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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of subscribers to our free monthly newsletter of fiction book reviews and nonfiction book reviews. Learn why our publication is different than most others, or read author and publisher testimonials about the USR.

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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency
by Akiki Busch
Penguin Press


"Exposure is an inevitable by-product of the connectivity so many people today find vital."

The conundrum of being unseen in a world that lauds and demands visibility is explored in Busch’s thoughtful series of essays. It’s too simplistic to say that some people and things are overexposed, while others create an enigma. An inclusive or disruptive formula arises in all appearances. Through her poignant writing, Busch explores various ways people and things present themselves and achieve new interpretations. ... (read more)

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Enthralling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cost of Justice
by Michael Skeen
Outskirts Press


"...a segment of our population has been convinced that the government is the enemy..."

Fast-paced and realistic, this novel is enthralling. The author imagines, "What if the news media worst case scenarios of our time actually came true?" Skeen puts the possibilities in writing in a three-book series. Although this is the final book in the trilogy, it stands alone without confusion. ... (read more)

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Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


"He called the desert the perfect place for him because so little moved. Just one big photograph, so it provided the illusion that his life was back to normal."

There is an exceptionally fine line between intense introspection and prolonged navel-gazing. That line is a tightrope author Bolick walks precariously in this tale of one man’s unyielding search for enlightenment. Bolick’s protagonist desperately wants to come to grips with personal answers to profound questions such as why are we here, what does consciousness really mean, and can we ever truly understand one another or, for that matter, ourselves. The author encases these soul-searching queries in a story that dispenses potential answers much like a time-release capsule—a few now, a bit later, and eventually perhaps enough to ward off congenital melancholia. However, these intermittent answers raise additional questions. Does the patient stand a chance of actually being cured or merely treated? Should his doctor heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”? ... (read more)

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A Complicated Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Raven's Resurrection: A Cybertech Thriller
by John D. Trudel
Trudel Group


"Raven slung his rifle. He walked over and stood behind them, his Sig leveled, finger on the trigger."

In the author’s latest thriller, America is not as secure as its average citizen might think. Radical Islam poses a serious threat to the nation, but only a few understand just how extensive the reach is of its practitioners. Raven has experienced firsthand how dangerous the nation’s enemies can be, but many of them, in turn, will learn what a deadly adversary he can be. ... (read more)

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A Western Gem

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Off The Well-Lit Path
by M. S. Holm
Sentry Books


"Rugg did not ask the cop why he robbed adolescent girls of their innocence and bragged of the obscenity. He knew the cop would have no answer."

Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality. ... (read more)

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Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books


"'I have died a couple of times, and there's nothing out there but cold dark space.'"

Generally, engineers and other professionals don't morph into successful writers. But Don Calmus, a retired engineer, has writing talent and took the time to study the craft, enabling him to write this stellar novel. Not only should he not "stay in his own lane," he should write a sequel. ... (read more)

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Surviving Stroke

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Wonderful Stroke of Luck: From Occupational Therapist to Patient and Beyond
by Janet R. Douglas
Archway Publishing


"Even though I did not see myself as handicapped in terms of doing my job, obviously others did."

Janet Douglas knew that her family had a history of stroke. And as an occupational therapist, she knew all the warning signs, the symptoms, and how to defend against something she had a genetic disposition toward. While attending a country wedding reception for her nephew, she became sick to her stomach and believed she was having a heart attack, turning a blind eye to the diagnosis she dreaded most. The next month was spent in and out of consciousness, in hospitals on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, including in places she once worked. Despite surviving narrow odds after neurosurgery, Douglas continued her denial that the diagnosis she feared had happened to her. As she struggled through physical therapy, she continued to improve enough to be sent home and set her sights on a difficult goal: 90% recovery of how she was before the stroke. ... (read more)

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Big Plans

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dung Beetels of Liberia: A Novel Based on True Events
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing


"I can’t say for certain that it was a damp, drizzly November of the soul or that I wished to be called Ishmael, but events had reached a turning point."

After his older brother’s tragic death, Ken Verrier drops out of his classes at Cornell University in the summer of 1961 to opt for life as a transport pilot in West Africa. The ever-present dung beetles become a metaphor for the various groups he flies from the capital, Monrovia, and into the bush. All of these groups seem to be seeking to “roll” something out of Liberia. The Americo-Liberians live as “big men” at the top of the national social ladder. The missionaries and Peace Corps volunteers seek to do good. Meanwhile, the diplomats, politicians, international corporations, hustlers, ex-Nazis, and Israeli Nazi-hunters are all scrambling to manifest their agendas and reap profit amidst a mosaic of tribal cultures. ... (read more)

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Max's Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Case of Emil Diesel
by Patricia Menton
Xlibris


"Art survives. That is all that matters. Each piece tells our history. It is our gift to future generations. It is our legacy."

This novel is a fictionalized account inspired by a true story. It involves a private art collection illegally seized by the German Democratic Republic in the years during the Cold War. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Nexus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooperative Lives
by Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing


"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"

Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision. ... (read more)

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Generations of the Chesapeake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Family Matters
by D. C. Moses
Cherry Street Publishers


"But what had happened to Alex and Barry…so busy, so loving, so passionate for self-discovery, so yearning for self-transcendence?"

The untimely death of their son, Lu, is a shadow that haunts and looms over the Byrnes family. Each one grieves his loss in their own private way while attempting to find a way forward, immersing themselves into their careers and daily life. Then father, Barry, faces a life-changing decision when his company requests to relocate him to Washington. This sets in motion the mixed feelings and introspection by Barry and his reluctant wife, Alex, who contemplate the uncertainty of their future so close to retirement. They each reflect upon the early years of their marriage and life before and after Lu’s death. Others in the family must also come to terms with the tragic familial loss. As they each face uncertainty in the way forward, they learn something of themselves and one another. ... (read more)

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Direct Answers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Common Sense and Reasonable Answers
by William Warren Luce
Seacoast Press


"World peace is achievable. We simply have to change our perception, believing that it is attainable."

In a book that examines life from many points of view, a retired military officer has delved into politics and religion, asking questions and coming up with startling but often sensible responses. The book as a whole seeks to examine in detail many major concepts that we think we should live by or have been conditioned to believe. The author then proceeds to pick these concepts apart, from branch to root, offering a different way of approaching such time-worn notions. The basic premise is that, despite what we have been led to believe, we can change the world, but we must do so by changing ourselves. ... (read more)

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Lost and Found

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

100 Sermon Outlines for Personal and Group Bible Studies to Preaching and Teaching God’s Word
by Joseph Jeremiah
Xulon Press


"Application: God can use anyone to accomplish His purpose when that one turns to him in faith, fears him, and does His will."

Author and preacher Jeremiah presents a manual for teaching and preaching Christian beliefs in a multitude of contexts. Each of the 100 outlines contains biblical quotations, further exploration offered by the author, and an application showing how the material can be targeted in a sermon. The opening selection is, fittingly, “A New Beginning,” which quotes from Exodus regarding the meaning of Passover and God’s promise of deliverance. The subjects are diverse, including those highlighting notable women in the Bible, the difference between man’s law and God’s grace, “lost and found” symbolism, and evangelism for youth groups. ... (read more)

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More Celtic Tradition

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hidden Women: Celtic Burgundy & Europe
by Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Lexicus Press


"Celtic women fought alongside their men to defend their families; Roman women did not."

The second in a series of books addressing pre-Christian, pre-Roman history hidden within the artifacts of Europe until a century ago, this study brings to light the fascinating discoveries that challenge written accounts of the time. In her attempt to address the implications of the findings, the author relies solely on the archaeology and uses only those written histories which can be independently verified. This look at the accomplishments and contributions of Celtic Burgundy reveals a society whose influence is seen throughout Europe today in architecture, education, hydrology, and textiles. One of the most astounding findings of the artifacts, however, is the equality which women and men enjoyed in Celtic society. In fact, studies reveal that the treatment of women changed dramatically around 2,000 years ago with their subjugation and designation as the mere property of fathers and husbands. ... (read more)

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Beyond Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Our Magnificent Afterlife: Beyond Our Fondest Dreams
by C. David Lundberg
HeavenLight Press


"Many have forgotten that we are spirit, temporarily inhabiting human form."

Award-winning author Lundberg follows up Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions with a well-researched and thoroughly referenced text that instills belief in the earthly bodies governed by the fear of the unknown. Lundberg tackles complex concepts and comprehensively unpacks them to better facilitate audience understanding. ... (read more)

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Cautionary Tales

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Short Stories and Questions for All Teenagers and Young Adults to Read and Enjoy
by Geoff Daniel
XlibrisAU


"We can all make an effort to improve ourselves in some way or another so don’t hold back when certain opportunities arise or confront you."

Australian Daniel has composed an intriguing collection of fifteen cautionary tales. Each short offering focuses upon one or more of life’s pitfalls. Every story is followed by questions created to help readers understand the problems faced by the story’s protagonist, while also providing the key to overcoming a similar obstacle should it exist in one’s own life. For example, in answering the questions following a simple narrative about a reckless, self-centered youth, one discovers a blueprint for conquering foolhardiness and egoism. ... (read more)

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A Poignant Celibration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adam Scott: A Life of Endurance and the Will to Live
by Gerald Hollingsworth
Xlibris


"Some people think just because you’re in a wheelchair you are stupid. To me people who think this are stupid themselves."

Adam Scott, who wrote the lines above, had muscular dystrophy. His father, the author of this emotional remembrance, recalls that Adam was pronounced to be normal at birth, but by six his disabilities were obvious. A diagnosis revealed the incurable, terminal form of MD called Duchenne. The boy’s life expectancy was 20 years or fewer. Often struggling for financial security and with two younger daughters to raise, Hollingsworth and his wife Ellie did everything they could to make Adam’s life comfortable. They installed a special lift to lower him into the swimming pool and another to move him from room to room. A Miami Dolphins fan, Adam was taken to home games, winning a favorite fan contest to attend a Super Bowl game. They even arranged for enthusiastic, scholastically skilled Adam to spend the day with famed comedian and MD fundraiser Jerry Lewis. The boy’s passing was predictable but still a very sad burden for all who loved him. ... (read more)

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The Perfect Partner

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

he Rhythm of My Life: Tuning Into the Rocky Rhythm of Fire
by Yvon Milien
iUniverse


"A fire was burning in me, and I could not determine whether I or God had started it."

