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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

The Russian Hoax
by Gregg Jarrett
Broadside Books


"...based on this record, no other conclusion is reasonably supportable."

Thinking people remember where they were when former FBI Director James Comey gave his famous July 5, 2016 news conference absolving then-candidate Hillary Clinton of criminal behavior regarding her mishandling of secure government documents on an insecure server while Secretary of State and then covering up her error in judgment after it became evident. Let's pause for a moment and think about that sentence: A U.S. Secretary State placed an insecure server in her private residence, passing countless classified documents during a four-year period, and then attempted to hide the fact when it was exposed, and yet no clear crime was identified by the U.S. Justice Department, of which the FBI. is an entity. How could this possibly not be a problem or a clear violation of the Espionage Act at the very least if not obstruction of justice? ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

A Complicated Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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A Personal Passage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Bridge with Three Spans: An Indian Muslim Boy Lives Through Major Events of the Twentieth Century
by Zia Uddin Ahmed
iUniverse


"For a twenty-two-year-old man facing a full auditorium of students, lecturing was an experience comparable to being out in the sea struggling to keep the head above water."

Retired international civil servant Zia Ahmed offers a thorough recollection of his life, spanning three main segments: his youth in village India during that country’s independence struggles, his professional life in the new state of Pakistan as a young man, and his post at the UN before leaving public life. An early crisis he noted as a child was the Bengal famine, watching his mother culling the staple food, rice, to remove rocks and insects. A beloved brother died of beriberi. As a boy, Ahmed had seizures, cured by homeopathic doses of poisonous water hemlock. As was typical in his culture, he was sent away to school as a young teen, becoming a professor in his early twenties. Soon afterwards, he had took a civil service exam and got a job in Finance Services, not his first choice of career paths but, “I realized that ‘what has been’ has turned out to be better than ‘what might have been.’” He eventually secured work at the UN. He observed such phases on the world stage as the apartheid regime in South Africa, the inauguration of Richard Nixon, and most recently, some critical changes in Muslim society. ... (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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A Wonderful Celebration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Almost a Minyan
by Lori S. Kline
Sociosights Press


"We live in a town that has just one shul and even on Shabbos, it isn’t quite full. So mornings at seven, it’s often the case, there’s almost a minyan – except for one face."

A minyan is a gathering of ten adult Jews over the age of 13 for the purpose of prayer. In this lovely story, a Jewish girl looks forward to becoming old enough to join her father in prayers in the presence of a minyan. In their small town, she worries that on Shabbos they will be almost a minyan or just short of the required 10 adults for certain prayers and rituals. She watches her father leave each morning with his tallis and tefillin to pray, and she longs to go with him. In this, she is like any tween who is ready to be old enough to join the adults and leave childhood behind. She not only wants to join her father and make the minyan complete, but she also wants to carry on her family’s traditions and rituals. When her grandfather dies, and she is finally old enough to join the minyan with her father, she receives her grandfather’s tallis and tefillin to use. Her father tells her that his Papa’s spirit is in the prayer shawl and will wrap her in love each time she wears it. ... (read more)

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A Manhunt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Horse Killer
by Joe Kilgore
White Bird Publications, LLC


"Nothing interrupts slumber and quickly focuses the mind quite like the cold steel of a gun barrel."

Raven Comstock is a Texas Ranger wandering the countryside as crimes that require his assistance lead him. After tracking down a Mexican thief by the name of Sanchez, he is en route to bringing him to justice when they stop by an old farmhouse that belonged to an old man Raven had met before. While camping there, Raven spots a sight that refuses to leave his mind: a white horse picked apart by carrion feeders, but which was clearly murdered by repeated blows to the head. After depositing Sanchez with the Sheriff, Raven postpones an investigation into train robberies to see if he can solve the mystery of this dead horse. His search leads to a trail of similarly inexplicable murders as well as the trails of an ill-tempered ranch owner named Hiram Daniels and a Swedish man by the name of Jorgensen—the man who owned the home where Raven found the first horse. ... (read more)

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Bringing to Light

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hidden Women: A History of Europe, Celts and Freedom
by Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Lexicus Press


"New information gives glimpses into a world where women were treated better 2000 years ago than today."

What do the Celts have to do with the tax-exempt status of churches? Stewart’s book makes its way to a connection in this wide-ranging exploration of Celtic history. She begins with a song of praise to women and ends with a bulleted call to action for “going forward” to reclaim the values and cultural equilibrium achieved by the ancient Celts. Overall, the purpose of the book is to explore the hidden layers of Celtic history in Europe which can be found through archeological discoveries, analysis of Roman conquests, and a critique of the rise of Christianity. She invites readers to reconsider history by looking more closely at the role of women and of the family in the Celtic tradition. ... (read more)

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Inventive & Fresh

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beer and Gasoline
by John Knoerle
Blue Steel Press


"Feed the tyrant a credible story of evil plotting’s within the castle walls -- indeed even a half-way credible story -- and he will act accordingly."

Hal Schroeder is a long-time spy with CIA Counterintelligence that has worked with the group before it even became an officially sanctioned agency in the years following World War II. Now in 1968, he finds himself in the small town of Needles, CA, on assignment from his boss and the Chief of Counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton assigns Schroeder to Needles on a rare field assignment to investigate the disappearance of a local man named Jeremiah McLemore. McLemore operates a for-hire trash disposal business and worked as the trash hauler for Camp X, a mysterious government outpost on the Arizona side of the border near Needles. Under the alias of Army Lieutenant Richard Nolan, Schroeder befriends a young local police officer named Thomas Bell to help locate McLemore. When Jeremiah’s body is found (with the aid of a helicopter pilot-for-hire and a locally famous Native American tracker), the grisly sight sets off all manner of speculation. ... (read more)

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Powerfully Broad

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Penny For Your Thoughts: Poems of Love and Loss (Feelings Into Words)
by Sherrill S. Cannon
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.


"For if I knew ahead of time, then I
Would live my life according to its end;
And never give the present, time to try"

This collection of poetry examines love, as so much poetry tends to do, but the perspective here is unique. That romantic euphoria and devastating heartbreak are seen as two sides of the same emotion. Split up into three sections, the first and third are polar in their approach, either bubbling with affection or profound in examining what was lost or what was never had to begin with. The middle section offers a little bit of both, tying in experiences that are related to being in love or emotions that come along with a relationship or marriage. The poems themselves also cover a variety of forms, ranging from free verse to sonnets and concrete poetry to haiku. Containing over 100 poems, the poet’s musings on an aspect of life that tends to be powerful no matter how it’s experienced will emotionally reach readers of all ages. ... (read more)

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Love and Renewal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Angel City Singles
by Ralph Cissne
Morgan Road


"…'He learned… how a new life can be constructed on the foundation of what had been destroyed.'"

