Literary Fiction

Job 2.0 by Del Staecker

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

God and Lucifer are at it again! More than three millennia after their first contest, the Creator of the Universe and his highest errant minion are struggling a second time over the fate of a single soul. What does this rematch mean - for you? Perfect for believers, seekers, and questioners of all ages, Job 2.0 answers the question of the meaning of life through humor and wisdom that is both entertaining and deeply profound.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 978-0-310107583 (paperback); ISBN 978-0-310107590 (ebook)
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 67

Across the Inlet by Gail Summers

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Anger is easier than forgiveness—but at what cost? There’s much Abby has tried to forget in her life, including her biological father who, besides crueler things, labeled her a “dumbass girl.” Her stepdad, Bill, on the other hand, Abby doesn’t ever want to forget. So when her sister Aurora informs her that he only has days to live, Abby hops on a plane to Alaska. But Aurora lied. While Bill is dying, his is a lingering death, the wearisome kind marked by bedsores and soiled sheets. As days turn into weeks, Abby discovers that, among other things, Aurora has been stealing money from their parents, and her anger begins to harden into hatred. Although Abby’s central desire is to protect Bill from needless suffering, the discord between her and her sisters threatens to destroy the peace she longs to offer him. Thus begins the The Alyeska Saga and the beginning of a transformative journey set in the mysterious land across the inlet of Cook Inlet, Alaska.

ISBN/ASIN: ASIN: B00TKTE6UM (Kindle) ISBN-10: 1505206448 ISBN-13: 978-1505206449 (soft cover)
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 264 

The Mayor of Successive Miracles by Hamlin Tallent, author; Dell Putnam, editor; and Steve Collins, contributor

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

 Jack Grant is a total ass. He rises to fame as a MIG killer over the skies of Iraq and his success leads him to command the Navy's premier aerial combat school, TOPGUN. But, things go awry and the Navy sends him to the Pentagon. The TAILHOOK scandal nips at him. Jack survives a shoot-out with Saddam's thugs in the wilds of Iraq and is given command of a Navy air wing. He miraculously emerges as a hero from every tight spot. But Jack is haunted by his dying wife and by the growing realization that his is a terrible husband, selfish friend, lousy pilot, and an absolute fraud. Jack seeks answers and forgiveness and, just maybe, a final mission against Iran will provide both.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781731038623
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 424


Descent: The Forty Days After the Crucifixion of Jesus by D.S. Lliteras

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Descent is about Jesus' resurrection and ascension that preceded the descent of the spirit―an event that purportedly made saints of ordinary men and women. This is the historical setting and the spiritual landscape upon which two outsiders intruded: Flaccus, a Roman Legionnaire and deserter, and Jeshua, a Judean healer and rogue. Both men are wanted by the Roman Empire and both men manage to hide within a community of disciples. While they evade Rome's authority, each man responds to this evolving faith in a dramatically different way.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-937907-58-7
Book Format: Soft cover
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 197

San Francisco Review of Books“One of the many aspects of Lliteras' writing is the style in which he places words on a page. His dialogue among his characters is set in the usual novel format but each very short chapter stuns, and opens the window for the next. Moving away from his novels about war and Vietnam in particular (and if you have not read them, do!), Descent takes us into the realm of spiritual aspects of Christianity in a manner that places us wholly in the framework of the significance of the concept of the crucifixion and resurrection and ascension and descent of the Holy Spirit in a manner that is revelatory to all people. This is another work by D.S. Lliteras that provokes a stringent “YES!” from the reader. He sees the world as few are able, and shares the meaning of feeling with us. Quite simply, this is a brilliant little novel—especially for those who struggle with the concept of sainthood and how it happens.”

http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com/2019/01/book-review-descent-forty-days-after.html

Booklist“Fans of Lliteras's earlier novels will enjoy the fast pace of Descent and his insistence of portraying ordinary people.”

The VVA Veteran—“Descent is an exciting return to Lliteras' biblical series. In it, Danny Lliteras shows off his skills with military fiction, and the result is another fine, poetic and spiritual novel. You can feel drama and tension on every page. The military language works well to increase the tensions I felt in the pit of the stomach. I recommend this novel to fans of Lliteras’ biblical books and his military books. He has produced another winner.”

Descent by D.S. Lliteras https://vvabooks.wordpress.com/category/fiction/

D.S. Lliteras is the author of fourteen books that have received national and international acclaim. His short stories and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, and anthologies. He was an FMF Corpsman & Combat Diver in the U.S. Marine Corps, a Diving & Salvage Officer in the U.S. Navy, and a professional Firefighter in the Norfolk (VA) Fire Department.—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._S._Lliteras

Ist RECON ASSOCIATION: Descent—Sylables of Rain—Viet Man—Flames and Smoke Visible—In A Warrior's Romance

http://1streconbn.org/books.html

Additional Literary Acclaim About D.S. Lliteras:

Best Biblical Novels on Amazon—http://www.junglefind.com/historical-fiction/best-biblical-novels/

