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

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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution
by Tom Shachtman
St. Martin's Press


"Conclusions that appear inevitable often require the most time and effort to make happen."

Early in the American Revolution, a French emissary for Louis XVI, a king who fancied replacing the British handhold on America with his own, secretly visited the colonies to both measure the resistance and consider future prospects. The emissary was impressed, if not startled, by America’s resolve to achieve independence. France’s expectations needed to be adjusted. Their best hopes were to weaken and humiliate England by assisting the rebels. However, given the tentative truce in Europe, this needed to be launched under cover for as long as possible. Thus begins Tom Shachtman’s unique perspective of how a rebellion succeeded. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Living Rights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bring on the Blacks
by Desmond Ward
SilverWood Books


"'It is hard to know what to do, but the main thing is not to descend to the level of those who insult us.'"

Set in the early 1960s as the Civil Rights movement’s early steps are taken in the United Kingdom, this story blends fact and fiction to present a pivotal moment in the battle for equal rights. Dabber is a young conductor in the bus industry in Bristol who faces tough working conditions due to insufficient workers. Without enough people to run the buses, routes have to be canceled, and buses are abandoned in alleys, stranding people around the city. Dabber believes that if the Bristol Omnibus Company would just lift their ban on hiring black, Asian, and West Indian people, they would have more than enough people to keep all the buses running. But attitudes are slow to change within his company, despite the mounting pressure coming from the university campus. ... (read more)

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Intricate Plot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Different Kind of Fire & Fury: Revenge
by Julie Reichwein
Best Seller Publishing LLC


"There is good and bad in her like everyone I guess, so nothing she does surprises me any more. I don’t even bother to ask."

Mystery crime novels are frequently conventional. This one is unconventional. Often, novels in this genre are written via the first-person voice of the protagonist or the villain. This novel has virtually every character speaking via the first person. The downside of this approach is occasional repetition. The upside is a cacophony of points of view that supercharge the narrative by offering multiple perspectives on events and behavior—events that are disturbing, and behavior that is bad. ... (read more)

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Faith and Spirituality

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Worthy
by Judy Salz
Hardway Press


"You never know when a door will open that’ll change your life forever."

The lives of doctors Jenny Gordon and Mark Stewart along with Chaplain Joseph Waters are thrown together when a massive earthquake destroys the hospital where they are working. Now, on his first day of work, Mark must mark patients who managed to escape with ribbons: red for immediate attention, blue for beyond help, and yellow for less serious. Mark is torn as he feels he is playing God in the decision of who lives or dies. Jenny is treating all the patients she can, and Joseph, on his second day as the hospital chaplain, is administering last rights. None of these remarkable characters have had an easy past, and it comes to haunt them, especially on this disastrous day. ... (read more)

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Struggles of Life... and Death

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

If It Ain’t One Thing...: Book 3 In The Apron Strings Trilogy
by Mary Morony
Archway Publishing


"I think that was the secret of Ethel’s success. She was a great listener—not that she didn’t’ try to fix everything with food..."

The original Mackey family has four grown children and multiple grandchildren, many who reside elsewhere. Virginia, Ginny and Joe’s spoiled grand-daughter from New York, decides she wants her Christmas wedding at the Mackey family home in the hills of Virginia. Daughter Sallee has always allowed Virginia to have her own way per husband Peter’s orders. Lavish invitations are sent out to invite family members to return home, many for the first time in decades. Drama results when grown Mackey children Stuart, Sallee, Gordon, and Helen respond and face sibling issues long buried. ... (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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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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Showdown

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Twisted Threads
by Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing


"'What kind of game are you playing, Yuki? What about the money you promised to give me? If anyone finds out about this...'"

The Threads series continues in this tale of suspense and mystery surrounding the employment debt of Akira Hamada. Her days as a geisha long behind her, she now serves as a deadly assassin for the Yakuza boss Mitsui. After Akira makes a threat on Mitsui’s life, his daughter-in-law, Yuki Ota, (a character familiar to readers of the series to this point) is the messenger to give Akira one final job, but Akira is unsure if this is her way out or merely a trap to end her career fatally or in prison. ... (read more)

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A Complicated Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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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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True Sage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Afterlife Code
by J. M. Erickson


"...everything you do is not just your point of view; when you sleep, all...is uploaded into a shared consciousness...that you return to when you die."

A doctor and his long-term client are caught in the middle of the afterlife code—programming which governs the domain of mankind’s shared consciousness. The client, Dr. Melanie Sage, is a brilliant scientist whose autism is controlled by a chip in her brain. Sage has uploaded to her phone the code she wrote to alter her chip, enhancing the part of her brain involved with recognition and engagement. She wants to upload the program with her doctor present for her own safety. ... (read more)

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Border Challenges

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heart’s Blood: A Novel
by Elizabeth Zinn
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"Ty understood that he had returned during a time of instability and the old delicate balance between illegal crossers and the ranchers had been profoundly upset."

