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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Reviews

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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of 17,000 subscribers to our free monthly newsletter of fiction book reviews and nonfiction book reviews. Learn why our publication is different than most others, or read author and publisher testimonials about the USR.

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Focus Review
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Free Women, Free Men: Sex - Gender - Feminism
by Camille Paglia
Pantheon Books


"...the sexes are caught in a comedy of historical indebtedness. Man, repelled by his debt to physical mother, created an alternate reality, a heterocosm to give him the illusion of freedom. Woman, at first content to accept man's protections but now inflamed with desire for her own illusory freedom, invades man's systems and suppresses her indebtedness to him as she steals them."

Bob Dylan once said that he’d never run out of material because “man can’t change.” This applies to the so-called battle of the sexes. It will always be afoot, changing only boundaries and battlefronts, and therefore author and intellect Camille Paglia will never run out of material. In her collection of essays spanning three decades, she doesn’t further the conflict as much as calling for real progress. She tries to make sense of the way we live now. And plenty sense, she does make. ... (read more)

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To Live Again... and Again

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. ... (read more)

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Taking Care

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


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

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

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The DOXA Method for Self-Understanding

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


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

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

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Global Forest Concerns

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


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

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

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True Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Protecting Our Forests

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Searching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Road to Rochelle
by Harry X. Winfield
AuthorHouse


"Forty-three years ago, at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, I put a beautiful young lady from Burlington, Iowa, on a 727 back to Mitchell Field. I have not seen her since."

Eddie Hughes, on the surface, has had a pleasant life. He has a caring wife of over 35 years whom he loves dearly. He has three wonderful kids. He has had a restful retirement working on his model trains after having a lucrative-enough career as an engineer. He spends his days playing golf. In essence, all is seemingly good in Eddie’s world. However, underlying that content exterior is a tortured man whose past continuously nags him. Years prior, Eddie’s brother became brain-damaged after a skiing accident and later drowned. Eddie, as a young boy, was sexually abused by an Eagle Scout leader. His first marriage ended in divorce because of his sexual dysfunction caused by the sexual trauma he endured. In addition, he feels compelled to fulfill what he calls his 1976 List of Goals by getting in touch with the woman, GV, who helped him get past his sexual issues and to let her know that he is writing a book about his eclectic experiences. ... (read more)

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Love and Loss

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

She Who Knows: A Tale of the Heart
by Barbara Bras
Sojourn Publishing


"'Don’t get me wrong, no one is mean to me or anything like that. I mean, you know I am still an outsider.'"

At the early age of five, young Cassandra is separated from her family. When her mother passes away, it is decided that the best thing for Cassandra’s heart defect is to go live in Maui at her grandparents’ old mountain home, but her father remains in Oahu to run his law practice. Growing up sheltered and alone, Cassandra feels isolated and unhappy. When she has a strange dream five years later, she encounters the Menehune—the fabled tiny, indigenous people of Hawaii—and accidentally inhales a tiny dragon. When her dream ends, she begins to be able to hear people’s thoughts somehow, an ability that changes Cassandra’s life by getting her into a normal school, introducing her to new friends and admirers, and reconnecting her with family members from her past. ... (read more)

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Superb True Crime

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Familiar Evil
by Rannah Gray
The Lisburn Press


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

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

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Gaining True Strength

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Angels in the Snow
by Michael Dealy, Ph.D.
Xlibris


"Sometimes, being broken makes you stronger than you could ever be, especially when it comes to goodness."

In this imaginatively conceived parable, author, educator and psychologist Michael Dealy compares a boy struggling with the challenges of health issues to a broken angel set atop the family Christmas tree. Father and son are walking to school where the boy wants to sign up to play Little League baseball when the new season starts. The boy is recalling the recent decorating of the Christmas tree, puzzling over why his dad always uses even the old, partially broken decorations, including an angel with only one wing. As they walk, the boy, who suffers from asthma, falls in a snowdrift and begins to cough. Once he is back on his feet, he sees he has made an impression in the snow like an angel with one wing. He asks his father about the broken tree ornaments and is given the answer quoted above. Then we see the boy later in life, answering questions about baseball, indicating a successful Little League experience. He will recall best the evening he played "angels in the snow." ... (read more)

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Positive Thinking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I-Spy and Cansey and the Toy from the Sky
by Alan K. Mason
AuthorHouse


"I-Spy fumes as she cannot think up a good response. 'So now what are we supposed to play with?'"

