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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Reviews

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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of 17,000 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
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grape Olive Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture
by Matt Goulding
Harper Wave/Anthony Bourdain Books


"You can tell how serious a culture is about an animal by how thoroughly they butcher it."

Spain is a conundrum. Married to the past, modernized by the European Union, unified and fractured by blood and history, it is a country that embraces both common and diverse cultures with grace. It’s a happy family about to burst into a bitter feud at any moment, but the food and lifestyle that surrounds it is as good as it gets in Europe while coming off as deceivingly simple. This landscape is covered in Goulding’s excellent tour of Spanish food and living from top to bottom and east to west. However, the book after all is titled, Grape Olive Pig, and so let’s begin there, folding in Goulding's observations along the way. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Taking Care

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Treasure of the Magical Mine Moppets
by K.J. Blocker
Mindstir Media


"And that would mean that Withers was both crooked and intelligent, a terrible combination. It was easier when criminals were stupid."

If one were categorizing, Blocker’s book would probably fall into what’s often known as middle grade fiction—fiction that’s best read and enjoyed by children somewhere in the age range of 8 to 12. That certainly doesn’t mean that younger kids wouldn’t enjoy it as well, particularly if the book is read to or with them. In fact, time being spent between parents and children is at the heart of this fantasy adventure, which is grounded in real world scenarios. ... (read more)

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The DOXA Method for Self-Understanding

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Passion Spirit Purpose: 3 Formulas to Introduce the DOXA Method to Empower You to Love Your Life
by Ana Weber
Balboa Press


"Every puzzle we encounter, every challenge that calls for our creativity, lets us build part of a new foundation of self-esteem and self-love as we take ownership of our actions and solve the mystery."

In 157 pages, twenty-two chapters, an appendix, and endnotes, the author explores how to grow through a sense of empowerment. The initial chapter, which focuses on using the DOXA way, sets the stage for the rest of the book. DOXA is about Desire, Outstanding, Xing, out the impossible, and Allowing you to be you. This chapter leads to others on mysteries, desire, and living in the now of DOXA. Other chapters include your purpose, intentions, learning and growing, freedom, your metaphorical grocery bag regarding taking an inventory of your day, and a cautionary tale regarding relationships. ... (read more)

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Global Forest Concerns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Global Environmental Awareness on Climate Change: Forest Protection: Wildfire Science Manual, Volume I, Part I
by Dr. Andreas Tertey Gboloo
Mindstir Media


"The future of our climate largely depends on essential carbon-guzzling forests. The forests are the key stores and facilitate in the sequestration of carbon compounds on the planet."

Gboloo recognizes that protecting our planet from the devastation of wildfires is a daunting task. Our forests are vital for preserving life on Earth, yet millions of acres succumb to the flames annually. With this sobering fact in mind, the author has brought his extensive education and years of related experience—”including working in Africa as a United Nations consultant in forest fire prevention and control—to bear in creating a comprehensive manual too address the problem. ... (read more)

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True Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Your Behavior: Understanding and Changing the Things You Do
by Richard H. Pfau
Paragon House


"Knowing that what you perceive is a construct of your brain may help you realize that different people often perceive reality differently. As a result of their differing perceptions, they may act differently. Furthermore, you can change how you view the world, to some extent at least -- a realization that if acted upon, can change your life for the better."

There are many self-help books out there, and many focus on only one aspect of your behavior: Become a more motivated person, find true love, stop overeating, etc. Few books examine the human being as a complex mechanism, and fewer still take the time to understand the underlying causes for our behavior. Your Behavior spends only one chapter on explaining how to change your behavior, with a majority of the book focused on explaining why you act the way you do. The result is a brilliantly organized trove of knowledge that will leave readers with a better understanding of what makes us tick. ... (read more)

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Thinking Beyond the Hype

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It's All Just a Sales Pitch: Why We Believe What We Believe
by David T. Garland III


"Before taking advice, consider the source."

