Category: Book Reviews

Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings

With lush language and lavish imagery, Gabriela Marie Milton evokes a fantastic world ripe with emotion.

Christina Schwarz, the author of the New York Times Bestseller Drowning Ruth

This is a mesmerizing collection of poetry. Gabriela Marie Milton’s lines teem with life, passion, and introspective courage.

Brian Geiger, editor of Vita Brevis

Truthfully, I never expected to be reviewing a book of poetry

About the Poet

Gabriela Marie Milton (pen name) is an author of three novels. She was awarded 2019 Author of the Year at Spillwords Press. She publishes under the pen name Gabriela M. in Spillwords Press, Vita Brevis, Indian Periodical, Gioielli Rubati Poetry (translated in Italian by Flavio Almerighi), Tuck Magazine, KashmirPen, “Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen,” Literary Yard, Proletaria, Free Verse Revolution, and other venues. She was selected “Author of the Month” at Spillwords (April 2019).

Her poem “The Breath of Love and Death” was voted “Publication of the Month” at Spillwords (November 2019). Gabriela’s work was included in the following anthologies: America’s Emerging Poets Southeast Region (Z Publishing House, 2018); Florida’s Best Emerging Poets (Z Publishing House, 2019); and Pain & Renewal (Vita Brevis Press, 2020).

My thoughts …

I can’t really explain it. I guess I am finally getting in touch with my inner poet? And, it probably shouldn’t come as a total shock to me, because I am somewhat of a romantic fool, I guess. In fact, that part of who I am has gotten me into trouble a few times. But poetry?

I mean, I did like some of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems like Annabel Lee, Eldorado, and The Raven. I also liked The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and thanks to a recent discussion about poetry with my Dad, I just now discovered I really like The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling.

But I never thought I would be reviewing a book of poetry, much less buying one for my own enjoyment. How would this come to pass, you may ask … or, you may not … but I will tell you anyway.

Whenever a new blogger likes one of my posts, I go visit their blog to see who they are and whether I am interested in their writing or want to follow their blog. A short while back, I had a blogger who went by short-prose-fiction like one of my posts. I went to the blogger’s site and discovered Gabriela Marie Milton and a fragment from one of her poems called Trap Me. The verse brought back beautiful memories of a trip to Rome and Florence and seeing in person so many of the works of great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo.

I found myself returning to Gabriela’s blog quite regularly to read other snippets of poetry and really enjoyed them. The next thing you know, I’d ordered her book!

But a book of love poems (and of course, other writings)?

Here’s a phrase from a poem I really liked.

… with this ring
made from the muscle of my lively heart
I promise I will love you till the end
when you travel the whole earth
in search of that which is the scent of me

Gabriela Marie Milton, with this ring I promise you

Wow. Can’t help it. That is beautiful! Why? Because, the romantic idiot that I sometimes am, I felt that way once in my life, the smell of her hair, the touch of her skin. I don’t know if I will ever feel that way again. I kind of hope not. I am not sure my heart could stand it. But that was indeed a beautiful time in my life.

One more phrase I really liked …

I had to go through your soul
to get to mine
once in mine
I wish
I would have stayed in yours …

Gabriela Marie Milton, Souls

Have you ever felt that being with another person filled some missing part of you? I have. And I really liked that feeling. It kind of made me feel whole and gave a purpose to my existence. You really miss it when it’s gone.

Of course, the practical side of me says you don’t really need anyone, that you have to be secure in yourself before you can be secure with somebody else. And I get that. But it is so lovely to have a driving reason to succeed.

I’m not sure that I would go as far as to say I am now a poetry fanatic, but I have really learned something here, and as time permits, I feel like I may check out more of this stuff called poetry. Might as well start with more Kipling. I have read and enjoyed The Jungle Book, The Man Who Would Be King, Gunga Din, and Just So Stories …, might as well explore more of his poetry.

And I will definitely be on the lookout for more by Gabriela Marie Milton.

And, while I am certainly not an expert on poetry, I would give Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings 5 out of 5 stars, if for no other reason than the effect it had on me. And, as far as my limited knowledge of poetry goes, I think it is an excellent book of poems and other writings.

You can click here or on the image above to view the book on Amazon.com.

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Blue Ring Assassins

Berlin 1939 – 1943
From the smoking ruins of a bombed Berlin brothel, three shocked and injured female survivors are taken to a secluded training facility by Nazi officer, Gruppenführer Watler Schellenberg. They’re not there for official business but for medical treatment.

Trained by the SS officer in all aspects of espionage, the women are desperate to survive. They turn the tables on their armed captors and kill them. After covering their tracks, the women return to ply the only trade they know… with an added twist. Somehow these ‘sisters in arms’ escape the attention of the Nazis, despite the high rank of their victim, and their lucrative business thrives.