In their second adventure, the cats I-Spy and Cansey argue over I-Spy’s boredom. I-Spy batted her toys under the couch and can’t reach them, and their owner won’t buy them any new toys. In response, Cansey sarcastically makes a bet with I-Spy. I-Spy believes that she can cause a new toy to fall from the sky using the power of positive thinking, while Cansey takes the more realistic approach. To I-Spy’s delight and Cansey’s dismay, once I-Spy gets to the backyard and focuses all of her attention, a blue hacky sack falls out of the sky and lands in the yard. Shocked and surprised, Cansey tries to make sense of this development while also trying to get out of the bet he just lost any way he can think of. ... (read more)

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Help You Grow

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Having Babies

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Divine Circumvention: Playing God in the Begetting of Babies
by Ruth Harwell Fawcett
Ambrosia Press


"But when it comes to real power, power to make things happen, women have it all over men."

In this story, three couples, each with lives tied to the process of varying scientifically advanced forms of birth, are all dealing with the complications of such procedures that are typically not discussed by the average person. Mirabelle and Bud are using a surrogate to bring their baby to term, despite Mirabelle's mother's distaste. ... (read more)

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An Experiment Gone Wild

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A Select Group
by Blaine C. Readler
Full Arc Press


"We hefted our bags, fell haphazardly into single file, and moments later were surrounded by soft darkness, broken by dappled, trembling spots of sunlight dancing on the needle-carpeted forest floor."

Readler’s tale is a Divergent meets The Hunger Games story of survival by not just the fittest but the smartest. The story takes place in the mountains of California where a selected group of people are put to the test in semi-harsh conditions. Cal and his group of newly found friends leave everything behind and travel to an unknown location to participate in an unknown experiment—one he will soon find that he is not mentally nor physically prepared for. There are surprising twists and turns around every bend in the forest, and Cal and his group must adapt to each situation presented. Their limits and their friendships are tested, lines are crossed, alliances are formed, and outcomes reach an all-time deadly high. Those in charge push the boundaries of what is experimental and what is legal. ... (read more)

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A New Page-Turner

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Land of Seekers
by Triveen Nair
Partridge Publishing


"Sadly, for Indians, actual history is not what has been taught…European and Left wing influenced History and social books have destroyed Indian education…and its children’s mindset."

Nair has written a page-turner based on the real life of Hyder Ali, a 1700s general and a last member of the Mogul empire. A large supporting cast of fictional characters unites to change the course of southern India’s history as planned by this Muslim tyrant. With the Indian gift for subtle discussion of distasteful subjects, murder, mayhem, and impending monsoons stalk six travelers entering India who journey over the mountains and along the Arabian Sea from Zanzibar to Oman until they meet on the southwest coast of India. ... (read more)

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An Action-Packed Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Kremlin Wolf
by Ron Gordon
Xlibris


"The western powers need reminding of our power not just here, but beyond, to strike fear wherever we choose, and with devastating effect, as New York 9/11."

The plan is to raise money from Muslims worldwide and then use these funds to create an act of terror even bigger than the World Trade Center on 9/11. Anje Mueller, a member of the German Armed Forces, is abducted by the Taliban and transported to Mogadishu, where he is then mutilated by Sharia physicians. Techy Baker is a computer science genius, who, upon graduation, is immediately recruited by the Stonegroup from Omaha, Nebraska. These two characters become the unlikely heroes of this fast-moving military novel. ... (read more)

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Educare in Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Early Brain Sprouts from States to Traits
by Meena Chintapalli, M.D. F.A.A.P.
Xlibris


"The greatest gift in life is the gift of human life."

From birth to age three, a child’s brain undergoes phenomenal growth. By the second birthday, the average brain has grown from 333 grams to 1,000 grams. Just one year later, the brain has established 90% of its pathways. Clearly, the first few years of life are crucial for all the rest of the years ahead of the child. Yet, modern society isn’t doing enough to capitalize on this sensitive period of growth, argues Dr. Chintapalli, and these shortcomings may contribute to developmental problems. ... (read more)

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Scrooge Returns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The Sequel to A Christmas Carol
by Norman Whaler


"The ghost became illuminated now, like an oil lamp being turned up by an unseen hand."

Consider the sheer audacity involved in deciding to write a sequel to what is arguably the most beloved Christmas story of all time—A Christmas Carol. Since the initial publication of Charles Dickens novella in 1843, the book has virtually never been out of print. It has been published in multiple languages worldwide and several motion picture treatments, as well as operas, stage plays, and more, have been produced over the last one hundred and seventy-five years. The story of the misanthropic and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who is transformed into a loving and charitable man, has been and continues to be a staple for families around the world. Therefore one can barely imagine the chutzpa required to deliver a sequel to such a revered tale. ... (read more)

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Alphabet of the Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Go In Joy!: An Alphabetical Adventure
by Joy Resor
Joy on Your Shoulders


"My deepest longing is that this story of emerging through life’s traumas inspires all of us into a journey of expanding our joy as we more deeply love our lives."