The author, a salesman/consultant, wants us to discern deceptive sales pitches in all areas of life and understand why we are susceptible to such pitches. Once our basic human needs are met, we pursue our wants; that makes us the willing dupes of every kind of “pitch”—for material goods to religion to a political party. And in symbiosis with our gullibility is our ability to convince, deceive, and manipulate others into buying what we’re selling. Garland shows us how, as babies, we soon develop a pitch for attention and basic needs—the scream. Later, confronted with the word “no,” we develop more subtle pitches to overcome resistance. Growing up, we learn to pitch ourselves in order to be members of a group and find a mate. A successful sales pitch nearly always involves “a misrepresented truth,” so Garland asks us to consider: what is truth? What we take as truth is actually only true “circumstantially.” Advertisers know this, and manipulate facts to make us feel that we need something that enhances our image of ourselves, making us feel we need it now. ... (read more)

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Help You Grow

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Night Blooming Jasmine in Your Heart
by Marie Helena
Dawn Light Press


"We live on a verdant, lush planet of infinite possibility. We are surrounded by fascinating individuals, each with his or her own preferences, experiences, values, feelings. Everyone has a story to tell."

Through a concise collection of elegant, narrative prose, this mystic-themed guide beckons the reader to amend his or her way of approaching daily challenges by making a psychological shift in thinking. Revolving around the representation of the jasmine plant, whose blossoms open in darkness, each chapter serves as a kaleidoscope of poignant, inspirational messages. The opening passage introduces the premise of discovering the beauty within oneself when one chooses to recognize and appreciate the existence of beauty in all things. This initial chapter sets the pace of the book, which persuades the reader to examine each word with precision in order to engage in an emotional exploration of self. ... (read more)

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Protecting Our Forests

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Global Environmental Awareness on Climate Change: Forest Protection: Wildfire Science Manual, Volume I, Part II
by Dr. Andreas Tertey Gboloo
Mindstir Media


"We should not look for excuses but look for how we can mobilize our people and governments... a journey of a thousand miles, starts with a step."

Scientifically proven facts are indisputable, but that hasn't stopped climate change deniers from trying. Much of the controversy regarding climate change stems from the recalcitrance of corporations to adhere to stricter emissions standards, which, consequently, is born of the fear of lower profits. Dr. Gboloo argues in favor of a different approach that doesn't undermine private sector profits, but does have the potential to make a major impact on the future of the planet.... (read more)

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Superb True Crime

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Familiar Evil
by Rannah Gray
The Lisburn Press


"As he revealed more about Scott Rogers, I began to realize that Scott was even more dangerous than what I knew."

Scott Rogers had an uncanny ability to get people to like and believe in him. In England, parents entrusted their children to him, not simply in the role of students at his performing arts academy but also as houseguests for sleepovers. In the United States, he cast his spell on members of his flock at the church he established with himself as pastor. Government officials and representatives from local and federal law enforcement agencies also succumbed to his influence. As the host of a local cable TV show, Rogers even managed to charm many of the residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that he had never met personally. Of course, no celebrity is popular with everyone, and there were some who recognized the manipulation that lurked beneath his public persona. The author was one of these individuals who saw this and also sensed there was something else not quite right about the man. But it wasn't until she received a disturbing email from an unknown correspondent in England that she began to see just how dangerous Rogers was. ... (read more)

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After the War

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Healing
by Mark Hardage
LitFire Publishing


"The two men stood there on the banks of the Canadian River, crying like little babies. No holds barred. Raw, unabashed and unashamed emotion spilled out from both of them."

War is devastating. It rips the hearts out of families, communities, and countries. Hardage captures the raw emotional journeys of the Crockett family and their closest friends, the Willinghams. They all desperately beckon normalcy to return in the wake of tragedy, the death of Navy Seal, Travis Crockett. During his first year of military service, Travis Crockett, a Navy Seal has died in a fire fight in Afghanistan. Longtime family friend, Chaplin Charles Willingham, is haunted by the fact he introduced Travis to a Navy Seals career. Willingham and his wife, Teresa, make an impromptu visit to the Crocketts as a mission of reconciliation. ... (read more)

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A New Legend of Americana

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Legend of Higley Flow...: A Retrospective
by Richmond LaFayette Holton
Outskirts Press


"'I’m neither poet nor writer, but I do have plenty to say. I am the only living eyewitness to the Legend of Higley Flow.'"

