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Sailor Man: The Troubled Life and Times of J.P. Nunnally, U.S. Navy
Sailor Man: The Troubled Life and Times of J.P. Nunnally, U.S. Navy
by Del Staecker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Important little book about a big topic - PTSD, March 29, 2015
“Sailor Man” by Del Staecker is based on letters written by J.P. Nunnally who joined the Navy in 1943 as an illegal under-aged 16 year old. Unlike most letters written about wartime experiences, J.P. wrote his recollections of the horrors of war 25-30 years later to a son he never really knew.

Author Del Staecker happens to have written an award-winning book about the very ship - an attack transport ship - that J.P. Nunnally served on. That ship was the USS Fuller, also known as “The Lady Gangster.”

Young J.P. began using alcohol as a coping method to numb the constant trauma he and his shipmates experienced. By the time he was released from the Navy as a decorated veteran in 1946, and still a teenager, he was an alcoholic. He attempted to return to a normal civilian life, marrying and eventually becoming a father of a son, but he was unable to return to “normal.” He began to display more symptoms such as sensitivity to noise, that we now recognize as post- traumatic stress syndrome.

J.P.’s tragic story calls into question the recruiting of the very young to fight our wars and makes a strong case for identifying and treating those who return from war zones psychologically traumatized.


Intangibles
Intangibles
by Mary K Kemmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.99
4 used & new from $12.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Chock Full of Resources and Remedies, March 29, 2015
This review is from: Intangibles (Paperback)
Compact “Intangibles” by Mary Kemmer identifies six intangible qualities that are critical for professional success. The author quickly establishes her credentials and the research that supports the book.

From the clean, fresh look of the cover to the page layout that helps the reader focus, the presentation is very effective and professional. The book definitely delivers on its stated goals. Specific examples and case studies illustrate each intangible characteristic. Ms. Kemmer has done a masterful job of weaving advice and information for both coach/manager and employee into each chapter. This transparency helps establish trust between the employee and the coach.

"Intangibles" is a compact workbook and is chock-full of resources and remedies. The Coach's Library at the end is the perfect length - all the relevant classics without being overwhelming.

If you are a professional career coach, a manager or an employee interested in advancement, you will find these 103 pages invaluable.


Soldiering on - Finding My Homes: Memoir of an Army Brat
Soldiering on - Finding My Homes: Memoir of an Army Brat
by Christine Kriha Kastner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.84
29 used & new from $9.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for non-military and for brats, March 18, 2015
In her memoir/travelogue “Soldiering On – Finding My Homes,” author Christine Kriha Kastner gives the reader a taste of what it’s like to grow up in a military family always on the move. Over 15 years she racked up 15 addresses in Missouri, Germany, California, Okinawa and Ohio - to name a few.

This reader, also a brat, found many common experiences - from the difficulty of answering the question, “Where are you from?” to the challenge of starting a new school in the middle of the academic year.

The author shares her mother’s experience crossing the Pacific on a ship to Okinawa with young children. It was surprisingly similar to my own mother’s journey in 1947, 16 years earlier. A large portion of the book is devoted to the author’s return to Okinawa for a high school reunion.

Ms. Kastner includes some surprising details about Okinawan history. For instance, the island was the site of the largest amphibian assault in U.S. history - not D-Day! As I write this we are a couple weeks away from the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa.

Readers without a military background will find “Soldiering On – Finding My Homes” a fascinating peek into another lifestyle and come away with a renewed appreciation of the sacrifices and service of military families. Brats will find the book comforting and evocative.


The Little Piggy Who Could... and Did: Piggy Perseverance and Adventure
The Little Piggy Who Could... and Did: Piggy Perseverance and Adventure
Price: $4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plucky Piggy with Big Heart, January 29, 2015
Sassyfrass is the name of the plucky piggy heroine of “The Little Piggy Who Could … and Did.” Whimsical illustrations accompany this tale of a young pig’s adventures as she saves her own life as well as the lives of other animals she encounters along the way.

