Reflection: The Paul Mann Story by Titan Frey is an amazing work of fiction interweaving alternative history within it. Paul Mann is 104-years-old and in a nursing home. Every day he writes in his journal about his life and has a sack of journals that tells the story of his lifetime. He is reunited with his son and grandson in this book, where Paul tells his story through his journals. An intimate family relationship is born between grandson and grandfather where we see the hectic, heartbreaking, and even heartwarming life Paul Mann has led while also following his current adventures.
I love this book. It was intriguing and hard to put down. At first, I did not like many of the characters, but then I saw, as their story developed, that they were shaped by their pasts. The main characters are well-developed in that sense, and we get to know these characters as if they were complex, real-life people. It truly felt as if I was witnessing these events pass and getting to know them. I would have liked to understand the side characters motivations more, though, as they did seem cruel without real reason. Though sometimes, that is the harshness of the world, and this book’s theme seems to be how callous and brutal the world can be, but that love is still important.
The main aspect of this book was learning about Paul through the eyes of his past in the form of a journal, and it was done so well. I love how the journals truly seemed to be written by Paul Mann. It shows incredibly strong character development. I liked the idea of learning about someone through journals; it put me in the mindset of Marlin, the grandson, where I felt like Paul was my grandfather and I got to connect with him in that way. Frey does a marvelous at humanizing her character and allowing you to grow attached to them.
This book is an emotional roller-coaster with lots of twists and turns. Terrible things happen, but you get to see the love Paul has for his family, and that beauty shines through. The portrayal of the nursing home struck a chord with me and made it relatable; at least to me. It made me feel for the residents, especially Paul. In a way, this book made me feel more connected with my own grandmother.
I highly recommend this book. It puts you in the head of an older person by relaying their life experiences. It also shows how sometimes you do not really know a person or how they came to be who they are until you take the time to listen, or read in this case. The book also illustrates the importance of life and spending time with loved ones. In addition to valuable lessons, the book is also intriguing, thrilling, and mysterious. Marlin and his grandson truly have a special bond.
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07MTSFWJG
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Caring as a Carer is the true story of George and Jenny Mailath and their battle with Jenny’s condition; MSA (Mulitple system atrophy). This book is sort of a mix between the personal story of this couple and a guidebook for those who are suffering from or caring for someone with MSA.
I absolutely love the way this book was written. In the beginning the author (George Mailath) stated that he didn’t want the book to come across as simply a guidebook or a text book. He did an amazing job of accomplishing his goal of writing a heartfelt story that contains a set of recommendations for caring for someone with MSA. I wasn’t familiar with this particular disease before reading the book, but anyone who knows anything about chronic debilitating illness knows that it doesn’t only affect the victim, but their loved ones as well. George was able to expertly convey how his wife’s condition affected his own emotional and mental state, from his desire to be truly empathetic to his feelings of guilt for not being as understanding as he should have been in the beginning. This is, of course, something that can only really be recognized in hindsight, which is part of what makes the story invaluable to readers who may be caring for someone with this illness.
I love how George gives us a brief yet detailed enough background of he and his wife’s relationship and life before being affected by MSA. It perfectly illustrates for the reader how drastically their lives were changed and the effect this change had on their emotional and physical well-being. The chapters are laid out very well, with each one having a specific intention such as “empathy”, “rehabilitation sessions”, and “facing up to reality”. The really unique aspect though, is that while these chapter titles appear to be similar to a text book format, they are filled with as many touching moments of real life as they are of recommendations for treatment. I’ve really never encountered a book with such a great balance in this area before.