Like bubbles in a mountain spring or the sun’s rays through rain clouds, Resor’s positivism uplifts and restores. Neither a preachy text nor a litany of grievances, Resor’s intimate journey from wounding into healing charmingly mixes the divine and mundane. ... For example, in Chapter S, the story shifts from spiritual belonging to a bothersome snoring partner, tied together by a theme of oneness and self-care. Chapter H explores a romantic dissolution and ends with gyrations on a pink hula hoop—both part of the message: “Don’t hide from your feelings.” Every chapter has a theme or three represented by a letter of the alphabet, a captivating way to organize a self-help book, which builds a curious tension as we anticipate the more challenging letters. ... (read more)

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Interesting and Insightful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom
by Jason A. Merchey
Palmetto Publishing Group


"In the long run, the truth is always the most healing, empowering thing."

As the internet began growing into what it is today—a one-stop cultural smorgasbord where anything and everything can be found—the author of this book was running an online talk radio show featuring some of the world’s most preeminent living thinkers tackling large subjects in the pursuit of valuable wisdom. The internet has changed a lot since then, but the value in these interviews and discussions is still the same and now captured in written form for people to easily reference and draw needed inspiration. There are twenty chapters in all, each a transcribed episode of the radio show where expert guests are asked about the topics of their expertise. Subjects range from capitalism to doubt, political morality to raising children with strong characters and values. ... (read more)

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Rediscovering Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moonstroke II: Alien Territory
by Blaine C. Readler
Full Arc Press


"The whine of the manual override motor ceased, and the outer door slammed shut, leaving just sirens and terrified shouts of dozens of nexgens, which quickly died."

Time has passed since the events of Readler’s previous young adult sci-fi adventure Moonstroke, finding teenaged protagonist Katlin—previously contained to a base on the moon with dozens of fellow teenagers (“nextgens,” in the novel’s parlance)—now safely back home on Earth attending to collegiate studies. Her rose-tinted childhood memories of her home planet have proven to be at odds with reality; Earth is not the idealized paradise Katlin dreamed of while toiling away in space, offering its own balance of frustrations and limitations. Before long, trouble comes calling again, and she and her new Earth friend must do everything they can to stop it. Meanwhile, her compatriots back on the moon face dangers of their own. ... (read more)

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A Beautiful Day at the Park

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let's Go Yankees! An Unforgettable Trip to the Ballpark
by Scott Pitoniak
Ascend Books


"You’ve heard me tell stories about going to Yankee games…fun we had yelling ‘Let’s Go Yankees!’ Well, I’m taking you to your first Yankees game..."

Two young pups, a girl named Cammie and her brother Oscar, receive a surprise from their grandfather Poppy. He bought tickets for them to watch the Yankees play ball. Although this was a family tradition, it would be the pups’ first visit. Poppy wanted them to see all the different fans and learn the history of the Yankees. ... The family took a train into the city along with many other creatures—all eager Yankee fans. First stop inside the stadium’s admittance gate was Monument Park. There Cammie and Oscar learned about retired numbers once worn by famous players―’3’ worn by Babe Ruth and ‘47’ worn by Reggie Jackson. These numbers cannot be worn on uniforms again. The pups saw a monument for long-time Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner, called The Boss. After purchasing some peanuts, the new fans found their seats. They were ready to root for the Yankees and enjoy the game. ... (read more)

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Surviving

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Jew: Novel Based on a True Story
by Dominik Poleski
Xlibris


"We are Jews, and always will be, and we don’t have it written on our foreheads, and we don’t behave differently than anybody else."

Teenager Alek Brodski and his mother, the poor widow Zofia, live in a remote Polish village in the politically fraught 1960s. Everyone knows everyone else's business and knows that the two are the only Jews in town. When Alex, a loner who tries to avoid trouble, is set upon and beaten up by three boys, Zofia seeks justice from the fanatical Marxist police chief who offers only lies and evasions. Kindly Christian Maria Pavloska, who witnessed the incident, begins to help and counsel Zofia. Alex, intelligent and artistically talented but tormented by adolescent fears and fantasies, meets Ela, a young prostitute, when she speaks out to defend him from yet another attack. Ela returns to high school in hopes of seeing Alek and getting his help to study and improve her miserable life. Meanwhile, Zofia, having failed to get permission to emigrate with Alek to Israel, takes advice from Maria to help her son gain the social acceptance that he’ll need to become successful wherever he chooses to live. ... (read more)

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Inside the Poet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Poet’s Diary 1
by Dean Zeviar formerly known as Earnest Navar Williams
Xlibris


"The war is keeping the body and thoughts pure."

Reminiscent of Maya Angelou, Williams writes with a deep emotion that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Constituting mostly poetry, but with a bit of prose sprinkled in, the book of poems delivers snippets of a turbulent but faithful life. Early on, the poet elicits deeply disturbing visions of slavery and torture and later questions how much has really changed since the emancipation. The poet writes in a quiet but palpable grief, and many of these poems read like deep, painful memories. Loneliness, oppression, and resignation also emanate from the early pages. Descriptions of the poet’s childhood range from warm and happy to terrifying. In these poems of youth, Williams maintains a child-like point of view, making it easy for the reader to step into the mind of the child behind the words. ... (read more)

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Redemption Found

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life Got in the Way My Babies Was Taken From Me
by Toni Jones Tucker
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"I miss her so much I still cry at times I have my good days and my bad mostly my memories but that’s another story."

