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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

Brief Answers to the Big Questions
by Stephen Hawking
Bantam Books


"So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist."

Written at the end of his life, although formulated during and published posthumously, the once in a lifetime scientist Stephen Hawking lands serious scientific questions with a philosophical bent. He guides us by the hand through the creation of the universe, the mystery of black holes, and the possibilities of time travel, giving nods to the seminal pioneers of each discovery along the way. And like all the great thinkers, he’s unafraid to tackle the existence of God and the future of mankind on the planet. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

A Ray of Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Real Daughter
by Lynne McKelvey
Savant Books & Publications LLC


"He doesn’t get it, she thought, pausing beside the baby mastodon and its imploring trunk. Doesn’t get that Mandy is a child in mourning, a child in mourning for her mother."

Secrets have always played a major role in novels. From secret passageways in adventure tales to secret betrayals in spy yarns to secret familial revelations in Victorian comedies, tragedies, whodunits, and more. A secret is also at the center of this literate psychological drama that unspools in late 1970s Los Angeles. It is a secret that engulfs its keeper completely—a secret that results in unimaginable consequences when shared. ... (read more)

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Sensitivity & Accuracy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Journey of Hope: Her Search for Truth
by Patricia Hope
Stratton Press


"I am glad I had the opportunity to meet several of my birth relatives and their families, and perhaps one day I will meet others."

Recounting the trauma of childhood deprivations, this memoir shows a maturation process that aided its author in later life, owing largely, she believes, to God’s care and intervention. Born in a fractured family in 1932, the little girl was assigned to an orphanage in Memphis—the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (TCHS)—after her mother was falsely accused of a crime. The TCHS was operated by notorious child-trafficker Georgia Tann. Hope wound up in Texas, supplied to a woman who wanted a playmate for her son. Gradually, Hope began to grasp the extent of her victimization as a young child and to seek information regarding her birth parents, sibling, half-siblings and other known relatives. Through a religious experience, she was able to love and understand her then deceased parents and even forgive Tann for her perfidies. ... (read more)

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Forbidden Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dating Policy
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris


"I couldn’t get past the kiss as that employee handbook taunted me on my coffee table."

Mallory Kennedy’s company has a strict "no dating" policy that threatens to derail her first real chance at love with Todd Duvall, a quality control manager in her office who sends her heart racing every time he walks by her. She admires his confidence, his Scandinavian features, and his work ethic. When Todd begins to show interest in her, too, her work life and romantic life become entangled. Adding to the fray, Mallory also finds that Todd has deeper secrets that threaten their future even more than the company’s policy on dating. ... (read more)

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Uncommon Bravery

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Cordelia Lionheart
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"'Father,' Cordelia said, 'I fear you'll soon regret being so stubborn, so unwilling to admit your kingdom isn't the peaceful, orderly realm you dream it to be.'"

Cordelia, the youngest daughter of King Lear, is beginning to lose faith in her father’s ability to rule as a fair and just king. Between rumors of unrest, distrust among the soldiers, her sisters’ and their husbands conspiring for the throne, and the occasional assassination attempt, it seems that King Lear’s peaceful reign is coming to an end. Cordelia soon finds herself in the midst of an oncoming war as Lear declares her his heir. With her life on the line and the future of the kingdom at stake, will Cordelia be able to fight back and keep the kingdom at peace? ... (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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History & Folklore

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Gods and Heroes: Itan Legends of the Golden Age Book One
by Oladele Olusanya
Xlibris


"Ile-Ife was the birthplace and origin of all the gods of our people, who in those days walked the earth and lived among mortal men."

Blending history with folklore, myth, and a little surrealism, this book follows the exile and migration of the Yoruba tribe from Nubia, the founding of Ile-Ife (today’s region of West Nigeria), the various adventures and conquests of its people, and the rise and fall of the civilization of Oyo. Readers are introduced to historical figures as well as gods and goddesses and learn how the actions and choices of these individuals have shaped Yoruba culture and tradition.... (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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Getting Away

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jubilant Journeys
by Connie Spenuzza, M.S. Ed.
Libros Publishing


"The stone symbols of these unborn babies stood shoulder to grey stone shoulder."

Part memoir, part travelogue, and part genealogical study, this book is joyously refreshing. It is also poetry in motion. For example, instead of "China is too big to see in one trip," the author writes, "We barely scratched the surface of this commanding dragon." ... (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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Becoming a Leader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unlocking the Natural-Born Leader's Abilities: An Autobiographical Exposé
by Salar A. Khan, MD., MBA.
Xlibris


"…natural-born leaders...have an innate skill set conducive to becoming leaders. They are optimistic, selfless, and do not seek external rewards or glory."

Illustrating the author’s own journey to leadership, this autobiography/memoir was written to pass on experience gained by a lifetime of service. A young child at the time of the India/Pakistan partition, his family resettled in Pakistan. With those early years in turmoil, his parents were his teachers. Once the author entered school, his brilliant older brother became a role model. Challenged by his family, the author assumed responsibility for household duties and volunteered for additional tasks. On his father’s advice, Khan became a doctor serving in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and America. From experience gained, he declares it our duty to find out what we are capable of. ... (read more)

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Making a Leader

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Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact
by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis
Greenleaf Book Group Press


"'Are you happy where you’re at? Do you feel like you’re fulfilling what you’re meant to in life?' ... it was a question she knew she needed to answer..."