George’s love for his wife is so evident throughout the book that I found myself almost brought to tears at times. However, his attitude towards her illness is also incredibly refreshing in that he simultaneously remains calm and calculated in his actions and assessments of the situation without sacrificing empathy, understanding and love. It was really an absolutely beautiful book to read. I don’t have anyone in my life suffering from a debilitating illness and I still greatly enjoyed reading it. In fact, I think it’s really superb in that the book will be beneficial to anyone caring for someone with any such disease, not necessarily just MSA. While it is certainly tailored to people dealing with MSA, the principles of care and love that George expresses can be applied to any similar scenario. I absolutely recommend this book to others and sincerely hope that it circulates widely enough to have the profound effect on caring and carers that I feel it can have.
Pages: 116 | ISBN: 1483448584
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WHAT HAPPENED IN VIETNAM DIDN’T STAY IN VIETNAM. IT CAME HOME WITH US!
Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War is both a memoir and an investigative journey into all the complications the U.S. government hasn’t told you about the Vietnam War. It’s not just another book about Vietnam or Agent Orange. Rather it’s a “silver bullet” which cuts through to the heart of the circumstances and pesticides used during that war—highly toxic herbicides and insecticides, which in some cases are still being used to this very day all over the globe, even right here in the USA.
So, forget everything you’ve heard from our government and everything that you think you know about the Vietnam War because this book is much more than a memoir of one Vietnam veteran’s struggles over the decades following the war. It’s a story of all the veterans who served in Vietnam and their children. And it could even be the story of you and your children, too.
As you read through the book and its volumes of information, you will be absolutely stunned at what the US government had willingly dumped on Vietnam and its own troops.
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Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War uses your personal account of the Vietnam War to shed light on the dangerous conditions US servicemen served in. Why was this an important book for you to write?
In the beginning, writing a book was the further thing from my mind. However, shortly after I had returned home from Vietnam for the last time, my father urged me to file a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for medical problems I had experienced during my service. I began the process without much enthusiasm and quickly got sidelined by my new civilian life. Little did I realize that I wouldn’t re-visit my disability claims again until almost forty years later when I watched President Barack Obama give a speech on the horrors of the Vietnam War. I’m still not quite sure what happened that day, but after listening to the president, I felt an urgency to commit myself to investigate the causal link between my exposures to Agent Orange and the myriad health problems plaguing not only my life but the lives of many other Vietnam veterans.
When I started my investigative journey into Agent Orange, I never suspected what I would discover. But, I quickly learned we were exposed too much more than just the one infamous pesticide. The deeper my exploration went and the more I thought about all the lives which had been taken and damaged by the rampant use of pesticides during the war; the more determined I became to try to set the record right. So, starting with the death of my friend Larry White the book was born.
It’s a disgrace that so many lives have been lost over the last half-century, and no one knows the truth or exactly how many veterans died because of the chemicals they were exposed to in Vietnam. Likewise, our government can’t even tell us how many of the three million “in-Country” Vietnam Veterans are still alive today. One of my biggest regrets is it took me so long to wake up.
This book discusses many of the toxic pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides used in the war. What do you find is a common misconception people have about their use in Vietnam?
The most common misconception is most people believe Agent Orange was the only pesticide we were exposed too. The truth is the Vietnam War is a disinformation campaign by the government to downplay or outright ignore all the other chemicals we were exposed to in Vietnam. Had the government been forthcoming with the same information in my book there would have been no misconceptions. Then again, no one has ever put together an investigation or book on all the complex issues and chemical of the Vietnam War before either.
You often use your personal account of your time in Vietnam, but did you also conduct any research for this book?
I conducted over three years of research for this book. I have quite literally reviewed thousands of studies, medical opinions, and documents. I’ve talked to doctors and other medical professionals, the vast majority of which came to the same inescapable conclusions as I eventually did at the end of my research. Low-level exposures to just the various known chemicals discussed in my book will attack living organisms on an undetected hormonal, genetic, and cellular/molecular level, producing covert systemic damage and alterations to immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and neurological systems of any human unlucky enough to be put in their path. Exactly how that damage and those alterations manifest depends on the several exposure factors which I discuss in the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As I was putting the finishing touches on Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War and reading through all the data and information again, it started me concentrating on what our government and the military-industrial chemical corporations were capable of creating in South Vietnam during the war. I began to spectacle, on just how the United States got away with unleashing so many harmful pesticides during the war. Awkwardly, for me at least, even though I was there, the whole concept of what occurred in Vietnam is still quite perplexing and hard for me to fathom.