David is at a crossroads when he finds himself bobbing in the Pacific Ocean off a Malibu beach. There, with dolphins swimming just out of reach, possibilities loom. A peaceful drowning death lies temptingly beneath the surface, while back on shore, the potential for fulfilling life beckons. David stays afloat, and this metaphor befits his journey of reinvention from divorce in Dallas to a new life in Los Angeles. It’s 1987—an era before Facebook, YouTube, and Uber drivers of the so-called gig economy. David and a small circle of new friends ease their way through the dark margins of Hollywood. They heal wounds, bide time, stretch pennies, and seek the inner artist in each struggling soul. ... (read more)

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A Front-Row Seat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Organized Panic
by Patty Friedmann
Old Stone Press


"Because my mother was moving in with me, for Ronald's purposes I had to be careful that any changes made were not for the better. He made that clear."

Cesca and her mother are great friends. Cesca and her brother Ronald, on the other hand, are a different story. She's impulsive and intuitive; he's religious and spiritual. Ever since Ronald's Jesus Cleanup service really took off, Cesca sees him as high and mighty, and the change has caused a rift between the two. As Cesca's life gets more and more complicated thanks to a certain doctor, a family tragedy strikes and forces her and Ronald to work together. But can they actually get close again? No, probably not, but they sure can get on each other's nerves. ... (read more)

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Winning Changes Everything

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ticket
by Fred Shackelford
Black Opal Books


"Unless the ticket had fallen out of its hiding place, somewhere in the country a moving van was hauling the most valuable bookmark in the world."

Channing Booker is a gambler, liar, compulsive cheater, and abuser. His gambling habit and general recklessness have cost him a literal fortune, and it seems a foregone conclusion that they will soon cost him his wife, as well. No longer able to maintain his high-roller lifestyle, Channing’s luck has just about run out when he miraculously wins the Mega Millions $241 million jackpot. But there is one significant hitch. His wife has finally had enough and has left him in the middle of the night—with the lottery ticket unknowingly in tow. Channing knew this day was coming so he isn’t nearly as concerned about the well-being of his soon-to-be ex-wife Susan as he is with finding the ticket before the 180-day claim window slams shut. Channing now must find both Susan and the ticket quickly without any leads, and this thriller soon becomes a race against time with life-threatening consequences. ... (read more)

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Thrilling Romance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Captive Bride
by Marjorie J. Hersom
ReadersMagnet, LLC


"For the first time since Mazarro’s death, she felt a calmness envelope her. With Mazarro, she was always on pins and needles waiting for the next assault."

Maria is determined to control her own destiny after she is kidnapped from Guam and taken to the Bonin Islands in 1843. This engaging work of historical fiction brings Maria to life in all her traumatized, defiant glory as she endures the cruelty of the man who stole her and then eventually finds love with a man who cares deeply for her. ... (read more)

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Love & Guns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday
by David Corbett
Black Opal Books


"I have been dealt a bad hand, Mattie, and yet refuse to leave the table, for I am enchanted by reckless chance."

Corbett warns readers from the opening page to not look for the innocent in this story. Everybody has a history and days of reckoning with violent consequences, beginning with Doc Holliday. His story frames the action when his rediscovered letters ignite a battle for possession and ultimately revenge. ... (read more)

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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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They're Watching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Vendeka's Creed
by Anthony Aquan-Assee, M.Ed.


"#1 - Obey Vendeka at all times; #2 - Protect Vendeka at all times; #3 - Never hide anything from Vendeka; and #4 - Always respect the creed"

High school is a hard time for Jesse Biggsee. Despite his skill at computer programming and video games, he faces constant pressure from the other kids at school and even his own stepfather and brother. Desperate to fit in or at least stop the constant bullying and neglect from all but one teacher, Jesse secretly begins training to try and make the school football team. All kinds of obstacles get in the way of his reaching this goal, but none quite as persistent or aggressive as Gouchindon Rayner, or The Gouch. The son of the Minister of National Defence and the most popular kid in school, The Gouch sadistically loves to make Jesse’s life a living hell whenever possible, especially now that Jesse is trying to become a part of his football team. ... (read more)

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Protector of the Law

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Voidstalker
by John Graham
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"A voidstalker was a lone wolf, there was no room for bonds of comradeship. If Gabriel were forced to choose between the squad and the mission…He would leave them all to die."

Perhaps Ray Bradbury was right when he said, “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” That sentiment seems to be at the heart of most science fiction. If one accepts the incredible accomplishments, the extraordinary coincidences, the phenomenal capacity for birth, life, death, extinction, and regeneration on this world that we inhabit, then surely one must accept the proposition that wondrous things are therefore possible on worlds we don’t inhabit. Certainly, wondrous things are on full display in Voidstalker, a sci-fi novel that elongates the limits of its readers’ willing suspension of disbelief while keeping them anchored to very human ties that bind. ... (read more)

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Honoring Ana

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ana's Way
by Manuela Draganova
Xlibris


"She had so many questions on her mind, questions with no answers…"

Somewhere in a small, contemporary, pre-democratic Eastern European country, Ana is not who or where she expected to be. A young married mother in one moment, a single businesswoman in an unlikely line of work in another, she is also a parent, investment partner, object of seduction, daughter, lover, and friend. As she grows into her many roles, circumstances frequently shift around her, leading her eventually to California where she confronts another twist in her path and the promise of new relationships to come. ... (read more)

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War & Politics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Town 20
by Timothy Freriks
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"In my mind, I see the entire population free and happy and doing something they enjoy doing, living well, loving other people."

In the author’s latest dystopian novel, it is the year 2098, and the citizens of the totalitarian “Unity” (formerly the United States of America) have become victims of emotion-suppressing drugs, public manipulation, and a profit-driven fascist government. The Top Echelon, government officials with an elevated status, have created a false vision of the world to keep the middle-class people (“frogs”) suppressed. Brilliant programmer Markus receives clues that this manufactured world may not be what it seems. Paul Maven, a member of the resistance and assistant to a prominent member of the Top Echelon, recruits Markus to help the rebels bring down the Unity. Will Markus, Maven, and their team of outsiders succeed in destroying the fascist state, or will they be halted by another force stronger and more powerful than the Unity and resistance combined?... (read more)

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An Original Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Time Seekers
by D. A. Squires


"…Whenever the thick Atlantic fog rolls in or a nor’easter brings winter snow squalls from the ocean, The Pine School disappears altogether."

