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The Adventures of Gopher Piddington; by David Michaelson

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Gopher Piddington loves the railroad, much to his parents' dismay. In this fast-paced coming of age story, Gopher leaves Santa Fe determined to make his own way in the world. Relying on his wits and his fists, Gopher finds his way through odd jobs and even an accusation of murder on his way to make his dream come true.

The author's research comes through in the details he weaves into this story. His descriptions of cooking are an added bonus that show his culinary background. All in all, this is a pleasant and entertaining read even if you don't like trains. History buffs and railroad enthusiasts will particularly enjoy this story.

Reviewed by: Edward Cox (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Refusing to follow in his father's footsteps, young Gilbert (Gopher) Piddington rebels at every turn only to find himself in hot water. Through his many adventures he carries his father's natural boxing ability and his mother's keep shooting eye, both of which get him into trouble. Gopher's fascination with steam engines is ignited on his tenth birthday when his English grandparents shipped a miniature model of the popular Double Fairlie workhorse locomotive. He learns a real Fairlie steam engine is working somewhere on a Denver & Rio Grande line. At fourteen, Gopher makes plans to run away to Colorado and become a railroad man, much to his parents' dismay.

No Surrender Soldier; by Christine Kohler

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MWSA Review

Christine Kohler has written a fascinating story of a teenager's emotional plight in her book, No Surrender Soldier.  She has mixed together a stew of emotional stimuli and showered them on her main character, fifteen year old Kiko. The story flows smoothly and is an easy and enjoyable read.  Based on actual facts, a Japanese soldier did in fact hide out in the jungles of Guam for decades after the war, one can actually believe Kiko and his family might have been one of the many subplots that played out on Guam at the time of the Japanes soldier's discovery.  A great read for the Young Adult audience and for the older reader as well.

Reviewed by: Bob Doerr (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He's never kissed a girl, the popular guys get all the attention at school--but the worst part is the serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam, his grandfather is losing it to dementia, and he just learned that his mother was raped by a Japanese soldier during World War II. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It's not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom--no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he's a man? Based on a true incident in history, No Surrender Soldier is the story of a boy grappling with ancient questions of courage and manhood before he can move on.

Believing in Horses, Too; by Valerie Ormond

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Inspiration and Motivational! These two words and more best describe Ormond’s sequel to “Believing in Horses” titled “Believing in Horses, Too.”

A country whose children are engaged has a future. Sadie, the main character is the poster child for engaged. 

Thirteen going on 30! Wise beyond her years, focused, goal oriented, she will become a hero to all who read about her.

In a time where children are dismissed as unimportant, lazy or simply overly attached to their electronic world, Sadie demonstrates page after page what hard work and relentless effort can attain.

Parents, if your child’s school does not have this in their library, does not make it required reading you need to be “Sadie” at the next school board meeting.

Reviewed by: jim Greenwald (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

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.

Good Night Captain Mama: Buenas Noches Captain Mama, by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

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MWSA Review

In a quiet voice Graciela in her book "Good Night Captain Mama" aids in  opening a door rife with rusty hinges and cobwebs. Not as much a story as a need. Helping young children deal with the separation resulting from military service and deployment is a subject with little in print that helps those that suffer most.

Graciela's conversation in simple words with her son speaks volumes on a childs level, allowing him to deal with the pain these things cause.

Well done, much needed, a book military families should all have for their families male or female..

Reviewed by: jim greenwald (2014)


Author's Synopsis

A little boy named Marco is walking to his bedroom in pajamas carrying his stuffed puppy dog when he notices his mommy in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a
sweet, reassuring bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane. He drifts off to sleep with thoughts of his mommy in the airplane and the special surprise she gave him stuck to his fleece pajamas. This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. It's the first bilingual children's book, in English and Spanish, about why mommies wear 

A Sergeant in the House, by Betty Turnbull & Susan Senning

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Sergeant in the House is a great story that will help children understand why a parent(s) serve their country and in so doing need at times to leave. To often we place the emphasis on adults, forgetting how difficult it is for children to deal with and understand separation. This book will be a great aid to parents, who should and need to sit down with thier young children to read and talk about what it means, and the price paid to protect our freedoms.

