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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

Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci
by Mike Lankford
Melville House


"Utterly odd and unique and stunningly beautiful—and not what they asked for at all. The monks hated it. Completely."

In a time of enlightenment and brutal death, Leonardo da Vinci was truly brilliant. Artist, scientist, mathematician, inventor—he existed to solve problems great and small in the world, while envisioning a future that would not come to fruition until centuries after his death. He is an historical figure that cannot be completely known or spoken of enough. Perhaps the term Renaissance man was invented to describe him. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

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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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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Criminals & Humans

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Remote Access: An International Political Thriller
by Barry Finlay
Keep On Climbing Publishing


"As he rounded the corner into the hall, Cheung’s parting words echoed through the open door. 'Make sure it doesn’t fail, Mr. Lee. You will not like the consequences if it does.'"

This story definitely has a “ripped from the headlines” feel. It revolves around a mercurial President of the United States who is both loved and hated in equal measure. His consideration of slapping China with trade tariffs leads to multiple instances of mayhem that threaten both government officials and innocent bystanders. ... (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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Irony in Motion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Einstein in Flamingoland: Confessions of a Fellow Traveler
by George Brinner
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"I feel as though I hadn’t had three and a half of my previous four wines. I believe the gumbo soaked breads have neutralized the alcohol not yet in my blood stream."

Think of a collection of characters similar to the ones you might find in an Elmore Leonard novel. Mix those with a fairly loose plot and a potentially freaky climax you could run across between the pages of a Jim Thompson potboiler. Add a dash of arguably one of the world’s most cosmic thinkers, and you’ll begin to get a feel for this road novel that would make Ken Kesey smile. ... (read more)

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Legends & Lore

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Carling: Book 2 of The One True Child Series
by L. C. Conn
Between the Lines Publishing


"For the second time he was taking her away from her family—this time into a different form of slavery."

Fantasy is alive and well and exerting its power to enchant and beguile in this novel of foretold destiny. Similar to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a grand quest is undertaken. Akin to cinema’s Star Wars sagas, supernatural powers once learned and practiced are put to use in the pursuit of righting heinous wrongs. And evocative of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, children figure mightily into this multigenerational tale of freedom from slavery and oppression. ... (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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Character Shining

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Divine Rapid Response: Turning Dismay to Hope and Failure to Success
by Chuks I. Ndukwe
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"I began to have a funny feeling and a touch of nervousness. However, the fear of failure energized my resolve, focus, and determination."

In this memoir, the author tells his story of coming to the United States from Nigeria to study electrical engineering and computer science. By chance, on his flight to America, he meets Dr. Ekpo Ekong, who lives in the area and kindly offers to put up the naive, young Ndukwe while he gets his feet on the ground. Through diligent study and hard work, the author endears himself to the various employers he encounters through work-study programs—though he changes his first name to Chuks in order for people to get his name correct in his new country. He works on several key technological projects with various large companies until the market collapse at the turn of the millennium. Things go from bad to worse when someone who he thought was a trusted relative scams him out of his remaining savings, forcing him to start again from scratch. ... (read more)

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Realistic Portrayal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stormy Summers: Fifth Grade Detective: Museum Mayhem
by Erin Danko
CreateSpace


"Okay, Plan B. The only problem was I didn’t have a Plan B. I looked around again. Then I looked up."

Stormy Summers is just your average girl in the fifth grade—she gets annoyed by her little brother, and she’s extremely loyal to her friends. Though she dreads the upcoming class field trip to a cultural museum in Phoenix, her grade depends on it; so, she forces herself to go. Stormy reads a lot of detective stories, and so when the unthinkable robbery of an extremely valuable necklace happens right under her nose, she and her friends Gabrielle and Cassie are on the case. As kids, they have to be careful not to get caught by museum security or protective parents, but the trio scours the museum for clues after the police leave. When they discover that the theft was potentially an inside job, the girls unravel a conspiracy that none of them would have initially suspected. ... (read more)

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Frenetic Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Monitors of Mayhem
by Darleen Hayball Johnson
Greenberry Publishing


"Some pilots communicated the situation from a distance, but most who could see the explosion were doomed."

