bad thing, until he meets a special friend who shows him just how special it is to be different!

Mitakuye Oyasin, by jim greenwald

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Love for Mother Earth – Poetry that has a message

First off, the title of this book is taken from a Lakota term that when translated means “we are all related” thus the full title of poet’s Jim Greenwald’s book is “Mitakuye Oyasin: We Are All Related.” When reading his poems you can see very clearly that the title fits the poetry within the pages. Jim's Native American Ojibwe heritage comes through in great evidence in all his prose. This is another of his wonderful books of poetry and this may be his absolute best work to date.

The feeling you get from this themed book of poetry is that there is a connection with nature and the natural world around us. His words are like a walk in the woods with someone who truly loves being outdoors and appreciates the trees, the birds and all that surrounds him. This poet is very much at ease in the wilderness of his mind or in his earthly terra firma. So, it becomes a joyful and pleasant journey of prose as we transverse through this world that he observes.

His poetry has a message of respect and love for “Mother Earth” but also for each other. His words and phrasing are like a pathway to the inner heart. He knows how to connect with nature but he also connects with people. These poems are uplifting and hopeful. It was a pleasure to wander through his words and feel what he must have been feeling when he wrote them.

Some of his poetry asks questions as a way of pointing out a problem such as in his poem “Window.”

"He hears no animals, no insects, no birds,

only the noise of horns blaring,
as he breathes the poison engines spew out,
The air burning his lungs.
He sips his water from a bottle
as he stands beside a stream so polluted it stinks.
Grandfather, I do not understand.
Why would one destroy that which gives life?"

The poet and poetry become one and the same as you read his book. Wonderful verse and wise words! Certainly a poetry book of substance and spirit! I recommend it for poetry lovers and those who like Native American philosophy. It is a gentle reading experience and one that will fill you with peace.

Reviewed by: W.H. McDonald Jr. (2006)

Mitakuye Oyasin whispered to me, “Read me and experience me with your voice and ears, the eyes of your soul and heart, and the taste and smell of your memory and sensory.” Then I heard an even deeper voice, “Jim, Native Americans, and all the world are all related by the blood, streams and rivers of America.”

Sounds in the forest muted
dreams faded
darkness vanquished

Knowing how Jim doesn’t speak in the same manner as most, I recognize that the wounded warrior, Jim, has less wounds of the soul than me.

Here I find peace in your love
Here in my heart you will remain for eternity.

In order to begin to contemplate a warrior’s tears, I realized that I must be the maiden of Jim the Warrior: “Words of tenderness and passion flow from his soul which gives them life, to his lips, which give them sound, to my ears, which give them meaning.”

If am to understand anything Jim writes, I must be intimate and vulnerable. Will I courageously enter and reverence this sacred tear and space… knowing that mitakuye oyasin?

I hope to.

 

Mitakuye Oyasin is an important book of love, loss, the past, respect and survival as stated on the back cover. It was a wonderful reflection and food for me.  The poems forced me to ponder and take my own walk into the neglected woods in my backyard. After reading Message Received on page 61, I wrote: "Many of the poems are springboards for me to go deeper, beyond and alone, away from the author...but also with him." We are all related. All human beings contribute to the disharmony between each other and the earth.  All human beings are also capable of being the healing balm of Mother Earth. This excellent book has been on my heart and mind for the past three turbulent months. As I read it out loud and slowly, it aided in my healing. I danced to the words as my mood floated skyward and endured the darkened nights of bloodletting battles. As great poetry should do, it brought up more thoughtful questions than answers. Native Americans have a wonderful respect of Mother Earth, but the Siren’s lure of war and the romanticizing of the battle seem to be a major hereditary trait among all of us related.

Reviewed by:  Ron Camarda (2013)


Author's Synopsis

This book is a mix of love, loss, the past, respect and survival. This planet we live on (Mother Earth) is in peril, of this no one should have any doubts. The issue is awareness, and whether we are to be part of the problem or part of the solution. What we do now will determine not simply issues of quality of life, but of life itself. If we continue to poison the air, water and seas, this home of ours will die.

He drove to work sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup, and when he finished he pitched it to the side of the road; it is only one styrofoam cup after all. It is a shame we often think of individual instead of collective concerns. For on that morning he was joined by at least a million others with the same thought.

It is time we all hugged a tree!