When Ty McNeil is four he watches his mother being buried and is then carried off by his father to the rodeo circuit, the only life Ty will know as he grows up. But when he reaches thirty—divorced, alone, and constantly on the move from show to dusty show—Ty can sense it’s time to quit. Abruptly, almost without thinking, he returns to southern Arizona and to the childhood homestead that has been watched over by neighbors Ware and Suzanne Lewis, who are like family to the lonely cowboy. One day he finds a small, brown-skinned woman trembling on his porch. He takes her in out of pity, seeing she is starving, hurt, and, as it turns out, pregnant. Going by the name Mana, she cleans and cooks for Ty but never bonds with him or her infant daughter. ... (read more)

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A Fairthful Cozy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Murder on Mokulua Drive: A Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery
by Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
Artemesia Publishing


"…it had seemed like life was finally moving away from deadly matters."

If life is what happens when you’re making other plans, then in a cozy mystery, murder is what happens when you’re making life. Such is the way of things for Natalie Seachrist who, in her second outing in this series, is at a relatively happy crossroads—moving in with her boyfriend Keoni and relaxing into a warm and welcoming community—until murder interrupts the peaceful idyll. ... (read more)

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Real Transformation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Strength of the Nation
by Luisa Mirella Plancher
Greenberry Publishing


"In the Kingdom of God, the rich become richer and the poor and sick become rich and healthy."

The author has created a religion-based fantasy of an ideal America that leads the world in religion. Divided into 33 “episodes,” the book depicts visits to the author by the Angel of the Lord. In the early episodes, the Angel transports Plancher to various locations: the homes of the rich, the slums of the poor, areas of the earth devastated by natural disasters, US military bases, a hospital, and a jail. In observing each scenario, the Angel demonstrates that though each is important to our national character, they do not represent the true “strength” of the United States which lies, the Angel repeatedly asserts, in the country’s opportunities for newcomers and especially its reverence for YAHWEH, the Old Testament God. Through worship and the nation’s openness to people of many faiths, a new era can dawn. Enjoying the support and freedom of American values, American Jews—the descendants of Isaac—will reconcile themselves with their roots in Abraham and his two sons. They will acknowledge their error in rejecting Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus). ... (read more)

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Dangerous Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Red Angel: Book I: Smugglers
by C. R. Daems
Talon Novels


"'You’ve certainly had a difficult life, not only having to live with a krait but the threat of others stealing it.'"

The Coaca virus is a plague that claims the lives of people throughout the Three Empires. Four-year-old Anna has contracted the virus with her parents, and while it enters its final stages in Anna’s body, her parents have already succumbed to the disease. Anna is in her final moments when a rare red-headed krait snake finds her in the snow. Injecting Anna with its poisonous venom seems to counteract the effects of the virus, but Anna must keep being bitten by the krait in order to survive. Growing up without friends or family, Anna is adopted by a Magistrate and becomes an officer with the Naval Intelligence Agency (NIA), but she still requires her krait to survive. She and her team must shut down a ring of smugglers who are looking to transport contraband—including the rare red kraits to the highest bidder. ... (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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Being There

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Radical Wholeness: The Embodied Present and the Ordinary Grace of Being
by Philip Shepherd
North Atlantic Books


"Activated by the felt Present, self-knowledge is discovered when the life in which you rest quickens you to the resonance of your being."

Unlike many books regarding psychological self-examination and improvement, this text follows the author’s discoveries from a remarkable journey and implores people to avoid using their head to grow. Choosing to forego university to study Noh theater in Japan, Shepherd rode a bicycle across Europe and Asia, encountering other cultures firsthand. In this experience, he discovered that not all cultures perceive the human experience the same way and began to understand that a wholeness of being encompasses interactions with all things, not just intellectually and not just on a human-to-human level. Using this as a basis, Shepherd introduces a series of ideas from people around the world and prominent authors that complete a path to finding peace and balance within one’s self and with the nature of existence. Picking up this book will ideally lead to a more peaceful and mindful lifestyle as readers are invited along to follow the author’s conclusions and methods. ... (read more)

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True Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dead Star Twilight: A Memoir
by Chez Pazienza
DXM Media & Dues Ex Malcontent, LLC


"Make no mistake, the most excruciating human feeling is and always has been helplessness."

Published in 2008, this is the gut-wrenching memoir of a newscaster and recovering heroin addict on the scene in New York City following the 9/11 attacks. The author was assigned by MSNBC to broadcast from the location where people congregated looking for loved ones. Being around all that misery, he vowed never to do drugs again. Flashbacks alternating with current scenes tell the story. The author recalls warnings he missed that his 8-month marriage to a woman he deeply loved had gone sour. He drowned those fears in a $200 a day heroin addiction until his wife discovered the subterfuge. His parents helped move him into rehab. He was befriended by a biker inmate who warned, “With a habit like yours―you **** up again, you’re going to be dead.” September 2001 became a lifeline for the author to pull himself out of the pit. ... (read more)

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Real Life Awaits

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Awakening of the Summer
by Yorker Keith
BookBaby


"Wildflowers and green grasses swayed peacefully with a gentle breeze, accompanied by twittering of birds."