For many people, the mere idea of having their children taken away from them is a nightmare too difficult to imagine. In this autobiography, the author tells her story of heartbreak and sorrow followed by redemption and good fortune. Growing up, Ms. Tucker’s life was troubled. Her mother moved her and her siblings to the projects in Little Rock, Arkansas, and immediately had trouble fitting in because of their race. After suffering abuse at school, in her neighborhood, and even at home, she grows distant and detached from others save for a few close friends. Eventually, she decides to run away from home with one of those friends in order to improve her life, but a new tragedy arises when an admirer of hers rapes her in her new home and impregnates her. ... (read more)

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Honoring the Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stepping Stones
by Carol Trembath
Lakeside Publishing


"We will walk to raise awareness of how important it is to take care of the water. We will circle the lakes to protect them for our children and grandchildren."

Mai's feet get tired as she trudges along the banks of the lake, yet she knows that what she is doing is important. A young member of the Ojibway tribe, she and others of her family and people have been walking around Lake Michigan along the ancient path of their ancestors in an effort to call attention to the need to preserve one our most precious natural resources—water. Mai's job every morning is to pour lake water into the copper pail that the group will carry with them as they walk. Sometimes she picks up discarded bottles and cans while she goes along as that, too, is an important way to take care of the water. As she travels, Mai also finds or is given small, unique rocks that she tucks away in her memory bag. Each type of stone serves to remind her of a story from Ojibway culture relating to Mother Earth. ... (read more)

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Thinking Beyond the Hype

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


"Before taking advice, consider the source."

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

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Twists and Turns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Operation Iran
by Brian Wilson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"There is no such thing as utopia or fairness and the Bill of Rights is simply a museum artifact….you need to be a fair weather supporter."

Wilson’s tale is a spy-suspense novel set in the modern era of Middle Eastern intrigue involving the CIA, MI-6, and Mossad. A CIA agent is abducted in Malaysia only to miraculously turn up stateside five days later. He recruits one Frank Reza, a physicist, away from his academic career to help the CIA research and develop a deadly laser weapon. It turns out that the research team is composed of Iranian Muslims. Meanwhile, the CIA is searching for a double agent, or “mole,” within their ranks. A seemingly naïve Frank goes along with the team and completes the laser, but only after the Mossad has blown up one of their laboratories, and they have hopscotched from the U.S. to Mexico and the mountains of New Zealand. Who are these Iranians, why is Frank so gullible, and who is the double agent behind it all? ... (read more)

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Strathard Begins

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Strathard: A Question of Choice
by Jean Bisbey
AuthorHouse UK


"The professor has left me a million pounds. There is a condition. It is not for my pleasure or comfort. The only way I can spend it is for the good of humanity."

Jenny is drawn back to Strathard after receiving a large inheritance to be used for the good of humanity. While there, she thinks back on all that has happened during her life. Jenny’s mother died during childbirth, turning Jenny’s father to alcoholism. Her older brother, Callum, and the man she loves, Todd, both enroll for war leaving only Jenny and her Grandpa to care for Graham, her disabled brother. This all leaves Jenny questioning is there really a God? As Jenny’s rival, Neil Fraser, tries to convince her daily that God is there to help, She fights with continuing disbelief. Why would God make Graham disabled, take her mother, turn her father to alcoholism, and kill her love Todd in the war? The final event to warrant her disbelief is the death of Jenny’s Grandpa. When Callum returns home for Grandpa’s funeral, he confronts Jenny with an unimaginable proposal. Neil Fraser wants to marry Jenny and to care for both her and Graham back at his church in Edinburgh. Thinking solely of her brother, Jenny agrees. Now she finds herself again in Strathard trying to sort out her life. ... (read more)

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Beginning Life with God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Welcome to the Family of God: New Convert Workbook
by Sola Babalola
LitFire Publishing


"Now that you are born again, it is important that you understand the new life you have in Christ Jesus."

Reverend Sola Babalola, Senior Pastor of the Kingdom Pathway Church of Chicago, has created this manual for newly converted Christians. Its purpose is to guide them in understanding the joys and obligations of their “citizenship” in a unique “nation”—the Kingdom of God. Like a newborn child, a person who is born again will need nourishment, Babalola declares. That nourishment comes through obedience to God, through God’s established church, through daily prayer, and through a relationship with the Holy Spirit. In each of the seven chapters there is an explanation of the different parts of this process, offering “study scripts” (Biblical passages) highlighting each step and ending with an “assignment” on lined pages for the reader to fill out, dealing with such pertinent questions as “How has your life changed since you joined the family of God?” ... (read more)

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Hope for the World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Light at the End of the World: A Story of Spiritual Transformation in a Time of Catastrophic Change
by Lorraine Dopson
Angel Fire Press


"Thistle was a proud name and the name of a healer."