The Thieves of Golgotha

“Best Biblical Novel on Amazon.”—Jungle Find 2016

“Startling, surprisingly successful.”—Booklist

“Thought-provoking...Recommended.”—Library Journal

“A sympathetic fictional portrait.”—Publishers Weekly

“A tough, vivid, extraordinary novel.”—Christian Fiction, A Guide to the Genre

Judas the Gentile

“Best Biblical Novel on Amazon.”—Jungle Find 2016

“Top 10 Christian Novel 2000. Subtle, provocative.”—Booklist

“A true work of enduring literature.”—Wisconsin Bookwatch

“So honest and elemental it seems like the truth.”—Christian Fiction, A Guide to the Genre

Jerusalem's Rain

“Great achievement.”—Booklist

“Best Genre Fiction 2003. Outstanding biblical novel.”—Library Journal

“A new look at Peter and his anguish.”—Publishers Weekly

The Silence of John

“Outstanding. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal

“Lliteras sees in women the best humankind has to offer.”—Booklist

“Explores the loyalty and sacrifice of Jesus' female disciples”—Publishers Weekly

The Master of Secrets

“Best Genre Fiction 2007. Mesmerizing story of faith.”—Library Journal

“Lliteras again delivers an imaginary gripping story.”—Publishers Weekly

“Lliteras continues his chronicles of crucifixion...Charming tale.”—Booklist

“Beautifully written. Highly recommended.”—Church Libraries Magazine

“Lliteras answers questions his novel raises with literary skill.”—Presbyterians Today

 “Occasionally the text reads like a parable.”—CBS Retailer+Resources

Fight by Betsy Ross

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MWSA Review

Fight is a novel about a group of soldiers struggling with fitting into the civilian world after deployment in the Middle East. Back in the United States, the characters reveal their stories, told mostly through Leslie and John, about why and how they are struggling with life back at home. The reader learns of each one’s war experience through the characters’ internal thoughts and flashbacks. 

The veterans help each other cope with their demons as they take advantage of counseling offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their resistance to group therapy comes through, although they do help each other cope with tragic suicides and survivor’s guilt.

They grow to rely on each other for healing and moving forward with their lives, understanding that it will take time and they will always be there for each other.

Review by Patricia Walkow (April 2019)

MWSA's evaluation found a number of technical problems (misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization) as well as other problems in one or more of the following evaluation areas: content, style, and/or visual.  This normally indicates a need for further editing.


Author's Synopsis

 Leslie and John both served in the Army and crossed paths under unfortunate events. Now that they are out, they are having to readapt to civilian life and it's not as easy as what they were originally told. However, they find out how important it is to stay close with their fellow Veterans who have different backgrounds and stories, but they all share one thing: adapting to their old life as a civilian isn't as easy as it looks.

ISBN/ASIN: 1641663197, B077WLQ3RD
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 97

Bubbleheads: The Med Run by Steven Brock

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MWSA Review

If you’ve always wondered how 126 sailors manage to live together underwater in a 300-foot metal tube for weeks at a time, you are about to find out.  Garrett Daniels is on his first underwater cruise to the Mediterranean, and he has much to discover about life in a submarine. His descriptions of canned food, 90-second showers, triple-stacked bunkbeds, and the fine points of how one “flushes” underwater will make you thank your lucky stars for your everyday conveniences.

If you were a teenager in the late seventies and early eighties, the setting of this novel will make you recall your carefree youth. If Reagan was the first president you remember well, if your favorite television show was “Gilligan’s Island, “and your favorite singer was Hank Williams Jr., you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. If you’re older, you’ll be shaking your head at these crazy kids. If you’re a child of the twenty-first century, many of the details will fly right over your head.

If you were in the Navy, you know who the bubbleheads are, and if you were ever a submariner, you probably don’t mind being called a bubblehead. If you were once a bubblehead, however, you will either love or hate this book.  For the rest of us landlubbers, the book may offer too much information. Brock shares with his readers all the ugly details—the odors, the rude noises, the cravings, and the hazings that take place aboard ship when men have been under water for too long. Did you know, for instance that people don't get seasick when a submarine is traveling under water? Once the submarine surfaces, its crews are as susceptible to seasickness as the rest of us, and Brock does not spare the reader from all the disgusting details.

MWSA Review by Carolyn Schriber (March 2019)

MWSA's evaluation found a number of technical problems (misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization) as well as other problems in one or more of the following evaluation areas: content, style, and/or layout and visual.  This normally indicates a need for further editing.


Author's Synopsis

Irreverent dramedy about a nuclear submarine on a 1980s Mediterranean Run. Visit exotic ports with John and Garret and the rest of the crew as they endure the isolation, challenges, and lost loves navigating the USS Lapon deep beneath the ocean’s waves.

ISBN/ASIN: 9780692166178
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 278

Flowers from Afghanistan by Suzy Parish

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MWSA Review

In “Flowers from Afghanistan” by Suzy Parish, the narrator, Mac, grieving the death of his young son, leaves his wife of seven years at home to accept a year-long position in Afghanistan training police officers. Through his friendships with military and civilian Americans on base and a local contract worker, Gil, and his young son, Mac begins to understand that others’ lives are also filled with pain, and that his attempts to ignore or escape from suffering are fruitless. Although Mac resists Sophie and her faith in God for a long while, in the end he discovers the redemptive power of love.  

