Peaceful Bones by Samuel Axelrad

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MWSA Review

Author Samuel Axelrad tells a fascinating story in his book, Peaceful Bones. It's not enough to tell you that his story made it into Ripley's Believe It or Not; you should read the book and learn more about this interesting man's life in Viet Nam. 

As a doctor assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1966, Sam Axelrad became the Company Commander for Company A 15th Medical Battalion and witnessed all the horror war can throw at you.  He and his troops treated the war wounded and the sick on a daily basis. These patients included not only U.S. military wounded, but also local Vietnamese civilians as well as enemy combatants.  One such enemy soldier arrived in his operating room with an arm that had been shot and left untreated in the jungle for days. The arm had become severely infected, and Dr. Axelrad had no choice but to amputate.  In the harsh killing environment that was Viet Nam, Dr. Axelrad not only saved the soldier's life but helped him stay at the clinic and trained him to do light duties at the clinic.  When it came time to move him back into the local environment, he made sure to find him a job at a civilian clinic.  

The book tells this story and goes on to focus on their reunion fifty years later, when Dr. Axelrad returned the bones from the amputated arm to their rightful owner. An interesting read!

MWSA Reviewer: Bob Doerr (April 2018)

Author's Synopsis

The book is based on the true story of Dr. Axelrad’s experience as a Vietnam War army surgeon where he finds himself helping not only American soldiers but hundreds of Vietnamese citizens both wounded and ill. Peaceful Bones is about one special patient named Hung Nguyen aka "Charlie" who becomes an unlikely friend on the battlefield. Dr. Axelrad saves Charlie’s life, forging a bond that crosses cultural and enemy lines. Their reunion, 46 years after losing touch in 1967, was a moving and inspiring moment that made history around the world. Peaceful Bones is Dr. Axelrad’s stories of the war, his life, and the uncanny "coincidences" that brought him and Charlie together twice in one lifetime over several decades and thousands of miles. Dr. Axelrad’s son, Chris, and Rabbi Ranon Teller co-authored the memoir.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-692-79458-6
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 205

Syllables of Rain by D. S. Lliteras

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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.”


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)


"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 

Soft Target by John D Trudel

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MWSA Review
Gripping military techo-thriller...

From the moment Gerry Patton enters the Pentagon office of General Mike Mickelson, John Trudel's Soft Target grabs the reader and doesn't turn him loose until the final page.  Mike is reassigned to the NSA on a top secret project by the President of the United States.  The project has one employee, Ms. Patton, the great-granddaughter of General George Patton. The president is afraid of a coup and a new bioweapon unlike any the world has seen. Mike is one of the few people with unique skills that President Carson Hale can trust with a mission critical to the survival of the nation.

The culprit is a terrorist nation in the Middle East called Bukhari. It is creating a bioweapon that makes the black plague look like the sniffles. In this country, Bukhari is aided by ambitious Senator Harriet Stiles who is working quietly, plotting the overthrow of the government, but first must get a vaccine to counter the disease being developed by Bukhari.

Mike was a special operations Marine destined for a career behind a desk. The president needs his special skills to lead the black operation. Key to the project is an Oregon software company working on an impenetrable program for NSA to allow members of Congress to work from their home. Mike knows nothing of computer operations or of the intricacies of the NSA, but can be trusted. He is sworn to secrecy by the President.

Author John Trudel skillfully weaves a thriller that links the once wheelchair-bound Marine General, his NSA project leader, and a savvy SEAL team assigned to protect them on a chase to Oregon where a Bukhari hit-squad raids a NSA contractor, kidnapping Gerry's father in the process. Then Mike goes to Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that help him conduct a clandestine raid on a Bukhari lab where a devastating bioweapon is being created.          

In the meantime, Senator Stiles steps up her plot as Mike races against time and the odds of getting out of Bukhari alive.

The story is full of action—terrorists, firefights, and intrigue, with a dash of romance—written in a way that keeps the reader excited and in the heart of the action.  Soft Target is a book difficult to put down, and one that will scare the hell out of you.

MWSA Reviewer: Joe Epley (March 2018)

Author's Synopsis

Soft Target: A Cybertech Thriller

The 21st Century started off dangerous and got worse. America is working its way back, wounded, but recovering and rebuilding.

