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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and gets their book reviews in front of more than 14,000 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
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Thomas Jefferson
by Christopher Hitchens
HarperCollins


"He was generally thought to be the better writer and the finer advocate: one might wish to have seen a Franklin version [of the Declaration of Independence]—which might at leave have contained one joke—but it was not to be."

Although the iconic Thomas Jefferson has been unveiled by many historians, he was never an enigma. Known as the author of The Declaration of Independence and to some degree as the first great expansionist U.S. President, he embodied the dichotomy of the new American: a man who held fast to his ideals and liberty and who rose to the heights of erudition while sinking to the depths of politics. He was the most desired person at a party and among the least desirable as an enemy. He was perhaps the perfect subject for journalist Hitchens, who could tee-up any argument and make one pay for a mistake in the debate. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

The Art of the Craft

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Notes from a Printmaker: Essays, Images, and Interviews
by Bob Tomolillo
Park Press Printers

reviewed by John E. Roper

"The renewed interest in printmaking has caused an eruption of alternative viewpoints to enter the discussion, including the validity of the printed image and its ability to inform and dictate new trends in society."

To the uninitiated, printmaking is frequently viewed as a profession peopled by trained craftsmen rather than a realm where the artist can also make his mark. But as the author so vividly makes clear through examples from both the past and his own background in the field, the skill and thinking behind the successful design and implementation of a print is a valid, if at times misunderstood, art form in its own right. The print studio can be a place where the expert craftsman and the accomplished artist can successfully collaborate to produce masterpieces. And, like all serious art, the print can also be a force in societal change. ... (read more)

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A Life Lived Forward

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Monk's Journey
by Walter (Monk) Reynolds
The DubHouse

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"In the meantime, Charlie had another drink and went to bed. How anyone could sleep after committing such a despicable act is beyond understanding."

Every life is a story. Autobiographies and memoirs are vehicles for recording them. While it is true that humans are all basically the same, circumstances, experiences, and how people deal with the world around them is what truly makes individuals different and in a way original. Reynolds story is true and begins in rural Florida, 1939. At first, there is almost the hint of a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn quality to the life that is about to be shared. However, this is no tall Mark Twain tale being spun. This is the beginning for a boy who will experience fear, and pain, and darkness, not just in the pages of a book, but rather in the real world around him. ... (read more)

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Excellent Stories

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Bonds of Love & Blood
by Marylee MacDonald
Summertime Publications

reviewed by Caroline Blaha-Black

"What was wrong now had been wrong in the beginning. She had married Ashok out of necessity."

In her collection of twelve brilliantly-written short stories, MacDonald explores the pain and beauty of human relationships. MacDonald’s writing is raw and visceral, creating a strong emotional connection between her characters and the reader. The stories ring true when it comes to the many experiences and nuances of human relationships, such as love, divorce, and physical distance. The author, who is a winner of several literary prizes, delivers rich, full characters, who hold our interest and refuse to leave us until the end. ... (read more)

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The Mysteries of Life

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The Crossbow Code
by M.C. Raj
Panther House

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Kris gave an open invitation for tittle-tattle. Blessed gossip. Harbinger of human hope. Sluice gate of uncontainable truths."

There is a relatively straightforward story—a classic plot—within the pages of Raj’s novel. Readers will be compelled to see where this tale is going and how it will end. The real delight of this book however, is the journey to get to that end. It is with lilting language, imaginative sojourns, and memorable characters. ... Kris is a young man from India who shows up at the Vatican and is arrested on suspicion of terrorism. His two Muslim wives intercede with the Pope. Kris is released and granted a papal audience. Then the Pope winds up dead. Thus begins a fevered flight from the long arm of the law, the slow unraveling of a sinister conspiracy... (read more)

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A Riveting Read

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What She Knew
by Nadine Galinsky Feldman
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"If I could wish for anything, it would be for you to find balance... to know who you are without the trappings of outer success."

Shocked by the announcement at a Wall Street firm that federal agents have arrested Bernie Madoff for securities fraud, money manager Liz Nabor is also taken aback when her boss asks her to use unethical practices to procure a takeover during this troublesome period. Concurrently, Liz gets word that her estranged Aunt Eddie in Washington is dying and requests her presence. A tumultuous chain of events occur while Liz is on the west coast waiting for her aunt's impending death... (read more)

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Navigating the Patent Process

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The Patent Jungle: The Inventor's Friendly User Guide
by Leon Cooper
90 Day Wonder Publishing

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"That seems to be the essence of the American spirit, that there's always a less costly way, a better way, and lately, a greener way..."

Confused about the difference between trade secrets and trademarks? Not sure whether you need a utility, design, or plant patent? This is the right book for you. Cooper offers a succinct overview of patents and how to obtain them. His easy-to-understand language and straightforward approach is ideal for beginning inventors who aren't sure which step to take next to turn their visions into realities. Readers will gain valuable advice on how to consider their patent applications in light of the possible challenges to the patent's validity. ... (read more)

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Modern Family

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Second Thoughts, Second Chances
by D.C. Moses
Xlibris

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Viktor took another good long look at all the Clinton Street his eyes could take in. 'Where have all the immigrants gone?' he hummed to himself."