In the upstate New York countryside, there is a folk legend of a monster living beneath the waters of the Higley Flow State Park. Unlike the camera-shy Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster, the mysterious creature living in Higley Flow is known to be predatory, and for over a century many people and even ships have disappeared in the area, never to be seen again. The most recent disappearance is that of a young woman by the name of Cass Landau and her pet pug Ruby. While walking through the park grounds, the two of them go missing, leaving almost no trace aside from Ruby’s dog tag. Local amateur historian, community figure, and Boy Scout troop leader Bernard Tyler Binghamton, known by all those around him as either “Bing” or “Uncle Too-tall,” unwittingly becomes involved in the legend himself. ... (read more)

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To Live Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books


"'Do you fellows want to live as long as civilization on earth exists?' Dalton said in precise unhurried words, while smoothing down his thick crop of silver hair. "

It's the 22nd Century and people no longer need to die—at least that is what John Dalton, a retired billionaire, wants to prove. After convincing his friends, all of whom are also past their prime years and billionaires, to join him, the men seek to clone their DNA while retaining their memory. The Reborn Project, as Dalton calls it, is not only morally questionable, but illegal. Still, the men press on, finding a way to take over the financially strapped IMS (The Institute of Medical Science). After a few missteps, John Daltons' reborn operation is a success and his old memory is placed into a younger clone, JD Dalton. But not everyone is happy about the Reborn Project and soon JD must deal with death threats. Legitimizing human cloning won't be as simple as Dalton had once thought. ... (read more)

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Overcoming the Moment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Backwards K
by J. J. Hebert
Mindstir Media


"Tim, this is Jet Brine. The dad points to me like I'm an animal in a zoo. 'He was big when I was growing up.'"

Jet Brine is an ex major leaguer. He was great at his craft, but for most fans, his career was cemented in ignominy as the guy who took a called third strike that ended his team’s quest to win the World Series. Now he rattles around memorabilia-sales events and tries to come up with rent money by gambling in casinos. At a low ebb, he finally decides to try a real job working in an office. That experience leads to a degree of responsibility, even more irresponsibility, and a complicated relationship with a beautiful woman. The problem is, Jet just can’t seem to get past not only his final failure at the plate, but also his ultimate failure as a husband and father. ... (read more)

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Doomsday Laughs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pineapple
by Joe Taylor
Sagging Meniscus Press


"'And Dave’s old dad still breeds some now and then.'
C made to giggle at Hank’s sexual slip
'No, not more little Daves, but Dobermen.'"

In the Los Alamos desert where the atomic bombs were developed, a new threat is being created. A gravity-based weapon is being built on a secret base that can kill people in an instant and even threaten the environment. Hank and Dave are two simple guys working at the base’s loading dock who like the simple pleasures of motorcycles and women. The two women that have caught their eye are Loretta, who works on the base as well, and her friend Carmen who works secretly as a spy meant to figure out what’s going on in the desert. On their first date, they barely make it down the road before they find a bunch of teenagers involved in a car accident. Though they are able to save them, this disaster portends to what lies on the horizon. ... (read more)

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Your Success

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The DOXA Method: Transport Your Fears into Success!
by Ana Weber
Balboa Press


"When you choose in a conscious way, you own the choosing process, and you make stronger, better choices."

Noted author and business expert Ana Weber shares an expanded exploration of her strategy for succeeding in all of life’s endeavors. Her DOXA method has four essential elements: D—Desire; O—Outstanding; X—X out the impossible; and A—Allow you to be you. Weber advocates making choices to be an outstanding individual based on who you really are (and you know yourself better than anyone). Eliminate what stands in your way using intuition, meditation, and prayer (she does not specify any particular religion, but strongly recommends connection with a higher power). In explicating this method, the author uses situations from her own life. She grew up in great poverty in Romania, English is her fourth language, and as a “double immigrant” she has had to start her life over twice. She urges readers to live authentically and to “feel time” rather than “fill time.” ... (read more)

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Secrets Unraveling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poseidon's Eye
by Trisha O'Keefe
Black Opal Books


"Cautiously, he rapped on the door and then stepped inside. The place had been ransacked."