“Take me, James, take me,” urges his new lover, days after they meet on a two-week summer vacation. Far from the frenzied realities of modern urban professional lives back in Manhattan, these weary millennials seek respite, love, and the brief peace of a rustic New Hampshire getaway. Kelly’s “take me” is spoken at the height of passion, and in the fast-shifting love triangle that soon develops between James, Kelly, and her sister Sophie, passions do run high and often. Yet Kelly’s urgent request suggests additional meanings. “Take me,” she says, as though asking James to remove her from the uncertainty of a troubled relationship with her boyfriend back home, from health challenges, from the pressures of career, inheritance, and her role as an heiress in an increasingly complex grown-up world. “Take me,” she pleads, as if willing James to choose her from within the web of romantic possibilities these characters weave around each other. ... (read more)

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Africa Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Place of Crying: Inkaba Yakho Iphi? (Where Is Your Navel?)
by Judy Witt
Xlibris


"The lieutenant crossed the corner, deep in thought. There would be a hard year ahead, and he hoped the little village of Bathurst would be left in peace."

Witt’s novel is set in Africa and begins in 1833. It is a story of war and peace, love and loss, the continual quest for a place to call one’s own, and the unending attempts by some to find a lasting peace between those born to the land and those drawn to it. The author skillfully walks a tightrope as she endeavors to faithfully convey the motivations and aspirations of both types of inhabitants. Rather than taking sides, she presents each. The result is enlightenment as well as entertainment. ... (read more)

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Love Transforms

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Darkest Place
by Helen Walters
Xlibris


"What she wouldn’t give to have a real moment again with someone who thought she was the most beautiful person in the world and with a kiss could make the earth stop turning!"

Hannah and Sean are high school sweethearts who marry shortly after graduation. Putting her dreams aside, Hannah quickly settles into the life of a housewife and is content until Sean’s behavior becomes controlling, aggressive, and then abusive. Hannah realizes that she is trapped in a dangerous situation, but she continues to hope for a change and the possibility of a healthy marriage. Longing for something to occupy her time and offer some social interaction, she musters the courage to enter a small café displaying a Help Wanted sign. She knows that she must keep her employment hidden from her husband, but she quickly uncovers that she is not the only one keeping secrets. Isolated from family and friends, Hannah meekly accepts her fate. When she least expects it, she meets a handsome stranger and discovers the chance for a future she never dared to consider.... (read more)

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Deeply Personal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kaleidoscope of Being
by Jennifer Toth
Xlibris


"So my story begins and ends
Strung together with pills and swords
And I can barely utter a word
To tell of bloody battles waged --
On my mind, body, and, soul!
Can you see them on my heart strings?"

When faced with hardships, many crumble. Toth, instead, writes poetry. Her book is an autobiographical collection of poems that detail the poet's life, her struggle with mental illness, and, ultimately, her salvation at the hands of Jesus Christ. Toth's poetry is inspirational and uplifting, despite at times displaying uncertainty or sorrow. The poems are imbued with spiritual and religious notes and can serve as a reminder to all those who are suffering that in the face of hardships one can always turn to God, nature, and the beauty of creativity. ... (read more)

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Suspenseful Love Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Visconti Devils
by Ria Dimitra
Aventine Press


"Promise me you will not dumb yourself down, you will not belittle yourself… I’m not afraid of intelligent women."

When Maggie and Michael meet and fall in love, their quick courtship seems almost perfect. Not only do their temperaments and chemistries match, but they share a passion for art history, specifically for a rare set of Renaissance-era tarot cards, the pursuit of which leads them to Milan, Italy. There, they are swept into a quest that takes on a mystical significance far deeper and more enduring than their own lives and artistic interests. ... (read more)

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Intrigue and Wonder

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wrath of the Fury Blade: A Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure
by Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee
Shadow Dragon Press


"Lavalé had no time to move. He could only watch, helpless, as the blade, bright red lines twisting through it like a breathing forge, swept down upon his head. Lavalé's last thought was that he did know that blade."

First, the magistrate is killed—brutally murdered in his own study by a familiar elven figure wielding a powerful black blade. Then the King's Treasurer is taken down in the middle of the road, along with anyone who happened to be too close in the moment. For Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria these murders mean one very important thing: She can kiss her well-earned day off goodbye. Along with her new partner, Ansee "Antsy" Carya, Reva sets out to uncover the masked murderer. As they investigate the murders, they uncover a web of intrigue and conspiracy that's been in motion for years. Magic blades, complex elven politics, murder, mayhem, and a talking parrot that won't stop saying "Reva is sexy"—all these things and more make Wrath of the Fury Blade a thrilling adventure from start to finish. ... (read more)

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Life Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Barefoot
by Arlene Fisher Hann


"I jumped up and glared at Aunt Ginger, 'That’s the most shameful thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life. Shame on you people.'"