Ann and Tim thought their new neighbors were odd. Gabriel and Ruth had a strange accent, which for California with its burgeoning immigrant population was not unusual in itself, but they also seemed to be completely clueless when it came to some of the basic things that almost every adult should know. For instance, why would anyone who supposedly came from the Santa Barbara area need to be told what ham and cheese were? But when Gabriel came over and told them that he and Ruth were actually aliens living inside human bodies they had appropriated from two terminally ill people and then fixed, Ann knew their neighbors’ oddity must actually be madness—that is, until she held Gabriel’s hand and suddenly learned the truth. ... (read more)

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Entertainer & Teacher

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It’s All About Something
by Alexander Villarasa, M.D.
Xlibris


"In this our age of complexities and perplexities, good intentions are no longer the be-all and end-all of human action. Actions have consequences..."

In this, the author’s first published book, early chapters are stories from his youth growing up in the Philippines. Similar is the chapter “Streets and Remembrances” about homes where the author, his nurse wife, and family have lived in southern California since 1977. Unlike a memoir, this book is more a group of meditations on topics popular due to modern advancements. ... (read more)

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A Rhythmic Tale of Learning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Johnny’s First Drum
by Curtis Cooper
Barrel of Monkeys Publishing Company


"It’s the beat, he thought, that moves us. It’s the beat that leads the band. And that’s what I should practice to be the very best I can."

Seven-year-old Johnny gets a drum for his birthday and sets out on a quest to learn to play. He uses the resources in his community to observe and understand what it takes to make “those drumsticks bounce.” First, he follows a circus band and watches the drummers’ hands and their marching feet keeping time to the beat. He notices the timing of the other instruments tapping, booming, crashing, and tick-tocking between the drum beats. He counts the beats alongside the conductor and finds the upbeats and the backbeat and longs to learn the roll. Inspired by the band, he buys a music book and starts taking music lessons with a drummer. He studies and practices and deepens his love for playing music. ... (read more)

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A Heartwarming Message

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jeremy’s Mom
by Lisa A. Dunn
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.


"Getting that scar was the small price I had to pay to save you, and it was all worth it!"

Young Jeremy is dreading the approach of Parents’ Night at his elementary school. While the other kids, teachers, and even his own parents are getting more and more excited, Jeremy is hoping for some kind of fluke cancellation. The reason Jeremy’s going through so much stress over the event is because he’s embarrassed by a large scar covering half of his mother’s face. Certain that everyone will make fun of his mother—and himself by proxy—Jeremy sinks into a depression that is immediately noticeable. Deciding to learn what is bothering his son, Jeremy’s father asks him what’s wrong. Jeremy decides to be honest with his father and, in turn, learns a startling fact about his mother and her scar that changes his perspective completely. ... (read more)

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American Killing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Betrayal At Bethesda: The Intertwined Fates of James Forrestal, Joseph McCarthy, and John F. Kennedy
by J. C. Hawkins
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"Why was Forrestal placed in the VIP suite on the sixteenth floor of the hospital if he was potentially suicidal?"

At the end of World War II, the looming threat of communism became the new persona non grata in the United States. Before the Cold War ramped up to full speed, the country’s first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, suspected that the touch of communism had spread through espionage and subterfuge throughout the bodies of government and was dedicated to stamping it out—along with his two soon-to-be-notable proteges: Senator Joseph McCarthy and future President John F. Kennedy. However, while the latter’s assassination is well-known and oft-discussed, the other two men met a similarly suspicious demise. In addition, the death and investigation of all three have a link to a single institution: The National Naval Medical Center located in Bethesda, Maryland. In this book, the author presents a thesis that aims to lay out the reach of a conspiracy that eliminated these men before they could expose communism in America. ... (read more)

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A Great Yoga Primer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yoga the Pathway to Perfection: Yoga Is Not a Way of Doing but a Way of Being
by Dr. Kandasamy Arunachalam
Xlibris AU


"Meditation is most sacred. It is the unconditioned communion with the Inner Reality, the Inner Self, the Pure Soul, Pure Undifferentiated Consciousness or the ONE."

