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Kanaga Diary: Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Lauer

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MWSA Review

Kanaga Diary—Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Gibson Lauer is a moving tribute compiled and written by a daughter in memory of her father. Lauer’s father, Navy Chief Pharmacist's Mate Royce Rainey Gibson, unexpectedly and inexplicably disappeared into the wilderness after setting out for a hunting trip on January 18, 1938, while serving on a remote outpost in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain.  Relying primarily on her father's letters and his diary entries, she documents the details associated with her father's final days and months.

A combination of Lauer's observations, as well as her father's various writings, provide an interesting look into the pre-World War II time frame in general.  The book also provides a thorough accounting of Gibson's experiences—both during his years of Navy service and while braving the barren wilderness in the middle of the Aleutian Islands.  The author’s description of how her mother, sister, and she came to grips with the loss of a well-loved husband and father are particularly poignant.  

Although the specifics of Gibson's disappearance will likely never be unraveled, the reader will certainly get a detailed look at one man's struggle to deal with the elements, boredom, and the challenges of family separation.  Perhaps more importantly, you’ll appreciate how one family learned to cope with loss and move on with their lives.

Review by John Cathcart (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

It’s the winter of 1937-’38. World War II is brewing. At a remote duty station on Kanaga Island, Alaska, in the middle of the Aleutian chain, eight men are engaged in a U. S. Navy mission whose aim is secret even from them. Six of the men record weather data and monitor radio communications between Japanese fishing boats. A seventh is the cook. The eighth man, the medic, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Royse Gibson, has little to do — no one in this small contingent gets sick, no one is injured. There will be no mail in or out for months, and radiograms, the only other means of communication with home, are expensive and difficult to arrange. So Gibson keeps a diary in the form of letters to his wife and two young daughters, to be mailed if ever it’s possible. Then one day Gibson and the cook go seal hunting, and disappear without a trace. Gibson’s letters, finally delivered to his family months later, comprise half of "Kanaga Diary," detailing his daily routine and his far more interesting spare-time activities on the island. The other half of this “double memoir” is his daughter Estelle’s story of the family, struggling, eventually moving on, but keeping his memory alive. In 1995, fifty-seven years after the loss of her father, Estelle and her husband set out on a long-planned visit to Kanaga, to investigate her father’s disappearance and to finally say goodbye.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-99700-328-4
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir, Nonfiction, History
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 132
 

Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln's Bodyguard by Tj Turner

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

T.J. Turner’s Land of Wolves is in some ways alternative history. In his first book of this series, Lincoln’s Bodyguard, Abraham Lincoln does not die at the hands of an assassin at Ford’s Theater. Instead, his half-Indian bodyguard, Joseph Foster, manages to kill John Wilkes Booth. Then Joseph and Lincoln team up to stop a Consortium of industrial magnates who are trying to seize control of the U.S. government to benefit their own financial goals. Land of Wolves jumps forward in time to the 1870s, only to find that the forces of the evil Consortium still pursue Joseph and the “Old Man,” Lincoln. Now their evil designs also threaten to steal the Great Plains from the Native American tribes who live there.

The storyline of the book is in every sense a “thriller.” Without too much emphasis on characterization or settings, the author relies on non-stop action—bloodshed, violence, torture, rape, brutality, and revenge dominate the pages. One life-threatening event follows another until the reader must surely believe all is lost. Plot twists change the outcomes with dizzying frequency. The same lost and stolen knife keeps cropping up whenever the hero needs it. A child faces serial kidnappings and emerges bravely from each one, scarred but unbowed. The faithful woman saves the day—again and again. This is the stuff movies are made of. 

Review by Carolyn Schriber (Aug 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Land of Wolves finds Joseph Foster with Molly as they settle into a new-found life in the hills of Tennessee. But Abraham Lincoln’s former bodyguard, the man who saved the President’s life, cannot escape the Consortium as they come roaring back, killing his mother, abducting his daughter—all to coerce his Congressional testimony on their behalf.

Instead, Joseph and Molly strike the Consortium in their own safe haven of New York City. In a Bonnie and Clyde-like twist, they rob from the Consortium to draw out their leader—General Dorsey. But the hidden plan reveals more than they counted on, exposing the true intention to steal the Black Hills and the gold underneath from the Lakota Sioux. Land of Wolves traverses the American landscape, where only a full reconciliation with Joseph’s native heritage and a cast of characters ripped from history—including Lincoln—can bring true peace and stop General Dorsey and the evil Industrial Consortium.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-202-4
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 336
 

Into a Dark Frontier by John Mangan

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

If you're a person who loves reading a thriller where the main character often enjoys near-superhuman powers—where the "bad guys" are unbelievably bad, and the "good guys" tend to be a bit shady—you'll probably want to give John Mangan's Into a Dark Frontier a try.  Mangan takes the reader on a dangerous journey, filled with nonstop intrigue—and plenty of action and violence.