Wishing for Rain, by jim greenwald

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Poetry That is Pure as Emotional Rain 

“Wishing For Rain” is one of those well thought out books of emotionally flowing prose; the kind of poetry that speaks of lost loves and loneliness. The poet uses the rain as a spiritual bridge from his heart to the universe. Jim Greenwald’s wonderfully crafted little poetry book (59 pages) comes across as soft and sensitive and at times inspirational without losing any male energy. It is a book that men will be able to relate to. 

Even though the words from most of his poems deal with lost loves and being alone, the under current is all about hope. The poet takes his readers on a journey of feelings and dreams and desires. He uses simple naked phrasing, which paints the inner image of what he is feeling without over writing each individual piece of poetry. It is a straight forward approach to his poetry that is honest. He dives into his heart quickly and pulls out pearls of feeling with each poem. It is poetry that easy to read and to understand. 
My favorite poem was the title poem “Wishing For Rain,” where the poet asks:

If I screamed I love you…would it rain again! 
Would I hear your words
Or feel only your tears as
They fell from the sky mixing with mine

Truly one of the better poetry books written over the past couple of years; a good book to buy as a gift to someone you care about.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2010)


Wishing for Rain is a collection of tender heartfelt poems that embrace romance, longing, love, and loss. The poems are sensitive and poignant, delivering a timeless commentary on the complexities of the relationships of the human race. Jim Greenwald, whose background is a cultural mix that includes Native American, weaves the concept of spiritual oneness with nature into many of the poems. When you read of the starlit nights, the wind, the ocean, or the rain, you feel that you are part of the healing vastness of Mother Earth.

In poetry, each word counts. Greenwald uses his words to maximum effect, while leaving the meaning open enough that the reader can bring his or her own emotions into the poems. Using a free verse style, the poet allows the words to roll from the pages and into our hearts.

I enjoyed reading the poems out loud, savoring the sound and the feel of each line as it unfolded. I found myself going back to previous poems and reading them over and over. Wishing for Rain is the kind of book you can enjoy for a few moments each day for a long time to come. Leave it on your bedside stand or end table and visit it often.

Join Greenwald as he seeks to express the fullness of the human experience. You will be richer for having explored the deeper meanings of life, the joy of discovered love, the searing pain of brokenness, and the healing touch of a hand reaching out or a smile freely given.  

Reviewed by: Betsy Beard (2012)


Author's Synopsis

We all have feelings, wishes and desires, to some expression comes easy while to others an endless struggle or a fight they refuse to join for a myriad of reasons. I have tried here on these pages to express not just my feelings but my perceptions of others feelings. There is nothing more complex than love, look for a definitive definition and surely your search would take years. My inspirations come from many directions, experiences, words overheard, a scene that unfolds before my eyes, a movie, a song. All directed in an endless search to express love and all that it encompasses. I hope my writing draws you in and it becomes part of you, join me in the journey. Enter my book, I hope you enjoy it.

Pass The Salt Doc, by Mike Mullins & jim greenwald

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

PTSD (Pass The Salt Doc) by Mike Mullins and Jim Greenwald is a book that I believe will speak to everyone. Whether you are a veteran, related to a veteran, or have friends who are veterans, or just care about the results of war, you should spend the time to explore this book to see the perspective of two Vietnam veterans. PTSD has become a “hot topic” in recent years. Mike Mullins and Jim Greenwald say, “real it is, damaging to the lives of those living it and the families that endure it and experience it day in and day out.” They also state, “PTSD is not about overcoming the past but about creating a future.” Mike Mullins and Jim Greenwald have used the tool of writing to help them to create their future and hope that Pass The Salt Doc will enlighten many regarding PTSD, but also will encourage others who may be struggling with their past to use writing/poetry to help them to begin to create their future, or just be able to relate and possibly open up to someone.

Pass The Salt Doc takes the reader right into the heart, mind, and soul of the experience of PTSD. The book is a combination of poetry and prose. It isn’t an “easy” read for the fact that it delves into emotions that some might want to try to ignore. For me, I believe it was enlightening, because I lived through the Vietnam War days, but knew no one involved and my life was pretty much unaffected…but now in my late 50s, I’ve had the honor of meeting and becoming friends of many veterans, and this book has helped me to understand what so many of them are dealing with still today.