Drawing on memories from her childhood, Hann has crafted a story of resolve and perseverance in the face of hardship. This Depression Era tale of one family’s struggles is filled with the bonds that unite individuals even in the most difficult of times. The story and its narrator may put one in mind of To Kill A Mockingbird, as that classic and this novel mine a similar vein of growth and learning delivered by a young, female storyteller. ... (read more)

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A Radiant Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rai, Bo and the Monster
by Konstantine Mendrinos
Xlibris


"But what really made them very special was an extraordinary gift. The gift was about making everything happy through their paintings."

Rai and Bo, two children who live in the clouds, are given an extraordinary gift of making everything happy through their paintings. But while Bo’s paintings are filled with joy, beauty, and peace, Rai’s paintings are dark, gloomy, and sad. One day, Bo finds a hideous monster sitting on a black, thunderous cloud and realizes it is Rai, whose jealousy toward Bo’s paintings has transformed him into something ugly and unlovable. Bo frees Rai from unhappiness by painting him with beautiful colors, and Rai finally learns to use happy colors. They continue to paint together, and everything they paint lives on with goodness and peace. ... (read more)

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Following Your Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Malibu: The Creative Pig
by Sonja den Hoed
AuthorHouse


"Never give up dreaming. Dreams come true."

Malibu is a pig who loves to paint, and his dream is to have his paintings displayed in an art gallery one day. He has many art pieces, but on this day, he is making a painting about a giraffe and a mouse. He is very proud of his painting and cannot wait to show his dad when he gets back from work. Malibu waits patiently, and soon it is time to reveal his art piece to his father. His father is so proud; he takes a photo of Malibu with his painting and posts it to his social media account. A few days later, Malibu gets the call of a lifetime. An art gallery would like him to show his artwork at the Roads to Constructiveness annual gala event. When Malibu arrives, he is very nervous. However, once he starts to show his art, he realizes how much the audience likes his paintings. Thus, begins Malibu’s dream of becoming a world-renowned painter. ... (read more)

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For the Love of Animals

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Amazing (and Accurate) Adventures of Chester Chipmunk: Based on a True Story
by Lily Beth Linders
iUniverse


"It’s about how important freedom is to all of us, whether we have two legs or four, fins or feathers."

Chester Chipmunk is scurrying to collect nuts for his family when he is snatched by a furry, black and white monster. Chester is carried by the monster into the house where the nice lady that feeds him lives. Chester gets free and hides from them both. As days go past, Chester finds food and water each day wherever he is hiding in the house. The nice lady tries to keep him safe from the monster and the creatures named Peanut and Pumpkin. Chester realizes she is trying to help him get back to his family, but he is too scared to come out of hiding for very long. One day Chester finds a trail of peanuts and peanut butter leading to an open window. He follows the trail and finally gets his freedom back. After five long days, Chester finally gets to return home to his family. ... (read more)

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Hope and Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Letter from Santa Claus
by Robin Jones
iUniverse


"Did your mommy or daddy ever tell you how I get my elves? They didn’t? Well, I’ll tell you right now."

Young Robin, only five years old, becomes weak with sickness and has to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors determine that he has a serious case of pneumonia, and he ends up spending the entirety of 1949 in a hospital in Toronto, Ontario. Despite working all day, his father always visits and reads Robin stories in bed. Robin’s favorite story is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and so as Christmas approaches, Robin thinks to write Santa Claus to see how he is doing and to check in on Rudolph, as well. To Robin’s surprise, Santa pens a response, letting Robin into the know on the goings-on at the North Pole as they prepare for Santa’s Christmas journey. ... (read more)

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A Cry for Help

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Black Dog Henry the Hound
by Laurence James Kiernan
Xlibris


"My eyes filled with tears and I exclaimed 'Why me?' he said nastily. 'Why not? It's because I can, I'm going to make you hate yourself.'"

Discussing difficult subjects with children is a challenge that all parents face. Through this story, Kiernan creates a kid-friendly narrative to explain how depression can affect us, and how to face these powerful emotions. ... The first section of this book is meant for parents and guardians only, telling the story of Kiernan's struggle with depression, and how it affected his life. This parents/guardians-only section shows how anyone can struggle with depression at any point in life. ... (read more)

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Life & Belief

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Life as a Scientist and the Spiritual Connection
by Maurice N. Karkar, Ph.D.
Xlibris


"In a way, the spiritual world is, in many respects, a continuation of the world we live in."

Scientist and author Karkar explains the benefits that he believes he has derived from contact with a spiritual advisor, Elias Mitri Abu Shanab— a name abbreviated throughout the book as EMAS. The author’s family first came in contact with EMAS when his father and mother were living in Egypt. EMAS, they learned, hypnotized certain people who would, in their trance state, provide reports from the spiritual realm. Thus EMAS had secret knowledge beneficial to those who, like Karkar and his relatives, turned to him for assistance. Karkar attributes some key events in his life to EMAS’ intervention. ... (read more)

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Tale of Abuse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Celebration(s)
by Pat Willene
1st Books Library


"It’s hard being so angry, yet wanting to love, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how to deal with our past, but I can say that the future promises better challenges."