Certain literary recipes just seem to work. Stir up a handful of orphans, a spooky old house, a remote and sinister private school, some talking animals, a sprinkling of magic and mystery, and... voila! Suddenly you have a fun and original reading adventure. Alexandra and her blue and gold macaw parrot Taco are feeling gloomy when Alexandra heads reluctantly into her sixth year at the dreary and offbeat Pine School. Soon, however, the arrival of a compelling new teacher sets Alexandra and some friends on a series of adventures that bend the rules of time and alter their destinies. .. (read more)

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The 27 Club

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Turn Out The Light
by John A. Brennan
Local Gems Press


"Yes, through it all there was the music, saving me, shielding me and thrilling me."

After being born and raised in Ireland, the author of this book recounts his twenties spent in London working as a carpenter for the BBC. With a love of the musical revolution taking place in the late 1960s and the decade of the 70s, his position developing sets and stages allowed him to often sneak a view of the performance or occasionally spot a performer like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, or Jim Morrison backstage. Sharing that love of music, this collection combines letters that the author has written to deceased artists who have gone too soon, each accompanied by a photograph and a poem. This book ties together personal memories and experiences with the phenomenon of “The 27 Club,” a list of musicians who have all passed away during their fame at the age of twenty-seven. ... (read more)

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Understanding Gatbsy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Gatsby Affair: Scott, Zelda, and the Betrayal That Shaped an American Classic
by Kendall Taylor
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers


"To enjoy each other and love without inhibition was their credo; right or wrong, it made no difference."

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda Sayre, are immortalized in American history, as much for their cultural influences and unrestrained lifestyle as for his literary career. Fitzgerald’s characters were largely influenced by his acquaintances and perhaps none more so than Jay Gatsby from his now classic novel, The Great Gatsby. After relocating to France for Scott to concentrate on his writing, Zelda becomes romantically involved with a French pilot, Edouard Jozan. Their brief relationship torments Fitzgerald for the remainder of their marriage, with his wife’s betrayal establishing a theme throughout his subsequent work, and Jozan shaping much of Gatsby’s persona. ... (read more)

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A Well-Paced Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cascadia: An Epic Journey of Survival

by Darlene Weir
Xlibris


"The aft part of the pontoons lift in the air and the forward momentum causes the plane to nosedive. We watch in horror as it flips over."

Natural disasters are horrible. They are a tragic reminder that regardless of the progress that’s been made over the centuries, humankind is still no match for the volatility and violence of nature. However, they also remind us of the bravery, decency, and spirit which often shine brightest when times are dark. This novel is a testament to exceptional behavior in excruciating times. .. (read more)

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A Dark Era

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fortnight on Maxwell Street
by David Kerns
Bay Tree Publishing


"He’d found a voice that he didn’t know he had."

In 1968, Nick Weissman is a Jewish medical student on a two-week, obstetrics, house call rotation in inner-city Chicago. His patients are primarily poor and black, and for a sheltered middle-class son of local business owners who taught him to fear, this routine local training comes with its share of discomfort. Concurrent with Nick’s fast on-the-job training in teenage home births and breech deliveries, escaped convict James Earl Ray stalks and murders Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spurring violent nationwide responses that touch Nick and require life-altering decisions.... (read more)

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An Authentic Flourish

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Contest and Other Stories
by Joe DiBuduo and Kate Robinson
Tootie-Do Press


"'Look apparently it hurts you because I love art and literature as much as you love banking and business.'"

The archetypal overbearing father at odds with his son’s artistic ambitions is familiar but gets fresh treatment in this story of a fledgling literary arts magazine inherited by Peter John Rizzo. Authors Dibuduo and Robinson capture the angst that accompanies finding your own way apart from your parents. Peter is under pressure to make the magazine solvent despite his father’s refusal to support him and eventual attempts to sabotage his success. Peter, with help from a small staff, comes up with a writing contest to generate revenue for the magazine. Each issue the staff chooses a painting and invites writers to submit a story inspired by the artwork. ... (read more)

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Bold & Inspiring

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches
by Neal Katz
Top Reads Publishing


"Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of summarizing the life of a man or a woman with a simple summation. We humans are a complex species."

People are the sum of their experiences. Events pile up in a person’s life, shaping choices and chances and resulting in a jangled mix of free will and fate. Victoria Woodhull is born into suffering from a depraved father and an ensuing dire childhood of abuse, poverty, and neglect. But she forges a path out of despair with her will to reach a destiny of riches and success she believes is waiting for her to claim in the future she sees for herself. ... (read more)

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Keeping the Faith

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rising from the Dark Side of Life: One Man’s Spiritual Journey from Fear to Enlightenment
by Joseph C. Plourde
Stratton Press


"Those years were the worst...of my life, but...it doesn’t matter to me now because I just live on with peace of mind, in harmony..."

This true drama between darkness and light began with the author’s birth to a New Brunswick family as the tenth of 14 children. His father was raised Catholic and taught the children the rosary and about Jesus. His mother used a deck of cards to predict futures. Without work after the war, the family rented a farmhouse no one else wanted. As a six-year-old, Plourde slept upstairs with his older siblings. As the youngest, he went to bed first and was harassed by thick darkness and noises—something dragging across the floor and otherworldly hisses. He would dive under the covers, praying to Jesus, and stay there until his next siblings came to bed. Once others felt this evil presence, the parents found out the house was haunted and moved them back to town. Evil noises continued until his mother’s cards were burned in the stove, and the author survived a deadly illness. His father found work, and the author discovered his gift as a carpenter, like Jesus. ... (read more)

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The Regal Buffalo

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How Buffalo Lost Her Coat: A Children’s Tale from Nepal
by Belinda Dupont
AuthorHouse UK


"They set off through the foothills. It was still quite warm and Yak got very hot and sticky in Buffalo’s coat."

When buffaloes are born, they have lush, brown, wavy coats that catch the eye immediately. As they age, that coat is shed for a dull gray appearance. The children in Nepal often ask what happens to that coat, and this folktale aims to explain that phenomenon. Friendly traders from Tibet cross the mountains in order to purchase and bring back varieties of tools, clothes, and other items that can’t be found in their country. Delighted with their purchases, they need a way to transport the goods home, so they ask the calm and regal Buffalo for help. Concerned that it would be too cold for her to find water, she suggests the traders ask Yak for help. Yak agrees but before leaving urges Buffalo to lend him her coat in order to stay warm. ... (read more)

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Going Forward

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Home Alive: 11 Must Rules to Surviving Encounters with the Police
by Geoffrey Mount Varner, MD, MPH
Dr. Saving Lives


"…we, as citizens, have to go above and beyond what should be necessary in order to be sure that our loved ones make it home alive."