Set mainly in Afghanistan, the novel is filled with intriguing glimpses into life in an exotic, war-torn country. The author presents interesting details (many of which, the author acknowledges, come from her husband’s descriptions of his experiences as a police trainer in Afghanistan) of the Afghan countryside and customs as well as life on base. For example, Mac at one point notes that in Afghanistan “beards were honored as the sign of an elder.” At their best, the images reveal a character’s feelings or mindset, as when Mac compares the bright orange sky to “the color of ice cream on a stick I bought as a kid” or when he notes how Sophie, clearly disappointed in his lack of responsiveness, “unwrapped herself from my arm, like removing last year’s worn jacket.” While reading, I often found myself marveling at the strength of an image or a bit of dialogue, such as the time when Sophie asks Mac, who gives her so little emotional support, “Can’t you just pick me up some flowers?” 

“Flowers from Afghanistan,” directed at a Christian audience, is about redemption from suffering. Mac, despite his obtuseness, does grow in faith and ability to love. To me, however, despite the novel’s exemplary use of metaphorical language, Mac and the other characters remain essentially flat and one-dimensional, and the most crucial relationships lack development. Little Mac’s death and Mac’s flight to Afghanistan, for instance, both come too quickly in the book, so that we aren’t immediately drawn into the story and don’t really understand Mac’s motivations. While perhaps not sophisticated enough for a wide adult audience, with some revision “Flowers from Afghanistan” could appeal to YA readers.
 
MWSA Review by Nancy Arbuthnot (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base---including a local barber and his precocious little boy---Mac's heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there's still something---and someone---worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 978-1-5223-0116-5  ASIN B07BZ2CWXQ
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 200
 

The Perfection of Valor by Bob Mustin

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MWSA Review

Bob Mustin has written another fine book in The Perfection of Valor. A quick and easy read, the author writes about the events of August 29, 2005, perhaps most notable to many for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

However, in The Perfection of Valor, Mustin uses Katrina as one of his many subplots to pile on the stress affecting Cary Fletcher as August 29 is also the day Cary is supposed to be getting married. While the approaching storm indirectly has its affect on Cary, he is living upstate in Louisiana, and his concern is for his bride's sister still in New Orleans. The larger scenario affecting Cary is one he's had to endure since childhood, his relationship with his father, a highly decorated Marine now suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home. On the morning of the day he is to be married, Cary introduces Cornelia, his fiancé, to his father, only to have his father insult Cornelia and display his racial prejudice.  On top of this, Cary discovers that his father may have hit his mother, bruising and cutting her face. The author has tossed all this on his protagonist on the day of his planned wedding.  I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys literary fiction, and especially to those who might want to discover how this book ends. 

MWSA Review by Bob Doerr (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Colonel Fletcher Hinton, USMC, retired, has had a storied career, but one aspect of his life remains wanting as his end approaches: family. Son Cary, a former Marine and now a college professor, is about to marry outside his race, and the old man, suffering a bout of dementia, insults Cary's fiancee. Too, Cary has moved his mother away from Fletcher, fearing the old man has hit her. This then is Fletcher Hinton's final contest – proving himself a good father and husband as he battles dementia and the stain that seems to tarnish his name and, through him, the Corps.

ISBN/ASIN: 987-1642556889/B07BPDRQ7S
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction, History
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 208
 

Syllables of Rain by D. S. Lliteras

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

D.S. Lliteras' Syllables of Rain is both subtly jarring and comforting in nature. The imagery evoked by Lliteras—by combining his emotionally charged, yet succinct prose with impactful haiku — leaves the reader wanting more, but fulfilled just the same.

In Syllables of Rain, Lliteras welcomes us to follow the journey of Llewellen, a Vietnam veteran, as he attempts to come to terms with many aspects of his past so that he may embrace his present life and love. He reconnects with Cookie, also a veteran, to reconnect with life itself. Syllables of Rain churned emotions within me—I cried, I contemplated, and I empathized.

 D.S. Lliteras skillfully takes us on an poignant journey with a gratifying conclusion in this unconventional novel. I recommend Syllables of Rain whole-heartedly.

Review by Sandi Linhart (March 2018)


Author's Synopsis

Syllables of Rain by D.S. Lliteras
Two Vietnam veterans are determined to confront their war-time pasts and discover that they must also struggle to claim a future with the women they love.

Syllables of Rain is available on-line, at bookstores, and at public libraries. Please inform your librarian that this book is endorsed in Library Journal if your local library doesn't have it.
The VVA Veteran—“Syllables of Rain is a novel of pure genius by D.S. Lliteras....My favorite kind of Vietnam War book is short, poetical, and filled with hard-fought truth....This is that book. D.S. Lliteras brings his unique genius to bear on the world of the Vietnam War veteran.”

https://vvabooks.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/syllables-of-rain-by-d-s-lliteras/

Library Journal—“Lliteras has created a compact, emotionally charged snapshot of two soldiers trying to make sense of the world around them. Combining prose and poetry, this slim novel [Syllables of Rain] will leave a lasting impression on anyone who is or has known a military veteran.”

Publishers Weekly—“The author models his book on Japanese haibun—it’s a slim volume in a prose style full of figurative language and interspersed with haiku. This touching book has some lovely phrases and a satisfactory resolution.”