Pat and Dee Jackson are sisters who share an impenetrable connection. Growing up in a mentally and physically abusive household, the pair creates their own sign language to communicate with each other in order to survive the daily attacks from their deranged father. Following years of torture, their mother finally musters the courage to kick him out of the home after Dee is emboldened enough to speak out against the abuse. Having been belittled and tortured for their entire childhoods, Pat and Dee struggle to exit the past and release the attachment to the cruel words that were used to both label and scar them. The sisters discover that the pain they endured remains a constant in their lives, but together they find the strength to heal. ... (read more)

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An Intimate Memoir

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Descent into Darkness
by Marija Petrovic
Xlibris


"As you already know, I was tired of the same old type of traditional psychiatry."

Author Petrovic took a trip, traveling from the US to South America for work purposes. It turned into a journey into the workings of her mind and heart. Having moved from Serbia to Germany and then to the US in the course of her life, the author sensed that this trek would unlock her trapped, true self. With fellow psychiatrists, she visited a remote site in Brazil where an old religion, spiritism, is used for healing, to determine whether such ancient practices can offer inroads into the modern treatment of mental disorders. In her explorations, the “descent” and “darkness” referenced in the title are not negative. ... (read more)

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Wide-Ranging Tolerance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Courage and the Quest: With the Wisdom of the Bagavadgita as Guide
by Dr. Kandasamy Arunachalam
Xlibris


"The progress of a human being is likened to the smoothing of a rough stone – hewn from the quarry."

This is a guide to conducting one’s life based on spiritual principles Arunachalem has found within the teachings of the Bagavadgita (the author’s spelling). Human life can be seen as a spiritual quest that begins with doubt. By dispelling doubt, rather than ignoring or yielding to it, one overcomes the tendency to consider the quest irrational or delusional. Through three disciplines—commitment, conviction, and courage—one can pursue the quest for inner transformation. The author often refers to a significant religious metaphor from the Hindu Upanishads: the bow (Om), the arrow (atman), and the mark or target (Brahman). To attain the state of mind needed to accomplish one’s quest, one begins with meditation on higher values (drawing the bow) to divest from material longings. ... (read more)

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Nothing Like the Sun

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Earth to Umbria
by Patricia Howell
Xlibris


"'I believe my plan will not only benefit the Earthlings way of life but also enhance ours as well.'"

On the distant planet Umbria, scientists who have been curiously monitoring Earth come to a familiar conclusion: that the sun which Earth orbits is prepared to go supernova and consume all life on that small blue planet. The leader of Umbria, Jarod Dask, works around the clock to formulate a plan to save Earth by rehoming its people on their worlds, but people are reluctant to help despite recognizing the impending catastrophic loss. Finally, it is decided that Umbria and its neighbors will send 20 ships to bring back a million Earthlings to live on Umbria, blending the two societies together. Jarod works night and day on this mission, eventually selecting his son Araak and his two friends Gex and Querk to lead this initial mission of first contact and rescue. ... (read more)

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Daily Inspiration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thoughts, Poetry and Reflections
by Ruth Ruger
Xlibris


"If you see someone
Make a mistake
Don’t criticize them
Teach them"

Precisely as the title suggests, this author’s debut provides short nuggets of wisdom and perspective that reflect the way she sees life. Each selection focuses on topics such as self-confidence, faith, prayer, family, and perseverance during difficult times. Most of these poems last for a page or two, but toward the end of the collection, the prolonged “Independence” stands out uniquely. Spanning 35 pages, this single chapter spans more than half of the collection and is itself a collection of smaller blurbs with a central theme on improving one’s self and finding guiding principles to live a happy and stable life. Regardless of length, the fourteen selected musings of the author combine to create an uplifting body of work designed to connect with and inspire its readers. ... (read more)

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Vote Smart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Accountability Citizenship
by Stephen P. Tryon
Xlibris


"Creating a positive structure for processing information is the first step to being appropriately positive."

Tryon began writing this book as “election-year therapy” and now wishes to share his insights to empower Americans to participate fully in the political process. He examines our history, citing slavery, women’s lack of voting rights, and the treatment of Native Americans as examples of how we have at times failed to live up to our democratic ideals. This could mean that we are not always acting at our best now, despite many advances. The remedy is for more Americans to vote and do so with unclouded perceptions. In an age when media floods us with what he calls “myths,” Tryon suggests three remedies to help us act rationally in the political realm. The first remedy is definitely to vote. The second is to develop and use what he calls “Congress 2.0,” which would be a simple accountability tool that would measure the popularity of our elected representatives’ actions and policies on key issues. ... (read more)

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Scholarly Content

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rekindled
by Teresa Irizarry
AuthorHouse


"I did not come here to be caught up in ceremony. I came here to minister to souls, including native souls."