Thistle was born during the Late Paleolithic era during a time of catastrophic climate changes. She gets to experience a few different regions around her, and although there are others who travel great distances, her life still takes tremendous, ever-changing turns within the comparatively small region she calls home. Upon the birth of Thistle’s son, prophecies start to emerge about the end of time. The prophecies center around her only son and what he will do to carry on the stories of the People. Although Thistle’s heart is torn, she teaches her son all she can about the People and their history, hoping their legacy will never be forgotten. Thistle amazingly accomplishes this during numerous horrific events taking place around her due to climate changes. There appears to be no safe place, yet she clings to the hope that the prophecies are true and her son will live through the disaster to carry on the People's legacy. ... (read more)

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A Bible Fable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Miryam
by Judith Cooper
AuthorHouse UK


"The child was born just as the deepest time of night crept into the next day."

Author Judith Cooper recreates the Biblical story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, emphasizing the family’s Jewish heritage and the boy’s strong inclination to speak out against the cruelty of his people’s Roman conquerors. Her tale begins when a young girl, Miryam, is raped by Roman soldiers, and her secret—the loss of her virginity—is guarded with the help of the old widower, Yoseph. Sensing later that Miryam is pregnant, Yoseph arranges a hasty marriage and becomes her devoted husband. In Bethlehem, she gives birth to Yesue, and then to another: his twin, Tomas. Miryam will have other children, and Yesue will later marry a girl called Lena, short for Magdalena. The family is always under the protection of Yoseph of Arramatea, who will assist them at the climax of this engaging story when Yesue has been punished for his continued defiance of Roman authority. ... (read more)

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A View of the World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Universe and Life but Not Everything
by Anthony Christian Wright
AuthorHouse UK


"…an educational tool to aid the uneducated and curious as well as intellectual and educated…hopefully address some of life’s issues and science’s greatest problems."

In the “Introduction,” Wright welcomes us to his “universe” where readers are encouraged to think for themselves rather than rely on accepted philosophies and theories. In six sections he offers insight on the following controversial topics: “The Universe”; “Life Science”; “Business and Commerce”; “Government, Law, and Order”; “Organised Religion”; “Personal Life of Jesus.” In general, Wright’s approach is to expose the perceived faults of established viewpoints by contrasting them with theories currently put forward but not officially accepted. From these two sources (for example, Einstein and Newton versus modern astrophysicists) he extracts his own philosophy. ... (read more)

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A Song of Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Baba in the Park
by Baldev Singh Sandhu
AuthorHouse


"All my white, black, or brown sisters and brothers, do not hate; love each other."

This bright, cheerful children’s book encourages children to get along, no matter what their race, religion, or national origin, with a particular focus on anti-bullying. These enduring ideals are delivered by Baba, an old man passing through the park one day. Baba is loudly singing as he observes children playing nicely together. But one child, Amrit, admits to Baba that he used to be a terrible bully until his teacher took him to a garden where he could see that all flowers were equally beautiful, growing together under the watchful eye of the gardener. Baba tells the children that he learned his wisdom from his grandmother. He teaches the children to sing his song of love and anti-bullying and says that together they can change the world. ... (read more)

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Breaking Boundaries & Perceptions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Seer of Grace and Fire: Book 1
by Natsuya Uesugi
Xlibris


"‘That is a demon rider’, she said, pointing, her voice faltering."

Every year—for the past sixteen years—the people of Itheria recall the loss of all the male children to the Valky’r and her army. This day is known as DarkFall. Seventeen-year-old Timorn doesn’t understand (or care) how he escaped the Valky’r’s wrath all those years ago until a strange elven woman tracks him down and tells him that the Valky’r is about to return once again and that she needs his aid as the future king of the fae. While reluctant to believe or help her, Timorn slowly gets pulled into a battle that he never wanted to fight, along with a family that he never imagined he’d have. ... (read more)

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Bible Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Understanding the Struggle: Natural Man VS Spiritual Man War
by Robert Childress
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"…most religious groups today…are trying to improve the natural man and do not yet understand that the natural man has not been redeemed…"

The struggle Childress addresses in his book is between two warriors―the natural man and the redeemed nature―within a born-again Christian. The author experienced this first-hand and also witnessed others struggle with this during his 40 years of serving as a church pastor. His book provides words of encouragement, promise, and protection.