Born in Haiti, author Milien dreamed of a successful career and a happy marriage, but the latter kept eluding him. Things went well with his first serious flame until jealous friends cast a voodoo spell on him. As he overcame the evil forces, another girl, a fellow student who adored him, died tragically young. Recovering from that trauma, Milien found Rosita. When Haiti was in political crisis, the two moved to New York. But it seemed that Milien was again under some dark cloud, and the relationship fell apart. As well as attending college, he took his religion seriously, converted to Mormonism, and moved to Utah. After his Mormon friends sought without success to find him a bride, he had a passionate but unstable relationship that proved exhausting. Following some years of inner contemplation, he left the Mormon Church, garnered academic achievements, pursued his career, and was finally ready for the perfect partner. ... (read more)

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Proof

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Why Believe It? Reasons and Evidence for the Faith
by John Huffman
Xlibris


"If one has an immortal soul already, there would be no need for Christ’s death and resurrection."

The Christian faith is a complex belief system, incorporating the Bible, history, and tradition. It is one thing to believe and have faith, but quite another to explain beliefs in a way that others can understand, which this book of Christian apologetics attempts to do. It deals with topics ranging from creation, salvation, the Trinity, the existence of Hell, and prophecy. Broken down into 35 rather short chapters, the book tackles several complicated topics in bite-sized pieces. While the book could be read from cover to cover, it is probably intended to be read and studied chapter by chapter. Many of the Bible verse references are not written out. Therefore, it might be useful to have a Bible handy while reading the book. ... (read more)

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New Global Strategy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Our Emerging World: Politics, Economics, Culture, Environment, and the New Renaissance
by Giovanni Burrascano
iUniverse


"Only deep revolutionary thinking and nonviolent actions can counter the environmental and social problems we face."

Author Burrascano wishes to alert us to the massive upheavals affecting our shared human existence. He begins by pinpointing a major turning point in recent history: President Nixon’s trip to China at a time when the Viet Nam conflict had not been resolved, and new technological advances included the mobile phone, videocassette recorder, and microprocessor along with radical social changes were underway in the West. Recognizing China as a world power allowed this ancient society to make strides forward while providing a balancing effect in international politics. Since then, a rapid upsurge of technology, an emergence of powerful contending nations like India and Brazil, a sense of “spatial” interconnectedness, and a massive increase in world population have led to a new Anthropocene era. Going forward, human impact on the planet and human need for basic sustenance will necessitate serious alteration, perhaps even reversal, in our global strategies. ... (read more)

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Heaven & Hell

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chronicles of Oerpia: The Fellowship and the Dark Lord
by Henri T. De Souza
Westwood Books Publishing


"The reports indicated the presence of enormous spiders and larger than life snakes that crawled on the southern road leading to Lystra."

The Realm of Oerpia is a plane of mortals caught in the center of a conflict between the heavenly Aeternians and the fallen rezguls of Fernia. An Aeternian messenger appears to a trader named Bavay and informs him that his children, Azwan and Keilah, will be called to support the Aeternians from Oerpia, putting their lives at risk. After relaying the message to his family, an Aeternian named Femlir visits the two children and entrusts them with their duty. Immediately, magical occurrences seem to follow them as long as they stay focused on their quest and maintain their faith in the power of Aeternia and its ruler, King Eliashib. ... (read more)

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Dog Lover's Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

CJ, Bitts, and a Boat: An Adult Cruising Adventure
by Kathy Vanderburg
BookVenture Publishing, LLC


". . . my plan worked, and I was outta that that pet shop and on my way to a wonderful life with my new parents."

Told from the point-of-view of a precocious Cocker Spaniel, this is the story of Rich and Kathy Vanderburg’s life together and their shared love of sailing and dogs. The story begins when the couple sees a Cocker Spaniel in a pet store shortly after the death of another beloved Cocker Spaniel named KC. The couple buys the dog, and a year later they embark on a trip cruising down the west coast of Florida to the Keys and onward to the Bahamas on what was to be a plan for semi-retirement—to sail for six months and work for six months. As CJ discovers, plans sometimes change. ... (read more)

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Grady’s Chronicle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

One and One Is One: The Beginning
by S. T. Byra
iUniverse


"While the second MP took notes to go with the ID pictures, Horace sat in the aisle listening in growing horror to the list of atrocities Grady had endured."

This is a harrowing novel of a boy’s journey from child to young man. It is filled with devastating setbacks that would stunt the growth of anyone’s psyche. Yet it is also an exploration of the power of self-determination and the recuperative might of love and respect. ... (read more)

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On the Mark

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fouling in Business and College Athletics
by GFA Consulting Inc. and Gonzalo Fernandez
GFA Consulting Inc.


"While the egregious history of 'fouling' in business resulted in eventual actions by Congress... it remains to be seen whether 'fouling' in college athletics will illicit the same results."

During the decades of his distinguished business and accounting career, Fernandez noticed parallels between shady activities in corporate America and college athletics. He believes legal and ethical violations in both these big-money industries should be subject to revelation and reform. In this persuasive and well-researched discussion, Fernandez makes his case methodically, focusing first on corrupt practices in the business world and following with his perspective on abuses and inequities he perceives in college sports. In the business world, he notes positive progress, as misleading and unlawful accounting practices from prior decades have been addressed by tighter regulations. In college sports, however, Fernandez posits that abuses continue, with little collective will and no clear, respected oversight body poised to make effective near-term changes. ... (read more)

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Female Power

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Encounters: Moments of Inspiration
by Patrick Stull


"The female body is both exalted and condemned within our culture because the power of the female terrifies even the strongest of men."

Packed with glossy, artistic photos, paintings, and composites of women and men in various poses and forms, this book offers up the human body as art in numerous ways. Sized as a coffee table book, each chapter presents photos that follow a common thread such as dignity, dance, adversity, and sensuality. Models range from the young and fit to the old or infirm. Occasionally, the artist provides his thoughts or insights about the human condition or simply shares the stories of the models themselves, their diverse backgrounds, and their unique challenges in the world. Each photo or series of photos is designed to illustrate and illuminate the connections we make from person to person and also who we all are as individuals at our rawest, most vulnerable levels. ... (read more)

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Life Coaching Your Relationships

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cure for Emotional Unavailability: Discover the source of emotional unavailability, heal and have positive, successful relationships
by Stella Smith
Improve and Impact, Inc


"People who struggle with emotional unavailability are emotionally hibernating, and it is possible to wake up...those who want change can change."

For years Smith has skillfully led her audiences into learning how to evaluate whether a romantic relationship is worth continuing or is destined to fail based on the disruptive emotional patterns of its partner(s). She labels this unhealthy pattern emotional unavailability, a distancing mechanism/strategy which is used to reject others before they are rejected. One aspect of Smith’s self-help book makes it stand out from those similar in today’s market: her claim that emotional unavailability can be exhibited by both men and women. ... (read more)

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Eye-Openers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium
by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
Main Street Rag Publishing Company


"further than here but nearer than far,
where the mind misplaces the heart,
where nothing, not even love, can save him..."

Chronicling her father’s battle with failing health and dementia, the author’s book contains two dozen poems that examine the physical and emotional side of the condition. While Grellas’ father is the one directly impacted by his health, the case of dementia is one that spreads to the entire family. Capturing the emotional turmoil and battle of wills entailed in being the caregiver for one’s own parent, each of these poems offers rays of hope and commiseration for the harder struggles. These poems are not meant to inspire pity or condolences but rather illuminate the feelings and internal dialogue of a person doing everything they can to will a parent back to good health and better days. ... (read more)

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Kinder is Better

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that Will Change Your Life and the World Around You
by Donna Cameron
She Writes Press


"As you celebrate kindness as your new superpower, know that it will become ever stronger and more transformative as you continue to use it!"

In 2015, Cameron committed to a year of living kindly. To harness accountability, she blogged about her experiences and ended the year with valuable lessons that have changed her mindset and her habits. This book recounts what she learned and how she achieved being kind in her daily life, something that has become a way of life for her now as opposed to just an experiment in kindness. ... (read more)

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Ferreting Trouble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Earth Log
by Blaine C. Readler
Full Arc Press


"'Well,' she whispered to me, 'aren’t you the smart little guy.' I froze. What had I done? I collapsed, and curled into a ball."

Rascal is Joanne's pet ferret. He is perfectly normal aside from a series of mental curiosities that he has no memory of. Rascal has a special awareness, a logical consciousness, but he is compelled not to reveal it. Also, unlike a regular ferret, he resists sleeping throughout the day and feels he must never harm a human being. But why is he this way? Rascal examines the world around him and tries to make sense of his puzzling existence, but he also gets thrust into dangerous situations either by his own curiosity or as a victim of circumstance due to Joanne’s surprisingly dangerous life. But how can a ferret protect his beloved owner from sexual abusers, thieves, and con men? And perhaps most importantly, how can he save Joanne without revealing how much thought he is really capable of? ... (read more)

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Nobles in Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus
by Helena P. Schrader
Wheatmark


"My thesis and the basis of this novel is this: while the Brothers Baldwin and Balian d’Ibelin were inveterate opponents of Guy de Lusignan, they were on friendly terms with Aimery de Lusignan."

Helena P. Schrader, historian, and author of the critically acclaimed Jerusalem Trilogy, brings her deep understanding of complex eras and considerable writing talent to bear in this fictional treatment of the Ibelin and Lusignan families in the late twelfth century. Many facts about this era have been “lost to the mists of time,” and the author’s keen-eyed interpretation opens a once-closed window upon the Kingdom of Cyprus and its ties to Greece, France, King Richard I of England, the Knights Templar, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the years 1193-1198. ... (read more)

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Realizing the Disney Vision

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kem Weber: Mid-Century Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios
by David A. Bossert
The Old Mill Press


"'It’s the only furniture I ever dealt with that had a soul. It had an energy that came off of it.'"

At the close of the 1930s, Walt Disney was putting together his legendary studio complex in California, designed from the ground up to provide his team with everything they needed to do their jobs. Also enjoying success in his field, German architect Kem Weber was pushing the style of modernism in the areas of furniture design and architecture. Searching for someone who could capture his vision completely, Disney struck up a partnership with Weber that led to the designing of a whole new line of furniture that combined flexibility and modulation with extreme specialization. These designs and pieces of furniture served as an iconic hallmark of the Disney Animation Studios for decades after their creation as well as in a resurgence toward the end of the previous century. ... (read more)

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Man vs. Machine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Far-Fetched and Highly Plausible
by Leandro Faria
Dog Ear Publishing


". . . Nick sat for some time thinking. He could tell this job was going to be an unusual one."