The book explores one type of yoga: the yoga of meditation or Raja yoga. This introductory booklet consists of 45 pages and is broken down into 19 chapters. It offers a discussion of the basics of all yoga and why one should utilize meditation as a process of healing. It explores Samadhi as looking at the three conditions of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Also important are the three disciplines—universal charity, strict morality, and development of the mind. It then takes the reader into the value of walking meditation, contemplation, and how to select the meditation site, the clothing worn, the postures, and the physiology of breathing and relaxation. ... (read more)

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Lama Rinzen Naraka Begins

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

49 Buddhas: Lama Rinzen in the Hell Realm
by Jim Ringel
Black Bee Publishing


"Your Buddha says life is empty. Do you know what he means by that? He means just because you go looking for something, it doesn’t mean it’s there."

The dorje—it's the “Most Sacred of Objects” that Lama Rinzen Naraka must find to bring enlightenment to all. It has escaped him for many lifetimes and is indeed the reason he has been trapped in the Hell Realm for so long. Upon awakening from meditation, Lama Rinzen Naraka finds himself in an apartment in Denver on Colfax Avenue. In this life, he has been reincarnated as a detective and has been tasked with finding the killer of one of the most prominent insurance men in the city, Sonny Heller. Believing that finding Heller’s killer will also lead him to what he seeks, he sets out to explore the snow-laden streets of Denver. On his quest for the dorje, Lama Rinzen Naraka meets many characters, some who are believers and are certain of its presence in Denver, and others who insist it doesn’t even exist. Of the many individuals that Lama Rinzen Naraka meets in this lifetime, who can be trusted? ... (read more)

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Tribal Ways

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Sunshine Land: Ghana at Fifty: Memories of Independence, 1957
by David Wedd
AuthorHouse UK


"Africans, he said, were people, not possessions or ‘things’. 'I’m an African,' Emmanuel said, 'or have you forgotten that?'"

To be whisked away to another place and time is one of the joys books provide. Here, the place is West Africa, and the time is the 1950s. This memoir recounts the period leading up to, during, and just after the colony of Ghana gained its independence from British rule. It is written by an Englishman who soldiered there, then later turned his diaries, notebooks, and memories into a chronicle of his experiences. ... (read more)

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Guardians of Globalization

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Cobra Pilot: A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show
by Captain J.L. "Bigsby" Groom
Xlibris


"Capitalism is always racing to the bottom to find the best product for the best price."

A Marine Cobra helicopter pilot located off the coast of South Korea reviews his squadron’s mission statement. He completed his flight training in Okinawa where his unit’s goal was to provide combat ready aviation forces to the Marine Air Ground Task Force. He writes about the research programs available to the average Marine, compensation of the officers, the emphasis on women and minorities, and the scene at the base’s grocery store. Celebrities and other leaders such as Caroline Kennedy, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel pay a visit to the Marines and give speeches about how relevant and important Marines are. ... (read more)

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Bravery, Danger & Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Black Silver, Red Gold: The Dark Forest
by Mark Stevens
AuthorHouse


"He had, for the first time, glimpsed the wounded heart of the tough, battle-hardened vixen he both admired, and feared. And loved."