This leadership book isn’t your common offering about building a great team, establishing good relationships, and building trust to bring out their best (not that you won’t learn valuable information about those things). But as strong leaders know, delivery is everything, and this small offering delivers valuable insights and knowledge in a big way. ... (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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Bad Guy Trouble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

101
by Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books


"'This business is done. It’s gonna go all the way legal any minute. Then the big shots are going to be the only ones up here.'"

Vic and Barbara have the kind of enduring bond that ensures she can pick up the phone at any hour, after any interval, ask Vic for help, and know he will say yes, regardless of the danger. In this fast-paced novel that is part caper, part high adrenaline chase, Barbara’s request is that Vic harbor her good-for-nothing son who has gotten himself into trouble with some bad guys. ... (read more)

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Compulsively Readable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tatiana's Day
by Katia Perova
iUniverse


"'It’s not that simple. It’s more like what I did to myself. I’ve done some horrible things in this marriage.'"

University students Tatiana Dobrova and Oleg Isaev meet in Moscow in 1990, and a whirlwind romance begins between the studious Tatiana and the charming Oleg. Within months, they are married, and Tatiana continues her studies while Oleg pursues new business opportunities spurred by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The chronicle of their marriage and the monumental societal changes taking place in Russia combine to tell a riveting love story. At the heart of this captivating tale is the evolution of Tatiana as she loses herself in a marriage full of betrayal and psychological manipulation. Oleg’s workaholic tendencies, frequent affairs, and cruelty are destructive forces in the marriage, and Tatiana descends into reckless behavior that threatens to consume her. Enticed by the luxury of her life with Oleg, Tatiana ignores the truth of their marriage until the desperation becomes unbearable, and she reclaims her life. ... (read more)

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Still the Same

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Complete Food Substitutions Handbook: Including Options for Low-Sugar, Low-Fat, Low-Salt, Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan
by Jean B. MacLeod
MacLeod How-To Books


"Honey - 1 cup
- 1 cup light agave syrup/nectar
- 1 cup Coconut Nectar
- 1 cup rice-based nectar, such as Just Like Honey"

In today’s culinary world, any group meal is bound to feed someone with food allergies, a specialty diet, or just a preference against certain ingredients. Or maybe you have found a new recipe, the prep begins, and then suddenly you realize you’re missing an important ingredient in the pantry. Perhaps even the item in question is out of season or unavailable in your area. This book aims to solve such problems by providing a comprehensive, A-to-Z resource for quick reference to substitute virtually any ingredient needed in cooking with something else, either in a pinch or if your dinner plans include people with dietary restrictions. With more than 500 pages of suggestions, this aims to be the only book you need when it comes to food substitutions. ... (read more)

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Icons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bright Days and Dark
by John S. Wilson
CreateSpace


"I really loved making music but there was a lot more to it than that. Some things about being a pop star they didn’t put in the brochure."

At age two, John’s interest in and talent for music began to appear. By seven, he had written and sold a #1 song for the young, rising country star, Tanya Tucker. John didn’t have many friends and was different than other kids, but what John did have was a passion for music and a natural ability to write, sing, and play songs. However, being a musician does not make an easy life, especially for a child. This book follows John on his journey beginning when he and his family decide that John will dedicate himself to be a pop star and leave the world of a normal childhood behind. No one could have told him what lay ahead. John would soon have to interact with and overcome crazy fans, vindictive record execs, crowds, fame, humiliation, and entertainment icons. ... (read more)

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Mom Therapy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Divorcing Mom: A Memoir of Psychoanalysis
by Melissa Knox
Cynren Press


"She wanted me slaughtered…I imagined her drooling at the thought."

With a hateful, uncaring mother, an alcoholic father, and a drug-addicted brother, it was inevitable that author Knox would end up in therapy. From her early teens through college, she talked regularly to a Freudian psychoanalyst, Dr. Sternbach, a Jew who had narrowly escaped the Holocaust. He rarely offered sympathy. When she became bulimic as a depressed young teen, he ordered her to stop vomiting; he told her repeatedly that she was masochistic and an exhibitionist. He asked her lurid questions about her sexual feelings, indicating a more than professional interest. He divulged her secrets to others while demanding that she say nothing about their sessions. And, possibly because her deranged, narcissistic mother was the one paying his fees, he sided with Mom. Near the end of his life, after she had thoroughly dispelled his influence, Sternbach insulted his former patient’s new husband. Ultimately, Knox was able to “divorce” both her mother and her therapist. ... (read more)

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True Heart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ripples in Time, A.I. Godfather, Engineering Jesus
by Jeff Walter Haugen
Xlibris


"Why do we try to distance ourselves from nature, rather than coexist? Couldn’t we think of a simple solution to our everyday needs?"

The author of this philosophical exploration wishes to convey that there is more to life than just living. Haugen reminds us that the closer we are to nature, the happier we have a chance to be. We expend a lot of time driving, for example, and a lot of expense buying cars, whereas if we homeschooled our children and worked close to home and the land, we could save money and have more time to devote to what’s important. This is one of many ideas proposed in Haugen’s wide-ranging treatise. Others include the author’s conviction that his childhood epilepsy might have been relieved by cannabis, outrage at the destruction caused by government/business initiatives like the North Dakota pipeline, and the belief that isolating children with antisocial Internet toys may inhibit new generations from developing “true connections of the heart.” ... (read more)

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Passion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Take Flight: The Sonnets
by Thomas G. Reischel
LitFire Publishing


"Yet there’s another charming chime that rings
Adoring notes, the best under the sun.
It’s precious you, my Dear, whom my heart sings."