Young Los Angeles lawyer Alex Carreras seems to have the best years of his life ahead of him. Engaged to marry his boss’s beautiful daughter and just coming off of a rollicking bachelor party, he soon finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time—a young girl shot twice and left for dead by someone driving a car just like his; planted drugs; his own gun discarded at the crime scene. He’s the only suspect in what seems like both a complete setup and an open-and-shut case, save for the new detective, Murray Schmitz, who believes in Carreras’s innocence. Carreras has bail posted and then goes into hiding, heading to the small town of Diamondback City to clear his name and solve the murder of Shelby Turner. ... (read more)

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Overcoming Trauma

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Right in the Middle But Left Out
by Jeffery Trees
BookVenture Publishing


"What in the name of God was happening, and what was making me feel I was right in the middle and yet left out? Well, the truth of the matter is, almost no one lives a life without being victimized somewhere along the line."

From the start of his memoir, Trees warns his is a heartbreaking tale. ... He recounts his life, his family and work in ministry, and the lasting damages of abuse. Even as a young child, Trees' life begins with affliction. Born with a calcium deficiency, his prognosis is two years of life at best and though he survives, he is beset by the physical scar that remains from a calcium shot. This later affects his sciatic nerve (the largest single nerve in the human body) and the pain renders him unable to walk without crutches for nine months coupled with depression. A saving grace comes in the discovery of folk music, and he forms a semi-professional duet with friend and musician, Kent Locker. This sets in motion a life-long goal to entertain and spread the message of God. But one night, while gazing at the stars, he has a change of heart as the "whole universe was shouting" for him to answer a call of ministry far different from his dreams of music. ... (read more)

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The Darkness Inside

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The Forgotten Lake: A Short Story Collection of Psychological Thrillers
by A. J. Schmitz
Deep Theory Press


"It was three days after he went missing that Lana made the call. Three days. The baby had cried, and the washing machine had whirred, and she’d slept and eaten and watched TV. All before she made the call."

A man goes missing, yet his wife doesn't seem too bothered. Mysterious manuscripts keep turning up at a magazine's office. The lake by a girl's house holds the key to a memory her mind has suppressed. People seem just a bit off, a tinge more visceral than the average person—or so we'd like to believe. In this collection of 13 short stories, A.J. Schmitz draws readers into a world where guarded secrets and forbidden thoughts bubble to the surface and where the common man is at the mercy of his mind—a world unsettlingly similar to our own. ... (read more)

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The Truth Behind

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Stone for Bread
by Miriam Herin
Livingstone Press


"He hardly felt the blows that landed on him, the fists from behind, the stone that struck his cheek. Nothing mattered, only the fight and his own fierce will."

For Rachel, the initial meeting with Henry Beam starts out as a favor for a friend who has been assigned to interview the reclusive poet and needs someone like Rachel who understands literature to come along and help break the ice. A secondary reason is that the literary mystery surrounding Beam due to his publication of a controversial book of poetry sounds like a bit of R & R from her studies. But what begins as a bit of a lark becomes something else entirely as she gets to know the man and is drawn into his story. The experience will leave her irrevocably changed. ... (read more)

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Love & Mercy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Permanence
by Preta
BookVenture Publishing


"Soulmates are born on the same day, at the same time. They're supposed to die at the same time as well, so their souls can be reborn at the same time."

Mercy is the third, youngest sister, and the most daring and rebellious. She is the one who was trained by their father in martial arts and survival skills. Yet she is the only one of the three girls who has not yet encountered her destiny—her soul mate. ... In the first installment of Permanence, author Preta has created an eerie, magical world in which some people, like Mercy and her family, are marked by their differentness: They possess the ability to love completely and forever, meeting and mating with one soul again and again. The only thing that can sever this profound bond is the untimely death of one of the mates. Thus the tragic death of her father has left his soul mate, Mercy's mother, bereft of all feeling, a shell of a person who sits and stares, unspeaking. Mercy, perhaps stirred by her mother's misery, decides to take a radical way out of the family's assigned fate by going to a school ... (read more)

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True Adonis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

5am Blue
by Don Jones
Xlibris


"Right before 5:00 a.m., an amazing thing occurs that the untrained mind is unaware of….the occurrence of night turning into day."