The title of this book is devastating. Its aggressive presumption that police encounters threaten lives and require survival strategies is at first jarring and then, once considered, essential. There on the cover is the shocking assertion that American police violence is a given, and this national wound has no working cure. ... (read more)

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Faith & Convention

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Selah: Pause and Reflect
by Sharon Dexter
Stratton Press


"Slip into the center
Where your soul is at rest
Beyond the strain
To peace and joy,
At home,
With God."

Sharon Dexter’s book of devotional poetry is aptly named. With three main sections plus introductory and concluding poems, it invites the reader to share the author’s reflections on her personal relationship with Christ. Dexter’s poetic themes reside in the everyday experiences of the believer—those extraordinary, mundane, ritualistic, magical moments that mark life on earth. It is in the common daily struggles that Dexter discovers her personal relationship with Christ. Universal struggles concerning personal motives, distractions, insecurities, and doubts are explored as the author examines her relationship with Christ and how it affects her relationship with others. ... (read more)

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Discover & Power

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For
by Sara Pascoe
Trindles and Green Ltd


"That would be one of the regrets of her short life, never getting one of those kebabs."

There is much to explore and admire within the pages of Pascoe’s magical, award-winning tale, but divulging every detail would spoil the fun of reading it. The basis of the story is a girl named Rachel Hollingsworth, or Raya, who discovers she is a witch. The young protagonist is a wise-beyond-her-years, fourteen-year-old girl who favors the goth look of black spiky hair and body piercings. Underneath that tough exterior, hidden behind the self-confident attitude, exists a vulnerable girl. Her father is dead, and her mother is afflicted with a “bad case of schizophrenia,” leaving Raya in the foster care system with a woman named Angie. Life in the foster home isn’t bad, and she reluctantly strikes up a friendship with twelve-year-old Jake. Still, Raya is determined to run away and live on her own with her new boyfriend, Tony. Their plan isn’t perfect, but Raya needs to do this while she still has her sanity. But just when she finds Tony she witnesses his irrevocable decision that sends Raya reeling and running away solo to London. ... (read more)

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Life Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seventh Dimension - The Prescience: A Young Adult Fantasy
by Lorilyn Roberts
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"Time travel is more dangerous...The chasm between the physical world and spiritual realm is becoming unstable, as Satan and his minions gain more control."

Daniel and Shale were betrothed by Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) at the end of the previous book in the series. When they return to the present dimension in Israel, they encounter bombings and danger as the Gog-Magog war begins. They run to a bomb shelter, where a rescue dog finds Shale who can speak to animals. Everyone has their unique gifts of service; Shale has the gift of hearing, and Daniel has the gift of reading minds. Dodging bombs to follow the dog, they discover a young child with her mother dead beside her. The dog reveals her name is Shira, and she has no living relatives. That’s how the newly-engaged couple becomes parents of a three-year-old in the middle of a war predicted in the Bible. ... (read more)

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Not of This Plane

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Time Framed
by Roger Chiocchi
WanderLustLit Press


"Can an interloper from the future actually change his past and, thereby, our future? Likewise, can we actually change our future and, thereby, his past?"

A boy sits on a cold dock in New England. It is Christmas 1963, and his life changes from that moment forward. Two external forces clash over the fate of seven-year-old Ship Pennfield—one force from the past, another from the future. Every 80 years since the 1620 drowning of an innocent woman, a Pennfield male has suffered irreparable loss from her spirit’s curse. Perhaps that’s why family members have developed psychic gifts. .. (read more)

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Humorous, Thoughtful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Very Little Book of Children Sayings
by Lisa Swensen
Xlibris


"A preschool teacher hiccups. A child said to her, 'You have the hookups. I'm always getting the hookups.'"

This concise collection of children’s sayings reflects the innocent sweetness and funny insights of pre-school-age kids as they correspond with their teachers and parents. Certain excerpts compel the reader to explore the interesting nuances of language. For instance, one child means to say “alligator” but instead refers to the animal as “allegory.” In another passage, a child refers to “hiccups” as “hookups.” “Figure” as a noun is mistaken for “figure” the verb, and in another, the season “fall” is mistaken for the verb “fall.” ... (read more)

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Engaging Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let Me Tell You About Angela
by Michael Ellman
Windy City Publishers


"Crayola crisp tints transcended the gray newsreel of travel, the orange of the sun glowing bright as the mid-day Sahara."

Collecting a dozen short stories, some never before published, the author of this volume shows his ability to create fascinating tales in a number of genres. From science fiction stories about a man’s transformation into a flower and a time traveler sent back to ancient Egypt to romance stories involving the recurring character Dr. Ted, an impressive breadth of scope is displayed in just a small selection. Full of magnetic personalities, honest human interactions, and outlandish scenarios, these 12 stories offer up a little something for everyone. Whether it’s an aged ventriloquist that simultaneously and indirectly drives apart and brings together two lovebirds or a mental patient trying desperately to put on a normal front, every selection offers something different than the one before. ... (read more)

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Horribu Possible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eris Adrift
by Bruce Post
Amazon Digital Services LLC


"The White House, as in building, no longer exists. It was burned to the ground a week ago. The Capitol building was blown up."

While a massive cruise ship with more than thirty decks named Eris is touring the Caribbean Sea, rioting erupts in Eastern Europe and soon spreads throughout the world. It seems that the bee colony collapse has led to mass starvation, and starving people go on a destructive rampage. Television news goes off the air, radio silence ensues, and captain and crew of the Eris realize that they are absolutely on their own. Isolated and cut off from the world, the nine-hundred passengers and crew of the Eris struggle to stay alive in a world given over to anarchy and madness. Coping with the loss of family back on the mainland, learning to live with rationed supplies, and even fending off attacks by marauding pirates are just some of the challenges these survivors must face. ... (read more)

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A Fantasy with Teeth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Above the Star: The 8th Island Trilogy
by Alexis Marie Chute
SparkPress


"If Archie can trust this creature, maybe he can finish the work his son began."

Three people, a sort-of family, have the chance for a vacation in one of the world’s most sought-after destinations—the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain. Grumpy, slightly dotty Archie is the grandfather of Ella, a young teenager slowly but surely dying of brain cancer who has lost the power of speech. Tessa is his daughter-in-law, Ella’s mother. Ever since Ella’s father Arden disappeared without even a goodbye note, the three have been miserable. Now, however, Archie secretly believes he can cure Ella by using a strange device called a Tillastrion. Arden kept notebooks in which he described this device that could move him to another dimension, a legendary “8th island” accessible only through the Canaries. But as they are boarding the ship to explore the islands, Tessa asks Archie why he has chosen this faraway location for their sojourn, and he is forced into divulging a little bit about Arden’s notebooks before sneaking off to find the place where he is sure he will be able to procure the magic Tillastrion. ... (read more)

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Hope & Honesty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss
by Alexis Marie Chute
She Writes Press


"'Be good to yourself,' she looked at me with compassion, slightly gesturing with her right hand. It was a good gesture, like the slow scattering of seeds into the wind or the tender stroke of a child’s hair."