History is brought to life in Irizarry’s meticulously detailed and energetically imagined novel. She follows a huge cast of characters as they leave England behind for the promise of a better life and a less shackled way to practice their religion. Roger Williams, the founder of both the colony of Rhode Island and the first Baptist church in America, is the primary protagonist. His is a story as much about courage and perseverance as it is about faith. ... (read more)

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Moment & Statement

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Circadian
by Chelsey Clammer
Red Hen Press


"And what if thinking about trigger warnings triggers you?
Warning: this sentence contains the word 'warning.'"

Circadian is a compilation of a dozen essays that are as broad in scope as they are daring in execution. Written by the author during her residency in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program, the lyric essays, outlines, bullet points, and diagrams come together in bold and exciting ways to tell her story. Issues like suicide, body issues, gender and sexual orientation, family, and sexual assault are broached in a personal way, allowing readers of any background or opinion to learn about the experiences from someone else’s perspective and daily challenges. While the underlying material is intensely individual and jarring for some, Clammer’s approach is disarming, finding clever ways to blend metaphors and humor into memories and musings that would stop others in their tracks. In this volume, the author proves that no topic is taboo, especially with the right choice of words. ... (read more)

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Supported by Prayer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Walking in the Miracles of Prayer
by Margaret Ngozi Iduma, Ph.D.
LitFire Publishing


"Through the privileges I had leading prayers with my team, I am today walking in the miracles of my prayers."

Offering practical suggestions for enhancing one’s prayer life, the author hopes that her own experience will guide others. In this short but inspiring work, she sympathizes with those who are suffering in their lives and offers a solution: taking their suffering to God through prayer. She begins by retelling, in dramatic language, several key Biblical stories that underpin her message: that of Esther, who showed how to be an ideal queen and wife; Daniel who did not let fear hold back his prophetic mission; Jabez, who knew he must go directly to the Lord to put things right. To achieve the goal of “walking in the miracles of prayer,” Iduma advises five techniques: attending church services, praying with scripture (because, as she notes, the disciples of Jesus didn’t ask him for wealth or talent, but only how to pray), using what she calls “prayer points,” praying through songs, and praying “any-how”—in whatever position and circumstance one finds oneself. ... (read more)

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Building the Foundation

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It's Time to Pray: A Child's Guide to Prayer
by Georgia Holmes
LitFire Publishing


"When the cookies are great, and there’s food on your plate, what time is it? It’s that time of the day. It’s time to pray."

Corrie Ten Boom once asked whether prayer was one’s steering wheel or a spare tire. It’s a bold question that requires truthful, soul-searching for Christians. Holmes answers that question in her charming children’s book. Using catchy rhymes to describe relevant experiences for children, reinforced by beautiful illustrations, the message is clear: no matter what situation one finds oneself in, it is always the perfect opportunity for prayer. Getting bullied? Pray. Need the strength to avoid temptation? Pray. Just want to have a conversation? Pray. ... (read more)

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Spiritual Answers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Samson: The Modern-Day America
by Stephen Ray Williams
LitFire Publishing


"…Samson’s…big weakness was not women, necessarily, but self; he had an I problem. He wanted to do things his way and not God’s way."

Williams chose the life of Samson, one of Israel’s early judges, as the theme for his book. The Bible tells the dramatic prophesy given to his parents regarding his birth. He would judge Israel against their enemies, the Philistines, for twenty years. Early chapters of this book tell Samson’s story by identifying similarities of this Old Testament judge’s life to others. In the New Testament, he is compared to both Jesus and the Prodigal Son. ... (read more)

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Approaching Worship

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The Heavenly Worship Room
by Dr. Raelyn Parkin
LitFire Publishing


"Inherent in the design of this room were three tabernacles, the tabernacle of Moses, the tabernacle of David, and the tabernacle of Jesus Christ."

This religious work describes the author’s revelatory or inspired construction of a special room for the worship of Jesus Christ. Composed of seven chapters, this text weaves together Old Testament concepts such as the temples and tabernacles of the prophet David with Christian interpretations of their fulfillment in Jesus. The Lord’s Passover is fulfilled in the Last Supper; the Feast of First Fruits is fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection; the Feast of Weeks has been fulfilled by the Azusa Street phenomenon or the birth of the Pentecostal movement in America, and so on. A whole chapter is devoted to the Feast of Tabernacles, which ties in with the author’s own Spirit-filled visions of the Heavenly Worship Room. The author ends the book by expanding the concept of the Worship room to an internal state of awareness of and prayerful devotion to Jesus. ... (read more)

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Faith & Scripture

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The Testimony of Jesus Is the Spirit of Prophecy
by Nannette Dalton
LitFire Publishing


"Being born again is the height of a man’s experience in life."