In the book's early chapters, its main character, ex-Navy SEAL Slade Crawford, is forced to confront enemies who used to be his friends and brothers-in-arms.  He quickly jumps out of the American pan and into the African fire—where civilizational norms have broken down to the point of pure evil and savagery.  Slade's journey will prove to be an exciting and page-turning experience for the reader… as long as he or she is not too squeamish.

Review by John Cathcart (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

In the near future, Africa collapses into an enormous failed state, leaving the continent lawless and severely depopulated. For most, the breakdown brings horror, but for others—the outcast, the desperate, the criminal, and the insane—it allows unparalleled opportunity: a new frontier of danger and unlimited possibility. 

In America, ex-Navy SEAL Slade Crawford, emotionally crippled after twenty years of frontline combat, the dissolution of his marriage, and the accidental death of his son, is falsely accused of terrorism. Slade flees to Africa to build a new life and escape his past, but he is captured by an enigmatic American colonel, Gary Kraven, and blackmailed into tracking down a blood cult that is rampaging across the sub-Sahara. Struggling to stay alive and to free himself from Kraven’s grasp, Slade pursues the cult across the lawless African frontier. He soon learns that nothing is as it seems and that he is standing at the epicenter of a global struggle that will determine the course of history. Slade must decide whether to fight for his life or his honor—he can’t have both.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-60809-261-1
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 356
 

Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life by Ginger Harrington

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Let’s face it—holiness is no easy topic to write about! The whole concept of holy can feel esoteric, unwieldy and largely irrelevant to our daily lives. We tend to think of holiness as something that resides in the realm of the divine rather than the rough and tumble of daily life, right? 

Well, not exactly. After all, the Word is clear, “Be holy, as I am holy.” But how?

Perhaps this is what makes Holy in the Moment work. Ginger Harrington is no advocate for pious perfectionism or holier than thou religious endeavor. Holy in the Moment aspires to practical life strategies and meaningful moments that create patterns of holy living and right alignment with God. Harrington’s approach to holiness is less about religion than real life choices and meaningful relationship.

Holy in the Moment is a reminder of Richard Foster’s powerful insight into what he calls the principle of indirectionWe do not become holy by trying to be holy; we only become holy by growing into right relationship with God (Celebration of Discipline). God takes our small daily offerings of ourselves and makes something that far exceeds our wildest expectations. 

Harrington translates the spiritual disciplines into something less about regimen than real life choices and faith in action. Through her own journey of discovery, Harrington offers simple reminders and holy habits to enable us to live less self-centered and more God-centered lives.

Get real with God about your true feelings. Set the atmosphere in your home. Choose holiness over legalism. Count the cost of perfectionism. Make the sacred choice to forgive. Call someone else's unrecognized gift to the surface. Extend the gift of invitation. Get rid of toxic attitudes.

This pragmatic approach to holiness lays out a road map of intentional moments, daily behaviors, and practical decisions that reorient our lives and put us on the path to deeper relationship with God. Holiness is fruit--the supernatural byproduct of incremental change, daily surrender, and simple obedience. Only God can make us holy.

“Sacred simplicity is a secret to a life well lived,” the author writes, “when we make the most of all our moments for God to change our lives one spiritual choice at a time.”

Review by Dana Tibbitts (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Enjoying life (zoe) in Christ comes in the choices we make moment-by-moment. Transparently sharing her struggles with anxiety, fear, and insecurity, Ginger Harrington invites women to discover how intentional choices made in the moment can become holy habits that open the door to healing and freedom. With a refreshing perspective, she shows that holiness isn’t a rigid standard to keep but a gift to receive through a vital relationship with God, who makes us whole. Holy in the Moment explores the practical power of choices to grow in holiness without the pressure of perfectionism. Through gentle encouragement, biblical insights, and applicable ideas learn to discern feelings and overcome distractions and shame, adapt God’s equation for obedience, live a praying life, discover methods for practicing holiness in parenting and the importance of rest, embrace biblical love and forgiveness, and understand how work becomes holy. Find healing and wholeness with simple choices to love God, embrace truth, and enjoy every moment of life with practical ways to be holy by choosing to trust God, rely on his wisdom, and live from his resources.