When her son dies in her arms at birth, Chute begins the arduous process of grieving, losing herself in a Year of Distraction devoid of any desire to be who she used to be. Emerging from this lost year and pregnant again, Chute chronicles her journey to rediscover herself as an artist, wife, and mother. With lyrical, descriptive details, she captures grief and hope, heartache and joy, strain and release. In writing her story which is unique and personal, she has captured the universal process of moving through grief to arrive shaken but hopeful and thriving on the other side. ... (read more)

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Gradmother's Advice

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Woozie (AKA Grandmother) Wisdom (About Life, Sex, Love)
by Lynn Hubschman
iUniverse


"The opposite of love is selfishness."

Categorized as a family/childcare book, this body of work is more of an encyclopedia for all stages of life and understanding. That sounds dry, but it is certainly not. This is a self-help book on mental and physical health that everyone can benefit from. ... (read more)

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Graphically Great

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Resilience Birthright: Origins of Resilience
by Jessica Jane Robinson
Resilience Birthright, LLC


"Our child is the chosen one; she must survive, she will save life itself, it is her birthright."

Every superhero has an origin story that tells the tale of how it all began. This is the story of Resilience and the devastating time of conflict she is born into which will forge her destiny as a hero and hope of her people. Resilience’s early life foreshadows her great mission to save her planet and connects her to a deep ancestry of love and support. Moving seamlessly between the present and the past, the story begins with Resilience’s birth in the midst of an epic fight to save the planet Terravitae. Her father, the king, is desperate to send his wife and newborn daughter into hiding while the war rages. ... (read more)

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Practical Conservation

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Credit the Crocodile: A Tale of Two Teens ~ and Some Crocodiles ~ Triumphing Over the Politics of the African Wild
by Godfrey Harris
Consideration Books


"You really don’t understand—or worse, seem to care—about how we live."

A charming story with a serious message emerges from Happy Hollow, a village in the Republic of South Africa. The two unlikely messengers are Credit the crocodile and his croc friend Cynthia, who live happily on the Stewart Farm crocodile ranch. Credit is as smart as any person and knows how to communicate with humans. When Credit hears that two teenaged white American boys have come to “liberate” the crocs under the banner of the Animal Welfare Enterprises (AWE), he is intrigued; what are the crocodiles being liberated from, he wonders? Being twenty-five years old and quite smart, Credit knows that crocodile farms brought the crocs back from near extinction by protecting the eggs and adults from human and animal predators; judicious culling for meat and skin is a small price to pay. When the boys are sentenced to time in the bush for protesting without a permit, their education on the hubris of imposing your ideas on others without being asked begins—and so does the reader’s education. ... (read more)

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Keeping the Peace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bullets to Bandages: Life Inside the Israel Defense Forces
by Mark Terris
Xlibris


"When generals...visit, they always ask me what my secret is. My secret is the instructors...Learn from your instructors. They will train you into excellent medics."

This memoir, hinting at exposé, was first written between 1977 and 1980 by the twenty-something author shortly after his honorable discharge from active duty. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was officially established in 1948 as a conscripted army. Terris, who attended Israeli schools during his teens, was subject to this conscription. Dual American-Israeli citizenship permitted him to refuse, but he joined out of gratitude to the army which defended Israel during the Yom Kippur War. ... (read more)

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Friendship & Compassion

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A Fishy Tale
by Annie Ward
Xlibris


"Let's save this little fishy mate
From ending up as breakfast
On that stinky fisherman's plate!"

Three sisters—Paula, Anna, and Zoe—discover a beautiful silvery fish at the bottom of a fisherman’s bucket while they are on a holiday with their parents at the beach. Worried that the fish looks “sad and frightened,” they come up with a plan to rescue it and tie their hankies together. Much to the annoyance of the fisherman, Anna finally manages to release the little fish into the ocean by scooping it into her pocket and tipping it from the hankies into the waves, and all three girls feel a sense of triumph at having freed their fishy friend. ... (read more)

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Charming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bobby and Boo: Learn to Count in Chinese Too
by Kathy de Bruin
Xlibris AU


"Up in the tree,
Boo sees a hive!
The bees buzz around;
Bobby counts five."

When the sun comes up, Bobby and his cat, Boo, welcome a new, full day of fun filled with plentiful surprises and experiences. Bobby is a blue-eyed boy with spiked, blond hair. His curious sidekick is a green-eyed, grey-bodied cat with black stripes. Everywhere the pair goes, there’s an opportunity to learn something new with enjoyable surroundings and activities. Their (mis)adventures include finding a missing shoe, visiting with Oma and Opa, counting bugs and birds, and digging up dog bones. As Bobby and Boo explore, the author encourages the reader to learn and count not only in English but also in Chinese. By the day’s end, Bobby and Boo snuggle into bed with wondering thoughts of the exciting adventures tomorrow will bring. ... (read more)

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Real Nature

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The Path of the Butterfly
by Dalene Sovine
Morris Publishing


"It would take about two months from the time the class got the caterpillar until the butterfly would hatch from the chrysalis."

A kindergarten class raises a caterpillar from worm to cocoon and beyond, noting changes along the way. When the ultimate metamorphosis is complete, and a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, the children witness the joy of freedom and some harsh truths about nature. ... (read more)

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Endurance

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I Am the Product of Rape: A Memoir
by Catherine Wyatt-Morley and Jalyon Welsh-Cole
Four Pillars Media Group


"My very existence had become a lightning-rod reminder of rape. With the reemergence of pain my existence caused, she could no longer face the reality of her past. I am her reality."

Filled with family secrets, lies, and shame, Wyatt-Morley and Welsh-Cole share the heartbreaking and tragic story of their lives and how the acts of one person can affect a family for generations. We are told this story from the perspective of Catherine Wyatt-Morley, the daughter of Angela, a rape victim. Although the author did not meet her biological mother and learn her truth until much later in her life, she shares her impactful truth through this memoir. Readers are also introduced to Jalyon Welsh-Cole, the daughter of Wyatt-Morley, who illuminates how these acts of rape and sexual assault affected her generations later. ... (read more)

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Imagine Better

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Quarter Million Steps: Creativity, Imagination, & Leading Transformative Change
by Anthony Paustian, Ph.D.
BookPress Publishing


"Imagination and creative thinking are on the decline."