Exceptionalism is a memory, but embers glow in the darkness. Hope is alive. A maverick scientist, GERRY PATTON, works alone behind tight security.

Her wild card project could ensure government survival if Washington was destroyed, but it’s being sabotaged. MIKE MICKELSON (“Twenty Mike”), a Marine, was gravely wounded when his command post in Yemen was overrun. Now unfit for combat, he’s assigned to help Gerry.

Unknown enemies are watching. A bioweapons attack is planned, a coup orchestrated by officials in our own government. Gerry’s program could hamper their plans.

Why take a chance? She’s a Soft Target.

Can Mike save Gerry? Can she help him heal? Can they prevent a paralyzing WMD attack?

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0983588610
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 322

Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti

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MWSA Review

Author Jackie Minniti weaves a poignant tale of fear, friendship, hope, and faith in Jacqueline. This novel is based on the true story of ten-year-old Catholic Jacqueline and twelve-year-old Jewish David, during the final years of the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. It is set in the town of Rennes and is a tale for both young and old.

Through bombings, air raids, ever-present hunger, constant fear, and death, Jacqueline, her widowed mother, and David live through the war. One day, when Jacqueline and David are away from their apartment building, the Nazis round up David’s family and ship them off to a transfer camp before their likely shipment to a concentration camp, and Jacqueline’s mother takes him under her wing and into her home.

War stories are not totally about armies and battles. They are about ideas, implementation of those ideas, and how that implementation affects ordinary people. Jacqueline lets the reader see the war through a child’s eye, which is perhaps the purest version of war…and the most touching. Among other heart-wrenching events, the great tragedy for Jacqueline and David may have been losing their childhoods.

The text is written in a way that flows smoothly, and the dialogue seems quite realistic. I think children of middle grades and beyond would find the book both enlightening and interesting. It is also a touching read for adults.

Minniti’s story resonates for all children, regardless of nationality, and is especially relevant for youngsters who find themselves in the midst of strife around the world today. It is a gem to read, and the author unequivocally allows the reader to feel the impact of war on young people. I would read it again and recommend it to friends, young and older.

MWSA Reviewer: Patricia Walkow (Feb 2018)

Author's Synopsis
When ten-year-old Jacqueline Falna hears her mother’s scream, she is unaware that
the axis of her world is about to tilt. Her father’s plane has been shot down by German fighters. In the midst of poverty, food shortages, air raids, and the grinding hardship of  daily life under Nazi rule, she forms an unlikely alliance with David Bergier, a twelve-year-old Jewish neighbor who poses as her cousin after his family is “relocated” by the Nazis. When Rennes is liberated, Jacqueline meets an American soldier and becomes convinced that he has been sent to reunite her with her father. 

Based on a true story, “Jacqueline” is a tale of family, faith, unusual friendships, and
the resiliency of the human spirit set against the backdrop of occupied Rennes in
1944. With the drama of fiction and the authenticity of personal history, “Jacqueline” 
is both a story about family and a family’s story.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-10: 0996329080, ISBN-13: 978-0996329088, ASIN: B011SCVPJS
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle, ePub/iBook
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Chapter Book
Number of Pages: 219

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

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

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

Verbal Orders by Larry Carello

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MWSA Review
Captain Johnny Jack McGirt, command officer of the CH-46 helicopter squadron; North Island Air Naval Air Station; Coronado, California, has a dilemma.  A wealthy Texas oil baron’s daughter has been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group of terrorists and is being held somewhere on Basilan Island in the Philippines.   His old Navy buddy, now overseeing CIA Asian Operations, Dr. Bud Lammers, needs his expertise for the secret rescue mission.  One of McGirt’s previous assignments was a two-year stint as the Naval Attaché to the US Embassy in Manila.  Lammers feels McGirt’s knowledge of the local culture will prove invaluable to the operation.  McGirt makes the decision to retire from the Navy and join the team.  

Verbal Orders by Larry Carello is a fast read, filled with a number of unbelievable plot twists.  The flashbacks provide useful and detailed background information.  The story will educate the reader on  military operations in this part of the world, our alliances with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the difficulty all nations have when faced with a terrorist organization on their soil.