The Echo World—“Syllables of Rain is a story about two Vietnam veterans. What is most stunning about this book, however, is the style. It is simple, approachable, bittersweet and poetic. Many veterans suffer from post traumatic stress, get addicted to drugs and alcohol, and even end up homeless. This book tells of two of those veterans, and follows their struggle to pull themselves back together. This book touches your heart, expands your empathy and inspires you to go on, no matter the odds.”

The Virginian-Pilot—“Syllables of Rain is a tripwire-taut account of two tough combat vets and their troubled attempts at re-entry into civilization. But make no mistake, Lliteras's stubborn lighthouse-turn to art and literature leaves his readers with one thing more: Hope. Wounded eagle or fallen angel, this raging writer stubbornly remains his brother's keeper.”
 

ISBN: 978-7-937907-52-5
Format: Soft Cover
Review Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 155
 

"Syllables of Rain is a brilliant work of pure genius by D.S. Lliteras . . . My favorite kind of Vietnam War book is short, poetical, and filled with hard-fought truths . . . This is that book. Distilled from the water of a career of writing books like nobody else can write, D.S. Lliteras has brought his unique genius to bear on the world of the Vietnam veteran . . . Viet Man was the gritty in-country novel, but Syllables of Rain is the poetic novel of a lifetime of coping with war, of struggling to make peace with Vietnam . . . I'd thought that D.S. Lliteras' previous book, Viet Man, was untoppable, but I was wrong. His new book did the trick and more besides."—The VVA Veteran


"Navy Corpsman and Marine Corps League Member D. S. Lliteras uses a Japanese-style of writing called 'haibun' to express the journey of two combat veterans who struggle living life after war . . . offers a glimpse of the struggle many [veterans] seek to overcome. Many veterans do not find a way to deal with the struggle and a glimmer of hope can mean a great deal. This is an easy read with direct and eloquent text."—SEMPER FI (The Magazine of the Marine Corps League) - Vol. 74, No. 2, Spring 2018


"An inherently compelling and fully engaging read from beginning to end, [MBR'S Internet Bookwatch] reviews novelist D.S. Lliteras as having a genuine flair for originality, deftly crafted characters, and a distinctively poetic style of storytelling. The result is a novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf . . . very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections."—Midwest Book Review ("Internet Bookwatch")


"[A] sparse yet vital new novel from acclaimed writer and returning Vietnam vet D. S. Lliteras . . . Syllables of Rain attempts and achieves something far richer than yet another war story. The book is itself a survivor of the Viet Nam War—a starkly soulful testament to grief and renewal possessed of deep yet airy nuance, and a shadow world of unspoken rage and unseen thought. A carefully provocative stylist, Lliteras ups his game in this new work by marrying his prose with short etches of Zen-drenched poetry presented at the end of each short chapter in the Japanese 'haibun' style most akin to haiku. Less is certainly more throughout, as the short poems serve to exemplify and sometimes contradict what characters say and do across each smooth chapter.

There is also a great amount of poetry in the prose as well. Seemingly simple, even mundane, words like 'okay,' 'alright,' 'yes,' and 'no' are repeated both in dialogue and description throughout the book in a way that feels more like rich incantation than bored repetition. In a subtly earned way, this hypnotically spare novel of only 176 pages stands as the mirror opposite of protagonist Leopold Bloom's single day evoke over more than 700 pages in James Joyce's 1920s classic Ulysses. Both books can be said to be about heroes—and both books are heroic in each authors' style and method . . . how lucky we are that this small miracle of a book has been put down on the written page."—Literary Heist (Ontario, Canada)

https://www.literaryheist.com/articles/coming-home-to-the-poetics-of-war-and-peace/

"D.S. Lliteras' approach in this brave new novel is both very Miles (as in Davis) and also very Kerouac (as in the Beat Generation novel The Dharma Bums). Syllables of Rain is a book that delivers what is most artful and true in Lliteras' writing."—The MacWire (TMW) Worthy Entertainment & Celebrity News 

The Chords of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez, Jr.

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MWSA Review

Max is only seventeen at the beginning of this saga. His life has fallen apart because of his own bad decisions. He’s been kicked out of his own band. He’s given up on education. His landlord has locked him out of his room and is selling off his possessions on the curb, and even his girlfriend has left him. He seeks to save himself by joining the Army, like the heroes of the war movies he watches. This is a novel inspired by a true story, and that definition explains many of the book’s difficulties. If this book is a novel, then readers may justifiably complain that the supporting characters are not well-enough developed. If it’s a memoir, then it lacks sufficient introspection The main character fails to fully convey the angst of a homeless teenager or the emotional impact of the horrors of war. 

The details will not please an older generation of readers, who will be befuddled by the numerous mentions of music and films they do not recognize. Others will complain that there is too much sex, too much drug use, too many tattoos, too many swear words, including that f-one. In short, there’s too much punk and too many punk rockers. Much of the success of a book comes from the story’s ability to pull the reader into the narrative. The post 9/11 rock music scene is a pretty far stretch for most baby-boomers.