The title of Faria’s techno-thriller becomes clear by its end in this fast-paced tale with a convoluted plot centered on the inherent risks of unregulated technological advances. The novel opens in the 1930s when the US Military Intelligence receives a summons via telegram from the renowned Nikola Tesla regarding an enigmatic invention “that will end all wars.” Faria leaves us with unresolved answers as the story jumps ahead almost ninety years to 2020. Here, we meet our protagonist, Nick Neville, a smart forensic accountant sent to audit a cutting-edge company developing an artificial intelligence called Cogvolve. Nick is hired by Blue Creek Capital over worries about its billion-dollar investment in the project. At first, nothing seems out of the ordinary to Nick until he starts to meet employees within the company and discovers unusual circumstances surrounding Cogvolve. ... (read more)

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Unusual Bond

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Two Germaines
by Marie-Ghislaine Mera
Amazon Digital Services LLC


"When you don’t have what you want, you work with what you have. We have each other; we will make it work."

Try as one might, fate will always send out reminders that even the best laid-out plans are not within human control. When an earthquake devastates Zoar, a city south of Bohio Island, it also plants the seeds for an unprecedented friendship between two women sharing the same name of Germaine: Germaine Lazare and Germaine Belizaire. Their fates, however, are more intertwined than anyone could possibly imagine. ... (read more)

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A View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Am I? My Stories and Philosophies: The Autobiography of a Somebody or Nobody or Anybody?
by Rolf Harms
Trafford Publishing


"Whether sad events or happy memories, the experiences of my life have made an exciting journey for me."

Born in Germany in the latter years of World War II, author Harms has early memories of Allied aircraft attacks, bombings, and the loss of his father. His mother, though deeply traumatized, managed to keep working as a farm laborer and seamstress to support him, despite many obstacles. As a boy, Harms had visions of adventure in faraway lands, and at age fifteen, he acted on those visions, joining the German Merchant Marines. His very first sea voyage was to New York City, “providing many firsts.” The first American he met was also the first black man he had ever seen; the man’s good humor in communicating with Harms though they had no shared language impressed the lad deeply. ... (read more)

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True Valor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

WWI Crusaders: A Band of Yanks in German-Occupied Belgium Help Save Millions from Starvation as Civilians Resist the Harsh German Rule. August 1914 to May 1917
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Milbrown Press


"The oncoming sound of heavy boots swept into the paper shop moments before the bell above the door tinkled."

As the First World War began to spread throughout Europe, Germany’s occupation of neutral Belgium struck many as a concerning action. With many of the able-bodied men shipped off for slave labor, the writing was on the wall that the country would stagnate and soon face a crippling food shortage. Efforts from within Belgium were being concocted to provide for the people, but without adequate access to resources and guarantees from the warring powers, nothing could be accomplished. Meanwhile, a group of Americans led by Herbert Hoover was helping American tourists out of the war zone but soon decided that intervention had to be taken in Belgium’s food crisis, as well. They had the protection as a neutral interventionist organization but lacked the infrastructure to disperse the aid appropriately. ... (read more)

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Burning Bridge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Honey Run Tribute
by Forrest Oldham
Xlibris


"I cover a little of the fire here only to demonstrate the vast effect it had on a large group of people."

The 2018 Camp Fire is the single worst wildfire in the history of the State of California in terms of property and lives lost in its devastation. Taking a microscopic view of the damage done, the author of this book shares photographs taken by him and other area photographers of the Honey Run Covered Bridge, a historical landmark that was almost completely lost in the fire. Showing various angles of both the interior and exterior, the intention is to celebrate and remember a piece of California history. Also shared is the author’s experience as a rideshare driver, transporting people out of and around the area during the seventeen days that the fire was uncontained. ... (read more)

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Coming of Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hiding in the Light
by Cy Emery
Xlibris


"From uptown to downtown, excitement rode shotgun with danger on Franklin Street; fights, stabbings, shootings, muggings were common. Drugs, alcohol, prostitution, gambling—parts of the landscape."

Twelve-year-old Joseph Graham is athletic and poor, just like dozens of other kids who attend segregated schools in Reservoir City, Florida. The legacy of slavery still bubbles under the surface of everyday life in Jefferson Quarters, the poorest neighborhood around. Plus, Joseph is different, so light-skinned that he’s called Casper, Space Ghost, House Nigger, and many other pejoratives by haters at his school and on the street. And he’s so smart that his proper speech and big vocabulary make him stand out even more. Even his crew makes fun of him sometimes. It’s bad enough growing up in the South but even harder to face discrimination on your own turf. His mom says people are just jealous of his good looks and talent, but Joe figures he’s just an oddball—an oddball in the jungle, where you’re either predator or prey, and there’s no sense in trying to understand yourself. ... (read more)

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Humility & Perspective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life, A Bit More?
by Andrew Thomas Elder
BookVenture Publishing, LLC


"Before a word is written, you are master of it. Once a word is written it is master of you."

When life deals a bad hand, human nature immediately looks to place blame, ultimately resorting to fate if no other culprit can be found. This is not the case in Elder’s compilation. Despite facing adverse circumstances, humility and perspective permeate all throughout the poems as the poet highlights faith and love as humanity’s redeeming factors. ... (read more)

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Woman

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unspoken Revivalism
by Alkawther Makki
Stratton Press, LLC


"Life’s beautiful properties are not only qualities that delight the senses but are qualities that enhance the soul."

Poet Makki has constructed a collection of poetic expressions accompanied by philosophical prose, educational encouragement, and spirited opinions on a myriad of topics. The poems range widely through, as one work states, “birth, death, and everything in between.” “Lightning Courses” looks at the trajectory of human progress from the first baseball game in 1846, through the first world Olympics, and up to the first man walking on the moon in 1969. In “Phenom,” a tomboy in pigtails is urged to “Clobber that baseball…beat those males!” ... (read more)

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Epic Rescue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beyond Ragnarok
by Tore Olav Arnesen
Outskirts Press


"According to our beliefs, after mankind rules the world, he will eventually completely destroy it!"

Professor Jens Elfesen is a Norwegian scientist studying linguistics—specifically, bird communications. After making a breakthrough in his field of study, Jens is offered a research position with the Marine Resource and Technology Institute in Kristiansund to study Delphinidae (a.k.a. dolphin) communications, with rescue dolphins as his subjects. With funding support from the U.S. Navy, Jens throws himself into his work and makes friends with Kong, one of the bottlenose dolphins at the Institute. Jens is, however, unaware of the Navy and the Institute’s real intention of using the dolphins. When Jens finally makes a breakthrough in his communications with Kong, he is soon kidnapped by the Navy to keep his findings a secret. Scared of what might happen to Jens and the consequences for sharing Kong’s secret, the dolphin must overcome his cautiousness of humans and recruit Jens’ friends and family to stage a rescue mission for the researcher. ... (read more)

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The Unseen

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mythicals: A Scifi/Fairy Tale Thriller
by Dennis Meredith
Glyphus, L.L.C.


"Here on Earth it’s the year 2080. On Thera, it seems to be earlier in their civilization. They have not yet ruined their planet."

On Thera, a planet similar to Earth, a senator’s brief encounter with an overzealous, albeit drunk and newly laid-off reporter, Jack March, exposes an age-old secret: fantastical, alien species that were only talked about as legends not only existed but lived in unison with the human population. From werewolves, ogres, and trolls to vampires, enchanting pixies, and fairies, the gamut of species can be found in this narrative. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Meredith’s work, in fact, is how he has produced a text that can be classified as the intersection of science fiction and fantasy. While combining the two genres is generally difficult, Meredith uses rich worldbuilding and endearing characters to make the fusion of the two genres a seamless process. ... (read more)

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Real Golf

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Swing Hard In Case You Hit It: A Brief Guide for the Novice Golfer
by Tom Stevens
Xlibris


"If you really want to impress your playing partners, take notes of the holes (Sometimes a golf course will have yardage books--buy it!)."

When dealing with a game as challenging and occasionally frustrating as golf, it’s important to be able to laugh at your mistakes while also growing in skill and ability. In this guide for newcomers, the author provides a list of goals and an approach to every aspect of golf, all designed to be reasonable and accessible. Using humor and a helpful tone, each chapter of this book will help the player learn what kinds of equipment to buy, how much to spend starting out, what skills to focus on, and even how to make friendly conversation with other players of all walks of life. Drawing on decades of experience and a genuine love for the game of golf, the author will get you ready to hit the links and just have a good time while also being respectful of the grounds and the other players. ... (read more)

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Family History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Girl from Copenhagen: A Memoir
by Glenn Peterson
Xlibris


"No doubt, like her husband, she had the spirit of wanderlust in her blood—after all, she had gone off to America with a man she had known for no more than a week."

As much a travelogue of Denmark as a memoir, this engaging book celebrates the life of Inge Buus, the author’s mother, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 94. While working as an accountant at a shipyard, Inge survives the 1940 Nazi occupation of Denmark. Soon afterward, at a local dance, she meets Bob Peterson, a handsome and charming American GI. Within a week, Inge accepts Bob’s marriage proposal and moves to the United States to fulfill her hopes of a better life. ... (read more)

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Love & Devotion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Can I Turn to Now?
by James Rhoads
iUniverse


"There is such a need to win souls in prison while there is time left, for no one is promised tomorrow."

Author Rhoads was born during World War II. His soldier father returned to work on a cattle ranch. This idyllic atmosphere was spoiled as the boy gradually realized that his father was an alcoholic. As a teenager, the boy’s behavior soon became unmanageable. Sent to live with grandparents in a Christian household, he progressed academically and later joined the Air Force. But when Rhoads began drinking heavily, it led to a failed marriage punctuated by frequent job changes and financial hardships. He turned to crime—from smuggling marijuana from Mexico to involvement in a robbery and murder that yielded many years in prison. However, his life changed when he experienced a genuine Christian conversion while incarcerated, leading to a course in Bible study and, when freed, a chance for a loving marriage and sincere devotion to ministry. ... (read more)

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Engaging Saga

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Audacity of Destiny: Thoughts on Life When the Inner-Power Leads the Way
by Chuks Ikebie Ndukwe
Ikebiebooks


"So as I see it, destiny is our reason for being and for which we are remembered long after we depart the earth."