In a thought-provoking manner, the book focuses on our need for “Imagineering,” with the process that the author sees as beginning with inspiration, then moves into creativity and is followed up by innovation. Using the Apollo Program and the moon landings as a prototype for transformative change, the book takes us through how to reach our goals for our own endeavors. Looking at the naysayers in our lives who tell us we can’t do something, denying our own imagination and creative efforts (and those of others), and staying stuck in a small box and a small way of thinking cause us problems. But the book explores the creativity of others including leading-edge companies who have used the expansive techniques he describes here. ... (read more)

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True Exploits

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dual Mission: A true story about a Secret Service Agent and his investigative experiences to include his battle with the New York Mafia!
by Nino Perrotta
Outskirts Press


"It was a reasonable move since it isn’t every day you target the head of an organized crime family as a Secret Service Agent. In fact, I do not think it had ever been done before or since."

The title of Perrotta’s autobiographical memoir refers to the dual mission of members of the Secret Service. Many people may not realize that they actually have two separate and distinct tasks. They are charged with protecting the President of the United States, as well as foreign dignitaries, plus investigating potential criminal activities involving America’s financial infrastructure. While the author’s book does include the time he spent in the protection role, the majority of his narrative revolves around his investigative activities. ... (read more)

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What Stands

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tree
by Melina Sempill Watts
Change the World Books


"There could be no more perfect place in all the world. In all the universe. The center was here and Tree would never, could never leave such a spot."

Deep in the canyons of California stands Tree, a live oak flourishing amidst the plants and animals of the complex ecosystem and deep history of Topanga. To tell the story of Tree, Watts uses a third pronoun, "e," to stand for Tree and the other plants. This linguistic trick allows Watts to narrate the wild which she does with beautiful prose and startling imagery. The land is alive with thinking, feeling, and the enduring dialogue of the trees and plants communicating through rains, winds, drought, storms, wildfires, and, eventually, even across carved up subdivisions. ... (read more)

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This Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Illness of Medicine: Experiences of Clinical Practice
by Michael J. Young, M.D.
GM Books


"It is time to stop, time to take stock of what is happening in the practice of medicine."

A physician specializing in urology recounts incidents in his 30-year practice to illustrate some of the flaws in the current medical system. Young vividly describes the sleepless nights and weekends weighed against the constant requirement for total concentration and alertness, two factors affecting any hard-working medical practitioner. Using a myriad of memories, he carefully paints a picture of the many ways that medical work has gradually changed, often for the worse. Such issues include digitalized electronic medical records that may allow a diagnosis of “normal” for every condition a patient might have, even those for which one has not been examined or, at the opposite extreme, leave a diagnosis of some abnormal condition on the patient’s permanent record long after it has been resolved. Another problem is the explosion of medical marketing; ads on TV and the Internet can give false hope for treatment. Complexities of medical insurance can prevent needed care, and fear of lawsuits can have a deleterious effect on a physician’s practice. ... (read more)

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Her Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Know Now: A Woman's Healing - Violence to Victory, Trauma to Truth
by Cinda Stevens Lonsway
new72publishing


"I’m alright. I’m alive. I’m here and Bob is gone."

When an intruder broke into her apartment in the middle of the night, the life of the author changed irrevocably. The man, whom she decided to call “Bob,” had apparently been observing her and her flat-mate Katie and had found a way into their little domain through an open window. Strangely, though he demonstrated an intention to rape the woman who gave her name to him as “Cindy,” she was able to fend off his advances for three hours. The methods she used were spontaneous. They included physical resistance and aggressive response on her part, but there were clever diversionary tactics as well. She asked him his name, shook his hand, even offered to get up and cook him a meal—anything to distract him from his desire to rape her. In the time they were together, though she could barely see him, she determined that he had an acrid body odor and very rough hands. As dawn broke, a neighbor began doing his morning ninja moves, causing a sudden clatter. Cindy convinced Bob that this was a sign that Katie would soon be up and would come to check on her. Bob fled. He was never found, though the author is convinced that he continued to stalk her. ... (read more)

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Life Essence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mariana's Letters
by Mariana de Saint Phalle
Xlibris


"Living well means simply having knowledge of what makes the difference, what makes a meal appealing, a garden more beautiful, or a dress...something special."

This book documents a collection of newsletters—written several times a year during the mid-1980s and then again 20 years later—and sent to friends who requested copies. The author revealed how to decorate, what to serve, and how to prepare the food for a memorable experience. She sprinkled in world travel trivia and tips from her husband, Thibaut, regarding drinks to serve with a meal or stocking a wine cellar. ... (read more)

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Supernatural Realism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Metaphase: Beauty in the Chaos
by Mitchel Street
BookBaby


"Mom’s words popped into my head. Follow your heart, trust your intuition, and live simple. How could I when everything was so unbelievably complicated?"

In this second book of the Mitosis series, readers again meet up with Piper Walker during an extremely turbulent point in her life. After discovering her true mother only to have the matriarch’s life extinguished by her vengeful brother Eli, Piper is separated from her friends, her family, and her childhood home to live among her protector and lover Dev in the mature world. Discovering new powers that she inherited from her royal bloodline, Piper along with Dev must avoid the sinister Eli’s plans to eliminate his sister and cement his rule over the entire world. Offering a spark of hope, Piper begins to accumulate and collect allies across all the various mature families, all in the name of masking her power long enough to train to overthrow Eli’s despotism. ... (read more)

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A Quiltwork of Welcome

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


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

This 75-page book of poetry celebrates children and cats, butterflies and mornings, tea and coffee. Goka’s poems are highly entertaining, and her specialty is wordplay and riddles that almost beg to be read aloud. The “Riddles” section contains some of her deepest poetry, demonstrating an ability to juxtapose the then and the now. “Homespun” (gray woven cloth worn by previous generations) contrasts with “spun plastics,” color-saturated and tangled in the modern washer spin. “More Mornings” finds the poet lethargically waiting with birds in her treeless yard for more than another mechanical dawn. ... (read more)

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Travel Duo

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The Adventures of David and Kringer in Italy
by Eddie R. Johnson Jr.
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the seat belt sign. Relax and enjoy your flight to Rome, Italy."