ISBN/ASIN: ASIN: B074KM3D2W, ISBN: 978-1501857805
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Religious/Spiritual
Review Genre: Collections—Religious/Spiritual
Number of Pages: 227
 

T.A. for Military Kids: The Awesome Military Kid's Guide to Feelings by Leslie Nelson

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

"T.A. for Military Kids – the Awesome Military Kid’s Guide to Feelings” helps military children understand some of the unique feelings that come with being members of military families. “T.A.” stands for Transactional Analysis, a communications theory. Author Leslie Nelson designed the book to be read by an adult working with a child explaining different feelings and then asking children questions to help them explore their feelings. Stephanie Nelson provides colorful and descriptive illustrations to accompany the text and appeal to kids.

The author’s background as both a counselor and a member of a military family provide an understanding of the subject matter. The questions she asks keeps children engaged and thinking, without probing. She discusses the differences between military children and others including the not-so-great things including frequent moves, new schools, and parent deployments. She also suggests ways for children to replace bad feelings with good ones based on Dr. Claude Steiner’s research.

This is a book that fills a void for adults looking for methods to speak with military children about the realities of being members of military families. It is a good primer to get children talking. It speaks of good feelings, bad feelings, and reminds children to be proud of themselves and their families. This book is an easy read for adults and recommended to be read to eight- to-eleven-year-olds.

MWSA Review by Valerie Ormond (June 2018)


Author's Synopsis

A 2011 Department of Defense report approximates that 44 percent of military personnel have children. When the military enlists a service member, it enlists the entire family. These families make many sacrifices and deserve our respect and appreciation. T. A. for Military Kids: The Awesome Military Kids Guide to Feelings encourages military kids to feel proud of themselves and their contribution to the family, and proud to have a parent in the military, even if military life is challenging for them at times. A kid’s perception of an event like deployment is often very different from an adult’s. Depending on their age, kids may believe they are responsible for the deployed parent going away, while this thought would never enter an adults mind. The book talks about the normal feelings all kids have and then explains the possible emotions experienced by military kids when faced with the events of everyday military life, such as frequent moves, adjusting to new schools, absence of the military parent, and re-establishing family roles when the military parent returns. This guide helps military kids make sense of their experiences and understand that all of their feelings are normal and okay, even the challenging ones. For military parents, T. A. for Military Kids makes life a little easier by encouraging kids to talk about what’s going on in their heads.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4624-0874-0 ASIN: B07922FNLH
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 40

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier's Extraordinary Story of War by Robert DeBard

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier’s Extraordinary Story of War is a gift of a story to readers. Told from “Smokin’ Joe” Brederson’s point of view, this honest account of a farm boy from Wisconsin’s journey through Army training, World War II, post-war France, and back home, is a significant work of military literature. Author Robert DeBard wrote this book in such a conversational manner that the reader experiences a closeness to Joe Brederson, genuinely seeing his emotions. 

Smokin’ Joe is anything but “ordinary.” He wants to fly, but he ends up training with the British commandos instead. Ironically, he ends up jumping out of the planes he was told he couldn’t fly due to his vertigo. He becomes one of the few to survive D-Day, parachuting in behind enemy lines. He continues fighting and standing up for his fellow soldiers in one hard battle after another. Besides Joe’s bravery, this book tells the story of a man who could be counted on time and again. But he’s not perfect, which helps paint the realistic picture of this man and those times.

This book is highly recommended for anyone looking for a glimpse into life during World War II. The author weaves in personal details and heartfelt feelings that make this book much more than just another war novel. At the end, the reader will be glad to have known Joe Brederson the man and his remarkable story.

Review by Valerie Ormond (Aug 2018)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems--including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors--which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

The amazing story of "Smokin' Joe Bredeson reads like fiction, except that it's true. Kept to himself for more than 60 years, the first person account moves well beyond his medals of war to a place of authenticity few veterans have been willing to venture with a message of sacrifice and salvation as relevant today as it was when he lived it. From parachuting in behind enemy lines on D-Day as a member of the renowned "Screaming Eagles" to the Battle of the Buldge where, as an Army Ranger, he finally hit the wall of traumatic stress ending up in a self-described "Loony bin," the reader is presented testimony to the price of freedom for this member of the Greatest Generation. His account of heroism and heartbreak will alert your senses, the vents will rivet your attention, and his ultimate triumph against all odds in post-war France will warm your heart.

ISBN/ASIN: Amazon e-book ISBN: 9781983109737, ASIN: B07DLN1HMV
Book Format(s): Kindle, Paperback
Genre(s): Memoir, Biography
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 217