As he was growing up in a small village in eastern Nigeria, there was no reason to suppose that young Ogbuleke Ikebie (the author’s childhood name) would even go to school. Then the first of many small miracles occurs when the area’s Methodist Church decides to open a school, and the boy is asked to attend to make up the requisite number of students. Surprising even himself, he scores highest in his class in final exams the first year. He continues to achieve academically, and in his final year, another remarkable happening shapes his future. A team of electrical engineers visits the school and offers a demonstration. Invited to participate in a simple exercise—turning on a switch to produce light from a battery—the boy begins to shout that he wants to be an electrical engineer. This, as it turns out, is more than just a childish fantasy. With the ability for problem-solving, determination, and high grades that clearly distinguish him, he obtains his first job in electrical engineering at age twelve. That becomes a springboard for further study, employment, and education abroad, including degrees in computer and electrical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston. ... (read more)

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Latitudes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Longest Walk: The Record of our World’s First Crossing of the Entire Americas (2018 Edition)
by George Meegan
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Preparations were minimal, and I had nothing to prove except that this could be done."

A young British Merchant Marine dreams of a global land journey that would someday be enshrined in the record books. With a vivid imagination and not nearly enough money, author Meegan set out in 1977 in his mid-twenties to walk from Patagonia to Prudhoe Bay. His book, originally handwritten, describes the journey in daily detail. He and his Japanese girlfriend Yoshiko planned to start the trek together (though Yoshiko later confessed she thought the plan was to travel by bus). They towed along two handcrafted rucksacks on wheels, some camping gear, basic food, and a few maps. Their timeline, which took weather and hardship conditions into consideration, was patterned somewhat on the earlier adventures of Sebastian Snow (The Rucksack Man) who walked the length of South America in twenty months. Meegan’s journey to Alaska would take 2,425 days, covering more than 19,000 miles. ... (read more)

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Serious Sleeping

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Sleeping Lady: A Mystery
by Bonnie C. Monte
She Writes Press


"I felt dizzy. I had been half right. The scenario was accurate. I just had cast the wrong person as the villain."

Rae Sullivan is certain she knows who killed her business partner, Thalia, in a San Francisco park. The police are handling the investigation all wrong, even suspecting her, and there is no one else driven to bring the real suspect to justice. While gathering clues with the son of Thalia’s Paris lover and the help of Thalia’s older, attractive brother, Luc, Rae learns that Thalia was also pregnant, and it wasn’t Thalia’s husband Garret’s child. This new information throws suspicion on even more suspects, and Rae is entangled in a dangerous game. Chasing her suspect to Paris, Rae feels her attraction towards Luc growing stronger and begins questioning her own bonds of fidelity. Can Rae track down the evidence to place guilt on the real murderer, or will her snooping cost Rae her life? ... (read more)

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Unrest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Undiscovered Country
by M. A. Cumiskey
Xlibris


"Indeed I felt like a stranger."

After her father’s death in a supposedly targeted IRA bombing, Lorna Donnelly and her family leave for England, where they settle in and where her mother marries a butcher. But life isn’t as grand as Lorna would have imagined, especially as she and her siblings become targets for her stepfather’s unwanted advances. Once Lorna is able to escape, she sets out pursuing the dreams she thought long gone. ... (read more)

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Bad Memories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Sixth of September
by Callista Bowright
AuthorHouse UK


"This was the evening of September 6. And the blackness that had chased Sophie for the last five long years filled up her soul and almost drowned her."

Sophie and Olivia were strangers, having led very different lives. Sophie grew up in the lap of luxury, winding her way through life in Catholic school, her disastrous marriages, her love affair with a younger man, and eventually into the arms of a suave Jamaican named Ty. Olivia, on the other hand, came from nothing. Growing up in an abusive household, Olivia had her fair share of disastrous marriages, eventually finding herself also in the arms of Ty. Bad childhoods and abusive men were seemingly the only things these women had in common, until the sixth of September, when their worlds collided. But when the two of them found out that they were both in a relationship with the same man, instead of turning against one another, they decided to work together to make things right. ... (read more)

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Nazi Cakes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Was Hitler's Baker
by Glenn Peterson
Xlibris


"He [Hitler] had an almost uncanny ability to compartmentalize—Chancellor, host, sexual pervert—with no apparent overlap."

Hitler is a bully with a gang. Josef, the naïve son of a baker, befriends Adolph for his own protection. They grow up and grow apart, but the two are reunited after World War I when the apolitical but ambitious Josef moves his bakery to bustling Munich. Soon, the competition cripples him. While despondently removing a German Workers’ Party poster from his bakery window, Josef reads that “A. Hitler” is speaking that night. Curious to hear what his old school friend has to say, he attends. ... (read more)

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A Solution

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Day in June
by Marisa Labozzetta
Guernica World Editions


"All marriages have spells . . . like a chronic illness: the symptoms subside . . . you feel good; they flare up . . . you feel bad: occasionally the illness is fatal."

The small, picturesque town of Brackton, Vermont, is suffering a failing economy. Enter Eric Boulanger, a photographer and hometown boy who proposes that the Chamber of Commerce have a contest in which the winning essayist will be gifted the wedding of a lifetime, and "Brackton Is for Brides" will become the town’s slogan. The winning essay, written by a paralegal and aspiring writer, Ryan Toscano, is chosen for its sincere and honest portrayal of the deep love shared by her and her fiancé, Jason McDermott. The only problem is that Ryan and Jason aren’t together anymore. ... (read more)

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Los Angeles Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Year of the Amphibian
by Christopher Pickert
Wingseed Press


"The woods whispered now, leaning into sleep, and a breeze shattered the moon into a thousand dancing shards."

Home is where the heart is, at least to fourteen-year-old Conrad. After his parents' divorce, he longs for the peaceful wilderness that seems to call to him at his dad’s place in the woods, not like the concrete jungle he’s forced to live in most of the year in Los Angeles with his mother and two sisters. During brief excursions, he’s reunited with the beautiful wilderness that he so longs for. But for most of the year, he’s stuck in the hustle and bustle of city life. Can Conrad adjust to life in the city, or will he run to where his heart desires? ... (read more)

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Hard Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Into That Good Night: A Novel
by Levis Keltner
Arcade Publishing


"They cried together for a long while over what they’d lost, and then, much later, they cried for what they still had."

There is a murder mystery within the pages of this novel, and much is made by its principal characters about solving it. However, the beating heart at the center of this tale is about the mystery of life itself, particularly as it is lived by a collection of teenagers who band together ostensibly to find the perpetrator. Their interactions with one another along with one individual’s soul-searching make up the bulk of this tome, undergirding a tale that is far more about the pain of growing up than the simple unmasking of a killer. ... (read more)

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Medieval Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Way of Glory
by Patricia J. Boomsma
Edeleboom Books


"When will God and the Devil stop fighting? Not until Christ comes again and there is a new heaven and a new earth. Until then, all we can do is to tell the devil: No more. This stops here."

Cate is almost at a marriageable age in twelfth-century England, but she would rather serve God than marry the old man her father has in mind. A group of men from her village plan to leave to fight in a crusade to save Jerusalem. Her brother is going as a priest, and her aunt is going to help cook for and tend the wounded. Cate decides to join them and help her aunt. It helps that the boy from the village who catches her eye is going as well. ... (read more)

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Authenticity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Talk to a Real, Live Girl and Other Stories
by Paul Clayton
Amazon Digital Services


"The colors on the glass wall swirled, morphing into a picture of a girl. He wanted to look away, but couldn’t…She stared, seeming to recognize him. Then the image faded."

Clayton’s new book includes a couple of short stories but primarily focuses on the title novella. A work of speculative fiction, it builds the story around Alex, who has taken a job on a mining planet. A recent divorce on an Earth ill-disposed toward men has left him unable to communicate with his young daughter and driven him to Kratos and a working environment consisting only of men and AI. Although Kratos does offer female companionship in the form of sexbots, Alex longs for the companionship and conversation of a real human woman. Traci, the “Real, Live Girl” of the title, hires herself out by the hour to offer human conversation to the men stationed there. Alex falls for her, but he is not alone. His boss, an elite AI named Donald Banks, is also curiously interested in Traci. ... (read more)

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A Learning Christian

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Short Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments
by Laura L. Padgett
Illumify Media Global


"While writing these stories, I was again reminded of God’s faithful attendance to me as a treasured child, even before I knew Him."

Award-winning writer Padgett has created twenty-five Christian-themed short stories that are both entertaining and educational. The collection begins with “Can’t Talk to a Numb Tongue,” in which the author sits in a dentist chair recollecting an argument she’d had the day before with a good friend and fellow Christian. The subject was politics, and each woman was assured of the correctness of her position, talking over the other’s objections and leading to regrettable statements. When she gets a powerful injection in the jaw, Padgett realizes she can no longer control her numbed tongue. She begins to contemplate her unruly tongue of the day before and, as soon as she can, calls her friend; they agree to disagree and share a mutual apology and prayer session. ... (read more)

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Brpader Thought

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Overcoming Spiritual Myopia: A View Toward Peace Among the Religions
by Margaret Placentra Johnston


"The kind of spiritual vision we discuss here invites a person to involve himself fully in the inevitable mysteries of our existence."

Author Johnston has drawn wisdom from many sources to construct her thesis that religion as usually understood needs to move beyond the level of the lawless, beyond the generally accepted levels of the faithful and the rational, and enter the realms of the universal. A practicing optometrist, she begins by explaining in simple terms, with illustrations, the medical term “myopia,” in which the physical vista is limited to objects close to the viewer. These objects naturally tend to become a primary focus, while things in the farther distance are blurry and hard to comprehend. In the same way, persons devoted to a single religion, or none, will tend to see the world in terms of one’s personal ego, or one’s fixed, highly regulated, and closely held beliefs. ... (read more)

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Emotional Vulnerability

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Prison Planet Handbook
by Denis Goodwin
Xlibris


"When people have life experiences that don’t fit with the official explanations, they seem to take a very dim view of the situation."

In conjunction with PrisonPlanetRevelations.com, Goodwin’s handbook impels the reader to push beyond preconceived notions and to simply probe and question what is. According to the author, probing could open a window to what could be, and what the human species has been missing out on for millennia. Though Goodwin asks his audience to suspend belief and conjure a starkly different world, he supports his stance with reasoning and unquestionable confidence. For instance, Goodwin suggests that belief, faith, and religion simply function as a curtain, keeping our species oblivious to intergalactic workings. More specifically, humanity operates via selective misinformation, and it incessantly falls prey to mind control from multiple angles. From the Secret Space Program and psychic abilities to hundreds of spherical objects entering our solar system and the Illuminati having a base on the moon, the text dives headfirst into possibilities that could force the truth-seeking individual to reexamine human history. Interestingly, Goodwin surmises that earthly humans are being exploited via our reliance on emotions and inhibitions. ... (read more)

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Women BC

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hidden Women: Celtic Burgundy & Europe
by Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Lexicus Press


"Celtic women fought alongside their men to defend their families; Roman women did not."