Sassyfrass demonstrates the virtues of ingenuity, perseverance and respect for those who are different in some way. Targeted to youngsters from pre-school through third grade, this considerably older reader was thoroughly engaged and eagerly awaits the three planned sequels. The authors have even provided a page of discussion questions at the end!

Highly recommended. Can’t wait to share with my great nieces and nephews.


Chrysalis: intel at any cost: CIA sanctioned torture of children
Chrysalis: intel at any cost: CIA sanctioned torture of children
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, Gripping, CIA Torture, January 16, 2015
“Chrysalis, a novel, intel at any cost: CIA sanctioned torture of children ” by MC Nelson, is based on the CIA’s MKUltra mind control program that began in the early 1950s and ran for about 20 years before it was halted. The topic is especially relevant today as the nightly news exposes yet more evidence of CIA torture activity.

“Chrysalis” is the chilling account of three generations of a family whose lives are impacted by the CIA project called “Monarch.” One of Monarch’s sub-projects employed torture of young children in an attempt to create multiple personalities. This type of CIA mind control research was fictionalized in the 1959 book and subsequent movie, The Manchurian Candidate.

Author Nelson has chosen to have the story told through the eyes of each character – a very effective technique that makes the narrative even more realistic and gripping. Out of concern for readers who are survivors of CIA experiments and torture, for whom the graphic descriptions of violence might trigger traumatic memories, Nelson has created an effective visual warning system that offers a one sentence summary of the chapter, thus bypassing the horrendous details.

This book illustrates how easily these kinds of immoral horrors can get out of hand. None of us want to believe that our government could sanction and fund atrocities such as described in “Chrysalis” against its unwilling and uninformed citizens or even its political prisoners, but the CIA’s use of torture continues to this day.

All members of congress should read this account of power and secrecy gone awry. It should be required reading for new incoming members. Without vigilance, oversight, transparency and active citizenship, these kinds of atrocities will continue and do.

Lest we forget.


No Turning Back: Stories
No Turning Back: Stories
by Dan Burns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.95
12 used & new from $3.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Variety, suspense, surprise, December 21, 2014
Right from the start, Dan Burns' short story collection, "No Turning Back," presents as a handsome and intriguing temptation for the potential reader. Once you've seen the mysterious cover, where the moon in the night sky is below a green meadow where sheep stand on the precipice, it's almost impossible not to want to dive in.

Author Burns reveals in the introduction that he was inspired write "No Turning Back" after reading "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury, one of America's greatest authors. Burns says the stories in his own collection are linked by a common theme: Every day we come to a crossroads in life. One must make decisions and keep moving forward into the future.

Following each of the ten stories, Burns shares his thought processes at the time of writing it. I found these intimate tidbits fascinating and thought-provoking. Readers - especially would-be writers - will find them instructive and inspiring.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but "Out of Touch" - about two people, who went to their high school prom together, meeting again at their class's 25th reunion - would probably be mine. It's hard to imagine someone reading this story without going back to their own high school days.

Sebastian Drake, the protagonist of story #4, "Letting Go," has since taken on a life of his own. This piece has become a screen play and Drake also stars in an about-to-be-published crime mystery series. Watch for it: "A Fine Line."

I can't end this review without commenting on the intricate and mysterious ink drawings by artist Kelly Maryanski at the beginning of each story. I found them hypnotizing.

I highly recommend "No Turning Back" for every reader who enjoys variety, suspense and surprise. Your experience of reading these stories will continue to haunt you.


All Gave Some
All Gave Some
by Valerie Ormond
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.40
12 used & new from $25.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Variety, Quality and Heart, October 18, 2014
This review is from: All Gave Some (Paperback)
"All Gave Some," the 2014 anthology from the Military Writers Society of America, is an excellent collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more. The variety of subject matter and the quality of the writing makes me proud to be a member of this group. Thank you to the dedicated editors whose hard work made this publication possible.