Dalton is a writer who was raised in a religious family. Here she explains the true meaning of giving testimony with Jesus of Nazareth as example and guide. Only Jesus, the author states, lived a sinless life. Jesus said that he would be glorified through the Holy Spirit. This means that our testimony must be based in our contact with that Spirit, not on anything we have experienced in the natural world. The author suggests that the Holy Spirit is always with us, “wooing us” to be born again, asking no penance, only acceptance. Once that relationship is established, revelation and manifestation will follow. Even the Apostle Peter changed when he had “Jesus living inside him;” at that point, he began to preach and convert others. All of us have the opportunity to change and see the works of the Holy Spirit manifest through our personal testimonies. ... (read more)

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Overlooked Horrors

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Radha: Love, War, and Renunciation
by Krishna Dharabasi
Xlibris


"Life too is an object. We can use it as we like. Today, we are using it like this."

Sacred Hindu scriptures like the Mahabharata are the bedrock of Hinduism. In particular, the mythological character, Krishna, who frolics through his childhood in Gokul stealing the heart of the gopis is considered transcendent, the supreme personality of Godhead. In Dharabasi’s rendition, the Mahabharata narrative is told from the perspective of Radha, who is often described as Krishna’s childhood love and soulmate. Though Radha and Krishna are immortalized in union through their deities at Hindu temples, the author meticulously probes deeper into why they were unable to unite during their lifetime. ... (read more)

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Energy Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Journey from Beatings to Beauty
by Belle
Xlibris


"Everyone wants a fairytale life but,
How many people have one?"

Spanning twenty-two years, Belle’s compilation of poems strikes a resounding note of resilience and refusal to accept an abusive relationship. Its connection with the “Me Too” movement cannot be understated. While Belle takes liberties with the rhythm and meter of the poetry, and the punctuation in the expository sections of the poetry is not without flaws, few poems can bring sensitive and downright difficult experiences to life with such force and visceral imagery as exhibited in this work. ... (read more)

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A Brave New Land

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The Fortune Seekers: Dan and Charlotte
by Glennis Browne
Xlibris


"I know my adversary. This is a spiritual battle between good and evil."

Dan and Charlotte, both questioners of established Christian doctrine circa the 1800s, seek to leave behind their renegade reputations in Wales and England by escaping into what they hope is their promised land of Australia. But the stability allowing for their navel-watching philosophy is overwhelmed by the need to simply survive in the Social Darwinist world of the Australian gold rush. Through this adventure, they discover answers to theological and cosmic questions. For readers, tales of heroic ancestors might be a familiar yarn, but this book takes the reader into the 18th century world of Australia, where survival was the first order of the day. Having put the reader into the mindset of an 18th century rebel/adventurer, the author gives the story of taking care of one’s family a universal appeal. Faced with these daily travails, the characters are provided answers to theological questions that forced them out of Wales and England. ... (read more)

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Better Policing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Social Change Through Training and Education: Volume III—The ‘Clothing’ for Effective Policing: Cultural Competency, Spirituality and Ethics
by Dr. E. Beverly Young
AuthorHouse


"Every human being has a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimension."

In a book of 90 pages, the exploration revolves around the “humanity of policing” by way of exploring four dimensions of a person. It is written not only for law enforcement but also for civilians who are policed or who work in concert with the police. It is divided into four parts with the first part offering a pre-test regarding cultural competency, spirituality, and ethics. With these exercises, there are many blank spaces for the reader to complete their responses in the book. Part 2 examines the basic information regarding these social aspects, while Part 3 focuses on training tips. Finally, Part 4 has a post-test, self-assessment questionnaire, which is the same work as the pre-test. This is followed by a review which is written to test your knowledge. ... (read more)

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African Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tokoloski
by John Skinner
Xlibris


"Africa is as unique as its culture, both too easily misconstrued."

Tsabo Mashedi returns to his African village, the fictional but realistic Katama, after receiving an Oxford education. Tasked with providing drought relief through his work with the Red Cross, Tsabo is overwhelmed by the helplessness of his people and their own resistance to change and modernity. Running parallel to Tsabo's story are several competing storylines about foreign aid, diamond mining, traditional village life, and a mystery surrounding early colonizing efforts in Africa. ... (read more)

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A Lefty Shooter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Basketball Is in My Blood: A Basketball Addict’s Autobiography
by Martin Groveman
Xlibris


"...I never seriously considered hanging up the sneakers...The game was my addiction, and I wasn’t seeking a cure."

The author’s fascination with basketball began in the seventh grade with the arrival of Coach Aaron (Venty) Lieb. Coach Venty, as he was affectionately called, made a convert of young Groveman to the “religion of basketball” by teaching the moves. The class practiced layups, dribbling, and weaving, not just trying to score baskets. From that point on, Groveman hardly ever passed up being on a court. As a teen he played at community centers; as an adult, he played at clubs with unofficial groups. Early on he was disadvantaged by being short and a lefty. But by the time he reached high school, he was 5’ 9” and filling out. He was a starter on that team and a master of the lefty hook shot. ... (read more)

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Defending a Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Open Mind: My Life, the Ronald Hampton Story
by Ronald Hampton
AuthorHouse


"This is my gift, not a documentary....Find your gift and you will find your piece of the puzzle in life and why you are living."