Reviewed by: jim greenwald (2014)


Author's Synopsis

A Sergeant in the House, tells the story of Lenny who desperately wants a puppy. His father is in the military, the family must move frequently, and Lenny is still very young to care for an animal, so Lenny strikes a bargain: When his daddy becomes a sergeant, Lenny can have a puppy. When his father is deployed to war, Lenny learns what it means to be responsible, to care for his family, and to help around the house. A dreaded phone call brings the news that Lenny's father has been injured and is being sent home. When Lenny's father explains that this means he'll never become a sergeant, Lenny realizes that what he truly wants is his daddy puppy or no puppy. This heartwarming story is a salute to military families across the country, and a cheer for our nation's heroes

Fun Days in Pittsburgh, by Pat McGrath Avery and Joyce Faulkner

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This year! Don't take your children on vacation. Let them "take you."

Pat McGrath Avery and Joyce Faulkner are creating a series of books written for children to educate them and their parents on all there is to do right in one's own backyard. This one is "Fun Days in Pittsburgh" and touches on a portion of what is available to do.

In the process the series presents an opportunity for parents to involve their chilkdren in the vacation plans. A truly unique approach, in a format that will hold a childs attention and have parents sharing rather than telling their children what they will be doing.

It is frankly amazing how many people have no idea what there is to do close to home and better yet, much of it is free or relatively inexpensive..

Reviewed by: jim greenwald (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Pittsburgh is a great place for kids. There's libraries and museums and parks and trails. Come see the birds at the National Aviary and animals in the Zoo. There are trolleys and inclines. You can learn about history, dinosaurs, robots, and ketchup. Complete with beautiful photos of the city, Fun Days in Pittsburgh is a guide for kids of all ages.

Mixed Up; my ant’s mysteries, by Sandra Miller Linhart

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Sandra Linhart has tackled a very complex subject and successfully simplified it so a young child is capable of understanding it. You can feel the heart in this little book. Ms. Linhart has written a parent's teaching guide in one regard and made it a useful tool for explaining any child's heritage. One just has to fill in the blanks. It could be a story about my family. I give "Mixed Up, my ant's mysteries" and hardy thumbs-up.

Reviewed by: Michael D. Mullins (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

Every family has a story worth telling. In this melting-pot of a world, where cultures blend, separate, or sometimes clash, it's important to remember our heritage. Our skins' colors may be different, our grandparents may have strange last names, but if we look far enough into our families' histories, we'll find we're becoming a nation, and a world, of humans with surprisingly similar backgrounds. Teaching our children to learn and appreciate the adversities their ancestors overcame is the first step in showing them how they can improve the world they live in, for generations to come. Mixed Up opens up the dialogue for your child to explore the wonders of their unique, yet similar, ant's mysteries - regardless of the world's ever-changing definition of 'Family'.

Shadows of Combat, Poetry about the Vietnam Era, by Richard C. Geschke & Robert A. Toto

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MWSA Review

Richard Geschke graduated Kent State University with a degree in Comprehensive Social Studies and a ROTC commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. Robert Toto graduated Northeastern University and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. They reported for active duty after graduation and met at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia in November 1969. Shadows of Combat are stories from their time in the U.S. Army, first in Germany and then in Vietnam, and finally back to the “World” and release from active duty in 1972.

The book is a series of poems written by the authors, some during the time period covered, and some stories that floated out of forgotten or long buried memories as late as 2013.

The reader sees the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and Vietnam War through the eyes of the two young Infantry officers thrown into the maelstrom of the Cold War and then the winding down of the hot war in Vietnam. The reader will get a small taste of the sacrifice and hardships our young men and women faced in the 1970’s, and the effect on their morale. Facing the hostility, rejection and indifference the public demonstrated toward veterans returning from Vietnam.

Vietnam is a stain on American honor, not a stain on the brave men and women that were sent to do an undefined job. The stain is on our politicians and the public, especially the anti-war protesters that are now sending more young men and women into places like Iraq and Afghanistan with a once again undefined mission.

Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Authors Robert Toto and Richard Geschke have expanded their horizons of their original book In Our Duffel Bags, Surviving the Vietnam Era with a poetic interpretation of life in the army. Tracking their adventures in Germany, Panama and Vietnam the authors wax the poetic version of what they found in their duffel bags looking deeper into the fast changing times of the Vietnam era. With Shadows of Combat the reader will sense the history of what took place in this crucial time in American history.

Twisted Tongues Vol. 2 “The Invisible Americans” Native American Historical Poetry by jim greenwald

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This second volume of Twisted Tongues is a continuation of teaching Native American history through poetry. Author Jim Greenwald asks his readers to approach his poetry with “an open mind, not with anger or fear as it is only the truth placed in plain sight…to believe or not…” I’m not sure about your background in history, but mine did not include the Native American history that Jim Greenwald has shared with his readers.

I can’t undo the history of my ancestors, but I can share the history found in Twisted Tongues with others, so they might just look at the way things are today and discover the reasons for it. I hope that the reading of this book will affect people’s thinking to the point of action.

The poetry is interspersed with narrative and readers are encouraged to do their own digging for facts, if they do not believe what Author Greenwald states. The poetry is beautiful but the topic filled with sadness. The loss of Native Americans through numerous ways of wiping them out is atrocious—sickening. It causes grieving for the reality of what one people can do to another. Can you imagine receiving payment for the scalp of another human being? Why is it that the genocide of the Native American population is not looked upon the same as the killing of the Jews?

I encourage everyone to take the time to read both volumes of Twisted Tongues. Keep an open mind, follow up with some research, and come to your own conclusions regarding the status of the Native Americans in the United States today. Share your reflections and thoughts with the author…but more importantly, have discussions with people in your circles regarding the issues addressed in these books.

Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

The untold story of Native American history: Twisted Tongues Vol. II follows in the footsteps of Volume I, a Gold Medal Award Winner and Pushcart Prize nominated book. The story of the injustices inflicted on American Indians is a long and sad tale in the history of this nation. The trail of injustice has and is winding its way through past and current history in continuing actions that attempt to deny rights guaranteed by treaty to the tribes. History untold is history relived. Our education system needs textbooks that reflect the truth, failing that, they should, at a minimum, reflect a balance. Open your minds and read this, not with anger or fear as it is only the truth placed in plain sight for you to believe or not as you choose. Forget the Hollywood movies, instead, when done reading the reading of this book is completed, do some of your own investigating, for knowledge is truly power.

Endowed by Their Creator: A Collection of Historic Military Prayers; by Colonel Robert D. Ray

MWSA Review

There is an old saying among the foot soldiers stating that there are no atheists in foxholes. With this context it is no wonder that our Armed Services have used prayer to guide them and console them in their times of need. Colonel Ronald D. Ray has compiled a remarkable study of prayers and it’s used by our military.

The author has presented prayers in chronological order and shows the various uses of prayer under all human conditions. Whether it is war, peacetime, out at sea or in the foxholes the uses of talking to a Supreme Being emanates from Day’s study of prayer as used by the Armed Forces of the United States.

Colonel Ronald D. Ray takes the use of prayer in chronological order from the Revolutionary War to the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq. We see prayers of hope, remorse and help for courage, prayers for the wounded and even prayers for the enemy. Prayers written by enlisted men, officers, chaplains, generals and even by Presidents of the United States are brought forth for all to read and contemplate. This is a true compilation of what prayer is all about within our Armed Forces.

Prayers from all faiths are contained in this book. Prayers come from the enlisted ranks to general officers onto the Commander in Chief. In fact Colonel Ronald D. Day includes the prayers which were incorporated in all of the President’s inaugural addresses.

Some of the content explains the mindsets of men who wear the uniform of the armed services.; It shows us hope, remorse and forgiveness. It even shows prayers intended for our enemies. This book also would serve as a handy reference for chaplains and those so inclined to seek solace in prayer.

One particular prayer given by President Eisenhower on January 20, 1953 would be very relevant in today’s politics. As relevant as that in fact that if it was taken to heart, the very actions of our dysfunctional congress, would benefit from such advice given sixty years before which that beginning prayer of that address gives to us.

Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Prayer has been a part of America since her founding, and has defined her in government, military, and spirit. Congressional statutes, first passed in 1775, require: 1) Exemplary Conduct and; 2) prayer and Divine Services in the US Armed Forces, which were fully practiced and enforced until the last few decades.   This historic collection of American military prayer spans 1774 to the present and contains 280 uniquely American prayers. The collection serves a dual purpose: First, it demonstrates the necessity of prayer to America's military mission. Secondly, at a time when prayer is being disregarded, opposed by political and military leaders, and treated more like ceremonial deism or mere formality in military and non-military circumstances, this collection allows anyone of any station or denomination, the opportunity to draw from its pages a prayer associated with an historic occasion or prayed by an historic figure.  As the voices of presidents and military heroes recorded in this book have continuously maintained, America and her fighting forces must not lose touch with our nation's understanding of the "Creator" named in the Declaration of Independence, and His broad and great endowment of Divine Providence for our "One Nation Under God." For the military to lose or ignore the "religious fervor of the soul" is done at 'great peril." Thus, mindful of this dire need, First Principles presents "Endowed by Their Creator": A Collection of Historic American Military Prayers 1774-Present.

Congressional Integrity, by David Michaelson

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Author David Michaelson shares a bit of his thinking regarding the integrity (or lack thereof) of the U.S. Congress. Let me say that it takes few pages for him to accomplish his mission. To quote his title page, this book is “a satirical insight into Congressional behavior written by a disgruntled author with an opinion shared by countless American taxpayers.” David Michaelson shares his pet peeves regarding Congress, and suspects that readers will share his thoughts and opinions. Readers who agree with his thinking will find the humor in his satirical approach to this subject. Others may or may not; readers will need to determine that for themselves. It rings of satire.

Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

The average American taxpayer was once considered to be a member of the most powerful collective in the United States. How did the awesome power of the vote slip away from concerned citizens and become second banana to the United States Congress? Complacency, sprinkled with a liberal dose of apathy has slowly allowed the shift of power from the people to our elected legislators. Has greed, power, and the desire for wealth fueled a runaway train threatening to derail our Founder's image of the American way of life? Integrity is defined as doing the right thing at the right time, a quality many of our esteemed members of Congress often fail to accomplish.

Unheralded Heroes, by Thomas vanHees

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Author Thomas Van Hees has delivered an entertaining book of both known and unknown heroes from our nations wars. His book "Unheralded Heroes" gives the reader much satisfaction in learning about the many celebrities who have worn the various American uniforms in war time. He takes the reader along on his journey of discovery through many short bios thus creating an energy that gives his book a stronger message. His inclusion of some totally unknown people who were truly heroes adds depth to the full portrait of the history of our wars.

A good book to pick up and read while on a vacation, or sitting around the house - it is easy to be hooked and you will find yourself reading it in one session. This would make a great gift to anyone in the military or their families. This book is an interesting read even for readers who do not like war or history genres and also young adults as well.

Reviewed by: W.H. McDonald Jr.(2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

My book tells about the unsung-unheralded heroes of all wars from the Revolutionary War to the current Gulf Region Wars. My book not only covers lesser known people but important contributions in machinery, technology and medical discoveries to the wars and how these contributions aided in the war effort.

The Road to Frogmore: Turning Slaves into Citizens by Carolyn P. Schriber

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Two close Philadelphians bring their homeopathic medicine and educational skills to the sea island plantations of South Carolina in the first half of the 1860's, in an effort to assist abandoned slaves. They join a variety of other missionaries, military, and powerful political players from the Union during war and, ultimately, scrap with each other during this transitional timeline. In"The Road to Frogmore" everyone faces huge cultural and religious biases as well as harsh elements and unforseen diseases. Their abolitionist ideals to assist the slaves into becoming "freedmen" in the new era proves far harder to accomplish than initially perceived. Author Schriber draws from extensive historical reference to bring realities to life. She introduces the slave's "Gullah" language into the story to add to the complexity of the time, just prior to and after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. An extensive read for those interested in this most trying time in American history.

Reviewed by: Hodge Wood, (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

What could possibly go wrong? Laura Town and her life-long friend Ellen Murray joined the Port Royal Experiment in 1862 to test their abolitionist ideals against the realities of slaves abandoned by their owners in the Low Country of South Carolina. They hoped to find a place they could call home, as well as an outlet for their talents as schoolteacher and doctor. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until . . .