Kian Silverfur, aka the 21-year-old Nightshadow, is a fox who joins an outlaw band by force. Her friends are 18-year-old Tarric, a dogfox, and Aggus, an older wolf and Kian’s confidant. Kildirk Drakken, the leader of the fox band, punishes Tarric, but Nightshadow takes his place and is whipped 35 times. After Aggus dies as a result of a fight with Kildirk, Nightshadow asks for a week’s journey away with Tarric, but her real plan is to escape Kildirk and Bulloch, a wolf who is Kildirk’s enemy. Kian kills two foxes after one fox stabs and blinds Tarric, and the two grow closer during the challenges of their journey. The travelers dine and bunk with wolves Josaiha and Naomi Longbrush, and Kian nurses Naomi back to life when she becomes ill. Tarric saves Josaiha from attacking foxes, after which the travelers move on to Brockton. ... (read more)

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Chile Unveiled

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

La Aguita: The Little Water
by Jenny Kingham
Xlibris AU


"If she wanted to find peace here, she had to accept the rain and its greyness, just as she had to accept Chile’s dark history."

It’s 1986, and Laura is a well-meaning Australian who has come to Chile as part of a volunteer program. Having grown up on a farm, as well as having studied agriculture in school, she feels well equipped to help locals improve their farming and livestock operations. What she’s not well equipped to deal with, however, is the internal political struggles of many of the people she’s come to help. ... (read more)

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Surprising & Unexpected

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Destructive Irony
by Tabatha Kohler
Xlibris


"He spent years building everything he has, and now, he has to fight not to lose everything, including Eliza."

The man Eliza meets during her shift at the grocery store is irresistible, and their erotic encounters soon assuage memories of her divorce and leave her wanting more. Vince is a catch, but he may have some secrets. For one thing, he's cagey about divulging personal information… and professional information… well, any information really. But he is seductive and magnetic, and Eliza is hooked, even as he offers her a mysterious job for five times her current checkout clerk salary. Still, Eliza knows secrets are a rocky foundation for a relationship, particularly for a woman who isn’t exactly sharing the full story of her own past. But Vince has fallen hard for Eliza, and she finds few things are as seductive as being adored, particularly by a wealthy and enigmatic lover. So, they climb in deeper in an affair that seems to darken, like a tunnel, the further they go. ... (read more)

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Surreal World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sharptop Gullipop and the Fairies of Bodium
by Lillian J. Grigsby
AuthorHouse


"Fellow Fut’emen
It’s our extinction we’re being led
Uncaring actions, quite bothersome
Accounted from some neighbors in our homestead"

In the bizarre but peaceful kingdom of Bodium, various races of fairies walk along the Precious Stone Road of Eternal Life in a pilgrimage with the Most High Creator. These fairies are primarily from two main tribes: the Hahn’emon clan which loves to laugh, play, and give thanks to the Creator, and the Fut’emen clan which prefers to think of itself as more self-made and capable of controlling Bodium from their headquarters in the Metatarsus Kingdom. The Creator selects Poppo as the leader of the Hahn’emon and bestows Ma’Knowledge to him, entrusting him to lead the Hahn’emon on a journey to Metatarsus. Poppo, his friend Sharptop, and their families and friends head into potentially dangerous territory in order to spread the faith of their beloved Most High Creator and maintain peace throughout Bodium. ... (read more)

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Wisdom & Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Oath to Odin
by Richard Cooper
iUniverse


"Oh, mighty Odin…I, Thor, son of Gren, pledge my life in your service…I will rebuild my father’s village and avenge the deaths of my people…"

When marauding barbarians invade Thor’s Viking village and wreak havoc, murdering all of his family and neighbors, fifteen-year-old Thor swears revenge against his enemies. He makes a mighty oath that he will bring glory and prestige to Odin while rebuilding his father’s village and avenging the deaths of his people. Determined to succeed at any cost, Thor sets out on an arduous journey, with only the help of a handful of people, two bags of coins, and an old longboat. Armed with fortitude, patience, and fearlessness, he slowly but steadily builds a powerful empire through trading, raiding, exploration, and diplomacy, subsequently fulfilling his destiny. ... (read more)

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The Human Failing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Weighted
by E.S.E. Bruno
Xlibris


"This morning, in one sentence you destroyed what our families, enemies, racist, and time could not kill..."