The author found his reason for living later in life. He was a slow learner in school and often disciplined physically by his mother. He once brought sleeping pills to school and shared them. To get needed credits to graduate, he joined the school band, pretending to play. A love of music took him into Greenwich Village where he met celebrities and heroin users. It was the age of acid trips, and he experimented. But alcohol was his chief drug until he was diagnosed with liver issues—not surprising since he and coworkers drank vodka every lunchtime. Serving in Vietnam gave him access to more drugs and exotic sex that dulled the reality of war. Back in the States, Hampton always had good money due to 30-plus years of seniority at his job. He could afford to buy drugs but kept getting evicted. He bunked at detox facilities, staying only until he could afford the next rental. ... (read more)

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Human Nature

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Underground
by David Bailor
Xlibris


"It was child's play to alter photos and change the characters around... Darryl was right. There was some kind of set up or cover up going on."

The City of David, located underground and surrounded by walls, was constructed to protect all families and provide a safe home after a war over oil. Lara, a strong-willed reporter for the City of David, encounters many issues within the city after her father, Jimmy Coste, is wrongly accused of participating in the Drug Cartel. ... (read more)

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Supernatural

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Secrets of the Woods: Book 1
by Sara Beth Harper
Xlibris


"Michael gazed down at the object in his hands. In that round, smooth heaviness was the root of all their problems! Why had it and all its trouble needed to fall in their hands?"

Five children possess a magical relic and a promise to a dying boy. Armed with these secrets, they set out on a quest for answers and to find the mystical Camelot. As they begin their adventure, everything changes. Survival is different here. They are pursued by orcs, menacing dogs, and goblins. They experience nightmares and encounter mysterious creatures, wizards, and witches. The woods become a treacherous and alien world for them, vastly different from the familiar streets in which they once lived and endured. They must rely on their street smarts and each other to battle these outside forces determined to stop them. And this is only the beginning of the many challenges that test their individual strengths and power of their collective unity. ... (read more)

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Confidence with Blood Pressure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blood Pressure Monitoring Journal: A Hypertension Diary and Activity Log Volume II
by Milton Lee, Ph.D. and Joyce Lee, Ph.D.
Xlibris


"...American Heart Association reveals...we are almost at the point where proper nutrition, dietary intake and exercise can virtually guarantee a healthy heart for life."

If you’ve been diagnosed with blood pressure issues, this journal can help you get a better handle on it by providing information and logs for tracking data concerning your personal health. The beginning chapters explain the meaning of terms that doctors use. You will know what the blood pressure numbers (systolic over diastolic) mean and what is an acceptable heart rate for your age. You will be prepared for normal blood pressure fluctuations throughout the day. The authors suggest exercises to improve balance and that age-appropriate exercise can lower blood pressure. Such information is important, since the doctor may not have had time to address these points. The largest portion of the journal provides pages to record things such as a doctor's contact information, a medication list, and questions for the doctor. There are also logs to track what you eat, how much you exercise, and blood pressure readings—plus an appointment calendar. ... (read more)

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A Parable About Souls

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Geist Esser: The Story
by Jim von Tesmar
Xlibris


"He immediately hears a slurping sound; the sound of a straw sucking up the remains of a liquid in the bottom of a can."

"Come quick. Digger is dead." These words summon Matthew Thomas, a theological professor, to his childhood home to mourn the death of his old friend. Stricken by Digger's sudden unexplained death, Matthew and another old friend, Luther St. Johns—an accomplished artist in multiple disciplines, begin an exploration into the event and the strange word the deceased spoke with his last breath: "Anima." As they investigate further, the two men discover that more and more people have been perishing with that word on their lips. Even stranger are the ones who remain—shells of their former selves, as though the life were sucked out of them. The search takes the two old friends to an ominous old church, recently reopened and rumored to deal in souls. But what is the church's goal? To uncover the truth behind their friend's death, Matt and Lute are determined to find out—no matter what. ... (read more)

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A Bridge Between Worlds

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Anodyne’s Anthology of Hollow: The Rise of Anodyne
by Banickker
Xlibris


"I tore them to pieces as they stood in the warm embrace of the pyromancers' fire, demonstrating why I was the god of Hollow and how they were my playthings."

Anodyne stems from "no pain" in Greek. We use it to speak of painkillers, to refer to something inoffensive. The titular character of this book is none of those things. He is a god—powerful enough to create a world but too weak to populate it. So, he forms Hollow, a dreaded landscape of torment and despair, where the cruel god Anodyne places humans he steals from the Earth. These humans are tasked with just one goal: to survive. And all the while, Anodyne infuses his plaything, the world of Hollow, with fever dreams and night terrors. The god Anodyne wakes; what is in store for his stolen children of the Earth? ... (read more)

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