Adonis is a light-skinned African American who was stationed in Japan for three years in the Navy. While there, the 25-year-old planned to learn judo and work as a photographer for a small magazine. Japan presented a new way of life, almost as if America and Iowa had flickered away. But he understood that focusing on real people and places he knew would dislodge such feelings. Adonis had a big ego and an aggressive sexual nature he called ‘Wolf.' Soon he demonstrated this by encounters with Lola from Italy, local Kaori, German-born Celeste, and co-worker Princess. Amazing sex was reported back by phone to his best friend. Two of these women would have a tremendous impact on his life—one of potential doom and the other as a mentor. Both were a warning that his actions had consequences. ... (read more)

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Personal Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fronds and Anemones: Essays on Gardening and Nature
by Dr. William Allan Plummer
iUniverse


"In the woodland in spring, before the trees leaf out, most of the native flowers take advantage of the sunlight streaming through the bare branches to flower and to photosynthesize."

This is a book for all nature enthusiasts, bird watchers, and avid gardeners; it is a love letter to the wonderful fauna and flora that we share the world with. In a series of bite-sized essays, Dr. Plummer presents his thoughts, opinions, and insight on a wide array of topics on nature and gardening. Each essay has tidbits of information sure to interest any nature lover, mixed in with a touch of science and a heavy dose of nostalgia and recollection on the author's part. The result is an odd but pleasing mix of genres and a book that is part bird watching and gardening companion and part memoir. ... (read more)

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The Music of Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

If Ya Wanna Know: Original Songs and Links to Youtube Woven Into a Story of Suspense
by T. R. Comstock
Xlibris


"The food I eat, it ain't the best, but it'll have to do.
I'll die of malnutrition before going back to you."

This book is definitely out of the ordinary. To begin with, the story mixes mechanical engineering with country music. As the narrative unwinds, you can not only read the lyrics to a number of country and western songs, you can also follow the links that are provided and listen to them on the Internet. ... The plot revolves around Mark, a busy young man working on a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, developing proposals for the U. S. Air Force, and writing original songs in his spare time. He’s asked to visit a government site and test a rotary machine. So he uses this opportunity to promote his songwriting vocation in Nashville. However, fate steps in. Mark is injured in an automobile accident and left in a comatose state. ... (read more)

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A Resilient Young Woman

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Montego May: The Story of a Young Girl in Jamaica Growing from a Small Girl in to Womanhood
by Lilly May
AuthorHouse UK


"She never leave me any lunch…I never had any friends except those I meet at church and in the shops."

Lilly May grew up in Jamaica, poor and alone. Everything that could have gone wrong often did: her mother died, and her father abandoned her; most of the people around her were mean at best and indifferent at worst; she was usually overworked and underappreciated. Yet her story is told with an exuberant and hopeful voice, one that seems to say simply "things were what they were." As the author looks back on her childhood and youth in her home country, she sucks readers in with her many (mis)adventures as she grows up into a strong young woman in spite of (or maybe because of) her situation. ... (read more)

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A Cliff-Hanger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Something Untoward
by Cyndiann Lewis Walcott
Xlibris


"He was real, and he said, 'Good morning.'"

June Mitchel wakes up one morning to find a stranger next to her in bed. Except, maybe he isn’t a stranger. Narrated in the first person, the novel begins with the heroine convinced she is experiencing a dream within a dream. Neither the reader nor June knows what actually happened that night. After all, June had been drinking. Still, she woke up in a strange man’s bed, naked. Soon, June remembers meeting the man next to her, Alrick Samson, the night before at a bar. While there with her friend, Jennifer, June tried not to recognize the looks Alrick had been giving her. But the primal attraction is undeniable and the author does a good job describing the immediate tension between the two characters. The dialogue is convincing, and the Canadian setting is well-drawn. ... (read more)

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A Magical Friend

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Willie the Magical Rabbit
by Carole Ann Turner
iUniverse


"...Well, I was sent here to learn about humans... How humans live and survive.” Willie began. "

When seven-year-old Dollie goes for an adventure in the woods, she sees a mysterious spaceship with colorful lights. After it crashes to the ground, Dollie rushes back to tell her mother Lena who calls Sheriff Hayes to report the sighting, but no one finds anything. Determined to find out more, Dollie returns to the same location and discovers a small black bunny rabbit whom she adopts and calls “Willie.” Willie, however, is a highly intelligent alien rabbit from Planet-R with amazing abilities. Grateful for all the kindness he receives from Dollie, Lena, and their friends, Willie not only cures Dolly when she is ill with high fever but also returns to Earth later to save Dollie’s small town from a disastrous storm. ... (read more)

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Twins of the Ever-Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Two Bodies One Soul: Brothers
by Alannah King
AuthorHouse


"He never unraveled anything about them, if anything the mystery swelled as the years went by."