MWSA Review by Sandi Cowper (March 2018) 

Author's Synopsis


U.S. Navy helicopter pilot Johnny Jack McGirt has always been a wildcard, but his superiors and fellow officers are stunned when he turns down Rear Admiral’s stars to announce his retirement from active duty.  After a career built around bold exploits in the cockpit and covert operations with U.S. intelligence agencies, he’s become far too accustomed to following his gut and making his own rules.  The thought of sitting behind a desk holds no attraction for him, no matter what rank the position carries.  So he’s more than ready when his long-time friend and former squadronmate, Bud Lammers, calls for assistance.

Lammers, who left the Navy for the CIA, is trying to track down an American oil heiress held hostage in the volatile, Muslim-dominated southern Philippines.  It’s supposed to be a straightforward mission to negotiate the young woman’s release, but things take a deadly turn as McGirt and Lammers collide with an extremist rebel group known as Abu Sayyaf, Bearer of the Sword. Along with McGirt’s and Lammers’s exploits, there are several subplots – the most significant being a money laundering scheme concocted by the girl’s captors and a Filipino lawyer who runs a charity to help poor Muslim citizens. 

As the story reaches its climax, McGirt and Lammers are swept into an hastily-planned mission to rescue the girl, led by a team of American and Filipino Special Forces. McGirt and Lammers escape with her by speedboat, and all three are ultimately hoisted aboard a Navy helicopter after a heart pounding at-sea chase.

The book concludes as McGirt returns stateside where he’s confronted with two revelations: The kidnapped girl’s location was known all along by the Filipino Special Forces’ commander, who was using her as bait to help trace the trail of ransom money; and McGirt learns that he’s been selected for the rank of Rear Admiral after his boss purposely “held up” his request for retirement.

ISBN/ASIN: ASIN: B076B8JSX5     ISBN-13: 978-1640620117
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 238

Dead Man Launch by John J. Gobbell

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MWSA Review
Fascinating look at a time when the Cold War wasn't so cold

Billed as "historical fiction," John J Gobbel's Dead Man Launch would also certainly qualify as a thriller.  Crammed full of incredible detail, this book sits precariously on the boundary between historical fact and historical fiction.  The reader may often wonder where the historical facts start in the fiction begins.

The sixth installment of the Todd Ingram series, Dead Man Launch is set during the tumultuous period around the hijacking of the USS Pueblo in 1968.  As the story unfolds, the world tips ever closer to all-out nuclear war.  While the rest of the globe is focusing on the ongoing war in Vietnam, the U.S. and Soviet navies play a potentially lethal game of cat and mouse.  That deadly match-up of naval forces—above, on, and under the surface of the Pacific—provides the main backdrop for this story.  But the action isn't restricted to naval activities on that ocean.  The reader will also be transported to not-entirely-idyllic family life in southern Italy; desolate, snow-covered stretches of the former Soviet Union; a Turkish Black Sea port town, and a Mexican hacienda, to name just a few.

Gobbel's life experiences as a US Navy destroyer deck officer are evident in every page.  The details of life at sea: the language, the culture, the family ties and sacrifices, all fairly jump off the pages and lend an air of credibility to the novel.

Review copy had a few formatting errors—including a missing page—which detracted from this fast-paced and exciting story.

MWSA Reviewer: John Cathcart (March 2018)

Author's Synopsis

It’s 1968, a time when global upheaval seems the norm. The war in Southeast Asia rages along with prolonged civil unrest at home. Amongst this, turncoat Navy Warrant Officer JOHNNIE WALKER begins an extended relationship with the Soviet Union by selling top-secret crypto key lists to them to fulfill a voracious appetite for the good life. This prompts the Soviets to order their friends, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), to seize the USS Pueblo (AGER 2) steaming in international waters off the coast of North Korea. The Pueblo carries the KWR 37 coding machine, allowing the Soviets to read the codified material Walker had sold to them. Soon after this, the Soviet submarine, K-129, a boomer carrying three R-21 ICBMs with a 1,500 range, inexplicably disappears in the North Pacific. The desperate Russians cannot find her even though they mobilize nearly every vessel in their Pacific Fleet. Two months later, the USS Scorpion (SSN 589) sinks near the Azores. With each side blaming the other, 1968 gets worse as a frustrated President Lyndon Johnson gives up and refuses to run for a second term. But it’s not over. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy are assassinated two months apart. With the nation still reeling and grieving, the Democratic National convention iis disrupted by riots that August.