The passion Reischel has for sonnets is clearly displayed in this book. Any reader interested in this poetic form will find this work educational. In fact, it reads as a handbook for sonnets. The book opens with an overview of the sonnet form and its varieties. Each section features a distinct form and begins with introductory remarks on that form followed by examples written by Reischel. The scope of the work is impressive as there are 74 differentiated sonnet formats with 170 original examples. Reischel closes with an extensive, alphabetical listing of sonnet descriptions and a glossary identifying the form of each of the 170 poems provided. ... (read more)

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Philosophical

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God’s Therapy & Cure by S. D. Lucifer: A Play
by M. F. Taylor
LitFire Publishing


"Is it possible that Lucifer volunteered to save not only the Garden Play from certain obscurity, but also God from His own limited unconscious perfectionism?"

Advertised as a play but containing much more than a simple night’s entertainment, this play is framed as a creation from Lucifer directed toward God in order to have him elevate humanity to a place beyond war and irreversible damage to the Earth. In the play, Dr. Fag (Lucifer) is providing therapy in Heaven’s Dungeon to General Peti, Seven Star Commander of the World Forces (and actually God) who is trapped in the mannerisms and short-sightedness of a human being. Desperate to make a breakthrough, Dr. Fag continues to work with Peti as bombs fall. Meanwhile, Peti exists in a confused state, insistent upon his assumed identity while also defending his historical and biblical choices as the Almighty. ... (read more)

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Endearing Anecdotes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Present Bouquets
by Austine Royer Smith
LitFire Publishing


"“...the elderly don’t need a reminder of their mistakes because they have thrashed them over and over... they gain strength as we lavish compliments on them."

In this lovely memoir, the author takes her readers along on the ten-year journey as a caregiver of a parent. It began with a dream Smith had when her mother was 84 and lived alone in the family home. The author felt the call to return to where she grew up and assume the care of her mother. Smith had planned to work in missions in Haiti; it seemed God thought otherwise. ... (read more)

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Fun & Wistful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grandma Waves with Her Heart
by Austine Royer Smith
LitFire Publishing


"'Grandma, were you waving with your hand?' 'No,' Grandma said, 'I was waving with my heart.'"

A new grandmother looks joyfully at her newborn grandson, whom she nicknames Rooster, and wonders how she will help raise a boy when she has only daughters and granddaughters. She is comforted knowing that boys are born knowing how to be boys. She spends quality time with the boy in his childhood, pulling him in a wagon, pushing him in a stroller, and giving him baths. As he gets older, she takes him to ball games, school functions, and church. When he gets to high school, he does not have much extra time for his grandmother, but he does ride motorcycles with her. When he asks throughout his life if she waves to him with her hand, she responds that while she doesn’t do that, she does wave with her heart. ... (read more)

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Practical & Relatable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Self-Coached Runner
by Karen S. Perinchief
AuthorHouse


"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Train together and encourage each other. – Proverbs 27:17"

Perinchief presents a helpful guide to running, reflecting on her experience as a Christian and person living with asthma. Readers will better understand the etiology and challenges of asthma with the author’s simple and accurate medical description of the disease. She is also inspired by successful runners such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Paula Radcliffe, who have achieved running success while living with asthma. Her excitement for the sport of running is evident and contagious in this fun guidebook. She relates the doubts one has as a Christian to the doubts of a runner. ... (read more)

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Call to Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Story-Formed Pathways to Peace: Headline News from Genesis, Jesus and Today
by Dalton Reimer
Xlibris


"The stories from the past capture our imagination as they model ways for living in the present."

Using “the stories of earth’s first families as told in Genesis” and the teachings of Jesus, this book sets out to explore conflict resolution through a biblical context. Reimer retells these stories with commentary and analysis intended to guide readers toward peaceful resolutions in their personal relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. He makes a strong and fervent case for the relevance of these ancient texts to modern life and draws direct parallels between the lives and choices of people like Cain and Abel and the escalation of violence in our own modern times. Reimer also injects behavioral science, psychology, and philosophy into his biblical-based, conflict management mindset. The results are a multifaceted exploration of the pressing and universal topic of peacemaking. ... (read more)

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The Real Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Son of Philly in His Own Words
by Susan Haney Cossitt
Xlibris


"The journey was enlightening and not without my father’s humor. Sometimes he smiled when he talked, and I could see his eyes dance to the memories of those days."

Tom Haney’s daughter shares his life story in this tender-hearted biography. Cossitt describes how the book’s beginning began on “an ordinary afternoon that proved to be extraordinary and life-changing,” as visits with her father soon opened to revelations of Tom’s early childhood and later life in the military. She begins with the boyhood of this descendant of Irish immigrants. Tom grew up in Philadelphia during the days of prohibition and the Great Depression. She recounts his love of sports, Catholic upbringing, education, and the family tragedy that deeply impacts him. We learn about Tom’s struggle to choose a vocation, finding love with Mary Jane, and the onset of World War II that shapes his life in the military. ... (read more)

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Rich Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tess
by Kay Sellers
Xlibris


"I believe that you are a unique and gifted individual who only wants to help."