This struggle began in the early years of the church and recently has returned with ferocity. Two natures within the believer war against each other. As the Apostle Paul stated, the good that he wanted to do, he could not; the evil he did not want to do, he did. Recently, the doctrines called Sinless Perfection, Holiness, or a Higher Life have gained many adherents. In a society where no one is willing to admit he/she has sinned, promises which offer freedom from guilt appeal to the new believer. Childress declares that what is being promised by these concepts cannot be delivered. While measuring self by comparison to others, an honest heart will soon become discouraged with failed attempts at perfection. ... (read more)

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A Breezy Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poetica Erotica
by Tim Cross
BookVenture Publishing


"Many times I thought I was history
Because this woman was a mystery"

Romantically charged poetry is certain nothing new but the author of this book gives the genre a more modern twist concerning his inspiration and muses. In this collection are over one hundred poems composed and compiled based on the profiles of women on dating sites or the interactions he has with said women. The selections range from reflections on unrequited affection to full on lustful fantasies, made all the more effective with explicit details and imagery. At times the focus is on personality traits and physical features, other times focusing more on sexual acts and remembered or imagined trysts. The line between reality and fantasy blurs as the mood of each poem alternates between the achievement of satisfaction and yearning desire. In every new poem the author presents a new thrilling possibility that lets the mind and body wonder in anticipation. ... (read more)

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Wordplay Inspired

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"…the seam is gone
and the color faded, grayed,
and the texture…soft and fuzzy with age,
after all that wear the weave may last."

In her book the author/poet demonstrates both comfort and familiarity, revealing she is no novice at entertaining an audience. And entertain is exactly what poems written by Goka do best. Her specialty is utilizing word play and riddles in a poetic format that almost beg to be read aloud. ... In this 75-page work, the poet provides poignant glimpses into her creative processes. How she writes at her desk—the family table covered with checkered cloth—is told in “The Rose.” Another ‘mini-biography’ is “Lenten Poem” where the would-be author strategizes about the day when she is able to record her “ragged perceptions” with paper, pen, and help from a full pot of tea. Where do her ideas come from? The poet demonstrates how to start with a theme and then let creative juices flow in word associations. ... (read more)

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The Mindful Pursuit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life
by Diana Raab, PhD
Loving Healing Press


"One of the most amazing and magical aspects of writing for healing is that, once you make the decision to put your pen to the page, you have no idea what will emerge from your subconscious mind."

The power of storytelling and its ability to transform one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are expertly presented in this inspirational guide that navigates the reader on a creative journey toward self-discovery. Through a seven-step approach to cultivating an authentic voice, the author, a two-time cancer survivor, insightfully shares a meditative process designed to lead the writer on a therapeutic passage to recovery. Revealing how she obtained closure by writing openly about past trauma, the author details the liberation that is experienced when one releases fear onto the safety of the page. Thought-provoking writing prompts are intertwined throughout the book, providing a series of questions to launch writers on the course of exploration, reflection, and perspective. ... (read more)

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Moving Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Past Obsession: A Time Travel Thriller
by Richard Keith Taylor
Ransom Greene Press


"She wore a light summer dress, timeless but also very 1940s, wind-whipped at her knees, sea breeze billowing the fabric. There was something sad about the woman, sad and mysterious."

At first, Emily Torrance is simply a means to a paycheck for Jim Mercer. As a freelance writer who often supplements his income as an author of true crime books with feature stories for The Los Angeles Times, the life of the artist who was raped and murdered in the 1940s starts as just another assignment that happens to mesh with his expertise. But Emily soon becomes much more than a subject to him. Her face haunts him by day and then enters his dreams by night. He finds himself playing old footage of her compiled on a promotional DVD over and over again and eventually alternating it with extra footage that the Santa Monica Police Department had kept. Then at one point in his obsessive viewing, he sees it: a brief reflected image of the man filming her. Impossibly, the face he sees is his own. ... (read more)

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Friendship & Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Grove Dogs
by Alfonso Grambone
Xlibris


"Alfie rested his hands behind his head as he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, remembering the day he and Harley met."

Alfie and his friends keep losing baseballs in the scary grove behind the ball field where they play, so they decide to make a plan to get them all back. Baseballs do not come cheap, and they do not want to purchase more. At first, the friends go into the frightening grove to find all the missing summer baseballs but get chased out by a terrifying mud monster. To solve the problem, Pete builds the mud monster 3000 from parts around his mother’s house that will distract the mud monster while they get their balls back. Again the friends return to the grove ready to reclaim their missing baseballs. Instead of finding their baseballs, they find the neighborhood bully, Nick. As Nick begins harassing Alfie and his friends ... (read more)

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The Impact of Choice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

QL 4
by James Garrison
TouchPoint Press


"'The worst times to get killed are right after you get here and right before you leave.' He rolled his eyes toward heaven. 'And all the days in between.'"