Reviewed by: Joyce M. Gilmour (2013)


Author's Synopsis

This collection of poetry is about after. After the war, its focus is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a serious issue among returning Veterans from all wars. Not easily recognized or readily identified. It does not have a set pattern that can be written down and checked off for all, as PTSD has many faces. This book is dedicated to all Veterans, past, present and future. For it is the Veteran we owe everything to, and taking care of each one is a national responsibility. The arts can and do work wonders for those suffering from PTSD and we would suggest that writing poetry is the strongest drug available to each of you and requires no prescription. Writing provides the externalization necessary to overcome traumatic events/experiences. No poetry you write is wrong or right it is simply necessary on the path of recovery. We are not therapists or professionals in this field and do not pretend to have magic cures. We will state that no professional can "cure" you without your coming to grips from within yourself with the issue and using that ability which we all possess to help ourselves. Writing allows the individual to place on paper emotions they find difficult to vocalize. It is this written expression that can bring about the change needed if "cure" is the desired destination.

Code Word: Geronimo, by Dale Dye, Julia Dye, & G. Kissell

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Readers will be impressed by the illustrations. Graphical books put some people off as they come across to them as just “comic books.”  Code Word: Geronimo will draw the reader in and any thought of “comic book” will disappear quickly.

This is the story of the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Compound and his demise at the hands of Seal Team 6. History lovers will devour the pages as the story unfolds.  This is one event that will be remembered forever for both its importance and relevance to the war on terrorism.

Excellently drawn and with succinct information it provides a combination of history, entertainment and a feeling of being along with the Team on this extremely hazardous mission. Missions the Seals have come to be known for. 

The last dozen pages of the book provide a perspective on the operation, Geronimo, NSWDG (Naval Special Warfare Development Group) and a time line of Bin Laden’s life, a person not born into poverty but rather wealth  (Written by John M. Del Vecchio).

Less than 100 pages in length but consisting of miles of relevant history, this book is worth your money and your time. So jump on board the chopper and make the trip Seal Team 6 made to Abbottabad.

Reviewed by: Jim Greenwald (2012)


Author's Synopsis

The leader of SEAL Team 6 uttered, "Geronimo," and the world let out a sigh of relief. The symbol of ultimate evil was no more. Code Word: Geronimo is the amazing, moment-by-moment story of the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Told by military insider and Hollywood consultant, Captain Dale Dye (USMC, Ret.), with Dr. Julia Dye, Ph.D., this historic tribute details the bravery and valor of SEAL Team 6 as it descends into a foreign land and achieves the near impossible.

Listen for the Whispers, by Kim Kluxen Meredith

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The story of love, tragedy, and finding that there is life ahead is told in this personal narrative that has a message for anyone left with grief for a loved one that has died. Listen for the Whispers; Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again is an excellent book that touches the heart of the reader. Kim Kluxen Meredith’s straightforward approach provides hope that, when life is interrupted by unimaginable grief, the pain can be eased and there is hope that life can continue for the bereaved.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with the loss of a loved one. But more, it is a book for us all, for without a doubt at some point in our lives we will be faced with pain that seems to shatter our lives and leave us numb and wondering if we can overcome the loss. Meredith’s story shows that healing can occur and life can become nearly normal again.

Listen for the Whispers; Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again is well written and easy to read. It’s a book that begs to be read in one sitting as the reader enters and shares the author’s triumph over pain. Despair and anguish are temporary and can be overcome. How the author coped with heartbreak during her journey beckons the reader onward.

Reviewed by: E. Franklin Evans (2012)


Author's Synopsis

“The whine of the sirens pierced deeply into my soul…” After a tragic one-car accident, a young mother catapults from an idyllic life to one filled with grief and uncertainty. By listening to the guiding whispers within her, Kim Kluxen Meredith’s journey from unfathomable heartache to a life once again filled with love and laughter is the inspiring story of hope for everyone who has experienced the loss of someone beloved to them.

Stories of Faith & Courage from the Home Front, by Jocelyn Green

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This is an amazing book in that it covers hundreds of years of war history. Its primary focus is on those who have stayed behind and “kept the home fires burning.”

 

It is a daily devotional book of true stories. It highlights the hardships they have faced, and shows that faith in God was the touchstone that many needed to make it through.

The book is organized into themed weeks which may include excerpts from letters, journals, or news articles. Each section ends with a prayer.

There are stories of real people who survived their war, and were able to live with courage, while personally enduring great personal sacrifice on the home front.

The authors were able to interview dozens of those who experienced the wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. For older wars, they relied on primary documents. Throughout the book, it becomes very apparent that God’s word was relevant and instrumental in providing the necessary hope and inspiration to “keep on keeping on.”

The book contains over 600 fascinating pages, as well as resources for veterans and their families. How I wish I’d had it when I was “waiting at home” for my Vietnam veteran, and for the many trying years afterward.