The first book in a series, this novel is the culmination of several genres all thrown into one—part coming-of-age story, part police procedural, and part travelogue. While the title may initially fool readers into believing that Tess is the main character, it is actually Jannet Russman who is the focus. Jannet is an extraordinary woman, with empathic hypersensitivity and synesthesia, giving her greatly heightened psychic abilities. While traveling in Spain, she finds herself involved with the Madrid Police Department and the cold cases they are trying to solve. Can Jannet help the police to solve these cases in time? Who exactly is Tess, and what does she want with Jannet? All questions will be wrapped up in a thrilling conclusion that will leave readers wanting more. ... (read more)

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Thoughtful One-Liners

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fruit for Thought: A Cornucopia of Original and Nuanced Inspirational Thoughts, Philosophical Views, One-Liners, Poetry, and More
by Tony Noreiga
iUniverse


"I present a plethora of original quotes, poetry, one-liners, and thoughts coupled with a nuance of views and expressions."

Author Noriega has compiled a variety of ideas in both prose and poetry and has divided them into seven segments: Quotes and One-liners, Inspirational Thought, Views and Perspectives, Poetry, Philosophical Notions, Satire, and Sexuality. He begins with simple aphorisms, reminding us that we all yearn “to be appreciated,” contentment fosters appreciation, and selfishness destroys it. His philosophy touches on civil discourse, civil disobedience, government, and politics, while his wit is revealed in such jests as, “Sometimes when I talk to myself, I don’t listen…” Other comments focus on money, laughter, adolescence, and the contrast between mere existence and a purpose-driven life. Poems tackle such subjects as “Health,” “Aging,” and “Our Precious Children,” and as with the other themes presented, the emphasis is always positive. There are inspirational moments, too, as when the writer states, “Mistakes are the gateway to the beauty of thinking.” ... (read more)

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Moving Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Harmony’s Song and Other Stories
by Carl Wooton
Xlibris


"We were moving because my father had gone bankrupt and because my mother sometimes cried in the night."

This moving collection of stories wrestles predominantly with the weighty issues of a childhood constrained by financial instability and the constant insecurity that comes from debt and unemployment. Ernest Rambler has trouble keeping a job, so he moves his family frequently to new towns in different states across the country. Each time, the children have to adjust to new places and people, all while growing up and navigating the tense family dynamics between siblings and parents. ... (read more)

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Swashbuckling Golden Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Angel and the Rogue
by Dorothy P. Acosta Hays
Xlibris


"…at that moment, knowing he had to go, he would have gladly sold his soul to the devil to stay, and have her."

Readers can head back to the swashbuckling golden age of epic romance on the high seas with this story of pirates, maidens, secret identities, warring factions, and lusty love. Pirate Captain Armoles Black and down-on-her-luck lady Gwendalynn Taylor meet in a tavern where they cuddle chastely and plant mutual seeds of affection and attraction. Across a series of battles, captures, missed meetings, vengeful enemies, presumed deaths, and other thorny complications, the strength of their love and luck is tested and stretched. A detailed cast of supporting characters act as friends and foes as the lovers resolve their dangerous conflicts and attempt to find each other before it’s too late. ... (read more)

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Inspiration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Best of Luck: 955 Infinite Layers of the Soul (Part 1)
by Rhiannon Cree Kirshner
iUniverse


"Maybe I write to quiet the mind and tame the emotions that cradle the flame."

Driven by her own need to create and write, the author of this book takes the intimate and personal approach of poetry and combines it with an itemized prompt style to create the first half of a book that is truly one of a kind. Designed to empower writers and creatives of all types, this book contains 475 statements that all begin with the phrase, “Maybe I write.” Each of these falls into a number of categories, explaining the reasons why the author is compelled to create, how it impacts her personal life, her creative urges, motivation, and mental health. ... (read more)

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Relationship Tips

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Handbook of Practical Philosophy: 120 Tips for a Better Life
by Panagiotis (Pete) Litsas
Xlibris


"Do not search for happiness in inanimate objects...base your image on external features, but instead make sure you shape a valuable and beautiful personality."

At a young age, this author of Greek heritage began to study the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers as well as modern counterparts. From his research has come a personal philosophy. He passes this along to others in the format of over one hundred tips for living life well. The author recommends that his handbook be read three times before stopping to analyze which ideas suit, understanding that any change, mental and/or actual, requires time. ... (read more)

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Easy Reader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ashes to Strength: Criminals Never Forget
by Steinar Kruse
AuthorHouse UK


"I have endured great pain inside of me ever since the day it happened, and not a day has gone by that I did not think about you or both of you."

Kruse’s globe-trotting, time-leaping mystery opens with a singular moment that irrevocably changes lives. One evening in 1965, nine-year-old TJ (Tehya Jane) is the sudden victim of rape along with her mother. Later, TJ is found half-naked by the Canadian police, the cabin is on fire, two are dead, and there are no immediate answers to the horrific events. The lasting effects of this incident remain deep and reach far into the future, affecting multiple lives. ... (read more)

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Gripping Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Piercing the Darkness
by J. J. Nichols
Xlibris


"That part makes me a hero: doing the right thing for the right reasons despite the consequences."