With in this novel, the power of star-crossed soulmate love is depicted in a unique presentation bridging all moral restraints. The story also crosses harshly divided cultures that reveal themselves in violence and hatred. Rich African American vernacular is well distributed throughout the work, although partial sentences, typos, misspelled words, and the leap from story to play and back to story is somewhat distracting. ... (read more)

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Rule Your Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Failed Experiment: Was Hamilton Right
by Mart Grams
Xlibris


"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

This historical and philosophical examination of America’s governance begins by distinguishing between the classical republicanism of Thomas Jefferson and the federalism of Alexander Hamilton. Both men were “Founders and Framers” and served in the early leadership of America. Hamilton stood for elite interests and strong central government, believing that the masses would not be able to govern themselves, whereas Jefferson’s views expressed confidence in a democratic society with power divested to the states. Many Americans now feel that Hamilton’s way has prevailed—that individuals have lost the right to decide basic issues or solve basic problems for themselves owing to excessive government overreach. The question for them becomes whether to give in to the power of the group that holds the reins—since it seems to be dominating our country at this time—or wrest power away from centralized government and put it back in the hands of ordinary citizens. ... (read more)

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True Horizons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Spirit Answers: A Primer to Understanding Spiritual Growth
by Jacqueline McNeil Watts
Balboa Press


"Prayer is useful when one wants to talk to God. Meditation helps one to become God."

A concise book of only 54 pages, this is truly a primer on spirituality as it “gives a basic, very simplified explanation of what we are and of our evolution from human beings to spirit beings.” The book begins with a preface, foreword, acknowledgments section, and dedication before getting into the heart of the topic. The rest of the book is written in a form where the author asks Spirit to answer basic spirituality questions and is given answers to pass on to readers. The first question regarding the question about who or what is Spirit helps to set the tone for the rest of the questions. ... (read more)

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Dark Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Diary: Perdition Awaits
by Terry Beer
AuthorHouse


"Over the coming years, he knew he would have to learn, teach, and nurture his daughter’s gift, one he hoped wouldn’t be detrimental to a life built on promises in the future"

The Cauldron, a former institute built to house violent criminals in the 1600s, is damned after horrific bloodshed instigated by its most violent inmate, Jimmy the Wave. The Cauldron now serves as a hell, and The Diary is a powerful book spawned to enact revenge and lay claim to the souls it needs to survive. Inside the cover of the book is the inscription: "Perdition Awaits." Once the book is opened, it devours its prey with a spellbinding power. ... (read more)

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Divining the Tole Fairy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tole Painting Adventures in Alaska
by Judy Farnham
Xlibris


"I learned from all of the famous tole painters in the business."

Author/artist Farnham is a creator of tole painting, an art style that evolved from the home-based craft of decorating common household objects to a more versatile art form depicting patterns of simple beauty on almost any object. Twenty-six years ago, Farnham moved to Alaska where painting has become her primary activity along with flower gardening. Flowers play a large role in the paintings she produces. Sunflowers, wild Alaskan irises, Mexican poinsettias, and Cadmium Scarlet roses along with birds and other natural details comprise this pleasing collection. Farnham photographed her finished works, made line-drawing templates of the basic designs, and devised a list of all materials such as surfaces, brushes, paints and other equipment needed to reproduce the designs. The result is a thorough, highly organized instruction book for those who are beginners in the art of tole painting or who know the craft and would welcome new patterns to follow. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Zombie

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Romero Strain II: The Dead, the Damned, and the Darkness
by TS Alan
AuthorHouse


"When the gunfire had stopped, she waited a moment before she emerged from her hiding place to see if her father was safe."

Picking up where the previous book left off, the sequel continues to follow zombie apocalypse survivor J.D. Nichols surviving in the devastated New York City area. The living dead have all died off, leaving three groups behind fighting for domination: Transmutes that live underground and come out to feed only at night, Half-mutes that have replaced the zombies as the deadliest predator, and groups of human scavengers fighting for survival. One of these groups is particularly ruthless, run by a man named Evan Stone who considers himself the ruler of the entire area. In addition to kidnapping and killing the other survivors, Stone is also abducting children for his own sick desires. J.D. and a new group of allies led by a former actor named Ryan Duncan must defy the hordes of mutants and end the reign of Stone. ... (read more)

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Morals & Ethics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Smoke and Mirrors: Police Dreams
by Jordan P. Castro
Xlibris


"Rose would dream on this night, as he always dreamt: with gunfire and bloodshed and triumphant gold badges being honorably pinned on his uniform."