The book will not please the grammarians—those who notice every error of punctuation and chronology. Nor will it please those who expect an author to follow all the rules of writing, whatever those may be. The philosophers won’t like Max’s over-simplification of cosmic crises.  And the book will not satisfy those looking for a typical coming-of-age narrative. Max is unlikeable at the beginning of the book, and he hasn’t changed a great deal by the end. He still seeks the answers to his problems in the life of music he once left behind. And what good is a coming-of-age story if the young person hasn’t found a new meaning of life, a purpose that drives him, or a moral ruler against which to measure his own actions and those of others?

And yet . . . and yet . . . this may well turn out to be an important book—one that provides our literary world with an early understanding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Max and his friends represent a generation of soldiers caught somewhere between the heroism of World War II and the bitterness of Vietnam. Perhaps we are still too close to the period to fully comprehend what that means for them and for their futures.

MWSA Reviewer: Carolyn Schriber

Author's Synopsis

Inspired by Sam Gonzalez’s true story, "The Chords of War" is the tale of punk rock teenager Max Rivera from Florida, who seeks purpose as he tries to understand why his life always teeters between music and mayhem. After he's kicked out of his band on tour, he joins the Army to change his life. It's after 9/11, and he finds himself under fire in Iraq, part of the surge in Baquabah. In order to deal with his teen angst and raging hormones among daily patrols, coordinated battles, and women fighting alongside him, Max creates a new band with soldiers. Will Max and his friends make it?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0986326523
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 280
 

QL 4; by James Garrison

MWSA Review
This is the fictionalized story of the author’s year as a drafted MP in Vietnam during the war.  The story moves forward in a vaguely chronological pace, but the chapters focus on one individual at a time whose name is in the chapter title.  Everything that went wrong on bases throughout Vietnam is described as all happening at this small base, and the young MP observes hints of problems while being unsure who can be trusted among his superiors. He comes to realize that the illegal activities involve people in town and in the ranks of their counterparts in the South Vietnamese Army, and he questions the deaths of those who may have become aware of the problems.  His duties range from mind-numbing gate guard duties to patrols in town that can be dangerous to crowd-control during a riot.  Underlying the story of relationships during the Vietnam war are the cultural tensions between some Americans and the native Vietnamese as well as between black and white American soldiers and between the more and less educated soldiers.

While the extreme foul language is off-putting at first, the reader is drawn into the story as it develops.  The main character, SPF4 Bell, has completed one year of law school before being drafted.  Not only is he unhappy to be in Vietnam because he does not support the war, but the regular army members (referred to as lifers by Bell) are not impressed with college boys who do not know how to fight or police.  Bell and his fellow “new guys” have had only 8 weeks of training and arrive to find that they will learn their new duties “on the job” while patrolling with experienced army regulars who may or may not be trustworthy.  Some of these senior soldiers are biased against the native people, blacks, Jews, and the more educated.  Some are trigger happy – especially when drunk, which is frequently.  Bell becomes more and more curious and, of course, gets into more and more trouble while sometimes being surprised about the support he receives.
Reviewed by Nancy Kauffman, MWSA Reviewer 

Author's Synopsis:
PFC Justin Bell, a newly-minted U.S. Army MP, quickly discovers that there’s more than a war going on along QL 4, the main road from Saigon into the Mekong Delta. It’s old-fashioned crime and corruption. He doesn’t want to get involved, just serve out his time and go home, but life for an American MP in Vietnam in 1970 doesn’t work that way. QL 4 leads Bell deep into a swamp of deception, mayhem, and death that insinuates its way both into towns the MPs patrol each day and into the old French villa where they live.

ISBN/ASIN: ASIN: B07116M6GV
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 337
 

Viet Man; by D. S. Lliteras

MWSA Review
Small irritations make wonderful essay topics. Almost anyone can describe the annoyance of a faucet dripping somewhere in the wee hours of the morning—or the incessant buzzing of a solitary mosquito seeking dinner at midnight—or the soreness of a nagging hangnail when no manicure scissors are available. Words and images flow. When it comes to agonizing pain that keeps going on day after day, paralyzing fear, or unimaginable loss, however, the story is quite different.  Words fail, memories shatter, eloquence dies on the tongue. Somehow there develops a distinct inverse relationship between the depth of our feelings and our ability to remember them and talk about them. 

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the great number of recent novels and memoirs about the Vietnam War. Veterans have finally received approval and encouragement to talk about their experiences, only to find that they cannot easily communicate their feelings to those who were not there with them. When an author succeeds in carrying his readers directly into the jungles, the rice paddies, the strangely impersonal hootches and dusty base camps, the world of drugs and blank-eyed mama-sans, the impact of his words makes us gasp for breath and struggle for understanding.

D. S. Lliteras has managed to do exactly that in his tersely-worded literary novel, Viet Man. His narrator has no name other than “Doc.” He is a navy  corpsman; who he was back home doesn’t matter. He is young--just out of high school but equipped with perceptive powers of memory and observation. He arrives in Vietnam with no idea of what the war holds in store for him, but he is determined to take charge of this experience and meet it head on. As readers, we follow him through his first patrols, his first kill, his first visit to the local red light district, the growing recognition of his own mortality. When he describes a scene, his details are specific and honest. We don’t just learn what’s going on; we see it and smell it, feel it and hear it. In peaceful moments he speaks to us in sentences and paragraphs. When danger threatens or fear overwhelms, his mental state retreats into disjointed phrases or single words. We learn about his broken romance back home only when something triggers his own memories. And in the end, we accompany him when he returns stateside, only to find that those at home cannot begin to understand that he now lives in a different world than the one they know.