Detective David Silver’s line of work isn’t pretty. He focuses on missing children cases, a result of the impact a kidnapping in a neighboring community had on him as a child. While in the middle of one such case, Silver uncovers a network of child sex-trafficking resorts, where high-profile and wealthy people purchase young boys for exploits. When Silver is told to stop investigating by federal agencies, he takes it upon himself to rescue the abductees from one particular island called Ganymede Resort. His one-man rescue mission, however, might prove hard to pull off, as certain people in power don’t want to see him succeed. ... (read more)

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Munro Does It Again

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Deadly Homecoming: A Toni Day Mystery
by Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse


"'I’ll be ready,’ I said, ‘Death mask and all.'"

Pathologist Toni Day is back at it again with another mystery to solve! Toni and her husband Hal find themselves back in Toni’s hometown of Long Beach, California to help her mother’s best friend Doris find her husband Dick. But when Doris suddenly falls ill and ends up in a coma, Toni and Hal begin to unravel some of the mysteries hidden deep within the historic house that Doris and Dick share—a house that Doris herself believed to be haunted. Secrets become unearthed as Toni explores the house to find the answers... as well as a body and a new murder mystery to solve. Decades upon decades of schemes and serial murders are hidden within the walls of the haunted house. Can Toni solve everything before she herself becomes a victim? ... (read more)

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Desert Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Consequences to Sin
by Robert Lehr
iUniverse


"This was no practical joke. Neither was this a simple rousting. It was an attempted payback murder."

Matt wakes up in the desert much the worse for wear. What has happened to him? Why is he there? Even though he can’t remember exactly what transpired, his condition is such that he comes to believe someone must have purposely left him there to die. Who could have done such a thing—and why? ... (read more)

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Epic Tale in Tight Space

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Four Guardians
by Jessica and Jordan Fisher
iUniverse


"'All you need to know is that you are the child I was sent to protect; and I am your follower.'"

Many years ago, there was an ancient civilization known as the Children of Geia. These beings were very connected to the earth and able to use magic in the forms of the four elements: wind, fire, earth, and water. The humans who shared the world with them were terrified of the angel-like people with their beautiful, white wings. A war broke out, with the humans seeking to destroy the beings they feared. Only a handful of survivors were left on both sides, spreading out across the world of Minemi. Years later, four followers seek out the remaining “guardians.” Together, the guardians and their followers must fight back the monsters of darkness coming to consume a town and also find the cure. Can the guardians learn to master their elements? Can they push back the darkness and save the world? ... (read more)

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No Emotion?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emotionless
by Camila Fernandez Gomez
AuthorHouse UK


"'Also, at some point, you're going to have to accept that these emotions aren't a bad thing, Ali.'"

The Government is a city where citizens have had their emotions blocked, allowing humanity to exist in peace without war, chaos, and violence. People are judged and placed in society according to their intelligence and skillsets, and society runs pretty smoothly. Aliana Keenan is one of those citizens. A member of the prestigious Keenan family and a soldier, Aliana is training for her future place in society. But she has a secret. She has emotions, and she struggles to keep them under control. One slip-up could put her life in jeopardy. When her sister Samirah goes missing, she leaves the safe and organized world of the Government to look for her, heading into rebel territory. But what Aliana finds may not be what she’s looking for, and she soon finds herself entangled in a bigger fight while having to face the truth about herself. ... (read more)

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Thought-Provoking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lost in Democracy
by Frisky Larr
AuthorHouse UK


"The African continent and Black Africa in particular, has always had a special relationship with the practice of democracy."

Larr provides an insightful and thorough examination of Africa’s struggle to fully embrace democracy as an authentic form of government. With historical analysis, current observations, and theoretical alternatives, Larr covers a wide range of relevant issues related to Africa’s efforts to sustain democratic ideals of governance. Complexities abound within the mix of traditional African institutions passed down naturally through ancient kingdoms and of foreign Western institutions passed down with force through colonialism. Larr breaks down these complexities with organized chapters that progress thoughtfully and clearly through the past, present, and future. He offers up examples of experiments in democracy from different parts of the world to help clarify through comparative analysis. ... (read more)

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Love & Respect

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Real Reason Women Can't Find a Good Man
by Bruce Ramsey
iUniverse


"With all the emotional mistakes women make with men, the good news is men are idiots when it comes to women."

A woman often makes the wrong moves to win the man of her choice. Debut author Ramsey is convinced that many times a woman gives herself to a man based on purely superficial trappings: a man buys her a nice dinner or has a new car or the appearance of wealth seeming to indicate long-term security. In fact, the male is a hunter; “that’s what men do.” They purposely acquire possessions—clothing, cars, jobs, bank accounts—that attract women. What women must do, Ramsey asserts, is realize their true power, their “magic,” and assert themselves as leaders, not followers, in relationships. Women know men better than men know themselves, and men will always need them. Women’s emotions, which can seem like a weakness, can actually be their strength. The best thing a woman can do is to love herself. Her self-respect will encourage the men in her life to treat her appropriately. ... (read more)

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On Edge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Role of a Lifetime: A Woman Reinvents Herself … for Good … and Bad!
by James B. Flaherty
iUniverse


"What to wear for luncheon with Edwina? Nothing frivolous, nothing too showy. Black would be good. A color she never wore as a poor girl."