They haven’t escaped everyone’s notice, though. British Intelligence was monitoring Schellenberg’s operations for some time, and their attention has zeroed in on the three women. They dispatch one of their top male agents to make contact…

My thoughts …

I enjoyed the story very much. And I like how the story was told through the eyes of the three main characters; Hannah, Heidi, and Petra. You really get to know these characters well and can feel their fear, anger, frustration, despair, and desire for justice. You are quickly caught up in their lives.

This novel is also a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, with a unique plot. There are exciting twists and turns around every corner. Readers also get a real look inside Germany, and the suffering of the German people brought about by Hitler’s ambitious plans for Aryan “Lebensraum.”

Check out my book reviews page by clicking here.

The Red Circle

My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen by Brandon Webb

“If you want to know what makes up the DNA of a Navy SEAL and have a behind-the-scenes look at the best sniper program in the world, then ‘hold 1 right for wind’ and read The Red Circle.”

Chris Kyle, SEAL Team Three Chief and bestselling author of American Sniper

“Impressive and well-written…The Red Circle is a great book.”

Howard E. Wasdin, Navy SEAL and bestselling author of SEAL Team Six

About the book

Brandon Webb’s experiences in the world’s most elite sniper corps are the stuff of legend. From his grueling years of training in Naval Special Operations to his combat tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, The Red Circle provides a rare and riveting look at the inner workings of the U.S. military through the eyes of a covert operations specialist.

Webb’s distinguished second career as a lead instructor for the shadowy “sniper cell” and Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program that trained some of America’s finest and deadliest warriors-including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle, that makes his story so compelling.

From hair-raising close calls with Taliban and al Qaeda forces in
Afghanistan to designing new sniper standards and training some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century, Webb describes how the Special Operations warriors at the forefront of today’s military are forged.

About the author

After leaving home at age sixteen, Brandon finished high school and joined the US Navy to become a Navy SEAL. His first permanent assignment was as a helicopter Aircrew Search & Rescue (SAR) swimmer and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator with HS-6. In 1997 his Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) package was approved. He would class up with over 200 students in BUD/S class 215, and go on to complete the training as 1 of 23 originals.

As a SEAL, he served with SEAL Team 3, Naval Special Warfare Group One (NSWG-1) Training Detachment sniper cell. And completed his last tour at the Naval Special Warfare Center (NSWC) sniper course, where he served as the Naval Special Warfare west coast sniper course manager. Throughout his career, he completed four deployments to the Middle East, one to Afghanistan, and would later go back to Iraq in 2006-7 as a paramilitary contractor. His proudest accomplishment in the military was working as the SEAL sniper course manager, a schoolhouse that has produced some of the deadliest snipers in US military history.

An accomplished and proven leader, Brandon was meritoriously promoted to E-6 while serving as an advanced sniper instructor at NSWG-1. He was recommended and advanced to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E-7) his first time eligible while at the sniper course. He has received numerous distinguished service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation (personally awarded to him by President George W. Bush), and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor in combat. Webb ended his Navy career early after over a decade of service to spend more time with his children and focus on entrepreneurship (both his parents were small business owners).

Today Brandon is focused on building his first billion-dollar business. He is the founder and CEO of the Hurricane Group, a Global Media to commerce business focused on military and outdoor entertainment (news, digital tv, & podcast), subscription-based clubs, and products.

Brandon is regularly featured in the media as a military and business subject matter expert. He has contributed to ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, FOX News, CNN, the BBC, SIRIUS XM, MSNBC, and The New York Times.

Webb is a New York Times bestselling author. His books include The Red Circle (St. Martin’s Press) Among Heroes (Penguin-Random House), Benghazi, The Definitive Report (Harper Collins), The ISIS Solution (SOFREP books), and The Power of Thought (self-published). He has two books scheduled to publish in 2017. The Killing School: Inside the World’s deadliest sniper program, is set to be released with St. Martin’s Press May 2017. Total Focus: How to Make Better Decisions Under Pressure, publishes with Penguin Random House in August 2017.

In 2012, after losing his best friend, Navy SEAL & CIA contractor Glen Doherty, in Benghazi, Libya, he founded The Red Circle Foundation (RCF), a non-profit with a 100% pass-through model. Every dollar donated goes to the mission, and business partner donors pick up the Foundation’s overhead. RCF is focused on supporting families of the Special Operations community through emergency memorial, medical, and child enrichment programs (camps & scholarships).

Brandon is a member of the New York YPO (Young Presidents Organization) chapter and serves as a board member on the veterans’ advisory committee to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

He enjoys spending time with his tight circle of fantastic family & friends, being outdoors, and flying his experimental aircraft upside-down. He splits his time between his residence in San Juan, PR, and Manhattan, NY.