The Maverick clan is about to induct two new vampires into the family: Tristen and Lukas. Although they look like small children, they are actually young men and have been in service to the Mavericks for more than twenty years. While Jak, head of the clan, has tried to help the boys age their bodies, no potion has worked. Most family members love the boys, but one clan member does not feel the same way—Maliki, Jak’s younger brother. Before the induction, Jaquelin, Jak’s sister, takes the boys into town to get new clothing for the induction party. While in Hardin, Tristen slips away for a small taste of freedom as the boys have been hidden from the outside world and forced to stay within the grounds of the Maverick mansion. While out, Tristen meets another vampire named Vincent Summerset who insists Tristen and Lukas are vampire masters of their own. How did Tristen and Lukas come to live with the Mavericks? Neither knows because neither can remember their past at all. ... (read more)

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The Perfect Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Am Wonderfully Created Prematurely
by Betty Hall
Xlibris


"I weighed one pound, seven ounces. I was little and brittle. That was me, little and brittle!"

This children’s book follows the difficult journey of a baby born four months prematurely. Weighing less than two pounds, the narrator infant details his struggles with getting enough oxygen through breathing tubes, being kept in an incubator, and going through intense eye checkups. After more than two months, the narrator gets to wear a onesie, his first piece of clothing. On the same day, the breathing tubes can be taken out and replaced with a nasal cannula. After more than a hundred days, the doctors begin to discuss bringing the child home, surprising the child who has only known the hospital all this time but exciting his family who has had to keep up faith and hope that the premature baby would be able to enjoy a normal life at some point. ... (read more)

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Family Strife and Betrayal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seduced
by Freddie R. Burnett
Xlibris


"I felt like I was attending the Black Queen's Ball, and everyone was a royal family member."

For Michael Fly, the past is a murky place. A victim of partial amnesia after a terrible beating, he has come to Chicago to stay with his uncle as he is no longer welcome in his hometown of Salem, Tennessee. Back home he was suspected of being gay and of trying to murder Milton, his vicious older brother who had sexually abused him as a child. Michael's parents have also turned their backs on him, so Chicago may be his only hope. Unfortunately, he has not left betrayal behind him. It seems Uncle Isaac may not be the caring older relative he appears to be, nor is the vivacious Ruth Ann who has captured Michael's heart as pure as she claims. Still, things may soon be looking up, since on his upcoming twenty-first birthday he is set to come into a large inheritance. The question is, will he live long enough afterward to enjoy the money? ... (read more)

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Tribute to a Genius

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pushkin's Ode to Liberty: The Life and Loves of Alexander Pushkin
by M. A. DuVernet
Xlibris


"The mumblings that were once a well-orchestrated convergence of words and phrases with a rhythm spoken from the heart were not just an eruption of blurts, grunts, and moans pouring out that cursed the ready paper, which lately had turned from a necessity to an expense."

On January 27, 1827, Alexander Pushkin, the greatest Russian poet to ever live, was fatally shot in a duel. Pushkin's life was full of controversy, passionate loves, dangerous political affiliations, and many adventures. He left behind a collection of unique writings and poetry which caught the eye of many in his time, including the Tsar himself, and are revered to this day. Named after his revolutionary poem, “Ode to Liberty,” this novel-like take on a historical figure explores the life and loves of this intriguing man. The book begins with the end, showing Pushkin as he stoically meets his dueling partner. It introduces the important players in Pushkin's life, then takes a trip back in time to explore the events which led to that fatal day. ... (read more)

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Sacrifices

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crown of Ashes
by Vanessa
Xlibris


"I was being forced to be submissive, quiet, and accepting, but I was not beaten. ...I was going to conduct my own private war."