A real treasure that can provide comfort for military families, I highly recommended this book.

Reviewed by: Charlene Rubush (2013)


Author's Synopsis

This devotional book contains 365 true stories of struggles, courage, and actions of women, children, and men involved in the home front of American wars, in chronological order, from the French Indian War through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These stories illustrate effective prayers, heroism, volunteer efforts, and daily courage. Special weekend devotions consist of original words from a journal, newspaper, letter, or newspaper, and glimpses into life during that era, such as fashion, pastimes, work, and celebrations. Each story includes a coordinated Scripture and a prayer for today’s military, families, or individuals encountering struggles.

Stories of Faith & Courage from the Vietnam War, by Larkin Spivey

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Something needed; something done.  The stories of faith and courage during and after the Vietnam War are stories you can devour by reading through the book entirely, or reading day by day to grasp each story’s worth with applicable Holy Bible verses alongside.  You’ll read personal accounts from the lowest ranking “new guy” or the battle-hardened general officer about the frustration of fighting an invisible enemy; of praying for “One more day, dear God. One more day.”  You’ll read stories from those who saw disturbing sights and questioned God about the meaning and what their purpose was for being there.  You’ll read that the sound of helicopters meant to some that help was on the way and to others that casualties were on the way. You’ll read about how lives were touched at just the sight of the cross on a chaplain’s cap.  The POW endurance stories and stories from families who lost loved ones will touch your heart and strengthen your soul.

Indeed, Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War is something needed for those who have endured any war as well as those who care about loved ones that hurt because of war.  It is something done for anyone who seek answers.

Reviewed by: Fran McGraw (2012)


Author's Synopsis

In a new collection of true stories from the Vietnam War, Larkin Spivey reveals the violence and danger faced by a generation of young Americans that answered their Nation's call and rose to the challenge.

Many stories show the power of faith under the stress of combat and separation from loved ones, while others show the complex spiritual journey of men forced to confront the dark side of human nature for the first time. Ultimately, the power of God to redeem every human life and event shines forth in this amazing collection.

Rapscallion Summer, by David Michaelson

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

When an author states in his “Forward” he changed the names of people mentioned in his book to avoid a well-deserved beating, the reader knows he/she is in for a wild ride. And so it proves with David Michaelson’s Rapscallion Summer.

If even half of the stories Michaelson narrates are half true, he must have indeed been a “rapscallion.” Laugh out loud funny, he’s a parent’s worst dream come true. This twelve-year-old boy is only interested in adventure. His parents and other adults, however, see it as mischief, to put it mildly. Looking back, Michaelson admits he might have toned things down, but you can just see the wicked glint in his eyes as he says this.

Who else could get himself and his sister thrown off ride after ride of the newly opened Disneyworld for misbehavior? Who else could get a friend landed in the hospital after a boulder crashed onto his head? Who else got sent time after time to cut a “switch” (yes, children were swatted in that summer of 1955) and got sent to bed without dinner for what he’d been caught doing? Of course, that was only when he was actually caught. He didn’t hold it against his father for swatting his behind for the street lamp he didn’t break because he’d done so many other things to deserve it instead.

Not all the stories reek of devilry. Some, like the tale of his dog, Tippy, are sad. Some, like his first attempt to sit next to a girl at a movie are wistful. Occasionally, even, Michaelson, the arch imp, turns law abiding citizen, as when he and his family confronted and ran off a fishing poacher.

Rapscallion Summer  definitely keeps one’s interest. While I would never recommend this book for middle school, boys lest it give them some wrong ideas with details how to do it, I would heartily recommend it for adults. It’s a pleasant romp in a time when naughty boys still tured out to be solid (we hope) citizens.  

Reviewed by: Barbara Peacock (2012)


Author's Synopsis

A humorous romp thru a 12 year-old rascal's glorious summer.

The Night Sky, by Maria Sutton

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In “The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back”, Maria Sutton focuses on two major points. For the first three quarters of the book she describes the finding of her biological father and for the last one quarter of the book she delves into finding her uncle and many other biological relatives.

Maria Sutton dances between place and time, while clearly stating when and where she is for each section of her book. “The Night Sky” is in reference to her looking into the night sky and wondering where on the earth are her relatives. She gives details to finding Josef Kurek her father. There are many photos and copies of forms and papers throughout her work. If looking for information on how to find a relative lost during WWII, this is a good book for ideas. 