Bethel Sokoloff is the daughter of a lower-class tailor living in the Bronx who yearns to make something of her life. After her brother dies attempting to rob a deli, Bethel hits her breaking point and strikes out on her own. Though she has to get by in the world the way only a desperate woman can at first, she sees an opportunity to turn her fortunes around. After cosmetic surgery and a high-traffic job working as a saleswoman at Tiffany’s, Bethel reinvents her identity from the ground up as Bettina. With a made-up past and a practiced air, Bettina catches the eye of Dillworth Richardson who falls madly in love. Now married into high society, Bettina has everything she wants but finds herself burdened by both boredom and the paranoia that comes with living a lie. ... (read more)

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Positive Atmosphere

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blue Butterflies in Heaven
by Lois Lee Siler
Xlibris


"I have always had a healthy imagination and I often let it take me to worlds that never were."

Transcending a book of mere poetry, the author of this volume includes a combination of inspirational and whimsical poems supplemented by biblical scripture, related musings, and the sharing of private inspirations or circumstances that led to each poem. Recurring themes of the author’s faith and spirituality are common among the more than 50 poems, but she is able to find a creative outlet through inspirations such as reflecting on her life or the simple buzzing of an errant housefly. Written across decades and covering a spectrum of emotions, there is still a consistent element of trust in a higher power and a creative twist when looking at universal situations like aging or the preservation of innocence. ... (read more)

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Darkness, Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Window Through to Your Soul
by Zoë Hickerson
Xlibris NZ


"How do we remain positive that our relationship is going to thrive
We are going to strive
To make it to the other side."

Hickerson’s poetry compilation is undeniably authentic and open, expressing a level of vulnerability that connects with millions dealing with the prisons of their own mind. Though the speakers of each poem detail their experience with depression, the pathway from darkness into light is well lit by Hickerson. Having worked in mental health nursing, she effectively highlights the inner turmoil from her own firsthand experiences and that of those she encountered on a regular basis. ... (read more)

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Enigmatic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Null and Void
by Lewis Ashman
Xlibris


"The strangest thing about me isn’t that I killed those guys. That was just a fluke. The strangest thing about me is that I know things."

After Stanley Wilson and his gang of drunk bullies beat up his older brother Mike, Lance Thompson sets out for revenge. He confronts the gang and a fight breaks out. Lance throws three punches, and three boys wind up dead. This lands Lance in the criminal justice system where he meets Michelle, his assigned counselor. During the interview, Lance reveals to Michelle that her real name is Laura, and she has a twin. This is where the story really gains momentum; Lance goes on the run and becomes a deadly vigilante. He crosses paths with a private detective and a district attorney whose daughter has been kidnapped. However, is Lance really the hero, or does he cross the line and become a powerful psychopath who needs to be put down before his killing streak becomes legendary? ... (read more)

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Beach Music

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Insider’s History of the Swingin’ Medallions
by Carroll Bledsoe
Xlibris


"Beach music has best been described as happy music."

For more than fifty years, the Swingin’ Medallions have been idolized by fans of beach music. The band, as described by Bledsoe, one of the original members, got its start among some Southern college students. The first choice of a name was the Medallions, but as that name was already taken, the Swingin’ Medallions became the band’s moniker. Early on, the group began working on their version of a then little-known song, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love.” Their rendition would eventually propel them to nationwide recognition. With a unique mix that included two trumpets and three saxophones, the group had just the right sound to record the song, a tune which became a perennial fan favorite, boosting the band to tour all over America. They even performed once for the Rat Pack—Frank Sinatra and other stars who dug the beach music energy. ... (read more)

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Living Better

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Truth About Your Addictions: A Holistic Solution
by Ellen Gardner
Xlibris


"No one is an addict/alcoholic. Everyone is a child of the Creator, the universe, or God, whatever you name it."

In 126 pages, this book explores the basics of addictions with a focus on the importance of a higher power, whatever that higher power is named. Faith is seen as the most important foundation for everyone, and such faith is what will help one on the journey of recovery. Yet another premise is that addiction is a natural phenomenon of a “profound, unmet need.” The book also explores the treatment program that the author founded: Arizona Pathways. Another pertinent chapter is about the problems of recovery programs and how the Arizona Pathways model of finding natural highs through love and acceptance is the model that is needed. ... (read more)

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Inner Musings

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Vice and Virtue
by James Sedgwick
Xlibris


"The burden of positivity is taxing—and unfortunately it is such a necessary tenant to charisma, and so crucial to the success of casual relationships…"

Sedgwick’s cerebral novel is both the story of Yakob Yaplomsky, the barfly known for his skills in discourse, and that of the narrator, Leonid, the thoughtful young man who enters a seedy bar named Shtamky’s and becomes enmeshed in the lives of its patrons. Both men find themselves enamored of the women who come and go throughout the neighboring shops and frequent discussions at the bar. Leonid is introduced to Yakob (“not an ordinary man”) by Evgeny, the aloof bartender who takes care of Yakob with more concern than the bar. Leonid immediately likes Yakob, as they both consider themselves thinking men, and Leonid spends a lot of time listening to Yakob and becoming involved in the lives of the other speakers, as well as developing an intense infatuation with Alina, a young woman working in a sweets shop. For a man like Leonid, the thrill of this new obsession leaves him rather anxious. ... (read more)

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Romance & Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Finding Hope
by Aura Polanco
Xlibris


"I am so deeply sorry, and if I could change anything, I honestly wish it were me who had lost his life and not your son."