Caught in the morass is Naval Academy graduate Lieutenant (j.g.) JERRY INGRAM. Just out of flight school, Young Ingram is a is a freshly minted P-3 (4-engined ASW patrol plane) co-pilot assigned to a P-3 squadron in Sigonella, Sicily. En route to his first duty assignment, Jerry falls in love with RITA HERNANDEZ. A Mexican beauty queen who has made it big in New York’s fashion world. They settle in Sigonella and Jerry, who has squeaked by in life, due to the influence of his father, Vice Admiral TODD INGRAM, suddenly realizes he is involved in serious bustiness. He vows to bear down and make a go of it, as a pilot and as a husband. Instead, he comes home one night to find Rita in bed with MICHELANGELO RUGANI, a wealthy and handsome Italian ski-bum and Olympics wanna be who also represents the Rugani family’s Enzio line of Fragrances. Jerry beats the daylights out of Michelangelo and is censured by the U.S. State Department and the U.S, Navy for his trouble. Politics are in play as the Navy hangs an article 133 charge, conduct unbecoming an officer, around Jerry’s neck but whisks him off to another duty station to get him out of sight. With Jerry’s disappearance, a vengeful Rugani family (Poster- boy Michelangelo has lost three front teeth and has two broken ribs) sends Michelangelo’s body guard, Giorgio Michelleti, strong man of the Salvati Mafioso family, of Sicily after Rita who has taken refuge in her father’s vineyard high in the hills above Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Jerry is assigned to squadron VP 72 at Barber’s Point, Hawaii. From there and other bases, the U.S. Navy searches for Soviet submarines that seem to be popping up like ten-pins all over the Pacific. And he is uncomfortably close to his father who is commanding officer of the top-secret Fleet SIGINT Operations Control Center in Kunia, Oahu, Hawaii. Todd Ingram’s on-again, off-again friend is Soviet Navy Captain First Rank EDUARD DEZHNEV who he first met in 1942 (A Code for Tomorrow). They disenfranchised later that year when Ingram discovered Dezhnev was spying for the Soviet Union, trying to turn American scientists assigned to the Manhattan Project including his soon to be wife, Helen, then trapped on Mindanao. More recently, they re-kindled their friendship when Dezhnev helped save Ingram’s life right after Japan’s surrender in 1945 (Edge of Valor). Over the years, Dezhnev declines the invitation of CIA agent OLIVER TOLIVER to come over to the other side. Desperately earnest, he wants to somehow help change his beloved Russia for the better. But now, Dezhnev finally realizes his dream for the Rodina just won’t happen, that the Soviet government is too corrupt. Accordingly, he now spies for the United States. 

Eduard is proud of his son, Starshiyi Leytenant VLADIMIR UTKIN DEZHNEV, also a newly minted naval officer. Young Vladimir is highly regarded for his computer skills and is attached to the K-129 which sinks in the Central Pacific with all hands. Only Jerry Ingram, while on a special assignment aboard an American submarine, sees through the periscope what really happened to the K-129. In 1974, the forward section of the K-129 was secretly recovered by Howard Hugh’s Glomar Explorer via CIA project Azorian authorized by President Nixon. Ironically, the day the wreck was pulled into the Glomar Explorer’s moon-pool, is the day President Nixon was forced to resign. But artifacts examined in this portion of the wreck tell Ingram and Dezhnev, the role Vladimir played in saving the world from a major disaster.

ISBN/ASIN: StarboardSide Productions, ISBN 978-0-9839138-7-0 Create Space: ISBN  13:  978-1975895181 10:   1975895185
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, History
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 383

My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do? Helping Military Children Cope with a Brain-Injured Parent by Brunella Costagliola

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Inspector Harry Callahan once said, "A man's gotta know his limitations."  And when it came to reviewing My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do? Helping Military Children Cope with a Brain-Injured Parent by Brunella Costagliola, I figured I better ask the experts.  Since this book is intended for elementary-school-aged children, and your reviewer's elementary school days are 50 years in the past, it was clear that some outside help would be appropriate.  So I brought the book to my local Great Falls Elementary School (where I do volunteer work), read it aloud to the members of the fourth grade class, and then asked for their opinions.

Although none of these kids had parents in the military—much less one who had suffered traumatic brain injury—they were quite interested and willing to read/listen, discuss the details, and share their opinions about this book.