In 2007, a quadruple murder known as the Ash Wednesday Massacre propels rookie New York police officer Brandon Rose into the big league. Guided by his father’s legacy and personal aspirations of making detective, Rose seizes upon the opportunity to apprehend the killers. Then, a chance encounter with sixteen-year-old, street-wise Giselle is the connection Rose needs at the right moment. ... (read more)

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Define Your Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Designing Your Own Unique and Dazzling Life: A Journey Through Intellectual Property Rights
by Ho Hyun Nahm
AuthorHouse UK


"Those who waste their time are not qualified to complain that life is too short"

Creativity and faith have been the defining factors the author attributes to his personal and professional achievements. From an early age, he recognized a link between his creative vision and the solutions he implemented… which obtained positive results. In this brief, motivational memoir, the author shares a practice of resourceful methodology that has guided his actions, culminating in both a fulfilling life and prosperous career. By exerting an energetic focus on the task at hand, he proves that determination is the key to reaping a rewarding outcome. Documenting business and personal highlights, the author seeks to leave an inspirational record of life experiences for his grandchildren with his message that we are all capable of great accomplishments through hard work and applying our best effort in all actions. ... (read more)

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Adventure Daughter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

ALA Peanut Butter Sandwiches
by Penny Lambert
Xlibris


"Good thing I wore these extra pants, they are sure coming in handy now..."

Petunia, who lives on a hill and sleeps late, wears two pairs of pants because she thinks it is stylish. A fly flies into her peanut butter sandwich without her knowledge. She feels it fluttering in her belly, and she starts to fly. She asks the fly if it is finished eating, and the fly laughs. A bird flies into Petunia and knocks the fly out of her body. Petunia makes a parachute out of her extra pair of pants. She then tells her mom all about her adventure. ... (read more)

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The Storm

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hell, Heaven, or Hoboken by Christmas: An American Soldier in the First Gas Regiment
by Robert Lambert
Xlibris


"We all hit the ground as the machine guns raked the hillside, clipping the brush. A storm of bullets was whistling over us for a while, then passed on."

Through interviews, memoirs, diary entries, and historical research, Lambert has created a book that puts readers in the thick of World War I. By chronicling the experiences of an individual soldier, the author’s grandfather, Lambert puts what was once called “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars,” in a human perspective as well as a historical one. ... (read more)

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Story of War

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cellist’s Friend
by Robert J Fanshawe
AuthorHouse UK


"She almost leapt in a half-laugh, but actually it was a scream. My words—DIED, FIRING SQUAD—had tortured her further."

The horrors of World War I are vividly depicted in this searing novel of self-examination. From repellent conditions of life and death in the battlefield trenches to spirit-atrophying convalescence in military hospitals, author Fanshawe depicts the wreckage that war wreaks on humanity by focusing on a single soldier. ... (read more)

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Overcoming Obstacles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Half Life Fate Rules: All or Nothing Dangerous Journeys 1931–1970
by Edwin Hood
Xlibris


"I was one screwed up man when I got out of the Marines. I...finally discovered compassion, love, and a genuine deep interest in all of us."

The author begins his story trolling—which is a difficult method of fishing that controls the quality of fish caught and kept—in Southeast Alaska. Throughout his life, he suffers various setbacks including having an alcoholic and abusive father, struggling with poverty, hiding a painful hernia to stay active in the Marines, experiencing rejection as a Marine pilot due to insufficient lung capacity and bad teeth, and contracting malaria in Korea. ... (read more)

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Poetry Precision

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Quest: Seeking Promise in the Here and After
by Robert Lewis Dey
AuthorHouse


"Darling of dreams, deft deceiver,
Eluding all my fragile grasp would hold,
Doubter I, or just a blind believer?"