Many thousands today still do not know who or where their families are. Maria wanted that connection, a connection broken in time and circumstance. The journey is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. A journey of decades on a road back through history on roads scattered with atrocities 

Reviewed by: Julie M. Giguere (2013)


Author's Synopsis

This extraordinary and unflinchingly honest memoir takes us on a riveting journey into the hearts and souls of three enigmatic people whose destinies are forever changed by the events of World War II. The secrets of misguided love and passions are revealed as the author journeys between the past and the present to solve the mystery of a handsome Polish officer with piercing blue eyes and sun-colored hair. Maria Sutton takes us to the dark green hills and valleys of the ancient Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, where the woody fragrance of birch trees and new-mown hay fills the fresh, crisp air after a heavy rain. Vicariously, we see a sunrise over Poland obscured by brightly colored swastikas on warplanes and then we will be taken into suffocating cattle cars, lice-infested stalags, and to the Dachau death camp. Further down a country road, the hearty laughter and beer steins clinking with each salute to the Fuhrer s astonishing victories can be heard. 

As Maria takes us on this odyssey to solve a decades-long mystery, she learns the family secrets of untold heroism, quiet courage, and a mother s love and of tragedy, disillusionment, and heartbreak. At the end of her long journey, Maria uncovers a shattering and painful truth. But the secret, however heartbreaking, would also become the greatest gift she would receive.

Letters to Logan, by Debra Bastian

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This collection is intimidating with the awe and love people showered upon our fallen protector, Captain Derek Argel.

After digesting the first letters, I knew I was reading about an ace among the elite, and his death angered me. I must trust God’s plan, but I see Captain Argel’s death as an unconscionable loss of a national asset. If you read this book, you’ll agree with me that you wished you had known him, and you’ll feel cheated if you didn’t.

Picture a powerful six and a half foot tall dynamo with a will of steel, a heart of gold, and a lifetime of wisdom. Picture him making leadership look easy among the nation’s top officer candidates at the United States Air Force Academy, picture him exemplifying resiliency and strength among the nation’s elite special forces, and picture him pouring love and compassion upon friends and family.

If you’re perplexed and enticed by these apparent contrasting images, you’ll want to pick up Letters for Logan and get to know Captain Derek Argel. Reading his story may sadden you or anger you, but it will ignite a spark in you to be a better version of you.

Reviewed by: John Monteith (2012)


Author's Synopsis

Letters for Logan is the heartfelt story of a mother's timeless love for her son, and the legacy she is compelled to leave her grandson. Air Force Capt. Derek Argel, 28, was larger-than-life-athletic, loving, dedicated, loyal and above all, a son to Debbie, husband to Wendy and father to Logan. Within days of his tragic death in the line of duty on Memorial Day of 2005 in Iraq, the first letter to Logan arrived. Then another came, and they kept coming, from friends, colleagues, warriors and family. They still arrive, even years after the Combat Controller's death, each one weaving an enduring portrait for a little boy of his fallen father, gone too soon. Proceeds from this book will go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, rated as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator. The foundation provides full scholarship grants, educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions, and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families. The family of Capt. Derek Argel believes wholeheartedly in the mission of the foundation. "First there, That Others may Live" Nora Wallace

Insider's Guide to Security Clearances, by J. W. Bennett

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Bennett's book is a detailed handbook for individuals and companies that wish to obtain Federal security certifications and/or conduct security investigations.  Given the significant increases in security regulations, especally in relation to security-related contracts involving Federal monies, and the increase in security needs at American military facilities at home and abroad, this book is both timely and useful.  Bennett has published several books on this and related subjects, including the "DOD SECURITY CLEARANCES AND CONTRACTS GUIDEBOOK."  After laying out his credentials as a security expert, Bennett explains in a clear and well-organized fashion the Federal regulations that a person would neede to understand to gain a security clearance or certification in security organization.  The remainder of the book gives tips for learning the regulations and the 'rote' of modern security, and advises the reader on how to prepare for and pass the required security examinations, in particular the Industrial Security Professional Exam. Because of the topic, the book is not a page-turner, and likely will not be of much interest to many readers of military history or military memoirs, nor military fiction (although it could be of use for a novel involving base security).   But as a handbook, it is a solid work, easy to follow and understand.  It will appeal to its target audience for this reason.

Reviewed by: Terry L. Shoptaugh (2012)


Author's Synopsis

Turn your passion for business into work for the US Government. Discover what you need to know about how to get a security clearance and perform on classified contracts. This book explains how to obtain such clearances.