Until they; experienced the climate—violent storms spawned over the Atlantic, searing heat, tainted by swamp gasses, cockroaches, bedbugs, swarming mosquitoes,and “no-see-ums” that left nasty bites in their wake.

Until they met the slaves themselves—full of fear and resentment of white people caused by centuries of cruelty, slaves who had never seen the outside world, slaves whose superstitions included breath-sucking night hags, evil graybeards living in local trees, and unfree spirits rolling down the roads at night in balls of fire.

Until the dedication of the missionaries found itself tested by lack of food, furniture, medicine, and the bare necessities of life. Until the unity of the abolitionist effort fell apart under the strains of religious differences and unrecognized prejudices. 

And until the combination of battle wounds and a raging smallpox epidemic made death their constant companion. Could these two independent women survive the Civil War and achieve their goal of turning slaves into citizens?

Fields of War: Battle of Normandy, by Robert Mueller

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

How many times have you visited a historical site and appreciated its historical significance but really had no serious reference book to enrich your visit which in reality would tell the rest of the story? I have been to many such sites and even upon visiting the gift shop was disappointed to find no such reference book that would add information to my visitation.

If you ever have the chance or desire to visit the battlefields of WWII in northern France you are in luck as I would strongly suggest the historical reference book titled Fields Of War. Contained herein is a complete historical reference to many of the battles to include D Day to the relief of Paris. Included in Robert Mueller’s observations and research we find the inclusion of names and actions of where how and why they were done. Mueller observes the present day battlefields as they are and how they compare to when the battles were fought on those grounds.

Mueller provides directions and helpful hints as to where to go and how to get there. Telephone numbers and websites of museums and cemeteries and memorials are provided. This is an excellent historical reference book to be used in the enrichment of your travels to these historical sites.

Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

On 6 June 1944, 156,000 American, British, and Canadian servicemen fought ashore on beaches along the Normandy coast or landed from the air to begin wresting back Nazi occupied Europe. The D-Day invasion was the largest amphibious landing in history. Although successful, it was only precursor to months of the deadly fighting necessary to dislodge stubborn German defenders from the Norman countryside and eventually liberate France. 

As a visitor’s guide, Fields of War: Battle of Normandy presents the actual locations of key events in the struggle to free France from German occupation. Each battlefield visit begins with a succinct history of events followed by a description of the intense military action that determined success or failure. The narrative revolves around the stories of the privates, NCOs, and junior officers whose sacrifices made success possible. Extensive detailed maps illustrate the flow of the battle across the landscape and the units that participated. Detailed driving instructions and GPS co-ordinates direct visitors to each battlefield site. Descriptions of museums, memorials, cemeteries, and surviving artifacts are given along with their hours of operation. Mailing, email, and web addresses are also provided.

U.S. Army and Marine Corps MRAPS, by Mike Guardia

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

For the historian who wants a better understanding of the evolution from Jeeps to our current fleet of wheeled vehicles, this is highly recommended.

The military loves achronyms and this book explains each mentioned thouroughly. Every class of vehicle, and there variants within that class are covered. The artwork and photography clearly support the written descriptions. It is a short and purposeful book. Anyone interested in our military and history would appreciate it.

Reviewed by: Michael D. Mullins (2014)

 


Author's Synopsis

Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle has undeniably proved its value. Designed to meet the challenges of operating in a counterinsurgency environment, the MRAP has taken survivability to a new level. MRAPs are currently manufactured according to one of three classifications set by the US Department of Defense: Category I, Category II, or Category III. The Category I MRAPs are designed for urban combat. Category II covers the MRAPs designed for convoy security, medical evacuation, and explosive ordnance disposal. The Category III MRAP performs the same function as Category II but is designed to carry more personnel.

Since their introduction in 2007, MRAPs have performed remarkably in the asymmetric warfare environment. Their unique design and survivability characteristics have saved the lives hundreds of soldiers who otherwise would have been lost to landmines or IED attacks. As with any combat system, however, the MRAP is not without its drawbacks.