Private First Class Justin Bell is drafted into the Vietnam War while pursuing his graduate degree and is assigned to Military Police patrol where he observes a corruption far beyond the combat he was anticipating. Distraught by the crime and injustice he repeatedly witnesses, he quickly becomes disillusioned by the military and the war effort. Ill at ease in his surroundings and assignments, he doesn’t know whom to trust and begins to question everyone’s motives as any form of stability he previously sensed crumbles. He uncovers a trail of deception that links to a highly profitable black market, and crossing paths with those involved can prove deadly. As the disturbances mount, his morality can no longer allow him to remain silent. Bell struggles to find a resolution to his discontent as he evaluates his own responsibility in the occurring exploits. ... (read more)

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Finding Gold Inside

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Writing My Pain
by Christopher Bonner
iUniverse


"What shall we do with the pain
Let it marinate
Or retaliate
Deprived of our innocence
With no attempt to validate."

Bonner has created a collection cataloging his anger and frustration at the world he finds himself in. Beginning with a section emphatically titled “Me Against the World,” he chronicles his regret and resentment: “Love is so beautiful,” he writes in “Better Late Than Never,” but “somebody sold me a bad batch.” In “Apology Accepted” Bonner responds with wry humor to those who say to forgive and forget: “As soon as I forgot/ They schemed up a plot.” In some poems, his bitterness is generalized—“I am guilty for being misunderstood.” But sometimes it is more personally directed, less at the world in general and more at particular people. In “Worst Enemies” he uses a few words to great effect... (read more)

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Modern Warfare

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Iron Pigs
by Trent Farce
Xlibris


"This may be a forgotten war to most people, but for the ones who served and have been there, we will never forget."

This is a look at combat from someone who was in the thick of it. From June through November of 2009, this Marine kept a daily journal of everything that went on within his squad, his platoon, and his unit. While names have been changed for privacy and security reasons, Farce’s memoir is a true account of what he and his fellow Marines experienced on a daily basis fighting in Afghanistan. The author begins with deployment and ends his tale when his unit returns stateside. Between initial lift-off and subsequent touch-down on American soil, readers are immersed into a world of camaraderie and confrontation in a sometimes bleak, sometimes beautiful, but always menacing land. ... (read more)

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War & Living

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Where Losers Live, Heroes Die
by Gary Helzer
BookVenture Publishing


"Feeling a little disgusted with that idea, I interrupted, 'You mean I might have to shoot people? Dammit, Sarge! I quit shooting at people over in Vietnam.'"

Hans Metzger first learns to kill in Vietnam. An Idaho farm boy before the war, he manages to survive long enough after battling the Viet Cong in places like Da Nang to make his way back to the States. He emerges from the savagery a military hero, bedecked with a chest full of medals attesting to his bravery and self-sacrifice. But war can change a person, bringing out latent traits or altering existing ones to make one react much differently in situations than perhaps one would have responded previously. ... (read more)

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Strathard Continues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Strathard: Channels of Communication
by Jean Bisbey
AuthorHouse UK


"They respected each other’s beliefs while bearing witness to their own, all to benefit the community."

Emma Robertson is a wonderful teacher with a happy, fulfilled life, yet something is missing—love. Emma’s headmaster Paul has made some passes, yet Paul is married. Although his wife, hospitalized until taken in by her family, is no longer around, in Emma’s Christian eyes Paul is still married and off limits. One day Emma has an unexpected, strange visitor: Sheena Murcheson, the previous owner of Emma’s home. Sheena is there to persuade Emma to take a teaching job at her niece's castle in Strathard and sell Sheena back her childhood home. Emma agrees to visit Strathard where her life will change forever. ... (read more)

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Great Experimental Poetry

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Coyote Taught Me Poetry: Poetry and Prose Reflections: from the Land of Enchantment to the Sunshine State
by Jessica Lyn Elkins
Xlibris


"Survival depends on closeness
Stay with your flock instincts tell you."

In her book, Elkins seamlessly fuses engaging narrative with traditional and experimental poetry that stem from morning walks in the awe-inspiring landscapes of New Mexico, later transitioning to experiences in Florida, the Sunshine State. Divided into four sections, the compilation’s first two parts are inspired by these two states. The third part focuses on the various stages of the speaker’s relationships, while the final section is a tribute to her mother. ... (read more)

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Island Life and Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Growing Up in Barbados
by Sereta Belgrave
Xlibris


"Times were really hard back then for Louise and her family."

Belgrave has chosen the exotic but troubled island of Barbados as the setting for her story of Louise who is growing up in extreme poverty and trying to make positive changes in her circumstances. Louise’s mother is a cane field worker who scrapes together the means to start a street hawking business. Louise is fathered by a white British overseer. Louise is beautiful from childhood, with light skin and smooth hair. By the time she is eleven she attracts her mother’s lover, a pedophile who slowly seduces the naïve child. Though Louise does well in school and attains excellent employment, her attitude towards men is so scarred by this devastating childhood encounter that she compulsively pursues relationships in which she offers sex in exchange for money and gifts. Several times she is impregnated by careless lovers and must have the pregnancies terminated, giving her a backlog of guilt. In her thirties, she finally meets a man who understands her and in whom she confides her past. He wishes to marry her, and they are able to live contentedly together until tragedy strikes. ... (read more)

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A Vision for Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Journey of Uncovery
by Abiyah Reinha Alexanda de Carvalho
AuthorHouse UK


"…our lives..like a discovery channel. Whatever; is done in the dark does not remain in the dark; GOD brings it to light."