Still, based on my years of research, it appears that pesticide companies, our government, lumber companies, and large commercial agricultural groups, as well as many of our state and federal agencies, consider pesticides—both herbicides and insecticides—essential for use in today’s modern, industrialized world. Consequently, what occurred in Vietnam hasn’t stayed in Vietnam. It has, over the intervening half century, continued to be ever so skillfully reproduced in today’s world. Like Vietnam, our government and chemical companies are primarily still using the same classic trickery of smoke and mirrors for the specific protection of harmful pesticides and their manufacturers.
So, my next book will be titled, Betrayal of America by the Political and Industrial Complex. In this exploration, there will be a stunning investigation into the depth of corporate and political treachery and greed. Any American angry with the present corporate and political system after reading this shocking investigative account will turn their anger into sheer outrage when they learn what is being allowed to be used in our environment.
As for when it will be finished, God only knows.
Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War is not just another book about the Vietnam War or Agent Orange. Instead, it is a “silver bullet” which cuts through the heart of the circumstances and pesticides used during that war—highly toxic herbicides and insecticides which in some cases are still being used all over the world.
The book is much more than a memoir of one Vietnam veteran’s struggles over the decades after the war. It is a full-length analysis of the various conditions in Vietnam and the chemicals that were unleashed on not only the enemy but also on US service personnel.
Pat Hogan, the author and the main subject in the biography portion of the book, chronicles his early life and enlistment into the war in the mid-’60s. He starts with the life story of a friend and fellow vet, Larry White, who died decades later from numerous complications of the pesticides he was exposed to while stationed in Vietnam.
Hogan returned from Vietnam in ’69 and started having minor health difficulties himself. He became a police officer and then a police academy instructor. It is this occupational skill set—his investigative and analytical ability—that truly brings a high impact to the rest of the book. As you read through the volumes of information, you will be absolutely stunned at what the US government had willingly dumped on Vietnam and its own troops. In fact, in the book’s postscript, the author even makes a case for some of those same chemicals still being used today on you and your children, not just in the U.S. but all over the globe.
Posted in Interviews
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The war in Vietnam may have ended in 1975, but its effects are far-reaching and more devastating to the soldiers who gave their lives to serve on behalf of the United States than anyone could ever imagine. Agent Orange is the most commonly known chemical to have had an impact on the men and women who served in Vietnam during the decades long war, but it is far from the only substance to have made its indelible mark on millions of unsuspecting American soldiers. In addition to the onslaught of health concerns for the soldiers themselves, their children and grandchildren are potential victims of the effect of the various chemicals as well.
Patrick Hogan, author of Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War, lays out for readers, in no uncertain terms a full and complete breakdown of each of the deadly agents used in the pesticides sprayed so liberally in Vietnam during the duration of the war. Hogan, a man who served for just shy of three years in the throes of the war and in the midst of one of the most heavily sprayed areas, brings to light a lengthy list of facts related to each and every toxin administered during those years as well as a complete breakdown of the physical and mental impact each has been proven to cause.
Sadly, Hogan also shines a light on the fact that these brave men and women, now fighting a battle quite unlike the one they faced in Vietnam and one with no end in sight, are being asked to prove, time and time again, that they served in Vietnam in the areas treated by the deadly mixtures. Hogan makes it painfully clear that humiliation, frustration, and fear are all prevalent emotions among the men and women who deserve nothing but respect and the best care our country has to offer. In addition, Hogan reiterates throughout his book, they deserve and are owed an explanation as to why there have not been answers to the endless questions regarding the safety of Agent Orange and countless other toxins used in the pesticides shipped to and used regularly throughout the conflict.