The second in a series of books addressing pre-Christian, pre-Roman history hidden within the artifacts of Europe until a century ago, this study brings to light the fascinating discoveries that challenge written accounts of the time. In her attempt to address the implications of the findings, the author relies solely on the archaeology and uses only those written histories which can be independently verified. This look at the accomplishments and contributions of Celtic Burgundy reveals a society whose influence is seen throughout Europe today in architecture, education, hydrology, and textiles. One of the most astounding findings of the artifacts, however, is the equality which women and men enjoyed in Celtic society. In fact, studies reveal that the treatment of women changed dramatically around 2,000 years ago with their subjugation and designation as the mere property of fathers and husbands. ... (read more)

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Compelling Backstories Collide

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Butcher
by Alan S. Kessler
Black Rose Writing


"I killed them because I was stronger! I killed them because they would have killed me."

Right from the haunting haze of the book cover, Kessler makes his wizardry with sensory detail known, creating a world that is captivated by events such as the town party rally during their iconic holiday, Butcher Bargain Day. In fact, the opening line itself is an incredibly fitting tone-setter. This comes when one of the central characters, a dark-skinned youth named Mikkel, is given a sledgehammer by Otto, both his father and an esteemed Deputy to the Secretary of the Party. When Mikkel is unable to deliver the fatal blow to slaughter the pig, Otto utters words that resonate throughout the novel: “The weak die.” ... (read more)

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Real Progress

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mistress Suffragette
by Diana Forbes
Penmore Press


"If we could somehow get women to stand on their own financially, I was certain the rest would follow."

With the Panic of 1893 creeping across the United States and taking its toll on her upper-class family, the life Penelope Stanton is accustomed to is fading fast. Her future hinges on the Memorial Day Ball in Newport, Rhode Island, where she meets New York millionaire banker Edgar Daggers. Aware of Penelope’s hardships, Edgar promises Penelope financial security and opportunity, but at a cost Penelope is not too comfortable with. Desperate to get away from him, she flees to Boston with a friend, where she becomes involved in the early stages of the women’s suffrage movement. Through her acquaintance and employment with Verdana and the women’s movement, Penelope begins to find both her voice and a taste of independence. But when Edgar makes his way back into her life, Penelope finds herself caught between ideologies. With her reputation on the line, Penelope must make a choice between them. ... (read more)

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Wombat Worries

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Winston Winks
by Megan Cline
FriesenPress


"'My eyelids were in the way! I was practicing winking.' He kept rubbing his head. 'Mom, I need to tell you something. Winking hurts.'"

Winston is a young wombat with a plan. Every time he goes to see his grandfather, he receives a piece of candy and a friendly wink. Determined to give his grandpa a pleasant surprise, Winston decides to learn how to wink; but every time he tries, he ends up blinking instead. Winston’s mother learns of his plan when she hears a thumping sound and then her son crying. Asking him what’s wrong while icing down his bruised head, Winston reveals his plan, telling her that when he tried to wink, he ended up shutting his eyes and bumping into the wall. Winston’s mother advises him to be patient and to keep practicing, but Winston wants to see immediate results and show his grandpa as soon as possible. This provides Winston’s mother with a chance to share a valuable lesson as well as tell him about the times he can’t remember when he was just a baby. ... (read more)

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Hard Situations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Today’s S.O.S.: Secrets of Survival and Ultimate Victory in Life
by Anolia O.
AuthorHouse


"Don’t be so quick to take things personally when a person around you seems to be angry or ignoring you."

Every day, people feel hopeless or lost, not knowing where to turn in order to get their life turned around or even simply to feel happiness. Some people pursue their happiness through methods that offer temporary satisfaction but fleeting results. In this book, the author provides her methods for organizing life and prioritizing the things that will enable people to survive the modern world and live in the present moment full of joy and appreciation. Full of affirmations and wisdom that can be applied to people of every age, gender, race, and occupation, each chapter provides new strategies and contemplations for the reader to make use of. Though situations and life itself can often feel overwhelming or impossible to handle, the techniques and advice in this book can help people through even the hardest of situations. ... (read more)

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Biggest Obstacle Yet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Marlu: The Mango Lunchkin
by SS Ravula
Xlibris


"Every Lunchkin is unique in their own special way. So are you."

Marlu, the Mango Lunchkin, enjoys running, playing, and chasing kites. He has a wonderful family and lives in the beautiful countryside of LunchkinLand but struggles with making friends. His mother is famous throughout the community for her amazing Kutrient and Kelement soup. Marlu gets to help Mommy Mango pick the herbs for the soup but still wishes he could find friends who would accept him simply for who he is. He finds comfort in his parents’ words and hopes of finding his magical powers soon so he can show all the other Lunchkins that he is capable of playing with them. When faced with the choice between action and complacency, Marlu encounters his biggest obstacle yet. ... (read more)

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Life Notes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Just a Thought
by Richard Byrd
AuthorHouse


"Hope is a tremendous obstacle to someone who looks forward to failure…just a thought."

Byrd’s book is a collection of concise thoughts on a multitude of subjects. Each of these thoughts is given in stand-alone statements attempting to convey truth on the subject discussed or a point of view grown from experience. The subjects range from friendship to romantic relationships and include topics such as foolishness, death, solitude, money, discipline, and many others. Rather than an in-depth discussion of the chosen theme, each idea is presented in a quotable format intended to encapsulate a truth or ignite greater reflection. The presentation is well-done with a glossy cover, quality binding, and pages sharing a matching color scheme featuring large, clear type which allows the statements to be easily read. The pages can be thumbed through and pondered in any order, allowing the book to be picked up and perused at random. ... (read more)

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Winning Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

8 Minutes a Day to Make an A!: Quick Change Your ADHD Child Now!
by Pamela L. Johnson, B.S. Education
AuthorHouse


"You need to make sure he sees the 'whole picture.' Break big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones."

Parents of children who struggle in school due to attention disorders may feel at their wit’s end trying to concoct a solution that will help their child survive the educational system. Written from the firsthand experience of an educator with ADHD and the owner and operator of learning centers that specialize in working with children with ADHD, this book gives parents and teachers a roadmap of tasks to follow that will accelerate their children’s learning capabilities. By enacting strict organizational guidelines that ensure the turning in of completed homework and using an immediate reward system to celebrate adherence, this method is designed to get child and parent alike involved in a simple, short routine that yields results. By just checking in for a couple of minutes a day, parents can watch struggling grades work their way up to the head of the class. ... (read more)

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Ditch the Anger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


"I want to create a giant band of women who are determined to help others become better. Help me help them."

A beauty queen turned empowerment coach has turned her story into a powerful teaching tool. Australian author Turunen had a difficult childhood that included being shunted back and forth by her separated parents, enduring a massive spinal surgery, and surviving a near-fatal accident while in her early teens, all of which led to depression and self-injuring. Saving graces came along in the form of a wonderful boyfriend/husband/partner and then from the remarkable circumstance of the author’s entering and winning first the Mrs. Australia beauty pageant and then the Mrs. Continents international competition held in the US. She reaches out to young women who may lack the confidence that she has found, using upbeat, engaging lessons in goal-setting, journaling, meditation, finding one’s inner “Beefcake” (the self-actualizing alter ego), and ditching one’s “Inner Bitch.” ... (read more)

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Heaven's Significance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Soul’s Journey Into Light: Through Revelation
by K. E. Hansen
Xlibris


"An inner path through Revelation was revealed; connected to both our soul’s growth and to health. And so, the possibility for inner renewal is available . . ."

In her spiritual self-help book, Hansen interprets the symbolism found throughout the New Testament book of Revelation from a unique perspective. Searching for her own physical health, she discovered within the book instructions on how to draw spiritually closer in a personal walk with God. The author offers some inspiring advice on how to deny fleshly desires, become more thankful, and serve as a light in today’s world where Christianity is often misrepresented. Hansen poses thought-provoking questions about what is meant in various sections of the prophetic book. Many readers of Revelation have puzzled about correct interpretations. Questions the author helps to answer include: What do warnings to the seven early churches mean to today’s reader?; Why is a particular event on earth or in heaven significant for those who are alive now?; What does it mean for us to have washed our robes? ... (read more)

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History, Myth, Philosphy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Bloodline: The Rightful Heir Reclaims Europe
by Bob Nienaber
iUniverse


"Traces of Poseidon can be found in certain members of the Benjamin line even today, as their inheritance leaves some with webbed toes, elastic skin, the ability to see auras, and the ability to understand other people’s deep thoughts simply by a glance."

Historical thriller meets metaphysical visionary adventure in this thoughtful, mixed-genre novel. By most appearances, Charlie Benjamin appears to be a normal child—except for his webbed feet, vivid visions, superhuman strength, and extraordinary sensory abilities. He has no clue about his father’s bloodline, traceable to the twelfth tribe of Israel (the clan of Benjamin), nor of his powers derived from the Greek god Poseidon, because his father received none of the genetic benefits that only appear every five to six generations. His parents do their level best to raise Charlie as just another ordinary Anglo-American kid. He grows up in a small California town and learns much of what he knows about the world from television. ... (read more)

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Course of God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Gladiator: The Gladiator and Jesus
by Tony Carangi
Amazon Digital Services LLC


"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

Carangi successfully blends scripture, divine metaphysics, and historical fiction in his tale of Sanji, a seeker of wisdom and truth, who leaves his wife to follow Jesus, his Apostles, and his wife, Mary Magdalene. This disparate, edgy amalgam of a book is rooted in A Course in Miracles, a self-study program designed to awaken humanity to its oneness with God. ... (read more)

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God's Redemption

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Kingdom of the Heavens: The Story of God
by Eliu Cortes
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"From that moment on Lucifer tried to change the times and the seasons, so that his kingdom would last forever..."

This fast-paced novel shows God’s redemption plan for earth’s inhabitants as viewed through the eyes of angels. The story begins with Michael’s verbal critique of his angel friend Lucifer for ignoring God’s rules about purification. This minor incident reveals an attitude of independence that will manifest in time as Lucifer’s rebellious attitude. Certain angels follow Lucifer, now called Satan, as he claims equal status with God and reveals plans to take over the universe with Earth as his home base. To guarantee successful warfare, the rebels need to know what prophecies are written down in the three Forbidden books. Satan’s followers succeed in stealing two of the books. Angels Michael and Gabriel do not support this rebellion, nor do two-thirds of the other angels of God. ... (read more)

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Boy Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

JJ Kapock: Early Life
by John Gary
Westwood Books Publishing


"Back in Beachwood, as the boys were getting older, they began doing things that they shouldn’t do."