When Kate Connor’s young son is tragically killed in a car accident, she abandons her life in New York for the calming waters and peaceful comfort of Okinawa, Japan. Here she begins to face the insurmountable grief of her only child’s death and to find a way through the suffering to acceptance and, eventually, renewed hope and joy. ... (read more)

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Simple & Complex

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hot Horse Harry
by Jerry Lee Miller
Xlibris


"Then just like a bull, Harry lowered his head. He pawed at the ground and toward them he sped."

Anger and stubbornness are frequently seen as praiseworthy attributes in storytelling, whether it be children versus adults or a protagonist versus an elusive organization that is secretly trying to help them. Miller, however, takes a different spin on these traits through Harry, a hot-headed and grumpy horse, and how these often-lauded characteristics can do more harm than good, especially in real-life situations. ... (read more)

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Learning the Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Syntactical Dictionary of Spanish Prepositions and Verbs
by Dee Eldredge and Liesder Mayea-Rodriguez
Xlibris


"The difference between fingir(1) and fingir(2) is that (1) is followed by nouns and (2) by modifier forms."

Whereas many books about learning foreign languages are content to teach vocabulary and a few grammatical tricks to avoid speaking in a broken fashion, this third collaboration between these respected authors provides the reader with a more functional understanding of verbs, adverbs, and prepositions. Containing nearly 500 pages of syntactical information, conjugations, and sample sentences, this dictionary can be a guide to a better understanding of the unique linguistic subtleties that separate Spanish students from native speakers. While some of these concepts may be confusing for those who are not experts in grammar, the first two chapters of the book explain the symbols used and give an understanding of the language and syntactical concepts used throughout the dictionary. ... (read more)

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Conservative Window

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

El Conservador: Conservative Opinions: An American of Mexican Descent Expresses His Views
by George H. Rodriguez
iUniverse


"I believe America and all its states should be cultural melting pots for all people who legally immigrate to our country."

Tejano author Rodriguez has compiled numerous essays and articles written over about the past 12 years for this work. His book is divided into four parts: Immigration and Border Security, Race and Politics, Grassroots Politics, and Liberal Politics and the Media. All these topics meld into a few signature dynamics: legal versus illegal immigration, the effect of mass migration into border areas such as the author’s home state of Texas, cultural assimilation among immigrant populations, and the bias of media sources that have the power to distort key issues. ... (read more)

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Safe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Where Is Pete?
by Judith G. Abernethy
Xlibris


"...And Pete's family had their picnics at the tree from then on..."

We want to encourage kids to love nature. And though we don't want books that frighten them, we do want children to have a healthy respect for the forest, including the inherent risks therein. Abernethy, a former sustainability educator, nails it. Her book, illustrated in forest and earth tone colors, shows and tells about a family that regularly goes picnicking to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Mother Nature while enjoying their meals and one another. ... (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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Guys Get Cooking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Bloke's Guide to Brilliant Cooking: And How to Impress Women
by Jim O'Connor
Xlibris


"The imagination’s job is to see wow pictures in your head using what you already know so you can surprise the mind."

There are hundreds upon thousands of cookbooks designed to help men succeed in the kitchen and make a strong first impression with ladies, but they take a typical approach: simple dishes, flashy presentation, and trivia to drop casually in order to sound informed. This book stands out because it empowers and encourages blokes (of both the male and female variety) to follow the bloke’s code—using one’s senses and instincts to feel through the cooking process and create wholly unique dishes that excite as much as they nourish. Without a single recipe within its covers, readers of this book will learn a brand-new way of cooking using adequate preparation beforehand, compartmentalizing tasks, and envisioning the finished product and working backward to deduce all the required steps. ... (read more)

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Mystery for Kids

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lumpa-Rupper
by Tina Heinrich
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"I think maybe we will have some luck and catch the Lumpa-Rupper today. It always makes a mess of my hard work."

Fee-Bee, usually just called Fee-Fee, is an adorable small dog with long ears, long tail, and a sausage body that rides low to the ground. Her owner, a hard working somebody who is the narrator of this story, admires Fee-Fee’s many skills. For instance, the dog is a very energetic chaser of balls and rabbits. She’s obedient and will come when called, as long as her owner uses the word “treat” when summoning her. She will sit on command, too, as long as her owner reaches down and presses on her rear end while she’s giving the “sit” command. One of Fee-Fee’s skills is helping with housework. She happily picks up toys, although her owner admits that, “she is not always very nice to the toy.” ... (read more)

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Hard Truths & Wisdom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Flopsy and Flathead
by Tina Heinrich
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Our poor chicken died
to prove that to you.
So, thus is the tale,
every bit of it true,
Of how we got
our chickens two."

