Jewel of Persia, by Roseanna M. White

Jewel of Persia, by Roseanna M. White, White Fire Publishing, ISBN: 978-0976544470 available on Amazon, 346 pgs.

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Jewel of Persia is an amazing book. It is a Christian based historical fiction that I could not put down. The main character is a woman named Kasia, who is friends with Esther from the book of Esther in the Bible.

The story tells how Kasia is chosen by King Xerxes to be one of his wives, and becomes his favorite. She is the only person who can calm his temper. As a Jewess, Kasia can never be queen but she has a strong influence over the king. This makes her a target by Jewish hating members of the royal household as well as the wives that are jealous because she is the king’s favorite. The tension and drama in this book make it a real page turner.

Ms. White did a great deal of research about the time of Esther which gives the reader a fascinating, clear view of what life was like in Biblical times. The loyalty of the Jewish people to Jehovah, the Biblical character’s and the real events from the book of Esther make it hard to believe that this book is fiction.

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Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings, self-published, ISBN: 9781522042914,  $10.50, 341 pgs. Is a unique blend of genuine search and rescue work by SAR dogs, factual history and a few ghosts added for extra drama. Although this is a self-published book, I have to rate it very high in writing quality. It flows well and is well organized. The physical aspects of the book are good as well.

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Ghosts of Iwo Jima is a story about a team of men and woman, and two special dogs, who go to Iwo Jima to find the remains of five Marines that died on the island during WWII. The book takes us to the historically factual battle and gives the reader a genuine feel for a war situation. Most of the search takes place in an area the Marines named the Amphitheater where the five Marines went missing.

The realism of the story is due to the fact that the author served in the Marines during Vietnam and made the Marines his career serving from 1964 to 1988, including being a part of the Combined Action Program, served in the infantry and reconnaissance units. He is also a SAR dog handler with the Great Basin K9 SAR unit.

The dogs are a Cadaver dog and a Military explosives detection dog. The cadaver dog must find the bodies and the explosive detection dog must clear the area of unexploded ordnance before the team can search.

What I especially liked was the conflict between the characters, one specialist did not understand and believe the capabilities of the dogs, and the Japanese commander who was in charge of the island and was misinformed as to the intent of the team’s search. The two ghosts that were involved in the mission were enemies and did their best to influence the outcome of the mission. The bad ghost tried to kill the dogs and sabotage the mission, while the other ghost communicated to the team to guide them. The way all of the elements of the story blended together is excellent.

The dialog in the book has a real-life sound to it, making the reader feel as if they are a part of the team. The pressure that the team felt is evident to the reader, since the team was allotted only ten days by the Japanese to find the missing remains.

All of the technical aspects of the book are true to life, the searching, the forensic work and the obstacles that the team faced. The ending is excellent, with an unexpected surprise. Of the many books that I have reviewed, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wished there were more missions to come, in another book, for the team. For his first book, Joe Jennings did an outstanding job.

On Kitten Creek: Searching for the Sacred

On Kitten Creek: Searching for the Sacred, A Memoir by Nancy Swihart, Cladach Publishing, 185 pgs., $13.49, ISBN: 978-1-945099-02-1.

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On Kitten Creek was a very pleasant and surprising read for me. I found that I could relate to many of the author’s feelings and experiences. Ms. Swihart tells us how she had visions and plans about what she wanted to do, her job, ministry, and even the house she wanted as she and her family moved from California to Kansas. But God had other plans for her and her family, and of course God’s plans turned out to be much better. Her experiences are a testimony to all young people to have faith through life.

As Ms. Swihart shows us, it is hard to see the vision while you are young and traveling down the path of life. But the lesson is clear as one looks back, have faith and trust. On Kitten Creek is a good book for all ages, and an inspiration for those who might be struggling with life’s situations. Although it is a Christian book, it is not preachy and I found it a delight to read, more like a novel then a memoir.  Ms. Swihart is a gifted writer and the book is easy to read.