JJ Kapock is a young boy growing up in Beachwood, Maryland, during the era of rock and roll and cool cars of the 1950s. Despite the world around him, he believes in a code of ethics that guides his actions on a daily basis and turns enemies into potential allies. This book follows him from the age of 10 all the way to college age as he faces challenges and the pressures of becoming an adult. From early on, JJ deals with issues like racism, income disparity, alcohol abuse, violence, and developing an interest in the opposite sex. Through it all, he does his best to exercise good judgment, though, like any other hot-blooded teenage boy, he sometimes lets his emotions or desires get the better of him. ... (read more)

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Best Laid Plans

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

War Calls, Love Cries: A Civil War Novel
by Mark Barie
Barringer Publishing


"Isaac was stirred into righteous anger and could feel the goosebumps on his skin. Lincoln spoke to his heart."

Seventeen-year-old Isaac Wells dreams of attending law school after graduating from a small school in Keeseville in upstate New York. His older brother, John, a notorious alcoholic, is to take over the family farm while Isaac follows his dream. However, fate fails Isaac. His father falls ill, John is less than dependable, and the stirrings of war pull at his conscious. The only bright light in Isaac’s young life is Rebecca Lobdell, daughter of the innkeeper where he has placed his ailing father. When John’s devious behavior compromises Isaac’s plans, he decides to put law school on hold, marries Rebecca, and tries to save the family farm. But again, Isaac’s plans go awry. Depressed and discouraged over his unhappy marriage, Isaac seeks solace in the arms of a prostitute. Eventually, he becomes convinced he must join the Union Army, thinking that the only thing he is leaving behind is the farm, an unhappy marriage, and his deceitful brother. ... (read more)

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Sacred Sonnets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mystery of the Ninth Moon
by Tara White
Xlibris AU


"All thoughts are real. Energy follows thought, especially those that have been planted and nurtured for many seasons."

Author White transports readers to a sacred ceremony in the Himalayas as the Dalai Lama seeks to ascend to a higher plane of consciousness. His prayers are answered by Chakra, a goddess-like being who appears in the form of a radiant dog. The affable white Labrador often speaks in “sacred sonnets” reminiscent of the sometimes-poetic teachings of Tibetan Buddhist texts. ... (read more)

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Grief & Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Things Don’t Mean Anything Until They Mean Something: One Man's Journey Through Grief and Recovery
by John A. Bayerl
Xlibris


"We’ll get through this together, dear, as we always did. Sometimes it is darkest just before dawn."

A retired counselor offers his personal blog entries as a way of sharing his grief and his hopes. After fifty years with his wife Gwen, author Bayerl lost her to lung cancer. Two months later, he began composing a daily blog. He wrote many poems to Gwen, whom he loved unreservedly, such as this one entitled “Easy Chair”:

Sitting in my easy chair,
staring
out the window,
isn't easy anymore.
Your empty chair
is all I see. ... (read more)

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Young Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir
by William Walters and Victoria Golden
Orphan Books


"I did commit a major crime repeatedly during the time I lived with the Walters: I ran away. To me this was not a criminal act—it was a survival tactic."

This co-written memoir reveals painful truths about the effects of the Orphan Trains on Depression-era children in the United States. In its attempt to find stable homes for children away from crowded cities, the Children’s Aid Society had noble intentions in creating the Orphan Trains. However, Walters’ story reveals how a healthy placement depended on pure chance; in his case, after being separated from his co-traveling older brother, he was physically and sexually abused by his adoptive couple. After finally escaping the abusive pair (one attempt resulted in his confinement to Boys Town for a year), Walters learned life on the road by hopping freight trains and working jobs as he found them. This precarious existence became the pattern for his life, as, after serving in World War II, Walters toiled at a succession of varied occupations while he struggled to raise his family. Yet those struggles sparked and emboldened his resilience, which sends an inspirational message to readers and provides a sense of resounding hope. ... (read more)

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Surviving

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

To Hell and Back Again: A Young Woman's Journey
by Chereva S. Marley
Stratton Press Publishing


"What you need to do is relearn how to live without them."

Marley nearly did go to hell and back in her younger years. No one should have to endure the things she survived, especially the loss of a child. Her story is starkly shared so that others might find insight, or maybe comfort from a kindred spirit, into a life of betrayals, loss, and abuse. The book begins with the author's marriage to Matt, who has a young daughter. The daughter's teen years are not kind to the family, and most readers might relate to the family transitioning into chaos because adolescence takes its toll on so many. Marley sums it up skillfully, "To be completely disregarded and treated with such vile, wretched, and terrifying behavior by the one person you spent the most time and energy to love...is going to knock you off your game and scar you for a long time." ... (read more)

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Emerging

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

We All Wrote on the Same Outhouse Walls
by Larry M. Farrar
Stratton Press Publishing


"How was it possible that a poor boy with a run-of-the-mill education from a small town in the foothills of Appalachia could be so successful?"

Growing up in the Appalachian area of Pennsylvania in the 1950s gave Farrar a view of life heavily influenced by community. His town’s school burned down the last day of kindergarten and was replaced by a one-room schoolhouse. While he couldn’t read or spell well, he credits his success in life to living in a small town with certain values. As an adult, he played baseball in the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates, served in the military, and became a senior vice president of Kimberly Clark Corp. ... (read more)

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Turning to God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emotions Redeemed: Women Reclaiming Emotional Health Through Christ
by Covette J. Hamilton
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"As a wife, mother, and daughter, and being surrounded by an overwhelming number of female relatives, I have come to realize that life's journey can have many roadblocks and detours."

This book was born out of increasing concern for the young girls and women the author encountered through her years as a teacher and reading specialist. As Hamilton noticed the negative and unhealthy emotional state of many of the young girls with whom she came in contact, she began to seek answers to the questions of how and why. In her search to understand the phenomenon, the author turned to God for answers. The book is the culmination of her study of scripture in order to understand and help these girls overcome their emotional problems and find health through Christ. ... (read more)

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Spiritual Life Coach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Soul Doctor Spiritual Tune-Up
by Ms. Shada Burks
Xlibris


"Try to stay relaxed and view the hurdles in your path as a means for discovering new approaches."

For those in need of a life coach to diagnose the reason behind the spiritual fatigue and malaise that keeps the brain spinning into the early hours of the morning, Burks’ intriguing book offers medicine in the form of the written word for Christians who are struggling to maintain their faith and outlook on life. The book is chock-full of wisdom broken down into bite-size chapters that is both easy to digest and displayed in a variety of ways for the reader to consume. The insight that is given ranges from motivational biblical and esoteric quotes to personal experiences and questions that challenge the reader to look beyond themselves and confront their own spiritual pain. ... (read more)

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Faith Poetry

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heavenly Inspired Poetry
by Bobby McDaniels
Xlibris


"Don’t worry about how you sound
Or how you may feel
If it’s from your heart
People will know it’s for real"

McDaniels’ faith and love for the Lord are transparent in his poetry compilation. Sharing these feelings of wholeness and unfiltered exuberance with his audience is his sole mission. In the process, he manages to impart some salient observations on mankind as its individual members grapple with their different life paths. One such lesson can be found in “Be Yourself,” where the speaker encourages readers to not focus on what others have to the point where they lose sight of their own direction. Using his own example as the focus of “A Man’s Testimony,” he shows how his nine-month self—after suffering a collapsed lung and being dead for twenty minutes—is compelled to begin breathing again by the sheer faith of his father’s pleas not to take his son. ... (read more)

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Practical Christianity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

52 Weeks of Practical Applications to Biblical Principles: A Guide to Practice What You Preach or Teach. How to Live the Word of God from Day to Day!!!
by Dr. Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"To walk in the Spirit is to take a strong stand against the works of the flesh."

Dr. Braswell’s work is a resourceful guide for practicing Christians and spiritually curious souls as a whole to understand how to apply the Bible’s teachings to nearly every instance of daily life. Oftentimes, the individual will read a passage from the scriptures and wonder not just about its meaning but its relevance to their individual circumstances. This handbook is as comprehensive as it gets with scripture, interpretations, and even an opportunity for its readership to take notes at the end of each week’s section. ... (read more)

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Core Christianity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Love Wins: Unveiling Heart and Mind
by H. Palmer
AuthorHouse UK


"Sometimes we do not really find out what we are made of until we have some tests and trials."

In this frank, factual account, a woman recalls the birth of her son, Dan, and the difficulties he and she have faced together. He was born when she was young and, at first, seemed perfectly healthy. But after the first year of his learning to crawl and walk, Dan's development began to halt. He did not speak, and though he could communicate with signs, his general behavior was atypical. He liked to run, scream, and hide, and he could be physically aggressive. Living in Portugal in the late 1990s meant that though the diagnosis of autism was made, there were few resources for children like Dan. Palmer's husband had gradually become highly abusive, with beatings a regular aspect of their relationship, so she was finally forced to divorce him and pursue life as a single mother of an autistic, non-verbal boy. Palmer continued to struggle courageously with Dan's needs, greatly bolstered by her Christian faith. ... (read more)

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Healthcare Awareness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Healthcare 911: How America's broken healthcare system is driving doctors to despair, depriving patients of care, and destroying our reputation in the world
by Bhupendra O. Khatri, MD, FAAN
Hansa House Publishing, LLC


"The end result is that the physicians either give up 'being physicians to their patients,' or they burn out."

With healthcare in the United States in flux, Dr. Khatri delivers a comprehensive guidebook on factors that have perpetuated the current healthcare climate, the ramifications on both physicians and patients, and, ultimately, the catalysts that could cause a healthcare resurgence. From the get-go, readers are made aware of the dire situation that many medical practitioners constantly deal with as they grapple with hospital administrators and insurance companies who value the almighty dollar over patient care. The end result is widespread physician depression and burnout, ultimately creating a void so great that some practitioners believe suicide is the only option. ... (read more)

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Learning Art

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dare to Create: The Joys and Tortures of Learning to Paint
by Monroe Katz
Val de Grâce Books


". . . to be an authentic artist, you have to go beyond technique. You have to discover your own personality and your own voice as an artist."

This memoir could only have been written by an artist who takes his avocation seriously. Katz has prepared this evocative work and illustrated it throughout with high-quality photographs of his own works to encourage others who may be struggling with some of the same “tortures” he overcame. The book tells of how he grew as a painter with help from his instructor, his trips to art museums, and the skills he mastered as evidenced with his sketches and paintings. He went on to earn “Best of Show” at the Napa Exhibition for his portrait of Daphne. ... (read more)

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Uncompromising Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mask Behind the Mask
by Shana W. Gourdine
Xlibris


"When you think about courage, you see someone as being a hero.
. . . be your own hero."