The subtitle to this volume of poetry provides readers with a glimpse of what to expect inside. Compiling more than three dozen different poems, there are similar themes throughout the book regarding love, faith, and devotion. The poet brings forth personal memories such as his wedding night and also composes poems that are more rhetorical in nature. In keeping with the core idea of faith, some poems include an illustration paired with a biblical quote that helps to express the idea and message of the accompanying poem. This collection closes on an exciting tale of a pirate named Bloodthirsty Dan that may not fit with the theme of the other works on display but certainly is just as artistic in its imagery and execution. ... (read more)

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Approaching Certainty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Probability Mechanics
by Louis M. Houston
AuthorHouse


"Since infinite information does not propagate, it does not radiate. Therefore, infinite information cannot be observed."

Packed full of theoretical science and mathematical formulas, this brief textbook applies quantum mechanics to metaphysical concerns such as the manifestation or the possibility of parallel universes. Almost every chapter introduces new theorems and definitions as it builds and develops a series of concepts that set out to prove the author’s point. Examining concepts like probability, information, the multiverse, and even voodoo, the application of existing scientific theorems is used to show a potential real-world basis for concepts and ideas that are not widely accepted. With a mixture of sourced reading materials, theories, and a perspective from a new set of eyes with the academic expertise to comprehend and interpret all of the data, this book sets out to disprove intelligent design and examine how to make probability into something approaching certainty. ... (read more)

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Straightforward Poetry

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blue Collar Poet: 101 Poems
by Rocky Rhoads
AuthorHouse


"Orbs of fiery yellow
Saint to sinner
Sans blink
Caressing touch
Soft as morning mist
Playful wraith
A downy whirlwind"

Featuring a total of 101 poems, the author's collection expresses thoughts about everyday life and the planet we all share. As the title implies, these poems are presented in a fashion that is accessible to all and values simplicity over rigidity in form. The poems are split into three sections that group the selections into larger, overarching themes. The first section, “Me,” offers poems about the author and her perspective on life events, technology, food, and anything else. The second section, “The Natural World And Its Creatures,” focuses on nature and animals both wild and domesticated. There are several poems under this heading that focus on the poet’s pets and are perfect for animal lovers. The final section is “Of God And Men” which focuses on the poet’s spirituality and the role faith has in humanity. ... (read more)

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A First Ammendment Dilemma

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Government Control of News: A Constitutional Challenge
by Corydon B. Dunham
iUniverse


"It is hard to imagine a more important freedom for the press and public than the ability to criticize and change government policy."

With the advent of television came the opportunity to share information both through audio and video and reach people immediately. Though the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the freedom of the press from government influence, a surprising Supreme Court ruling upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s Fairness Doctrine. This rule imposed a requirement for television stations to provide equal airtime to differing opinions on controversial issues. While it was written in order to encourage fairness as its name implies, what it ended up accomplishing was allowing the government to meddle in issues that it was constitutionally prohibited from involvement in. While the Fairness Doctrine was eventually abandoned, there are still those in government who wish to restrict the freedom of the press, and this book examines the history of such efforts as well as new threats to a free press on the horizon. ... (read more)

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Scope of Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ghost of Crazy Horse
by Dr. James Hawley
Xlibris


"'But, what if they send you to Vietnam?' questioned Gayle. 'I’m a marine now,' answered Eric. 'I’ll do what they tell me.'"