First generation children of Polish immigrants to the U.S., Mitchell and Viktor Kipnis have reached retirement age. Mitchell’s declining health leads him from the West Coast, where he led a successful career in aeronautics, back home to Thompsonville to live with his cousin Viktor. Paul Kipnis, son of Mitchell, now in his thirties, is also there. Mitchell and Paul are soon introduced to Corrina, a vibrantly attractive adoptive daughter of Viktor's, now in her twenties. ... (read more)

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Ordinary Life Through God

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Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary
by Melinda Worth Popham
iUniverse

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D. Min., ACSW, LMSW

"Most of the time I go around on the default setting of myself - the one that says I'm a very nice person. Thoughts matter, all those judgmental, gossipy, mean-spirited, one-down, depressing thoughts I have, but they don't count against me - against my self-image, I mean - the way what I do does."

A story of one woman's triumph over adversity, this autobiography is infused with Popham's religious and spiritual beliefs and her encounters with divinity. The topics explored are ones that most people experience: love, loss, loneliness, death, trauma, pain, joy, happiness, sadness, fun, abandonment, and creativity. The author paints a descriptive picture of what was missing in her life—a needed connection to the blessed and holy through pain—what she relates to as the Miracle Go of her spiritual life. In a heartfelt manner, she examine's her own thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. ... (read more)

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A Soldier's Story

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Shot Down
by Steve Snyder
Sea Breeze Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"While standing there, Minet glanced over at the trucks and saw Joseph Simon in one, his face bloodied, and realized the worst had happened; the Americans had been discovered."

Howard Snyder, pilot of the B-17 Susan Ruth was "a little apprehensive" when he learned that he and his crew would be taking the same position in flight formation of a bomber that had been lost in a similar raid on Frankfurt four days earlier, but he had learned in the few short months of training and combat to not let fear and nerves affect him before a mission. However, February 8, 1944, would prove to be a fateful day for the plane's crew and their families stateside when the Susan Ruth was suddenly "shot down" over Belgium. ... (read more)

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Lets Visit Morocco

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Spin the Globe: The Incredible Adventures of Frederick von Wigglebottom (Mysteries of Marrakech)
by Edward Moldenhauer
Trafford Publishing

reviewed by Trafford Publishing

"Here in Morocco, we are proud to keep the traditions, customs, and our way of life alive."

In mind of young armchair travelers, Edward Moldenhauer's Spin the Globe books focus on taking readers on exciting adventures around the world. Creative stories are fashioned from a night time ritual where Moldenhauer's children spin a globe, then randomly select the destinations for his fictional character Frederick von Wigglebottom's travels. This time Frederick lands in a bustling Marrakech marketplace where he meets the young Muslim girl, Yasmine. Dressed in traditional tunic and hijab (head scarf), she is happy to introduce the sights, sounds, and flavors of Morocco to this visiting traveler. Yasmine and her friend Azerwal prove well-rounded guides, sharing informative facts about the... (read more)

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Donkey Time!

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Donkeys Are Special and So Are You
by T.W. Krueger
Donkey Publishing

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"Anna poked her head through the small opening between the fence and the gate to reach for her prize. Can you guess what happened next?"

What do donkeys and children have in common? They both get into a lot of silly trouble! Luckily, the donkeys in this book always learn from their mistakes. Donkeys are Special is a book of nine short stories about the miniature donkeys of Brayfields Farm, and the many adventures they get into. The stories introduce a cast of donkey characters, each with his or her distinct personality, like the energetic Marcy May, the curious Kami and Shelby, and the reliable Mr. Glo. The book presents each donkey and shows how their personalities and curious natures sometimes lead them into pretty sticky situations. Whether a donkey has her head stuck in a ladder or eats a few too many treats, each story ends with a clear lesson spelled out for the readers. ... (read more)

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Issac's Road

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Twenty-Four Shadows
by Tanya J. Peterson
Apprentice House

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"As it always did to him, the depression pressed down from every angle imaginable and, ruthless, it didn't stop on the outside but penetrated him in every way possible."

Isaac Bittman has had "episodes" his whole life, moments gone from his memory preceded and followed by intense, crushing headaches. Lately, though, they've been getting worse. The fifth birthday of his son and the breakup of his best friends, followed by losing his job, are the last straws that send Isaac down a road toward discovering a truth that will change his life—and the life of his loved ones—forever. ... (read more)

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Journey to the East

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By Your Deeds
by Boston Teran
High Top Publications

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Before the world, or fate, or time, or wounds suffered in war blind me, I want to see. I am desperate for the seeing."