This is a powerful novel, eloquent while using the simplest of vocabulary and poetic in its clear-eyed imagery. Read it. Your understanding of this tumultuous period of our history will be forever enriched.
Review by Carolyn Schriber, MWSA Reviewer
 

Author's Synopsis:
Viet Man is about the transformation of a young man who enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War, was trained as a hospital corpsman, was transferred into the Marine Corps, then sent to Vietnam where he joined the elite First Recon. It is a first person narrative of alternating episodes experienced in the rear and in the bush. In the rear, Doc encounters a straw-haired mid-western farm boy who shows him how to prepare a meal of long-rats, and Loopie, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx who shares a guilt-torn confession that borders on confabulation. In the bush, Doc experiences the terror of accidentally releasing a live grenade among his men, of rushing to rescue a wounded marine, and of sharing a quiet conversation in a bunker with Trang, a South Vietnamese soldier. After being assigned to the Recon Dive Team and attending the Navy diving school in the Philip-pines, he returns to Vietnam were he engages in numerous combat dives and river operations. At the end of his tour, he is processed out of the military. And upon his return to his hometown as a veteran, he faces a jarring reception of insolence, indifference, and fragmented flashbacks. In Viet Man, D.S. Lliteras unlocks the inner mystery of a man’s combat experience. It is poetic and haunting, authentic and amusing. It is a story told by a man who ultimately survives the war and returns to his homeland, but another country will forever dwell in his soul.

Viet Man (Introspection): The bones of war strip a combatant down to the essentials: neutral mind, disjointed memories, unclear emotions.

The truth about remembering war is the inability to be factually accurate or objective. No combat veteran is able to convey to a civilian what it is all about—it’s impossible. We remember glimpses of war, punctuated by actual truth. The memory of an incident is usually fragmentary. Sometimes these fragments are long, but they are never whole. In fact, a war story that is too whole is usually suspect. A story that reveals too much either comes from a man who wasn’t there or from a man who has been beguiled by the myth surrounding his post war.

Remembering is one thing, collective remembering is another— it’s not you, it’s what others want you to be; it’s not about truth, it’s about glory. And that’s never the true story. Nobody should want to be more than the truth. 

Nobody should want the glory of war.

ISBN: 978-1-937907-32-7
Historical Fiction/ Literary Fiction
Format: Soft Cover (and Kindle)
Page count: 193

The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris; by Ed Cobleigh

Author's Synopsis:
The Pilot is in love with fighter planes, a beautiful woman, and Paris.  He must choose one of the three.  One choice would betray the woman he can't resist, who may be a spy or someone much more.  The Pilot has mastered many fighters, from the treacherous Sopwith Camel to the stiletto F-104 Starfighter, from the Spitfire to the F-16 Viper.  This challenge is different.  He can't shoot down the future, but the past may hold the key to his present.

ISBN/ASIN: 9780692392065
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s):Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Review Genre: Fiction—Literary Fiction
Number of Pages : 202
 

Guy's Odyssey; by Seth Bleuer

MWSA Review
In Guy's Odyssey, Seth Bleuer's study in fiction of a veteran suffering from a traumatic head injury and PTSD, Bleuer tells the intense struggle of a man trying to hold on to his sanity. I felt empathy for the author's main character, Guy, right from the beginning of the story. Needless to say, I wanted to find out how Guy would turn out and how the story would end.

The author did a great job in developing the downward spiral, emotional and physical, in which Guy is trapped. A nasty head injury, combined with witnessing too much violence, and finally reaching a point where he is over-medicating himself with drugs that undoubtedly have a longer list of side affects than one could ever remember. The author holds few punches and pulls the reader into Guy's world. Whether that world is imaginary or real, even Guy is no longer sure.

Recommend this book to anyone interested in the struggle of so many veterans who return from combat with physical as well as emotional injuries only to find their adjustment complicated by the medications that are supposed to do them good.
Review by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

 

Author's Synopsis:
It’s just another day in Iraq for Guy, a young American soldier. But when he suffers a head wound in a car bomb attack in Baghdad his real journey begins. 

As the blast sends him on a deadly odyssey through the very fabric of time, he finds the beautiful yet mysterious disappearing sand. But Guy quickly realizes things aren’t what they seem and he may be witnessing his own destruction. With the reality warp tearing him apart, he has only his fading mind and a mysterious journal to help him solve the puzzle before time runs out.

His desperate search for an answer leads him to a single moment where everything hangs in the balance. Does this mysterious journal hold the clues to his salvation, or is it the ramblings of a madman? Can he figure out the mystery and save himself, or is the end of his odyssey written before his journey even begins?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9987808-0-8
Book Format(s): Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages:
 

Sheppard and the French Rescue; by G. William Weatherly

 

MWSA Review
G. William Weatherly brings his troubled hero Sheppard McCloud and the crew of the Argonne back for another thrilling alternative history tale.