A young boy named David is preparing to visit his grandfather in Charlotte, North Carolina. His mother is confused as to why he’s bringing along his dog Kringer, but David informs her that his grandfather specifically requested that he do so. After an honest mix-up, David and Kringer board the wrong flight and learn that they are not heading to Charlotte. Instead, only after the plane is in the air, and it’s too late to turn back, do they discover that they are on a flight to Rome, Italy. ... (read more)

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Unique Delivery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alien Within
by Lawrence Burk
Authors Press


"We should not kid ourselves; every species on this planet has had some form of genetic alteration, compliments of God."

When staring death in the face and learning to accept it, Lincoln Cross experiences an extraordinary thing. An unexplainable occurrence brings him face to face with a life force unbeknownst to man, appearing as bubbles but behaving like no substance on Earth. When Lincoln comes in contact with this force, it changes his life forever. His terminal illnesses vanish, he feels younger and more energetic, his senses sharpen, and he is even able to tap into supernatural powers. Naming this force God, Lincoln asks it many questions in order to understand the nature of human existence, why we are here, and what he can do with these abilities to improve life. However, he also becomes aware of the existence of alien life and how some species are already present on Earth with plans that do not mesh with the progress of the human race. ... (read more)

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Classic Battle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Project Genesis: The Gathering of Superheroes
by W. B. Stiles
Authors Press


"Our people have prophesied...engineered human DNA to bring about the Omni child. He would lead humanity to man’s age of prosperity. It was his destiny."

Two gifted children were born. John Tomar’s father was a Native American, claiming to have found the water of life and living hundreds of years since. Joshua Starr was born to a Chicago tycoon who consulted with the dark side. In their twenties, each son began to use his amazing mental and physical powers. That’s how John found Seattle reporter, Jane Watkins, in an alleyway searching for the identity of a serial killer known as the Slasher. Knife-wielding Nash, controlled by a demon, attacked her. John healed Jane’s near-fatal wound, then freed Nash of the class 2 evil spirit. ... (read more)

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Choices

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She Didn't Have a Choice: A Romantic Thriller
by Harshul Srivastava
Xlibris


"Her field of work was not something she took lightly: being involved in youth and community engagement meant everything for her, and something she worked hard to become while in college."

In this 139-page romantic mystery, Audrey, a youth mentor, becomes involved in finding out what happened regarding the disappearance of Lindsay, one of her kids. Instead of leaving this terrible situation up to the police, she becomes over-involved in trying to rescue Lindsay by talking to the friends and family of the missing girl. With the information she gathers, she foolishly sets out to find a biker gang known as The Road Brotherhood and enlists their help. Because the bikers have conflicts with The War Horses (a rival gang), they decide to help Audrey. With her naivety and poor boundaries, she trusts the gang and its leader, Marcus, to help with rescuing Lindsey from The War Horses. But will they really help or are they involved with human trafficking? Will Audrey come out of this alive? ... (read more)

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War Legacy

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What Endures: An Amerasian’s Lifelong Struggle During and After the Vietnam War
by John Vo
Xlibris


"We were walking on bloodied pavements where stepping on someone’s dead father’s arm and dead sister’s leg was unavoidable."

John Vo was born in Vietnam, the son of a seemingly indomitable woman, My Le. He, like some of his siblings, was the child of an American soldier stationed in their war-ravaged homeland. John, with light-colored hair, was singled out for teasing and torment. But My Le, the central figure in his recollections, always maintained her dignity and defended her brood. For some years My Le and Vo eked out a life together after three of his sisters were sent to the US by a charitable agency. Following a relatively stable period when his mother had employment, their lives crashed as the war became more frenzied. The two lived hand to mouth, were once imprisoned, and often victimized, but they were still lucky to be alive. After he completed high school, Vo had a chance to emigrate to the US, though it meant leaving behind his mother and two younger siblings. Later, the entire family would reunite after much searching for each of the author’s long-lost sisters. ... (read more)

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Better Living

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Instinctive Health Inspired Living: Awakening Your Innate Brilliance: The Art of Creating a Remarkably Resilient Life
by Leslie J. Rose
Instinctive Health and Living


"In my perception, whole foods in their natural state have a more powerful Chi than highly processed foods."

Drawing on four decades worth of experience, the author of this book wants to help readers navigate the constantly evolving field of dietary trends and philosophies. From raw, vegan diets to macrobiotics and always as organic as possible, the information collected here combines first-hand experience, plenty of sourced written information, and a friendly constructive approach to make no grain or green too intimidating. Incorporating the Taoist concepts of yin and yang, the five elements, and plenty of centering, spiritual quotes throughout the text, the goal for the reader is to not only improve their eating habits but to do so in a way that provides a more present, complete sense of well-being on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. Full of personal memories and insights, this is more than another diet book. Instead, it serves as a roadmap for those looking to get more out of what they put into themselves. ... (read more)

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Stopping Abuse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Courage to Tell
by Donna Livingston
Xlibris


"TELL, TELL, TELL someone."

How do adults find the words to alert kids about sexual abuse? How do parents and guardians protect children from pedophiles? This book adds a tool to the arsenal against sexual abuse. Read, read, read to your children, so that they are empowered and more likely to tell, tell, tell. ... (read more)

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A New Foothold

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Scent of the Beast
by Ron Chinchen
Xlibris


"'Our people have had a few skirmishes with the vermin when we’ve arrested some of the terrorists. Beastly things, they are.'"

After a giant and mysterious fire registers on satellite photos, and entire villages stop responding to communications, the higher-ups of Police Superintendent Jake McLynn ask him to investigate the indigenous settlements of the Kimberley. Their request is made in secrecy and in an unofficial capacity, so he recruits three people he can count on to investigate this situation. When they approach the faraway villages, no sign of life either human or animal can be seen or heard for several kilometers. Jake’s team unearths a stash of bodies killed by asphyxiation, several grotesque remains, and inhuman scratch marks. Once the military becomes involved, Jake learns the government’s position is that it is the work of Papuan terrorist insurgents gaining a foothold in the territory, but the evidence doesn’t add up. As the body count starts to rise, Jake and his team learn of a much more horrifying cause for the carnage. ... (read more)

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Whart If...

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The First EU: An Alternate History
by Alan J. Caulfield
AuthorHouse UK


"Rumour spread that the German occupation was going to be much better now, concentrating on a new way forward under a united Europe guided by Germany."

The alternate history imagined by Caulfield leads ultimately to Great Britain working collaboratively with Germany but with little economic control or true power. The rule of Germany in Europe is absolute but is coordinated through a “charm offensive” with incentives for cooperation and acquiescence. In this fictional version of history, once the United Kingdom surrenders in 1942 and a more moderate German government comes to power after Hitler is killed, a friendship campaign is initiated to encourage joint economic prosperity. However, the Gestapo is still a threat, propaganda is unleashed, and the resistance is still alive. ... (read more)

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Life Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

You Can Never Tell
by Philip Zeid
Xlibris AU


"During our lives…we make many choices and decisions, unaware, or oblivious, of the profound affect they might have on our future."