My thoughts …

I purchased this book at Barnes and Noble some time ago, originally reading it as research for the main character in Serpents Underfoot and its sequel, Montagnard. I just finished re-reading it, and for the second time, I could not put it down.

If you read and enjoy books like American Sniper or Lone Survivor, then this is another book you will absolutely enjoy. Webb takes the reader through SEAL training, the war in Afghanistan, his role in improving the SEAL sniper training program, and so much more.

This is not a book of nonstop SEAL adventure, though there is enough of that to satisfy most readers. This is a book about what it is actually like to be a SEAL written by a SEAL.

I give this book an easy 5 Stars and recommend it to all.

New Book Review Page

I have done a significant number of book reviews over the years, and it dawned on me that they become too easily lost among the other blog post in a typical blog feed.

Therefore, I created a new book review page called DC’s Book Reviews and will display images of the books I have reviewed on the page. Each image will contain a link to that book review in my blog. I have been working on this for several days, and it is now ready to go live.

Voilà! A lot less searching.

I guess I’ve done about 40 or so book reviews. However, 16 have been added to date. I will keep working at this until all of them are on the book review page.

I do enjoy good books and reviewing them for other readers. However, lately, whenever possible. I have turned to audiobooks. I guess my eyes are getting a bit older, and too many years of working at the computer have taken its toll. Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy books, even with tired eyes!

While I only review books I have an interest in reading, anyone interested in having an honest book review done by me can contact me through my contact form. I will reply as quickly as I can.

Click here to view my new book review page. It is also a menu option a the top of the page.

Also, please check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales available on Amazon.com. Montagnard is now in the hands of my editor and will be released later this summer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leora’s Letters

The Story of Love and Loss For An Iowa Family During WW II

by Joy Neal Kidney … with Robin Grunder

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the whole family, which included the brothers’ two sisters. Her fondest wishes were to have a home of her own and family nearby. Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four more decades with hope and resilience.

“Joy lets us see her grandmother’s personal family correspondence through letters. It is heart-tugging. Be ready to be moved by this true story.” –Van Harden, WHO-Radio Personality

Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Active on her own website, she is also a writer and local historian. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa. Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa.

My thoughts …

In Leora’s Letters, Joy Neal Kidney provides her readers with a genuine and heartfelt glimpse into the life of an American family during one of our nation’s most trying times. Five Wilson brothers leave their family farm in Iowa to serve their country during WW II, two in the Navy, and three in the Army Air Corps.

Through a well-crafted combination of letters, photographs, and narratives, Joy Neal Kidney draws you in and makes you feel like a member of the family. I found myself caught up in the daily experiences of all five young men and hoping each of them made it home safely. Unfortunately, war is never that kind.

Leora’s Letters is more than a story about one family’s sacrifice. It is a story about America and the kind of people who helped to forge this great nation. Our nation owes Clabe and Leora Wilson and their family a debt it can never repay. However, in reading this incredible story, perhaps we can regain a sense of what kind of people Americans were, and hopefully again, will be.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

A Highly Emotional Page-turner!

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN

A Vietnam War Novel by Glyn Haynie

Promises to the Fallen

In the jungles of Vietnam, innocence is the first casualty of war…

Nineteen-year-old Eddie Henderson is a private in the U.S. Army. His parents are deceased, and he has no one in his life except his platoon brothers—Porter, Rocky, and Professor. His fellow soldiers are his family now. But none share a bond as close as he and his best friend, team leader Mitch Drexler.

In the heat and jungles of Vietnam, each man does the best he can to survive. Battles are fought, friends lost, and promises made to the fallen. But when the enemy fatally wounds a platoon brother in a deadly attack, the dying soldier makes Eddie promise to fulfill a final vow… A debt of blood that could change the course of his life forever.

When Eddie and his friends’ tours are over, they return home to a world they barely remember. But Eddie is still trapped in the past. He has no family, no home to go back to. Just a nightmare he lives over and over again. A dark vow he made to a dying friend. And one question, burning in his mind…

Will he keep his promise to his friend? No matter the cost?

My thoughts …

While I served in the U.S. Army several years after the war in Vietnam ended (from 79 to 83), I have always been fascinated by the Vietnam War. I certainly saw enough on the news to be curious about what it must have been like, and this has led me to read a great deal on the subject. Add to this the fact that, later in life, I had a few good friends who were Vietnam veterans, and who would occasionally share snippets of their experiences during the war, which only served to increase my desire to try and understand the background and circumstances.

I have read all four of Glyn Haynie’s books. Each one has been excellent and a real pleasure to read. While the first three were memoirs, Promises to the Fallen was Haynie’s first foray into the world of fiction. It did not disappoint.