A good memoir needs three things: an intriguing experience, exceptional writing, and emotional connection. Check, check, and check. Vanessa shares her fascinating and gut-wrenching experience of living as an American wife and mother in Syria. The upshot of Vanessa's life is that she is a hostage to her circumstances. She met a man in university in the USA, fell in love, married, and moved to Syria to make a life with him. Things go south as loneliness, culture shock, and abuse creep into her life. ... (read more)

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Path Toward Space

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beyond the Saga of Rocket Science: The Dawn of the Space Age
by Walter Sierra
Xlibris


"In any case, military missiles have always come first, civilian versions follow and are derived from them."

The first in a series of four books covering the birth, development, and future of man’s journey into space, this volume covers the earliest history of rocketry as developed by the ancient Chinese with their “fire arrows” used in combat, eventually incorporating gunpowder as an accelerant. The Wright brothers’ momentous engine-driven first flight by humans is covered as is the further development by Robert Goddard. Theodore von Karman’s experimentation with solid fuel rocketry first applied to airplanes and later to missiles, is also explored. A discussion of Soviet and American advances sandwich a pivotal discussion of the German-led V-1 and V-2 rocket missile projects. Hitler’s eventual exclusive devotion to these destructive missiles contributed to Germany’s defeat, but the American and Russian capture of German rocket technology jumpstarted both countries’ space programs. Werner von Braun’s dedication to the American space program emerges as one the biggest factors in the winning of the race to the moon. ... (read more)

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Against the Clock

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of George Lee
by Orville Mann
Xlibris


"'We don’t want to let the enemy know we are alive. He won’t tell. That would admit failure.'"

First Lieutenant George Lee is working on a top-secret project for the United States Armed Forces. An enemy of America has created a devastating weapon and is threatening to use it to cause widespread damage. Lee is promoted to Captain and sent to a remote island that he selected to work on a countermeasure that can be mounted to a satellite to defend innocent people from this superweapon. There, he is in charge of both fellow members of the military and civilian scientists and engineers—one of whom, Laura Krieger, catches his eye. With the clock ticking on saving the free world and keeping his mission absolutely top secret, George also prepares to embark on the emotional journey of marriage with a woman he has just met but is head over heels in love with. ... (read more)

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Helping Parents

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Parenting Errors: How to Solve Them
by Dr. Kerby T. Alvy
Xlibris


"Clearly, the job of parenting itself is an enormously difficult one, and it is a job that is embedded in a variety of other relationships and societal demands."

Alvy, a trained clinical child psychologist, provides a new guideline on the common errors made by new and seasoned parents alike. His primary focus here is on ineffective parenting, which he terms “multiyear parenting errors,” of which a multiyear approach affects the lifetime of a child into adulthood. He advocates the use of authoritative parenting, or “multiyear positive parenting style,” to avoid the potential negative impacts. He contrasts the eight error-prone parenting styles with the positive solutions, as well as the AAR approach: Admit, Apologize, Restitution. Alvy even addresses the different parenting styles found in various cultures and tailors solutions to fit within the parameters of those specific cultures. ... (read more)

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Bible Study

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God’s Immeasurable Grace and Mercy: A powerful look at the story of Jonah and how it correlates spiritually to the leadership in the church
by Kevin Petty
Xlibris


"God…knows we are not always in favor of doing what He wants us to do."

Petty has chosen the Old Testament story of Jonah as a message applicable for this generation’s church leadership. God commissioned Jonah as a prophet to go and warn the residents of the great city of Nineveh. Being Hebrew, Jonah felt this enemy of his country deserved judgment. He disobeyed God’s command and boarded a ship headed far away from Nineveh. While Jonah slept, a storm arose which the sailors attempted to outride or outrun. Unsuccessful, they woke Jonah up and demanded a reason for the storm. He admitted it was because he was disobeying God and advised them to throw him overboard. When they obeyed, the storm stopped immediately. Jonah’s return trip to Nineveh included a three-day ride in a fish’s belly—and a lesson learned. ... (read more)

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A Thrilling, Problem-Solving Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Crows of Spooky Wood: Book One
by Caroline Cutmore
AuthorHouse UK


"What if the folk searching all those years and years have been searching in the wrong place all the time?"