Waldo Wagner lives in the Wyoming countryside with his parents, older brother Eric, and two sisters. Following him from a young age into adulthood, marriage, and starting his own family, this dramatic tale focuses on Waldo through each phase of his life. While riding out to fix the fence on their property, the two brothers stumble across a bundle of bones that they believe belong to Crazy Horse. Storing them secretly in the barn, the hiding place becomes a storehouse of keepsakes that Eric shows Waldo before he goes off to Vietnam. Waldo enlists in the military himself, choosing the Army as his branch of the service. While overseas in Germany, Waldo meets Aimee Mercer, a beautiful French woman that he asks to marry after five weeks of dating, but the tragedy of the Vietnam War touches the Wagner family shortly after Waldo’s happy moment. ... (read more)

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An Erudite Observer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lynne and David
by David Formby
Xlibris


"What sustains me is the feeling that you share my beliefs or illusions or whatever they are."

A collection of love letters saved over more than twenty years is shared with the world in hopes of recapturing “something of the magic.” Formby, the “David” of the title, corresponded with Lynne in 1989 while they were living apart before their marriage. The letters (mostly his) concern special meetings with “Dearest Lynne Josephine” as he often addressed her. David describes his struggles with a soon-to-be-ex wife; Lynne subtly questions his motivations, while generally greeting him with a cheery “Hello David Darling.” She smiles when she reads his missives, and he confesses he thinks of her all the time. The letters are unexpurgated, politely alluding to sexual encounters in a tender, courtly manner. They also cover a great variety of mundane subjects—the weather, the author’s troubles with his computer, what was had for dinner, and, in David’s case, what drink he is imbibing and its effects. Formby interjects commentary amongst the letters. One highlight, sadly, is David’s final, poignant letter written to Lynne in spirit 16 months after her passing. ... (read more)

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Armor of Light

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lessons of Nature, from a Modern-Day Shepherd
by Don F. Pickett
AuthorHouse


"Shepherds witness biological life begin and end on a regular basis."

Shepherds have time to contemplate life in its wholeness. This could begin with a shepherd alone with his dog and his flock, poking a stick into the earth and seeing a worm—leading him to wonder how life comes to be and to consider that humans can’t create even such a simple lifeform as an earthworm. When a shepherd studies the sky, he will marvel at the heavenly presence of light—not merely something to be turned on or off with a switch but a pale blue miracle that has both physical and spiritual capabilities. The dog’s bark or the bleating of a lamb reminds him that there are sounds the human ear can’t hear and cause him to ponder whether communication can take place without sound. A campfire suggests that even in the darkness his Creator offers an “armor of light.” The shepherd’s mental wanderings will lead to ideas regarding government, science, and the construction of man’s laws, which are sometimes in contradiction with natural law or God’s law. Will God’s system ultimately prevail? All these grand ideas may come to someone whose life is spent alone in nature. ... (read more)

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Pastoral Poetry

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Peace from Insanity
by Jesse M. Arzate
iUniverse


"While life becomes like a pendulum
swinging between insanity and sanity."

Arzate’s second book is a collection of free verse poems that begs the question of what is to become of our humanity? Here, he seems to be working through an inner anguish, a personal plea to God, perhaps, in search of a way out of the darkness that entraps us on Earth. ... (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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Engaging Storyteller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

One Who Knows Horses
by Max Windham
AuthorHouse UK


"Their way of life would soon be over. She could not let the man leave this valley alive."

This narrative begins intimately and ultimately expands to feel as big as the Rocky Mountains where the story takes place. The year is 1830, and the tale encompasses some forty years in the life of a man who leaves Mississippi and heads west. His personal story is a microcosm of America’s westward expansion writ large. It is truly a chronicle of how the west was won—or lost, depending on your point of view. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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I Once Was Lost, but Now I'm Found: Daisy and the Rescue of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary Dogs
by Laura Koerber
Who Chains You

It’s easy to look away. Images of suffering haunt a mind’s eye, and conditions that inflict pain can seem insurmountable. This was Laura Koerber’s all too human reaction when the suffering of dogs at Washington’s Olympic Animal Sanctuary first landed on her radar. But when she discovered that the deplorable conditions were near her own home county, that animals were suffering unthinkable and preventable cruelty, she knew there was action to take and a story to tell. What she didn’t expect was ... (read more)

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