This novel is an incredible read! Haynie puts you right in the middle of the Vietnamese jungles, the smells, the mud, the villages, the people, and their rice paddies. It is almost like you are there, and with those young men who find themselves in another world, an insane world full of danger, death, fear, courage, loyalty, and sacrifice. It is also a world of hope and hopelessness, where you can’t tell your enemies from your friends, and you anxiously count the days, hoping you survive until you get to go home.

The author draws on his own experiences in Vietnam and in close infantry combat to make this book one heck of a page-turner. And, for those of us who have served in the U.S. military, whether it was during the Vietnam War, other conflicts, or even during peacetime, Haynie’s narrative will bring to mind memories and experiences of your time in the service of your country.

To those who haven’t served, this novel may help you to understand why those who serve in the military are the way they are … their pride in their service, this country, and its flag. And yes, even its problems and shortcomings.

The bond of brotherhood that exists between those who have served together is a real bond that stands the test of time. When you cut through all the hyperbole, it is really about the man (or woman) in the foxhole next to you. While politicians, the media, and Hollywood love to talk about defending our country, baseball, apple pie, etc., it is really about defending your buddy while he or she defends you.

I found Promises to the Fallen extremely difficult to put down. It took me through a broad range of emotional responses as it laid bare the authentic, unadulterated experience of the American soldier in Vietnam; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. I highly recommend this book to all.

Now, on to Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney, another book I have been anxious to read! What great books have you read this winter?

I Just Added This To My Reading List!

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN

A VIETNAM WAR NOVEL

Glyn Haynie

Cover image of the new novel by Author Glyn Haynie
New Release

I just ordered a signed hardcover copy of Glyn Haynie’s newest release and cannot wait to read it!

Author Glyn Haynie

From the age of 19 until he retired in March of 1989, Glyn Haynie served his country as a member of the United States Army. Starting in 1969, his military career spanned 20 years. Haynie found himself turning 19 while fighting in the jungles of Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division. Before retiring, Haynie went on to serve as a drill instructor, a first sergeant, and finally as an instructor for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA).


I have read all three of his earlier books!

When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir

Glyn Haynie’s first book, When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir, tells of the author’s experiences as a 19-year-old soldier sent off to fight an unpopular war. In this gripping narrative, Haynie shares his war experience with his readers.

They were just average Americans – sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers. Men who who came together and formed a bond that would endure a lifetime, a bond formed in combat.

Glyn Haynie shares the vivid experiences of his period as a soldier during the War in Vietnam.

Weeks of boredom, minutes of terror. Surviving the humidity, the heat, the monsoons, a raging jungle fire, and struggling to build a firebase on a remote jungle hilltop, all while fighting fear, exhaustion, and facing a fierce and implacable enemy.

Soldiering After The Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers In A Changed Country

This second work, Soldiering After The Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers In A Changed Country, picks up where the first book leaves off and gives the reader a rare glimpse of what it meant to a soldier to return from Vietnam and continue to serve his country despite the lack of respect and appreciation typically afforded soldiers returning home from war.

The vast majority of American service men who served in Vietnam served bravely and honorably. The atrocities so often focused on by the media, and in films and documentaries were actually few and far between. Men like Glyn Haynie would probably never ask, but many in this country owe them an apology … and some long overdue respect and appreciation.

Finding My Platoon Brothers: Vietnam Then and Now

Glyn Haynie carries the names of 13 brothers forever engraved on his heart. They are the names of brothers-in-arms, killed in combat during the War in Vietnam.

The bonds formed in battle are unique and not understood by anyone who has not served in the military.

This third book by Glyn Haynie, Finding My Platoon Brothers, Vietnam Then and Now, describes his efforts to find and reconnect with his brothers of First Platoon. These men, with whom he served during the War in Vietnam, are indeed a real part of his family.


And now, to Glyn Haynie’s newest release, a very intriguing Vietnam War novel.

PROMISES TO THE FALLEN: A Vietnam War Novel

I have not yet read Glyn Haynie’s new novel, Promises to the Fallen: A Vietnam War Novel, but I have just ordered a signed copy! You can order a signed hardcover or paperback copy by clicking here!

While I have not actually met Glyn, I have gotten to know him through collaboration on some projects as well as through social media vehicles such as Twitter, and Instagram where we have shared tips on topics such as marketing books on Twitter or Instagram and using Amazon Ads.

I did read one chapter of his novel while it was in-progress and found it very intriguing. And, I believe that if you’re interested in military history, the Vietnam War era, its soldiers, and its heroes, this will be one novel you will definitely want to add to your reading list. It is now available at Amazon.com in Kindle, paperback and hardcover formats.

Once I have received my copy of the book and read it, I will post a review here on my blog!