Authors Showcase: As Good as It Gets

The Book: Maddog and Miss Kitty

The Author: Bert Carson

The Story: The story of Gerald and Kathleen, a helicopter crew chief and a U.S. Army Nurse, who meet in Vietnam after Gerald is seriously wounded.

Gerald is transferred to Brooke Army Hospital near San Antonio, for rehabilitation. Kathleen is transferred to Brooke because she has served three tours in Vietnam and is on the point of total burn out.

Gerald recovers, leaves the Army, and tries to return to civilian life. Kathleen leaves the Army, opting to stay in San Antonio, working at St. Mary’s Hospital.

For twenty years they experience the aftermath of war, something we now call PTSD. Finally they begin separately traveling the roads they hope will take them home.

Review by Diddlesgirl: I don’t read war stories. Ever. This is not a war story. This is a life story.

There are bits of romance, bits of joy, bits of pain, and a lot of reality.
As always, Bert Carson grabs you by the heart and gently carries you through a world that you never thought you could love.

As I was born in the seventies, I never saw the reality of Vietnam. I’ve heard the smoothed over statements from history class. I have known the uncle who cannot be asked about “the war”. I’ve seen the ragged scrap of the man with the cardboard sign proclaiming his history of “vet”.
This is just a little glimpse into their world. It’s a drop of the reality of PTSD that so many cannot escape. It’s without excuse or blame. It just is.

Honestly, I never would have read this book if I hadn’t met the author. It is far from my usual world of light-hearted fiction and mystery. I would have really missed out. Bert’s ability to mix reality and fiction makes history come alive and often leaves you wondering how much of the story is truly fiction.

Read it, you won’t regret it.

Review by Lana Lynne: Bert Carson’s writing connects the reader as early as the dedication. The privilege of seeing through the eyes of a soldier permeates all aspects of Maddog and Miss Kitty: A Novella and 4 Short Stories. As a veteran, the author is able to authenticate even a work of fiction. He understands his main characters, those returning from Vietnam.

These soldiers, many the children of World War II veterans, understand patriotism. Mr. Carson shows the reader how the lack of welcome waiting “in the world” made them long to be “in country” again. The horror of war longs to be left behind; the comradeship is their home. He shows how soldiers become America to each other in the truest sense.

The politics of Vietnam caused dissension, but the soldiers did their jobs. They paid in blood, yet those surviving still missed the homage due. This is the visceral and captivating journey of Staff Sergeant Gerald “Maddog” Decker and Captain Kathleen “Miss Kitty” Timmons from Vietnam through years of struggling to truly come home. You care about these two. Prepare to hold your breath, shed a tear, and rejoice.

The four short stories following the novella are not to be overlooked. They are touched with divine hope. “Tennessee Waltz” is a reminder of how much veterans see beyond the names on “The Wall” in Washington D.C. There are unexpected angels in the midst of horror. The “Medic” finds unexpected duty is tinged by a hint of the miraculous. “Lady” helps a veteran find freedom again. “Snow” is heartwarming and magical.

This is a book worthy of five stars. It shines for all Vietnam Veterans.

The Book: This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies

The Author: Renee Pawlish

The Story: The hero is a wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction.

He meets, as fate would have it, a rich, attractive femme fatale.

She is missing husband.

And what follows is a rollicking ride to a dark and daring ending.

Review by Darlene Jones: Reed Ferguson, a “wanna be” Bogie, emulates his heroes of old films and sets himself up as a PI. His first job is to find a missing husband. Simple, right. Not for Reed. Soon the bad guys (in this case women) are after him intent on his demise, then the Feds want him out of the way as he’s interfering in their investigation. Reed is a likable young man and you soon come to care for his welfare.

I’m not a huge fan of detective books, but I enjoyed this one very much, likely because Renee has a deft touch with the genre. Her style is not to hammer the reader over the head, but rather to use subtly and light touches of humor appropriate to her story and wonderful references to old movies. But underneath all that there is a serious story with surprising plot twists. Her subtle touch and sound mechanics make for a nice flow and a smooth pleasurable read.

Review by Teresa Lynn: Renee draws us into old detective movies where the good guys wear white and the bad guys walk in their shadows. The true gumshoe walks the streets at night drumming up clues to an unsolve murder.

He flushes out his prey with quick wit and an eye for the unusual. He falls for the glamorous dame, but always stays true to his heart. He takes all he can get, but never gives an inch. He’s on the side of the law. At the end of the day the gumshoe puts up his feet and pours himself a stiff shot of whiskey. He mulls past cases and waits until the door opens and in walks his next case.

Review by T. ArmstrongThis Doesn’t Happen in the Movies successfully infuses gritty noir with humor and a splash of pop culture, mixing a delightful cocktail that really hits the spot. With fairly high marks across the board, especially in Style/Technique, Renée Pawlish delivers a clever story layered with suspense, demanding the reader’s attention.

The main character, Reed Ferguson, embodies his black and white heroes—private eyes from the silver screen, with a modern spin. Although not completely helpless, Reed’s first client—damsel in distress Amanda Ghering—is difficult to work for. Even when sober, her secrets require Reed to seek the help of close friends to unveil the story behind her story.

Having lived in Denver for a couple of years, the setting really brought me back. Along with the characters, these little details made me feel like I was re-visiting the area and reinforced the believability of the story, also scoring high in Authenticity/Originality.

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