Faithful Friends: Holocaust Survivors Stories of the Pets Who Gave Them Comfort, Suffered Alongside Them and Waited for Their Return

Faithful Friends is a unique book of rare, first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors about their pets. This is a piece of history that has been largely overlooked. Faithful Friends is perhaps the only book written about these beloved pets. The book is broken down by country and with a brief account of what was happening at that time in each country. The introduction also includes a time-line for the Holocaust from 1879 – 1948.

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Most of the survivors that were interviewed where children at that time. They loved their pets dearly and did not fully understand what was happening but they did know that something was dreadfully wrong.

Faithful Friends not only shares stories about pets, but it gives the reader an idea of what life was like during WWII.

For example, it is difficult for many people to realize that news traveled mostly by word of mouth since there was no reliable form of communication. Although people did have radio’s and newspapers, many of these were controlled, reported propaganda and false news, which is why some people were unaware of what was going on until it was too late to flee.

Faithful Friends is a heartwarming book that has some amazing survival accounts, but does have some sad stories. It gives the reader a glimpse of life before, during and after the Holocaust. For some people, it is not an easy book to read. However, it is a necessary book for the history lover and for people in general to understand an untold part of the Holocaust.

Faithful Friends has won the following awards:

2012: Dog Writers Association of America, Maxwell Award.

2012: Certificate of Excellence Cat Writers Association

2012: National League of American Pen Woman 2nd place non-fiction.

For an autographed first edition copy (while they last) go to: http://www.sbulanda.com/books.htm

ISBN:978-0-9818929-4-8  Published by Cladach Publishing, 144 pgs.

K9 Drug Detection: A Manual for Training and Operations

K9 Drug Detection: A Manual for Training and Operations by Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak, Brush Education, Inc., ISBN: 978-1-55059-681-6, $44.95, 296 pgs.

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This is another great book by Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak that consists of 8 chapters with four appendices, a bibliography, notes and an index. The Appendices list the laws concerning drugs in Canada and the USA.

Chapter:

  1. Selecting the Drug-Detector Dog and Handler
  2. Basics of Drug-Detection Training
  3. Accidental Drug Uptake: First Aide for Your Dog
  4. Reading Your Dog
  5. Influence of Air Currents in Search Work
  6. Planning a Search Action
  7. General Information on Drugs, Drug Laws and Penalties
  8. The Different Drugs
  9. Conclusion

There are a lot of training tips covered in the book that apply to other disciplines. For example, the authors point out that yelling at your dog sounds like punishment to the dog.

They cover handler requirements as well as dogs. For example, they explain that the handler must learn to trust their dog since they depend on the dog to find the scent. This is true for all working dog situations. They explain that the drug dog must be able to work independently yet also be obedient. Again, this is true for all working dog situations. It is called intelligent disobedience since the dog must alert or lead the handler to the scent source even if the handler does not think the source is located where the dog indicates.

The authors give an excellent description of how the wind and buildings affect scent by explaining outdoor wind currents and indoor air currents. They give extensive details about how to search a building and where to look. They also cover other types of searches such as vehicles, RV’s, packages, luggage, airplanes, boats, and the list goes on. All of this applies to SAR work as well.

They cover training methods and explain the pros and cons of controlled searches and blind searches. They also cover situations where there are multiple scents involved. Like any good scent book they explain how the dog’s nose detects scent.

The dog training part of the book is excellent as well as their description of innate, acquired and learned behaviors. They explain how the handler must recognize each and use them in training.

Over all this is an excellent book that can help anyone who wants to do any type of scent work with their dog. It is also a good refresher for those who already use drug dogs.

Stinkin Thinkin How to Change It

Stinkin Thinkin: How to Change It, What Every Christian Should Know by Sarah Calhoun, Debbie McEvoy and Jennifer Radocci. Illustrations by Sarah Calhoun and Jennifer Radocci. 47 pgs, ISBN: 978-0-9859678-1-9, $16.95.

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This is a very interesting flip page book that is a good teaching aid for young adults as well as adults. It has 14 lessons that deal with the following: Mind Full of the Lord, Worry, Confession, Anger and Out of Control, Confession, Fear and More Worry, Selfishness, No Compassion for Others, Mind Full of Sins, Judge Yourself, Will He or Won’t He? Yes! Tell God Your Sins, Help Lennis Finish His Prayer, Mind Full of the Lord.