Award-winning author Boston Teran electrifies readers with nonstop action and adventure as the main character, Harlan Gamble, travels throughout Europe, including Paris and Berlin, en route to Mongolia, possessed by his quest to find the Almsgiver Castle, an ironic moniker for the grave of brutal ruler, Genghis Khan. Being mindful of pace and utilizing a free-flowing writing style, Teran easily captures the readers’ attention. However, the audience’s focus is undoubtedly held by the depth of each character. ... (read more)

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Challenging Love

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Inceptions: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Then I briefly thought about past women and quickly barred them from my brain. He was mine! He wanted me!"

Kate Quinn's life went into a downspin in a hurry. In her late 20's, Kate works as an in-home nurse with a family that loves and respects her while she also has to deal with criticisms from her own family, whom she still lives with. Topping this all off is Scott, her one and only boyfriend of six years who, as Kate has just discovered, is cheating on her. Kate cuts Scott off immediately and tries to deal with her problems with the help of two friends: Pepper, her headstrong dance instructor best friend, and alcohol. Scott is trying desperately to win Kate back, but what neither of them counted on was Robert Beckham, a police officer friend of Scott's that has been interested in Kate since they first met. ... (read more)

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A Well-Told Web of Mystery

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Forsaken Oath
by V.S.Kemanis
Opus Nine Books


"It didn't take more than a fraction of a second. With the stealth of a heat-seeking missile, Asante's dark eyes shifted, aimed, and found their target. Dana returned the gaze."

Assistant District Attorney Dana Hargrove is just over a week away from a blissful, well-deserved vacation when the disasters start piling up. First she's issued a summons to a trial inconveniently scheduled during her vacation, then a fellow attorney's case turns into a media nightmare, and before she knows it that vacation suddenly seems very much out of reach. Struggling to juggle her business and her private life, Dana must face a threat to her practice and her reputation, and still manage to clear everything in time to relax in the sun with her loving husband and kids. ... (read more)

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Your Health Attitude

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Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare
by Dr. John R. Patrick
Attitude

reviewed by Jennifer Weiss

"A large part of the future of healthcare centers on the adoption of electronic health records. "

For some people the healthcare system could be something that is difficult to understand, Dr. John R. Patrick unravels the complexity of the American healthcare system in a way that is easier to understand. He addresses the theory that improving the healthcare system is a matter of attitude not money or even technology. Patrick has developed a strategy for healthcare reform which would include a greater focus on the patient while exploring the newest technology that could make a major difference in the field. He focuses on topics like cultural, attitudinal, technological barriers, pros and cons of Obamacare, high cost reasons, and the patient based movement that is already starting to happen today. ... (read more)

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The Kate and Robert Romp Continues

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You and I: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"My Robert showed me his vulnerability, and it was me. I meant so much to him as he did to me."

For Robert and Kate Beckham, the wedding is over and the honeymoon is about to begin. Fresh from their hurried matrimony in Las Vegas, the newlywed Beckhams head to San Diego for some alone time full of relaxation, sightseeing, and plenty of physical intimacy. Focused on her husband—the over-possessive, at times frighteningly intense, madly in love police officer Robert—Kate is interested only in showing her love and passion for her new husband. Pleasant times in San Diego are over in a matter of days, but Kate has her wedding reception followed by an extended honeymoon across the Atlantic to meet Robert's parents to look forward to. In the blink of an eye, the couple are off, and Kate falls in love with the natural beauty of Ireland. Also to her advantage, Robert's mother, family, and seemingly the entire village take a shine to her immediately, and she becomes a popular addition to the scenery, serving as a matchmaker to those around her stuck in unhappy relationships as she once was. ... (read more)

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Maelen's Journey

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Etched in Fire
by Beth Hudson
Alban Lake Publishing

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"As they sat in the house, shuttered, locked, and yet unsafe, the world was darkening around them. Maelen's comfortable life warped around her like an aging boat, sinking her into deep, relentless waters."

Bravery comes in many forms. There are those who fight, and there are those who make difficult decisions. For Maelen Saltbearer, bravery comes in the form of a passionate fire that burns deep within her. Maelen has always been a headstrong child, but poor timing and terrible luck throws her into a situation that awakens the fire inside, as well as another power she didn't even know she possessed. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Love and Death in Venice
by Bonnie Hoover Braendlin
Langdon Street Press

As soon as this story begins, we have a clear view of the drama this book has to offer. Chibuogu, a Nigerian woman who used to work as a prostitute in Rome, is given a second chance at independence and a happy life in Venice. However, a man named Tarek Duka is presently interrogating and beating her severely, looking for the location of a woman named Earta. Duka's actions may be surprisingly grounded in honor.... (read more)

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Blood Matter
by M.V.Ghiorghi
Divertir Publishing

M.V. Ghiorghi delivers a big story, bound by murder, elicit bargains, and rough justice. It begins with the execution of a hopelessly unredeemable and violent man on death row, but not before one last bloody act of revenge and a curious connection between the condemnded man and one of the execution’s witnesses. Soon we are swept one hundred miles away, as a woman gives birth in isolation and drops the hated child on the railroad tracks. ... (read more)

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