World War II (Weatherly's alternative version) isn't going so well for the Allied powers. France's navy, while out of the war right now, is trapped, and will turn the tide of whichever side for which it fights. The British and Americans launch a desperate scheme to rescue the free French fleet, but the German navy will stop at nothing to force the French to their side. Germany's allies, the Italian navy, have decided independently that if the French won't join the fight, they need to be put on the bottom to keep them out of the war. Can the Argonne beat massive odds and rescue the free French fleet?

Weatherly's understanding of WWII naval combat is exceptional, and for the purists he does an excellent job in the prologue explaining what circumstances are different in his alternative version of history. He changes what he wants to change, but doesn’t lose the feel of historical naval combat as relayed by history books and memoirs of the time. The result is an interesting, intriguing, exciting story that history and alternative history fans alike will enjoy. 
Reviewed by Rob Ballister, MWSA Awards Director

Author's Synopsis:
Captain Sheppard McCloud is unexpectedly called to Washington in May of 1942 while his ship, the battle cruiser Argonne is in dry dock undergoing repairs from the Battle of Cape Vilan. At a luncheon with President Roosevelt and the new head of the OSS, he is informed of his next mission—this time unsupported, in a race against General Rommel’s panzers to save the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kébir. Intrigue, spies, the ‘Maquis’, plots by both the Italians and his nemesis from Sheppard of the Argonne German Admiral Schröder, make a thrilling page turner that readers will find hard to put down.

This is the second book in the continuing saga of Captain Sheppard McCloud and his crew on the battle cruiser Argonne.  The first book, "Sheppard of the Argonne", won a 2016 Gold Medal from MWSA in the category of Literary Fiction.  See advance reviews of the new book, "Sheppard and the French Rescue" , on Amazon.com.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-63393--362-0
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 371
 

The Last Road Home; by Danny Johnson

MWSA Review
Danny Johnson may have done himself a disservice in writing The Last Road Home, as he has set the bar exceedingly high for himself in all future work. Masterfully crafted and beautifully executed, this book draws readers right in and holds them close for the entire journey. Johnson tackles sensitive issues like interracial relationships, family tragedies, and the brutality of combat and its aftermath with an unapologetic yet tactful tone. Those prone to displaying their emotions may want to read this book in private, as the author leaves no emotion untapped. You will laugh, and tear up, and become enraged, and worry right along with these characters.

It takes supreme skill and a hefty dose of talent to break out of the gate in full stride and never miss a step. Johnson makes it look easy as he sets one scene after another, following Junebug from childhood to the jungles of Vietnam with just the right blend of detail to bring it all to life. Each leg of Junebug’s journey adds another layer of richness to the tale, right up until the last page. There is something here for readers of all genres. 
Review by Barbara Allen, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Summary:
From Pushcart Prize nominee Danny Johnson comes a powerful novel that explores race relations, first love, and coming-of-age in North Carolina in the 1950s and ‘60s. At eight years old, Raeford “Junebug” Hurley has known more than his share of hard lessons. After the sudden death of his parents, he goes to live with his grandparents on a farm surrounded by tobacco fields and lonesome woods. There he meets Fancy Stroud and her twin brother, Lightning, the children of black sharecroppers on a neighboring farm. As years pass, the friendship be- tween Junebug and bright, compassionate Fancy takes on a deeper intensity. Junebug, aware of all the ways in which he and Fancy are more alike than different, habitually bucks against the casual bigotry that surrounds them—dangerous in a community ruled by the Klan. On the brink of adulthood, Junebug is drawn into a moneymaking scheme that goes awry—and leaves him with a dark secret he must keep from those he loves. And as Fancy, tired of saying yes’um and living scared, tries to find her place in the world, Junebug embarks on a journey that will take him through loss and war toward a hard-won understanding. At once tender and unflinching, The Last Road Home delves deep into the gritty, violent realities of the South’s turbulent past, yet evokes the universal hunger for belonging.

ISBN/ASIN: 13L 978-1-4967-0249-4
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 312

Clear To Lift; by Anne A. Wilson

MWSA Review
Clear to Lift by Anne Wilson can best be described as an action novel with a side of romance. From the first page to the last we are swept into the world of search and rescue in the mountains of Nevada. Alison Malone, recently stationed at Naval Air Station Fallon, feels that her career in the Navy has stagnated. Desperate to get her career back on track, she resolutely pushes for a transfer away from a duty station she considers to be a step in the wrong direction. But as she learns new skills and builds relationships within both the military and civilian communities, her resolve wavers. And her desire to be stationed near her corporate-investor fiancé in San Diego begins to crumble.

Clear to Lift follows in the footsteps of Wilson’s first novel, Hover, in that both feature a strong female protagonist making her way in the military. It’s clear that Wilson writes what she knows. Her time as a Navy helicopter pilot shines through in the action sequences and the plot details. Her writing is engaging and complex. The characters, especially those in the military, have a ring of truth.

Wilson’s bio will tell you that she graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served for nine years as a helicopter pilot. After that she worked in the semiconductor industry before owning a triathlon coaching company with her husband. Although her career to date has focused on outdoor ventures and high-altitude rescue specialties, I believe that Wilson is first and foremost a writer. Rather than thinking of her as an adventurous pilot who enjoys writing, I think of her as a writer who happens to have amassed an amazing skill set, one that allows her to share with her readers a world that most people only dream of. 
Review by Betsy Beard, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Alison Malone has been assigned to a search and rescue team based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, near the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and far from her former elite H-60 squadron. A rule follower by nature, Alison is exasperated and outraged every time she flies with her mission commander, "Boomer" Marks, for whom military procedures are merely a suggestion. Alison is desperate to be transferred out of the boonies, where careers stagnate, and back to her life and fiancé in San Diego.