This is a very simple book that will help young people recognize and deal with their emotions. The main character is Lennis, and the pictures illustrate him experiencing all of the emotions listed above. One page shows pictures of Lennis, the back page provides questions about the picture to help the reader work through the emotions/situations that Lennis is experiencing. For example, one side of the Worry page has a box with the following questions: Identify the clues that show something bad has happened. What do you think the storm cloud represents? What is Lennis’ mind becoming full of instead of pleasing God and using His word? What does God tell us in this Bible verse about anxiety or worry? How can Lennis change his thinking back to pleasing God and using His Word? Next to the box is 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

This is an excellent book to use in youth ministries. A teacher can show the picture to the children while asking the questions on the flip page. It is also good for a parent to use at home with their children.

After the Rain by Rita Gerlach

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After the Rain by Rita Gerlach, ISBN: 13: 978-1517606886 & 10: 1517606888, Self-Published, 569 pgs, $19.33.

This a wonderful Historical Christian Romance novel by Rita Gerlach that takes place in Chevy Chase, MD and Virginia during the Edwardian Age. Ms. Gerlach has captured the essence of life during this time in a captivating way. She shows the reader what life was like for the privileged and the poorest unwanted children. It is a captivating, page turning story with twists that will surprise the reader. One of the things that makes this novel seem real, is the way Ms. Gerlach portrays the personality of each character and weaves it together through the relationships between the people in the story. This book is suitable for all ages.

Digger: The Case of the Chimera Killer

Digger: The Case of the Chimera Killer by Robert D. Calkins, pgs. 337, ISBN: 978-0-9971911-2-7, self-published, $15.95.

Digger is a fast paced, fun read for all ages. The story is about a young man, his Golden Retriever and his girlfriend who are part of a canine search and rescue team. While the story is lighthearted in many ways, it is also dramatic and a page turner. The examples of how SAR dogs work and the technical aspects of searching are true to real life missions. The added mystery of solving who the killer is adds to the excitement of this book.

The quality of the book is good and there are no technical issues or grammatical mistakes.

Calkins has also written two children’s picture books.

Sierra Becomes a Search Dog, ISBN:978-0-9971911-0-3; and Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred, ISBN: 9780997191141 both by Robert D. Calkins and illustrated by Taillefer Long. Both books are $10.95.

Sierra Becomes a Search Dog and Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred are nice children’s book with Fun Facts sidebars explaining technical aspects in a way that children will understand. Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred is told as a rhyme/poem which is not bad. I personally liked the style used in Sierra Becomes a Search Dog which is written in simple language for young readers. Both are excellent books to introduce children to canine SAR.

Manila Marriage App: Passport to Romance by Jan Elder

Manila Marriage App: Passport to Romance by Jan Elder, 131 pgs, ISBN: 2370000214362, $3.99

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This surprising book is a delightful, fast moving read. On a lark the main character Shay, replied to an ad for a wife in the Philippians. She only expected to stay a few weeks but was in for a life changing surprise. Dr. Timothy Flynn, the man who placed the ad was not what she thought he would be.

The author’s description of the Philippians make you feel as though you were there. Manila Marriage App: Passport to Romance is a mixture of comedy, embarrassing moments, tragedy and a surprising ending. The twists and turns of the plot kept this a page turning book. It is hard to put it down once you start reading it. This book is suitable for all readers including young adults.

Phillip’s War

Phillip’s War by Rachel Muller, 374 pgs., ISBN: 9781536961546, $15.99

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This is the third and final book in the Love & War series by Ms. Muller. The other two books are Letters from Grace and Maggie’s Mission.  All three books complement each other telling the story about three friends during WWII. The emotions and flavor of this time period are captured by Ms. Muller with accurate details about life during WWII. Phillips War shows the reader how shell shock (PTSD) affected soldiers and their families.

While each book is unique, they weave a complete story together. Often when you finish a book you are left wondering what finally happened but Phillip’s War tells the rest of the story in a special section at the end of the book.

All three books are Christian based without being preachy and are suitable for all age groups. It is a good book for young adults to learn what life was like during the war years. Although the situations in all books are unique to WWII, the way the characters handle their problems applies to modern times as well.