The author’s observations of raising Rhode Island Red chickens is the central theme of this charming children’s story. What Heinrich calls a “poetic tale” reads more like a children’s rhyming poem versus a standard children’s picture book. The book is a direct result of the author’s outside-in involvement, watching and hearing from her children about the daily musings of the goings-on of the chickens. She recounts the events that take place between the day her husband brings home the chickens to the day they are left with only two. ... (read more)

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Wistful & Knowing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reaching Out to Kindred Souls: A Collection of Poems and Drawings and a Place to Your Own
by Rosa Mae
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Why must I suffer the spectral range I see?
From one end to the other
Of this sickening, joyous, heart ripping, heart leaping ride"

After having shared her work among close friends and loved ones, the author of this brief collection of poetry is publishing it to a wider audience for the first time. Containing a dozen poems, 15 illustrations, and a segment in the back of the book for readers to use however they like, this book will stimulate the mind, the eye, and the imagination. ... (read more)

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Refocusing on Bible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Modern Errors about the New Testament
by William van Leeuwen
BookVenture Publishing


"“...the ecumenist’s goal of unity through a common Bible has fallen far short of its idealism. The goal was laudable... the means poorly and illogically executed..."

The New American Bible is approved for current use by Catholics. A devout Catholic, the author espouses that the church fathers may have compromised their teachings when producing this ecumenical version with the Protestant (Separated) Brethren. He begins by using his many years of research to provide a thorough background of general issues facing early Christian believers in choosing the best texts for translation and inclusion. With illiteracy the norm in early church ages, only a few trustworthy historians were acceptable to validate the source texts. These respected histories were written by Flavius Josephus (93 AD) and St. Eusebius (300 AD). The first verbal gospel was delivered by Peter as he spoke to the two thousand people assembled in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Each time this gospel was retold, it was altered slightly to suit the hearers—for example, when Paul made his point about the one true God to the Greeks in Athens. The Apostles and the early teachers expected the Lord’s return within their lifetime, so they felt no immediate need to record these accounts. ... (read more)

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Action-Packed Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Creatures from Spark Stone Mountain
by Beauford Averette
LitFire Publishing


"Alien visitors began disturbing the tranquility that had existed on Exvascia."

An action-packed fantasy of grand proportions, this latest book by Averette ties up loose ends that were set into motion in earlier volumes of his Adralack Trilogy while creating new and intriguing complexities and challenges. Averette’s far-reaching story takes place in multiple locations, from Earth to a dwarf planet named Exvascia. As the book opens, a diverse team of dedicated survivalists is living near Spark Stone Mountain. While life may seem relatively normal to most of Earth’s inhabitants, Art, in charge of overseeing the Denver mining operation, is facing the evil spirit known as Isaku which lurks in his Denver mine. Delbert and his other companions are alert to the danger that threatens all. The ensuing battle for dominance on several critical fronts will result in an even greater threat, including an explosion powerful enough to throw the dwarf planet off course. ... (read more)

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Joys & Fears

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Not Without a Fight
by Donna Redman
Trafford Publishing


"But I feel betrayed by my body, the body that I’ve always tried to take such good care of. I feel guilty because I must have done something to cause the cancer."

Redman’s affecting memoir begins by exploring her daughter Tammy’s personal belongings. The memories that surface from them recall those happy moments and achievements in her daughter’s youth. Redman’s loss of her daughter to cancer motivates her to share how their lives irrevocably changed since Tammy’s diagnosis with a rare cancer called angiosarcoma. As a cancer survivor herself, Redman recounts the joys and fears of being with Tammy in the last years of her life, watching her daughter suffer while doing all she could to provide support, strength, and dignity. ... (read more)

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Beauty with Fangs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They Couldn't Stop the Butterfly
by Poet
Xlibris


"Sugar Bake Baby put the men on an iron plate, and then slid the plate into her brick oven."

Freud would have a field day with this collection of short poems and essays, which embody penis (and vagina) envy, ambivalent love relations, and sexual fantasies as well as cruelty, revenge, and murders… lots of murders. A flavor of true crime seeps into many essays, evidence that Poet used to work for law enforcement, and the majority are seasoned with creative acts of vengeance against the opposite sex. A “vagina became sharp blades” that ate her lover, and in another, a penis “absorbed everything from Lorna’s body,” leaving only her skin. People die from fire, knives, bullets, poison, exsanguination, and some uniquely creepy methods. ... (read more)

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Moving Forward

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Africa's Diabolical Entrapment: Exploring the Negative Impact of Christianity, Superstition and Witchcraft on Psychological, Structural and Scientific Growth in Black Africa!
by Frisky Larr
AuthorHouse UK


"In a nutshell, Africa today shows many elements of early centuries of the civilized world that have long been confined to the dustbin of history."

Africa is prevented from fully joining in the technological age by forces from within and without. From within are traditional beliefs in animism, witchcraft, wizardry, and sorcery which so afflict the culture that young children are sometimes put to death for the slightest suspicion of sorcery. Meanwhile, adults continue to embrace mystical, shamanic convictions that dictate almost every aspect of life. From without are the so-called "Christian" preachers—greedy charlatans who bleed the pockets of the poor for personal gain. Highlighting some of the worst abuses, journalist Larr cites the unfair advantage given in legal cases to those appealing to ancient, unsubstantiated strains of sorcery as well as the shameless chicanery of preachers like one who defended himself by saying that his money-grubbing was just “pure professionalism.” As long as these holdovers from the past keep their grip, Larr asserts, Africans cannot benefit from new scientific advances and the technology required to sustain them. ... (read more)

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