Just as MWSA does with all its reviews, I asked these fourth-graders to evaluate the book's cover, its artwork, and its content.  Was it appropriate, attention-grabbing, directed toward the targeted audience; and did its message come through?  The answers to these questions were almost uniformly "yes."

The book points out "Seven Cs" (seven words beginning with the letter C, such as cause, control, cure) that can help kids understand what's happening to his or her parent, and suggest various coping skills to help them deal with the difficult challenges they will face.  The "Seven Cs" were integrated into short and easy-to-understand phrases, which can serve as a discussion guide for the entire family.  The fact that the words all start with the same letter also makes them easier to remember.

Having heard from the experts, I can now highly recommend this book to families trying to cope with this incredibly challenging type of injury.  The cover artwork and illustrations are indeed top-notch; and the writing definitely geared toward the targeted age group.  With a little bit of discussion to better understand some of the details, this book would be extremely helpful as a "training aid," or simply a way to guide and focus a family's discussion.

MWSA Reviewer: John Cathcart (Feb. 2018)

Author's Synopsis:
"My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do?" is a juvenile fiction book aimed at helping military children learn how to cope when Mom or Dad come home from deployment suffering from traumatic brain injury. Sponsored by the National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation and illustrated by Disney cartoonist Valerio Mazzoli, this book was written by Brunella Costagliola, best-selling editor, writer, and proud Air Force wife. Dr. Johnson, a neuropsychologist, along with her mischievous side-kick Mr. Brain, introduce the Smith Family, made of Mom, Dad, Jackson, who is 9 years old, Isabella, who is 7, and Sally, their adorable dachshund. Dad is in the military and he wears his uniform proudly. They love to spend time together and we see them playing outside while Mom cooks. One day, however, the children see Dad pack up. He has to deploy. Even though they are sad to see him go, they know they will be able to see him via computer and they will count down the days till his return by eating a cookie from the "Daddy's Goodnight Kiss" jar. While deployed, Dad is in an accident that leaves him injured. Once his wounds are healed, he is able to go back home to his family. While everybody is happy to have him back, something is off. Dad's behavior has changed. Once a happy, patient, and caring father, he is now moody, short-tempered, and aggressive. The children notice a big difference and wonder, who is this person who came back home? He may look like Daddy, but he is not the same person. Even Sally can tell something is different. The children, not sure of why Dad is so angry all the time, begin to blame themselves for this sudden change: should I have cleaned my room better? Should I have eaten more vegetables? Just when the children are about to give up hope after Dad yells at them for losing a baseball game, Dr. Johnson and Mr. Brain come to their rescue! They explain to Jackson and Isabella that Dad's brain, specifically the front lobe, was injured in the accident. She also gives them a poster to bring home with them that explains the "7Cs", which are "rules" for children to remember. These rules remind them that, "I didn't Cause it"; "I can't Cure it"; but, "I can help by taking Care of myself" and "Celebrating myself". Soon after, the children run back home feeling happy and empowered by their newly-acquired knowledge of what is wrong with Dad and how they can help not only him, but especially themselves. And Dr. Johnson? Well, she and Mr. Brain are ready for another adventure, helping children understand how the brain works! The reason why this book was written is to help military children understand traumatic brain injury. While there is plenty of literature catered to adults and the affected service member, there is very little for military children. Hence, the team behind "My Dad Got Hurt" set out on an a mission to fill this literary gap. When dealing with a stressful situation as the one described in the book, children have a tendency to internalize feelings, since they are not capable to properly express them and verbalize them. One of the most common reactions is for children to blame themselves and feeling guilty over something they have no control over, such as Dad suffering from TBI. This book aims at providing children with the proper vocabulary so they can understand what happened and their role in helping the whole family adjust to their new normal.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1483472577
Book Format(s): Kindle, Soft cover
Genre(s): Fiction, Picture Book
Review Genre: Children & Young Adult—Picture Book
Number of Pages: 38

Lighthouses of America by Tom Beard

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Lighthouses of America is a splendid and diverse pictorial collection of the American “castles” guarding our coasts.  In addition to nearly 150 breathtaking photographs, Tom Beard (Editor-in-Chief) and Tom Thompson (Graphics Editor), in conjunction with the United States Lighthouse Society, accomplished a masterful job compiling a treasure trove of historical and often humorous tidbits.  The book educates and delights the reader and leaves him/her hungry to discover more.