In this engaging memoir, author Zeid shows connections between decisions made early in his life and their extraordinary outcomes. He was in his last year of secondary school when Great Britain entered World War II. He forewent the university education offered to him and instead trained as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. That opportunity could never have come to fruition had he not refused to wear glasses when they were prescribed for him in his teens. Service in the RAF took him to America, India, Burma, and other exotic locales. Much of his long life experience was built on such decisions, leading to his living in British Malaya, working in increasingly significant positions in the rubber plantations, and even meeting Queen Elizabeth. Other decisions made along the way resulted in the avoidance of enemy attacks and other catastrophes, meeting the woman who would become his wife of fifty years, and then retiring to Australia to enjoy a family farm. ... (read more)

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Honor & Conquest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

And So the Thunder Comes
by Nicholas Kennedy and Emma Dark
AuthorHouse UK


"No, our enemies will look from their fortress walls as the Thunder Child approaches and their hearts will grow heavy as they think to themselves and so the Gurlemek comes."

Kennedy and Dark’s captivating adventure on the high seas takes us back centuries to the Viking era. Their tale tells of the captured Norseman, Lubeck, who, blood-soaked and beaten, does not carry “the air of a slave.” With bold confidence, Lubeck leads his fellow shipmates in a daring revolt to escape and is eventually thrown into the sea and swept ashore to an island. The survivors’ woes are divulged as they recover and form an army with Lubeck as their leader. They befriend the beautiful, red-headed woman Freyja, a presumed witch cursed to the island. Freyja’s special powers of vision and manipulations of weather make her a guiding force for Lubeck and his men. ... (read more)

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Listening to Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Abbot's Rabbit
by Pat Hagan
AuthorHouse


"Although they were quite different, Bird and Chipper were good friends..."

Both fun to read and listen to, Hagan's book teems with rhythm and meter. Anyone can write on any number of children's messages or subjects, but only the unique few like Hagan, who hear when they write, can produce prose that reads like poetry for children. ... (read more)

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New Ground

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In Clouds of Fire: A Story of Community
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"'I had just decided that I know very little.' Father Smith smiled. 'Ah--the beginning of wisdom.'"

After moving from New York to Ohio, Joseph Smith and the Mormonites are doing their best to live in peace and grow their community after establishing their religion. When a well-known Protestant lecturer visits the Mormons with her niece Hannah to better understand but also refute the new group, she comes away with her mind unchanged. Hannah, on the other hand, becomes taken with one of the young Mormons named Daniel Perry. Daniel is sent on a mission to Missouri and builds a cabin there to stay. Urging Hannah to make the long trip with her younger brother Russell, the two of them team up with Nathaniel, who came to the Mormons from the Shakers. Nathaniel feels he owes a debt to Daniel and agrees to escort the siblings, but he soon finds himself beguiled by Hannah’s charms, as well, making his promise a complicated one. ... (read more)

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An Activist is Born

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the World: My Journey from Nowhere to Everywhere, A Memoir
by Dr. Gerard Brooker
Xlibris


"I am satisfied, though, that I have ‘thrown my pebble into the pond’...a meaningful expression, one that stands for involvement in the world."

The author recounts his troubled childhood growing up in NYC. His German father was stern while young Brooker was a stutterer in need of affection. Childhood suffering abated with acceptance from teachers. Their encouragement would influence his life’s work helping children. When fourteen, a Monsignor paid for his tuition at Rice High School. When seventeen, he joined the Christian Brothers of Ireland mission to become a monk and served seven years as a teacher. ... (read more)

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Mormon Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Way to the Shining City: A Story of the Early Mormons in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"Always seeking. Seeking the Kingdom of God. The place where there will be justice and—and peace. Where no one shall hurt nor destroy."

Young doctor Gabriel Romain and elder Nathaniel had moved their small family group to Far West, Missouri, following Joseph Smith’s leadership after neighbors evicted the Mormons. New cabins were built, babies were born, young men and women married, and a southern slave escaped to join her freed husband. Even in Far West, pride, jealousy, and childlessness ate away at the family’s peace. ... (read more)

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A New Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Forever
by Jan Fawcett
iUniverse


"Technology can work for good or for evil, but it’s difficult to focus only on creative outcomes while avoiding the destructive possibilities."

Imagine a fused collaboration and complete mind merger between a human and a computer. When Dr. Ian Farrell is diagnosed with cancer, he is given the opportunity to alter the evolution of humankind and live forever by transferring his consciousness to a microchip. Once complete, this techno-version of Dr. Farrell, renamed Sunyata, is used by the military to stop terrorist attacks. But as with most scientific progress, there are unintended consequences and surprising opportunities for advancement as well as destruction and moral ambiguity. ... (read more)

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Peace & Violence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Master of All Masters: The Central Kingdom
by Khen F. Chu
Xlibris


"Tien wielded the dart rope in such a deceptive and lethal way that it was clear the Yuan warrior would not last very long."

Within the Central Kingdom, there is a group known as the warrior circle, comprised of martial artists in seven distinct schools and four families. In times past, these groups of warriors have had to combine their forces to combat their enemies to the west, the Yuan. Forty years have passed since the last war, and peace has largely reigned aside from small conflicts. One such conflict involved a mining colony in the faraway City of Rocks. When the village guardian Loorea was usurped, her lone child Burnu was smuggled out by Nin and Jung, loyal allies of Loorea. In order to save Burnu’s life, he was given a special pill that granted him immense control of his chi but also the potential to violently die in the wake of such energy. His journey to master martial arts and his own inner power will take him across the entire Central Kingdom. ... (read more)

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Roman Tragedy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Charmed: Fascinatus
by Alan Southall
AuthorHouse UK


"Emile gazed at her beauty which seemed enhanced tenfold by wearing the jewel. She looked charming."

At the beginning of the second century AD, Legatus Crassus was in command of the Roman legion in Deva, located in modern-day England. Eager to please his wife, he commissioned a unique charm from a local goldsmith, promising a large payday for the craftsman. But Crassus’s dark side, unbeknownst to most, came to the forefront when he swindled the goldsmith out of half of the fee, placing the artisan in dire straits. In his revenge, the goldsmith Afzal delivered the charm bracelet, but not before cursing it with a tiny inscription. Now, even two millennia later, anyone who finds this alluring piece of jewelry is destined to be obsessed and then consumed by it, cursed by the greed and heartless abuse of power that Crassus exhibited. ... (read more)

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