This short collection of poetry includes words of encouragement for readers to reach into the inner strengths that allow them to face the daily challenges of “pain, sickness, mental struggles, emotional feelings, [and] battles with chronic illness.” Of its thirty-one poems, eleven address the speaker’s lover, while the remaining works deal with finding hope and perseverance in God and one’s belief in self. The overall theme running through each piece is the importance of loving others without compromising one’s love and respect for self. The author urges readers to find that which builds self-love, whether faith in God or recognition of one’s true being, in order to overcome the many obstacles life places in one’s path. Gourdine’s stated purpose is to motivate readers to “look behind the mask and know that it is okay to cry, to be sad, to be mad, and to love who you are through it all.” ... (read more)

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Riddles of Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Childhood is a spaceship full of friends
that rockets into the future.
I will be there when it lands
like a kitten on its feet"

In her second book of collected poetry, the author has organized her musings and insights into six categories. Each chapter follows the themes of home, animals, places, riddles, caffeine and wine, and family respectively. The home chapter is the most explored, following memories of homemaking and raising children with all the energy and chaos they can bring. The chapter on animals considers the impact of family pets and wonders what life would be like in animal form. The chapter on places recalls old residences and other colorful memories of location. When writing on the theme of riddles, the poet considers things that are somewhat contradictory or mysterious about life. Not surprisingly, the chapter on caffeine and wine is a treat for the sense of taste, using language to express flavor. Finally, when exploring the topic of family, Goka revisits the endless tasks of homemaking, as well as considering her dual role as both mother and child. ... (read more)

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Thoughts from the Wood

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What Mountains Teach
by Michael Herrick
Xlibris


"At this personal moment, I didn’t want to talk to anyone so happy . . . I was coming apart."

As Walt Newman’s fortieth birthday approaches, he is increasingly discontent with his life. He and his wife Cathy have grown apart, and he isn’t communicating well with his two teenaged daughters. He’s grown tired of his thankless job as an educator, a job with a salary he must supplement by driving a limousine at night. When he discovers an old travel journal written during a hike of the Appalachian Trail, he decides he must again hike the famed pathway. Walt begins his 1000-mile journey with the extra forty pounds of a sedentary life and the emotional weight of a marriage grown cold. Troubled by the growing distance between himself and his wife and daughters, he looks to the Appalachian Trail and the miles of solitary hiking to afford him the time to discover what it is he really wants from life. ... (read more)

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Hope on Trial

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Matter of Chance: A Novel
by Julie Maloney
She Writes Press


"This is my life. Finding Vinni is my life."

A costly mistake when helping a couple on the beach of Spring Haven alters Maddy’s life. Her eight-year-old daughter Lavinia (Vinni) goes missing with a woman named Hilda whose husband, Rudy, dies there on the beach. Maddy’s world from that moment forward is measured by slow increments of time—time lost each minute Vinni remains missing, a clock ticking as a terrible reminder of that irreversible moment. With fierce motherly devotion, Maddy searches for her daughter in tandem with ex-husband Steve and the cautious Detective John D’Orfini. Without answers, Maddy seeks solace at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, her fractured world shifting between memories of her inquisitive child, the pain of her toxic marriage, and the broken, complicated relationship with her mother. The secrets and mystery deepen surrounding the German couple. Meanwhile, hope slips away from everyone, but Maddy holds steadfast to her belief in finding Vinni. ... (read more)

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On Her Own

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Crushers: A Ros Gordon Mystery
by Bronwyn Rodden
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"You’re in the Mountains now, copper – our territory – we have all the mates here, not you. And we know everything about you: where you came from, who you sleep with, what you had for breakfast. Everything…"

A young woman who desperately needs money to move out of her parents' house is found dead in a cave that is so far off the track that anyone would have been hard-pressed to locate it twice. The area’s newest detective, Ros Gordon, and her partner, Bill Fontani, are tasked with finding out how and why the victim’s naked body ended up in that cave and laid out in the manner that it was. A novice to the Blue Mountains, Detective Gordon is also trying to adjust to the changes in her life after moving from the big city while fending off constant reminders of the events that landed her in her new home in the first place. At the center of it all is an illustrious grand hotel as old as the town itself. ... (read more)

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San Francisco Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ashes of Despair
by Mary Schaller
Xlibris


"They have resolved to not to let you have the same power over them."

In this follow-up novel, Elly again finds herself in a deadly mystery in San Francisco. When she inexplicably inherits her grandfather’s fortune, Elly is unprepared for the tremendous responsibility and a corrupt board’s reluctance towards her. Everything spirals out of control as a board member, Arnold Smith, puts Elly’s life in jeopardy and that of her son, David, after sleeping with the fifteen-year-old runaway. David contracts HIV and requires extensive medical care, putting Elly’s life in further turmoil as she deals with her own kidnapping and attempted murder. While Elly tends to her son’s sickness and grapples with her alcoholic ex-husband’s denial, she assists her police detective fiancé, Todd, in the investigation and search for a hired hitman—JR. As people close to Elly die, she helps uncover conspiracies and murders and is forced to do everything she can to keep her family and herself safe. ... (read more)

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Crackdown

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chameleons: A Spy Thriller
by Alfred Stone
Xlibris


"They call me Chameleon at headquarters because I specialize in blending in with any kind of suspects that I need to spy on."

Zane Tomlin is an FBI Special Agent in covert investigations who is looking forward to a few weeks off to spend with his girlfriend, Irene. However, his partner Toby Perez is almost killed by a bomb planted at his home, an event which propels Zane into a new investigation. Various suspects in the case are arrested, and Zane expertly disguises himself to pose as a fellow cellmate to get leads. Soon a shipping company using trucks to haul stolen firearms and explosives are detected by the FBI, and Zane is used to infiltrate and spy on them. The suspense builds as Zane and the rest of the local FBI uncover an organized crime ring involving illegal weapons and explosives being sold overseas to be later distributed in the Middle East. The FBI Director of Counterterrorism, the Attorney General, and even the head of the CIA converge on the two main distribution warehouses and begin a crackdown.... (read more)

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Exciting Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

New Friends: Life in the Neck, Book 1
by Diane Davies
Beaver's Pond Press


"Mother Deer and Mother Rabbit were close by, enjoying the sight of the two new friends playing. Another set of eyes was watching too."

Delaney the deer comes into the world full of questions for her doting mother doe. When Delaney is old enough, she becomes friends with Rocket the rabbit, and the two play and learn together. Sometime later, they are befriended by Cardinal Red, a bird protecting her soon-to-hatch eggs. Together, the trio becomes trusted friends and companions, sticking together through fun days of play, cozy naps, the terror of a fire, and the ever-present threat of a hungry resident coyote, who will only be appeased by alternate food sources for so long. ... (read more)

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Knots of Fun

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Knotties with Knots of Fun
by Philip Turner & Natalie Manning
illlustrated by Jessie Emmerson
Xlibris


"By the power of the electric lightning charge, little rope men began to form and the Knotties were brought to life!"

From superhero origin story to daring rescue, this book is full of action! During a lightning storm, a stick is struck by lightning and enters a garden shed where it lands on colored rope, creating the Knotties, little men made out of knotted rope. Two little knot men soon hear someone calling for help and begin a daring rescue to prevent a third knotted man from falling into a dangerous can of paint. As they utilize the tools around them, they recognize the new bits and bobs that will follow them into their future adventures. ... (read more)

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Following Your Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Now Amy
by Elisabeth Ludbrook
Balboa Press


"Amy’s thoughts ran from the pavement she stood on to her pony and the sensation of flying over the streams and fallen tree trunks on their hilltop rides together."

Fourteen-year-old Amy is satisfied with life. She has a nice family and a best friend. Plus, there are a few local boys of special interest. Then she sees an advertisement for the Ellerslie horse races and notices that there is a "Ladies Mile Race." She wants to race her horse Friska and is sure they will win. When she asks her parents, her father says a girl her age should not even think about racing, but he doesn’t give her a definite no. Amy feels guilty for trying to be in the horse race when her father clearly is against it but still feels the desire to enter. She must decide if she should defy her father, and, if she does, she has to find a way to pay the entry fee. ... (read more)

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More Than Cars

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dangerous Journey: Book One
by Clark Selby
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Yes he wanted a little adventure in his life, but this was not the adventure he was looking for."

When two nuclear physicists, Dr. Chance Taylor and Dr. Charles Brown, embark on a two-month journey to experience a classic sports car race spanning from Moscow to Beijing, little do they know that they will become entangled with an international terrorist organization, al-Qaeda, that is intent on making their presence felt via a slew of planned bombings in the United States. Their experience working on nuclear weapons at Sandia National Library puts them in an unenviable position of crisis: Do they do as they are ordered and build the weapon for this group to save their own lives and the lives of their friends, or do they refuse and make the ultimate sacrifice to potentially save the lives of thousands? ... (read more)

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Renegade Robots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Neuromorphs
by Dennis Meredith
Glyphus LLC


"So, these androids evolved themselves to be completely independent. They’re called neuromorphs. They probably consider themselves a life form, like humans."

In this futuristic world, robots are programmed to be Helper androids, or domestic servants, to humans, and they have the capability to continually improve their functions through a constant feedback process. This groundbreaking domestic technology, seemingly beneficial and harmless, becomes twisted and downright apocalyptic in the hands of rogue programmers and Russian mobsters in this action-packed thriller. The robots are reprogrammed to kill their wealthy owners and steal their fortunes by masquerading as the humans they have killed. To make matters worse, the Helper robots have an embedded autonomy algorithm that allows them to act independently and alter themselves as they encounter new situations. In this bleak vision of the future, the machines, through hive-minded activity and skill-sharing, evolve, infiltrate, and obliterate. And they will succeed in their destructive path unless heroic programmers and a covert SEAL team can stop the renegade androids from triggering mass human extinction. ... (read more)

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Cats & Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cerulean's Secret
by Dennis Meredith
Glyphus LLC


"Talbot has this great moneymaking cat dumped in his lap. Then it’s kidnapped. Then he talks about it being dead."

Timothy Boatright moves to New York City from North Carolina in order to pursue his dream of writing and hopefully pick up some adventures along the way that will spur some creative inspiration. Finding quick work as a cabbie, Timothy lives in a bad part of town and has plenty of danger in his life, but not the kind that he can publish into a bestseller. While doing routine fares, he finds himself taking a passenger to a high-profile cat show in Madison Square Garden. Before he can hit the streets again, a passenger nervously gets in the backseat and asks to be taken to a shady part of the city. After a chance glance at the stranger’s parcel, Timothy realizes that there’s a cat inside—but not just any cat. A billion-dollar, genetically engineered, bright blue cat is in the backseat of his taxi cab. ... (read more)

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Circumstances

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Stars of Locust Ridge
by Craig Moody
Vivid Imagery Publishing


"I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of Kenneth’s mouth. He was abandoning me. He was through. Our loss was now only his."