There are so many mysteries in Spooky Wood, including disappearing grave sites and now missing baby crows. Vlad, Mackie, and Tish, young crows whose father works in the crime-solving unit of the Special Operations Crow Service, along with their friend, Maggie, set out to solve the baffling happenings in the woods by forming the Scavenger Gang. The Scavenger Gang makes unlikely friends with a dog named Sniper who believes he knows where the missing babies are located and believes his owner has something to do with disappearances. However, when the young crows and Sniper arrive at the location, they find the unexpected: baby owls and no baby crows. Not willing to leave any babies behind, even in a blazing storm, the Scavenger Gang rescue the owls and return the babies to their mother. Will the Scavenger Gang ever find the missing baby crows, and what about the disappearing grave site they were looking for in the first place? There are still many mysteries ahead for these young crows. ... (read more)

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Humpty's Case on Trial

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Trial of Mother Goose
by Ricky Kennison
AuthorHouse


"Pinocchio demands to testify for the prosecution. He claims he saw the whole thing and can’t tell a lie."

The famous fairy tale character, Humpty Dumpty, claims to have been pushed off the wall instead of falling, and Mother Goose is the number one suspect. Although the case was already closed, Detective Charles opens the cold case back up. Many witnesses have been called in for both the plaintiff and the defendant after Judge Scaglia agrees to proceed with the case. Immediately, Mother Goose insists she is innocent; however, she cannot account for where she was when the horrible crime was committed. Coming to her rescue, Mother Goose’s husband claims she was with him all night, giving her an alibi. Still, many other witnesses want to testify, so the case continues. The Three Blind Mice claim to be eyewitnesses, Pinocchio wants to testify because he cannot tell a lie, and Moby Dick claims to know nothing of this fishy story. After several more witnesses, the case is closed, and Mother Goose gets set free on Old MacDonald’s farm. ... (read more)

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War and Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

2D Surgical Hospital: An Khe to Chu Lai South Vietnam
by Lorna Griess
Xlibris


"…I thought about what really mattered in life, and it wasn’t things. I had lived for a year without all the trappings of civilization."

After several flights—and two delays circling different runways to allow downed fighter planes to be cleared—Griess arrived at An Khe, Vietnam. This was her new home for the next year while she worked in Second Surgical Hospital, designated as 2D SURG, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). Anyone who has no combat experience will have trouble understanding exactly what Griess and the rest of the medical staff dealt with, but the author does an admirable job of succinctly explaining the who, why, what, and where of operating a MASH unit in a combat zone. ... (read more)

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What Goes Up

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Airplane Stories and Histories: Volume 1
by Norman Currey
Xlibris


"War—potential, threatened, or ongoing—has been the primary mover in aviation development—because defense departments provide fairly risk-free funds."

Author Norman Currey, a career aeronautical engineer and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, has produced a large, detailed, colorful look at manned flight—its history of the past 200 years and its current possibilities. American readers will learn that though the Wright brothers did indeed take the first airplane on its first flight, it was the experimentation of Englishman Sir George Cayley that facilitated the Wrights’ understanding of the principles involved. Currey examines the first transatlantic flights and the competitions that spurred such memorable pilots as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to remarkable achievements, resulting in significant leaps of progress in airplane design. He hones in on the production of planes specifically for warfare: the Mosquito, aka the Mossie, was produced starting in 1936 in a secret location in England and would eventually be used by air forces in 14 countries; the Spitfire first saw action in the Battle of Britain, followed by the Mustang, created in America for Britain’s air force in just 117 days. ... (read more)

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War & Consequence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Medal of Dishonor
by George P. Miga
Xlibris


"…your dad wasn’t fighting on that road for his country. In combat, your world narrows down to the men around you. They become your family…"

The author’s book is a historical novel set in late 1960 during the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). The main character, Spenser McCall, is a chief executive for an American oil company. Concerned about rising dependence on the Middle East’s oil supply, McCall urges his company to fund stateside sourcing. This radically changes the direction of his life, ricocheting to affect others on his team, including a lady newspaper publisher.... (read more)

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