Lighthouse construction was the first public-works project of our new nation.  These guardians of the coast were essential for our fledgling shipping industry, making our ports safer for commerce.  Many are still in operation today, serving to guide vessels to safety and to warn of danger.   Many are shrouded in mysterious and romantic legends.  Many have been destroyed or damaged by nature or war.  Some have been rebuilt on the same location, some have been moved, and some have been left to the elements.

The Preface by Wayne Wheeler (Founder and President of the Board of Directors, US Lighthouse Society) and The Forward by Captain Robert Dash, US Coast Guard (Retired) provide useful and detailed information on the organizational, architectural, and technological journey lighthouses have taken through their 300-year existence on our shores.

The book is divided into five geographic regions:  New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, and West Coast.  Information is provided on Fresnel lenses, which in the 1840s greatly improved the structures’ light magnification—saving even more souls and cargo.  These days, many lighthouses are powered by solar panels and use light-emitting diodes.

Lighthouses of America is fascinating and would be a welcome addition to any library or coffee table.  The book teases the reader to seek these treasures out and visit first-hand.  It is the perfect gift for those who love the sea and all things nautical, and even for those who will just want to appreciate their unique history and beauty.

MWSA Review by Sandi Cowper (Feb 2018)

Author's Synopsis
Through gorgeous photography, this spectacular collection of America's most iconic and stunning lighthouses celebrates these unique and magnificent beacons and their history. The construction of lighthouses began as this new nation's first public-works project in 1789 and established the United States as a maritime world power by making ports safe for navigation. Early lights shined from reflectors bouncing the flickering flames from multiple lard-burning lanterns. Towers boosting the lights high, making them visible over the horizon to sailors, came in hundreds of architectural designs and construction materials. Then, in the early 1800s, came the amazing Fresnel lenses, first boosting light from the oil flame and later by electric lamp Today, LED science has become the light for navigational aids in this country. From Maine's West Quoddy Head to North Carolina's iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Alaska's Eldred Rock to Southern California's Fort Point Lighthouse, and Michigan's Holland Harbor, these structures--many still active and serving their original purpose--are living museums and popular tourist destinations.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-59962-140-1
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): History
Review Genre: Artistic—Pictorial
Number of Pages: 176


Heart of Gray: Lt. Raymond "Iggy" Enners, Courage and Sacrifice of a West Point Graduate in Vietnam by Richard Enners

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Heart of Gray is a sincere tribute to First Lieutenant Raymond Enners, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam after graduating West Point in 1967.  It was penned by his brother, Richard, also a West Point graduate, class of 1971.
The book honors not just Ray's military service, but his entire life, from when he was a star athlete in high school up through the day he died, and includes poignant memories from his classmates, soldiers, and family members about his death and the days and weeks after.

The author did an excellent job of reaching out his brother's classmates, friends, and fellow soldiers to have them discuss not just his brother's personality and actions, but also his character and leadership style.  As a service academy graduate myself, it was wonderful to read about and see not just the man but the leader remembered, because those of us that have served know that is an important part of our legacy.

Service academy graduates, Vietnam veterans, and those interested in leadership biographies will enjoy this book.  I very much would have enjoyed meeting Lieutenant Enners, and his brother did an excellent job of preserving his legacy with this book."

MWSA Reviewer: Rob Ballister (Feb 2018)

Author's Synopsis

Heart of Gray is a riveting narrative of a leader-warrior who chose the “harder right instead of the easier wrong” when on 18 September 1968 in a brutal firefight near Xã Ky Mao he rescued a wounded squad leader ten meters from the NVA position then led his platoon into the thicket, giving his life in the process. For his actions he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor.

It’s a pulse pounding combat story of events that took place in Quảng Ngãi Province as seen through the lens of Ray’s letters and the Soldiers he served with and commanded. 

Heart of Gray takes you on a journey of selflessness and sacrifice, a journey of how West Point and its values of “Duty, Honor, Country” influenced his thought process, a journey of how the game of lacrosse and the warrior spirit contributed to his never quit attitude, a journey of how his rigorous military training provided the confidence and courage to face life threatening situations.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-942613-37-4
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 240