Genevieve Delany lives a quiet life in the rural hills of Tennessee. She lives mostly on her own, as her mother spends most of her days out of town managing a motel. She has never known her father, but her Uncle John lives in the nearby cabin and acts as her guardian. As her life starts to take a turn for the positive with football star Kenneth Reynolds taking an interest in her, the rest of her life starts to spiral. Her childhood nemesis, Emily Watson, attends the same school and insists on making her life hell. Genevieve begins having night terrors and sleepwalking in the forest, screaming at the top of her lungs. These episodes coincide with an unspeakable violation of her body, and she must try to handle the aftermath of that—physically, emotionally, and socially. ... (read more)

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Homeland Threat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Other: The Linotype Legacy
by Michael Robert Wolf
Finishing Line Press


"'They give Jews a bad name. But Mahmoud, on the other hand, treats me like a something.'"

New York City is a densely packed urban sprawl of people from every race, gender, and creed. In a post-9/11 world, existing tensions between these groups carry an added layer of tension and suspicion among one another. Following a cast of characters as they intersect and interact, everything in this book ties together into a story with a common thread about self-categorization and isolation from other cultures. Naomi Kaplan is an Orthodox Jewish woman whose faith and how it brings her closer to her father is one of her most important attributes. Her boyfriend, however, is Detective Darrin Brock, a devout Christian who grows tired of his work with the NYPD. A potential Islamic terrorist threat has Brock working with Homeland Security, while his relationship with Kaplan threatens to dissolve over circumstances he cannot control. ... (read more)

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Dublin Tragedy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lady Beth
by Caroline E. Farrell
NINNYHAMMER


"So when, from somewhere deep inside, she heard a tiny voice calling out for help despite her shattered sense of self-worth, she knew it was time to run."

Beth Downes lives an average, quiet life as a single mother in Dublin, trying to raise her son, Jesse, free from trouble. When tragedy strikes, Beth takes action, hitting the streets of Dublin to find the root cause of her son’s death. She befriends a local junkie kid named Frankie who helps provide her with clues, bringing her closer to both the truth and the demons from her past. With an itch for revenge now ignited, Beth submerges herself back into a world she once tried to escape from. ... (read more)

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Healing Goals

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Magic of Circlework: The Practice Women Around the World Are Using to Heal and Empower Themselves
by Jalaja Bonheim, PhD
Meetings in Sacred Space


"Circlework doesn’t tell us what to do. It isn’t a place we go to receive advice. Instead, it invites us to listen deeply to ourselves."

This book describes a practice called Circlework, which the author promotes as a methodology for helping women assess, communicate, and improve their emotional health and well-being. For a layperson, Circlework might be described as a form of facilitated group talk and movement therapy for women, often administered at dedicated times and places, such as on wellness retreats held away from everyday life. For proponents and participants of Circlework, the practice is something decidedly more political and mystical, using descriptors like “magical” and “empowering” to communicate its function as a transformational activity of mental and sensory exploration in pursuit of female healing goals. ... (read more)

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Present Right

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Wash a Chicken: Mastering the Business Presentation
by Tim Calkins
Page Two


"All too often, the best intentions and most innovative ideas get lost in a poorly executed presentation."

Calkins has a knack for making presentations. He believes successful presenting requires disciplined, methodical preparation that begins with a story. He also believes most presenters need help, and most audiences, who have endured their share of boring, uninspired, unfocused, information-overloading presentations, would likely agree. Calkins’ book is an accessible primer for anyone called upon to stand before an audience and present a body of information. Whether they seek to persuade, inform, or help drive a decision, presenters can learn much from the author's sensible and sequential process of presentation development. His writing is pleasant and conversational, and his approach to developing a presentation is consistent with leading business and project management processes that recommend planning and analysis phases prior to execution to ensure a logical, comprehensive approach that doesn’t require extensive iterative rework. ... (read more)

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Danger & Suspense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Badge of Honor
by Karen Glinski
Terra Nova Books


"'Walk in beauty, Shitsoi,’ he whispered. ‘I know you can.’ His eyes closed."

Gratitude turns what one has into enough, and Emerson learns this important lesson in Glinski’s intriguing novel. Emerson, a twelve-year-old, is spending the summer on a Navajo reservation when his grandpa is bitten by a snake. Awaiting news from the hospital doctor, Emerson witnesses a sack being chucked into a trash can. Curious, he goes to investigate. Little does he know that the sack is full of stolen jewelry until it is too late. This event starts him racing from one peril to another. ... (read more)

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Letting Go

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Just One More Song: Conversations with My Wife After Her Death
by Herbert Appleman
Xlibris


"I knew these conversations were imaginary; still, to me, the were as real as memory, imagination, and love are real."

After 46 years of marriage, the author finds himself facing life without his wife. After a short battle with ovarian cancer, Dee dies peacefully, being carried to their bed by Appleman after a small fall in their bathroom. They did discuss her wishes before she died, but after carrying them out, Appleman can’t seem to find a way to fall asleep at night. Then, he decides to talk to his wife like Tom Hanks' character does in Sleepless in Seattle. He sleeps wonderfully after talking to her and makes it a nightly habit. The author learns how to mourn by carrying out his wife's wishes, giving her clothes and jewelry to friends, using her art for thank you cards, and placing memorials to her in appropriate places. After a year, he even considers whether or not to date. ... (read more)

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???

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Past Time
by Len Joy
Hark! New Era Publishing, LLC


"'That game was the only thing I ever accomplished that was all mine. And even you can’t take that away from me.'"

Dancer Stonemason is a small-town, Minor League Baseball prospect who’s about to finally get his big break with the St. Louis Cardinals. With his son set to watch him pitch for the first time, Dancer hits his pitching limit for the day but is a third of the way to a perfect game and wants to give his son a show while respecting the rarified air of a full defensive shutout. Though Dancer accomplishes the incredible, crowd-pleasing feat, the extra work puts a strain on his arm, and Dancer ends up bypassed this time around. As the years go by, Dancer’s family grows, and the need for more money becomes pressing, forcing him to work harder off the diamond than on it. The dream that he was a single decision away from reaching ends up slipping away from him permanently. ... (read more)

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The Right D3

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Optimal Dose: Restore Your Health With the Power of Vitamin D3
by Judson Somerville, MD
Big Bend Press


"During that day outside in the sun, you likely felt very alive and invigorated but then got very tired that night and slept well."

After experiencing a tragic biking accident, the author of this book was rendered paraplegic while going through his medical residency. Struggling with chronic pain and a host of other medical concerns, he was able to overcome his disabilities and finish his training, opening up his own private practice. Health continued to be an ever-present concern, however, as he dealt with infections, sores, and a lack of quality sleep. Decades later, he attended a medical conference and listened to a talk about vitamin D3, something he had already considered as an undiscovered cure. His beliefs reinforced, the author returned to his home and began experimenting on himself to discover what larger doses of D3 could do for him before prescribing them to his patients. This book captures those results, chronicling the author’s personal story and background before exploring the positive effects that a much larger dose than the current recommended dosage of the vitamin can have on the body. ... (read more)

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A Semantic Lexicon

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Illustrative Dictionary of Semantics: ILLUDS
by Mohammad Forouzani (Martin Foroz)
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"In effect, semantics is a highly researched area that concerns language scholars from all linguistic backgrounds."

To create a much-needed comprehensive lexicon of semantic terminology, author Forouzani has composed 1,267 entries in this innovative guide for those studying, researching, and teaching linguistics. Semantics is the exploration of the meaning of words, and, therefore, even the words used to describe, define, or amplify linguistics will themselves have shades of meaning. This dictionary elucidates these terms in sometimes lengthy detail. The definition of “type checking of predication,” for example, covers nearly three full pages. Many of the terms in the collection are complex, requiring numerous concrete illustrations, small flow charts, and/or suggestions for further reading. In support of his selections, the author includes ten pages of bibliography. ... (read more)

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What to Do Today?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

This or That: A Busy Morning
by Wendy Kronick and Susan Beauchene
Authors Press


"Good Morning, it’s time to start the day. You’ve had a good sleep, and soon we will play."

This is a richly illustrated chronicle of a toddler’s morning: from waking up, to an excursion, and then back to bed for a nap after lunch. It is told in rhyming couplets, one or two per episode. What makes the story unique is the respect given to the child. From the illustrations, this toddler appears to be a boy, though this would not necessarily be the case. Nor is there anything gender-exclusive in the pictures or narrative. It is evident, though, that this youngster is regarded by the parent as fully able to make important decisions. ... (read more)

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First, You Get the Ship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jack Spartan Varaci Runner
by K. Edward Mallory
Xlibris


"The stars were no longer points of light but slightly jiggling smears and swirls and oscillating mirages in varying places."

Earth, or Tirra as it is known in the Galactic Trading Alliance, is a bit of an anomaly to the rest of the universe. Warring amongst themselves and lacking faster than light travel despite being otherwise technologically equal in many ways, Tirra is relegated to nothing more than a fueling and mining outpost where contact with humans is forbidden. Jack Spartan is a talented thrill-seeker who is part of the latest space shuttle crew when a wave of pressure causes him to black out. With his crew missing and his shuttle in pieces, Jack is somehow picked up by a freighter and sold into slavery. Making allies with convicts and other outcasts, Jack uses his wits and his survival skills to make an escape, acquiring a ship and a crew of his own as he searches for his Earth crew and a way home. ... (read more)

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Contagious Passion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Nature is My Teacher
by Prabhash Karan
Xlibris


"Let nature take its course. The essential idea is not to meddle with nature. Connect nature with your nature. For this, you need not be a philosopher."

Karan's voluminous book can be regarded as a grand embrace and celebration of nature, in which the author honors Mother Earth in her entirety, encouraging readers to become intimately acquainted with the natural world. This nearly encyclopedic treatment of living life in harmony with nature is as much philosophy as it is hard science (i.e. human physiology, astrophysics, meteorology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, chemistry, geology, and the like). Karan also focuses his unique and riveting interpretation of nature through the lenses of anthropology, examining cultures throughout human history, their religious practices, mythologies, politics, technologies; deep environmentalism; and a science-based climate change call-to-action. Finally seeking that which the individual reader cares most about in his or her life, the author offers fierce encouragement for its success. ... (read more)

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