Implications: An Arthur Blake Mystery
Implications: An Arthur Blake Mystery
by Richard Davidson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.47
17 used & new from $13.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burned Churches, Bootleggers, and Secret Basements, October 17, 2014
Chicago-land mystery writer Richard Davidson has launched a new series that is a continuation of his “Lord’s Prayer Mystery” series. The new series is called “The Imp Mysteries” because all the titles will begin with “Imp.” His first release, “Implications,” is a multi-layered puzzle that spans 94 years – from Al Capone and Prohibition to present day. Coincidentally, this review is being posted on the anniversary of mob leader Al Capone’s 1931 conviction by a federal court in Chicago.
The novel begins with a suspicious fire in a Methodist Church in the village of Amboy, Illinois. As the story unfolds, Arthur Blake discovers dead bodies in the church basement that once served as a funeral parlor and comes upon evidence of an old bootlegging operation.
Author Davidson has a talent for intertwining facts with fiction. This reader found herself googling “Amboy, Illinois,” the headquarters of Blake’s diverse investigative team, to discover that much of the history inserted into the plot of “Implications” is factual.
This weaving of fact and fiction enriches the reading experience and the building tension as one crime after another surfaces and is eventually solved. Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn are mentioned. The reader may want to take notes to track the complex series of crimes old and new and the people involved as suspects, perpetrators and investigators.
There is never a dull moment as Blake’s team pursues clues and explores tangents. At the wrap-up of the investigations, the reader realizes that author Davidson had a purpose for just about every tidbit or detail he included in the tale. So much so, that this reader was tempted to re-read the novel to fully appreciate just how thorough and effective the writer’s forethought was. “Implications” will leave you wanting to read more “Imp” mysteries. Fortunately, it’s a pretty good bet that author Davison is already working on volume two. See if you can guess the name.


More Tomasewski (Tales of Tomasewski Book 2)
More Tomasewski (Tales of Tomasewski Book 2)

5.0 out of 5 stars Lives up to Expectations!, August 26, 2014
In “More Tomasewski” by South Side Chicago raised author, Del Staecker, Chicago police detective, Jan Tomasewski, aka Jake Thompson, returns to amaze and entertain the lucky reader.
We find Jake banished to a desk job in AIU – Administrative Investigation Unit – limbo land for losers. Antsy and bored, he agrees to help a friend solve a mystery and off we go on another adventure.
Book #2 doesn’t disappoint. Our hero uses his intuitive talents to solve crimes ranging from casino boat gambling murders to internet blackmail cases. We visit several off-the-tourist-trail sites on the South Side of Chicago, including the Cal Sag canal whose water was once so thick with pollution that “Jesus learned to walk on it.”
Blue Island, the author’s old stomping ground (and birthplace of actor Gary Sinese, he tells us) is the scene of another investigation.
After Jake finally gets recognition and his pension from the Chicago PD, he decides to start fresh and moves to Old Town on the North Side of the city. I’m guessing he isn’t going to retire completely because Mr. Staecker ends this breath-taking romp with, “but more of that later.”
Long live Tomasewski!


Karen Beth in the Land of You Lost It and We Found it (Volume 1)
Karen Beth in the Land of You Lost It and We Found it (Volume 1)
by Maria Ruiz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
9 used & new from $7.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Engage Your Child's Imagination, July 13, 2014
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Karen Beth in the Land of You Lost It and We Found It by Maria Ruiz and illustrated by D.F. Harper
What child wouldn't be entranced by Maria Ruiz's delightful story about where the lost things go? The story of Karen Beth's adventure as she tries to find her missing barrette engages your little listener's imagination and creativity, and the colorful, funny illustrations add to the charm.
Karen Beth discovers - among other things - a garden of lost socks and a school house made of lost homework. The teddy bear who takes care of the school subtly reminds Karen Beth of her manners, "ask nicely and say please and thank you."
I'm relieved to finally know where my missing socks are and am eager to read Book Two of Karen Beth's adventures.


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