As I read Hogan’s account of his own tragic experiences, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the fact that the general public is grossly misinformed about Vietnam. He is right–most of us are familiar with the term “Agent Orange,” but we have no idea exactly how it was administered, the type of conditions our soldiers endured, and the gross negligence involved in its use. It is simply mortifying, and Hogan should be commended for doing his part to bring long overdue attention to the veterans and their families who deal with the lingering effects of the Vietnam War each and every day.
For as complex as is the subject matter and as involved are his explanations regarding each chemical listed, Hogan writes with a pleasantly conversational and almost familiar tone. The world needs more writers like Patrick Hogan and more veterans willing to come forward and share their own stories. We, as a country, owe them so much more than we realize. Thank you for your service, Mr. Hogan.
Pages: 247 | ASIN: B07KDXN93H
Posted in Book Reviews
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A Soldier’s Thoughts: A Collection of Poems by Duke Sherman is an interesting, decent sized assemblage of poetry. Each poem captures different parts of his life. In doing so, Sherman shares intimate thoughts, feelings, and aspects of his life with the reader. His poems run the gamut of his experiences as a soldier, PTSD, depression, and about his love life and other life experiences. Intertwined through these poems are also spiritual and religious messages and beliefs along with some political beliefs. Sherman is honest in sharing his life with the reader and does not hold back any of his thoughts.
This book is a hefty book of poetry. It deals with feelings and experiences of one man’s life. In the beginning, it offers an introduction where the writer speaks of the many different definitions of what makes a soldier. One can be a person who has fought in the military, while the other is someone who has fought hard in their life. Sherman is depicted as a soldier in both senses of the word.
Reading through Sherman’s poetry, you get a sense for the man himself. Not only do you get deep, intimate thoughts, but the reader also gets the author’s introspection and strong belief systems. A book of poetry in this sense is telling of the person’s character and a sense of who they are. Reading Sherman’s words was like an autobiography given in fragments. The poems are broken up in different formats, which flow nicely. The rhyming of the poems gives each one a nice rhythm as well.
I learned a lot reading the collection. Much of it was thought-provoking. Sherman is a veteran. Because of this, he wrote a series of flashbacks detailing the destruction he saw in war. As a result, there was a lot of patriotism mentioned. It really made you think about how soldiers were and are currently treated and what patriotism means to certain people.
One of the aspects of the book that was interesting was the disjointed way in which the poems were presented. There was no chronological time in which each poem was presented; it jumped around. At one point, there would be flashbacks as a soldier in Vietnam, and then at another point, it would be talking about one of his many loves or children. I felt that it was a good metaphor for how thoughts are often loose and disconnected, especially when recalling memories. The way it was written really made me feel as if I was in Sherman’s head.
I could also tell that the way he wrote was a way of healing, which is what poetry is about. It is an art form that some like to share with others. I could definitely feel the intensity of his feelings through his written word. I would recommend this book for anyone who may be interested in what it is like to be a veteran or to learn more about war as it is a deeply personal account.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: 1477146423
Posted in Book Reviews
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Ballad of Demise is the third and final installment of the End of Knighthood series by Joshua Landeros. Set in the far future, we continue following Will Marconi, the renegade cyborg super soldier, who is aiming to launch an assault the same night as the International Summit. Chancellor Venloran, emboldened by his victory against the resistance fighters, moves into the final phase of his scheme. The International Summit will draw leaders from all over the world to New York City, and he will be able to achieve peace through the dominance of his design. It is up to Will, Alex, Bri, Gabriella, and others to stop the Chancellor and his deadly minions.
Ballad of Demise is an explosive and satisfying conclusion to the End of Knighthood trilogy. Landeros has been getting better and better with every installment. Expanding the borders of military science fiction, Ballad of Demise incorporates elements of horror through war and the suspense of a thriller. All of this adds up to a book that does its best to defeat the conventions of the genre and archetypal narrative structure.