Alison's defenses start to slip when she meets mountain guide Will Cavanaugh during a particularly dicey mission. Will introduces her to a wild, beautiful world of adventure that she has never known before. Stranded on a mountain during a sudden dangerous blizzard, Alison questions every truth she thought she knew about herself. When Will braves the storm to save her life, she must confront the fact that she has been living a lie. But is it too late to change course?

Full of action and adventure, dangerous and heart-stopping rescues, blizzards and floods, family secrets and second chances, Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson is a thrilling woman's journey as she finds confidence, truth, love, and herself against the majestic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0765378514
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 320

The Twilight of the Day, by Ian A. O'Connor

MWSA Review
"In The Twilight of the Day, author Ian A. O'Connor tells an exciting tale that could be more fact than fiction. Based on actual events and a recurring theory, the author sets the stage for the secret transfer of American prisoners of war from North Vietnam to Libya at the end of the Viet Nam war. This story is totally believable and is told in a way that keeps the reader's attention from the first chapter until the end. 

The fact that all of the transferred POW's have degrees in a field related to nuclear physics or nuclear engineering gave me an idea right away what Gaddafi's regime was up to.  Their Libyan kidnappers demand that the American military personnel build a nuclear weapon.  They American's try to resist until it is made clear that they are not the only ones at risk.  Their families back in the US are too.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in historical fiction, the Vietnam war, and the fate of our still missing POWs.
Reviewed by Bob Doerr, MWSA Reviewer

Author's Synopsis:
The Twilight of the Day is a powerful story of human triumph in the face of impossible odds. It is a story of hope; a story of one man's resolute faith in God and country when lesser men would have succumbed.

Navy Captain James Vincent Trader endured years of relentless torment as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese. His true descent into hell began when he and nine others were sold in 1973 to a rogue country for 70 million dollars. Who was the buyer, and what was expected of these men? The answer is found in a closely guarded secret held by this extraordinary fraternity of pilots. 

The Twilight of the Day is a work of fiction steeped in fact and is guaranteed to keep the reader on the edge of his seat until the last page.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781511890137
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 218

I'd Walk With My Friends If I Could Find Them

Review

Three soldiers brought together by the war in Afghanistan, and after one fateful event none can erase from memory, Wintric, Dax, and Torres struggle to return to normalcy in the country for which they fought.

In his novel, I'd Walk With My Friends If I Could Find Them, Jesse Goolsby depicts the lives of three men fighting personal demons after their return from war.  Goolsby pens flawed, loathsome, and lovable characters who burrow their essence into the reader's mind, and become more real than neighbors.  His story spans decades, weaving through time and place, and comes out on the other end as a satisfying read; one which haunts far after the last page is turned.  Even now, I find myself wondering about the characters, wishing for their peace, and missing them.

I'd Walk With My Friends If I Could Find Them is a heart-wrenching narrative of revenge, redemption, and release.  The tale is all too real and relatable by generations of soldiers who've returned from the battlefield, and their families who witness the battles still raging within. I enjoyed this book, title and all.  I found it to be one of the best of its kind.  I look forward to reading Jesse Goolsby's next book.

 

Author: Jesse Goolsby
ISBN: 978-0-544-38098-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Cover Design: Brian Moore
Reviewed by: Sandra Miller Linhart; 29 November 2015

Her Own Vietnam by Lynn Kanter

MWSA Review

Lynn Kanter has hit a home run in Her Own Vietnam.  This is more than just a story about a woman suffering from PTSD, or a story about a nurse's experiences in the Vietnam war.  Her Own Vietnam is a thought provoking journey into the realities of war and its impact on individuals and society. 

Don't let me scare you into thinking this is some philisophical treatise that you have to fight your way through, this book is an easy, interesting read.  It is also a book that will leave you thinking about a significant, but often overlooked part of any war - the life and death in an evacuation hospital where the troops are brought directly from the battlefield. 

At first, I thought the book's focus was fairly specific, but as I read on I realized there was more than one story being told here.  The book is well written.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good literary fiction.

Reviewed by Bob Doerr (2015)


Author's Summary

For decades, Della Brown has tried to forget her service as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam. But in the middle of the safe, sane life she’s built for herself, Della is ambushed by history. She receives a letter from a fellow combat nurse, a woman who was once her closest friend, and all the memories come flooding back.

As the U.S. prepares to plunge into war in Iraq, Della struggles to make peace with her memories of Vietnam. She must also confront the fissures in her family life; the mystery of her father’s disappearance, the things mothers and daughters cannot—maybe should not—know about one another, and the lifelong repercussions of a single mistake.

An unflinching depiction of war and its personal costs, Her Own Vietnam is also a portrait of a woman in midlife — a mother, a nurse, and long ago a soldier.

Publisher: Shade Mountain Press (2014)
Binding: Paperback, 214 pages