While confining this book to virtually 48 hours and flashbacks, one would think this is a bold move from a relatively new author, but Landeros manages to pull this off with skill. The pace is snappy and engrossing for the reader. The internal struggle of Will and even Venloran shape the tone and theme of the work, which keeps asking if the ends justify the means. Even for the proposed hero, Will finds himself questioning if everything is acceptable for him to have his vengeance.
If there are any issues in this book at all, it would be that Landeros tries hard to stretch out these two days. Some of the action seems forced, and in other places, the dialogue slows the pacing but never enough for the reader to notice for too long. These are minimal problems and ones that take nothing away from the story itself.
For a trilogy, this series sets a high mark for the rest of Landeros career. In other ways, readers will be sad to see this cast of characters go but maybe they will return in future stories? Either way, this book is memorable and a fantastic sound off for Will Marconi. One can hope that such a world does not arise in the future, but these books seem to be asking, what if?
Pages: 161 | ASIN: B076BW7YLJ
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Sudden and violent loss is the introduction to this story, a war veteran and his family fall victim to a tragic and yet seemingly deliberate attempt on their lives. Our main character survives, along with the family dog, but we quickly learn the fate of his wife and son was far more grisly. When local law enforcement fail to provide the answers he seeks, our war veteran takes matters into his own hands. Answers alone will not right this; we follow the recently widowed down the rabbit hole of his own thirst for revenge, strongly driven in his pursuit.
Death by the Jaguar piqued my interest right away, a personal fan of sailing and being on the water, and I definitely enjoyed how often it returned to that setting. Either James Ruby is experienced himself or did his research, as his attention to detail regarding many basic mechanics and proper names surrounding the handling of water craft was on point. His technical skill as a writer shined through once more in regards to setting the scene. Ruby paints a picture well, giving enough focus on the characters surroundings to immerse the reader without putting too much weight in to detail. One aspect that continuously distracted me was his over use of commas. The flow of the story remained choppy throughout, thoughts consistently broken up too much by the trip of a comma.
I feel Ruby did a solid job portraying the scattered and distracted mindset of the main character, writing his portions of the story from a first person point of view. Consistently being pulled into the memories of a war veteran while he doggedly pursues justice for his family shows a glimpse of what it is like living with PTSD. I was a little bit back and forth on how I felt overall about just how quickly he gained his thirst for revenge, with little to no mourning and not even attending the funeral. However, I still felt he wrote this broken character with fair knowledge of human psychology. One thing that caught my attention was that we never seem to catch the name of our main character. I could be wrong and just missed it, but I personally find myself relating to a character better when I at least know their name.
Another issue was the repetitive interactions of Sullivan, an arrogant Chief of the local law. It seemed that with every interaction there was so much focus on this characters need to assert his station of power, his need for it to be recognized. The story itself left me wanting; the entire tale is a build up of vengeful actions, but in many respects it lacks the expected action factor, making it somewhat difficult to stay interested.
I was impressed with James Ruby’s ability to set the scene and draw the reader in, as well as his attention to detail regarding areas that the common person wouldn’t be too educated in.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B0755JWFNR
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Necessities tells the story of David Lewis, a double amputee Iraq War veteran who has taught himself to box and run half-marathons. David is bitter and angry but determined to succeed despite his injury. He has a promising career as a reporter for the Cleveland Post. His life is turned upside down when Cordelia Lehrer, with whom he had a brief fling in college seeks him out. Cory’s father is the publisher of a chain of an ultra right libertarian newspapers. Cory is looking for a newspaper man who can win her father’s approval and father an heir. David buys into the arrangement and finds himself in the middle of dysfunctional family wars and an increasingly difficult marriage, especially after young Tony, the heir, is born.
Coming in November 2017
Posted in book trailer
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