This memoir by an Angolan-born author is both warm and sad. Lucianna (fictional name) is the daughter of parents whose life values were polar opposites due to very different backgrounds. Her mother was born outside of Angola and had financial means of her own. This sparked jealousy from both the father and his family. While Lucianna’s father attended church claiming to believe, he secretly practiced witchcraft. Religious convictions made the mother willing to let God settle injustices to herself and her children by that side of the family. ... (read more)

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Understanding Abnormal Behavior

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Spiritual Hypothesis: An Inquiry into Abnormal and Paranormal Behavior
by Daniel Punzak, P.E.
AuthorHouse


"I use the word “spirit” as the name for an immaterial duplicate human being that resides (overlaps and penetrates) inside an individual’s physical body during life and continues to exist after the body dies."

In his book, Punzak explores the belief that there are two spiritual forms inside each human being. The first, Punzak argues, is the soul, and the second is the spirit. Occult practices, levitation, and paranormal phenomena are only a few of the topics discussed in this well-written spiritual tome. Punzak presents a variety of thought-provoking and organized theories about human behavior. Including theories from both scientists and philosophers alike, the book offers something for everyone. Often citing from the Bible and other religious writings, the author shows a deep respect for all types of faith. There is no subtle persuasion or hidden agendas inside the pages. Instead, the author presents his topics without bias.... (read more)

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Love, Death, & Life Between Worlds

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shattered Shells: Reflections on a Seminarian’s Fall and Recovery, A Memoir
by Frederick G. Giel
Xlibris


"Maturity brought wisdom in the form of self-realization. Eventually, I was able to place fault where it belonged."

The comprehensive nature of this work, particularly where Giel painstakingly establishes his family history and unique perspective on historical events like JFK’s assassination, is further accelerated by the electric energy that imbues the memoir upon the onset of Giel’s seminarian experience and which remains throughout. After declaring his commitment to seminary life at age seven, the author follows through by becoming a seminarian at Holy Cross Seminary on the University of Notre Dame campus at the youthful age of fourteen. Many thought-provoking moments and ideas fill this memoir; however, one that resonates is the reality that Giel’s seminary life—and his subsequent attempt to relinquish the material world—was taking place a mere one mile down the road from his family home on Diamond Avenue. The details of the first day in the seminary, from the fourteen-minute prayer to the lost glasses are both highly entertaining and insightful. ... (read more)

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Classic on the Sea

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Quest of the May's Rose
by Kevin J. O’Brien
Xlibris


"I believed it was imperative that I convince the Emperor that I was an unimportant woman, not a danger to his kingdom."

Elizabeth Rose Silverleaf, a young half-elf on the planet Talamh, is traveling to the city of Fair Haven to stay with her uncle after her father passes away. As she is trained in both traditional combat and the rare art of magic, her uncle deems her fit to join him on a journey of exploration to the Far East. With the hope of establishing a lucrative trade route, several ships set out in cooperation hoping to reach these distant lands and successfully accomplish what nobody else has been able to do. With piracy and treachery on the high seas as the least of their concerns, Elizabeth and her fellow sailors must engage in trade and diplomacy, face frightful monsters, and survive at all costs against an angry sea and scheming foreign nations. ... (read more)

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Strathard Revenge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Strathard: Face to Face
by Jean Bisbey
AuthorHouse UK


"It was a magic which excited him. It had its castle, its queen, its witch, jester, saint, and sage."

Steve Bruce and Buddy Regan, Steve’s friend and trusted employee, are on a cruise to inspire Steve’s new mystery novel and to help Steve escape his problems. Steve’s wife has just left him and taken their son because of Steve’s drinking. On the cruise, the men meet an enchanting woman named Miranda. As both the men start to get close to her, Miranda talks them into accompanying her to Strathard, her birthplace. Strathard serves to inspire Steve even more in his writing as it is a huge castle filled with people of every belief and background—from Buddhists to Catholic priests, singers, professors, and alchemists. Strathard is known as a haven for anyone who possesses a need for it. Once Steve gets to know Miranda better, he realizes she is not who she claims to be. Miranda is the sister of Jenny Fraser, the beautiful owner of Strathard Castle, and she is not coming for a family reunion—she is coming for revenge. ... (read more)

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Parenting Fixes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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A Time-Proven Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dawsons
by Lydia and Santina Casablanca
Xlibris


"Rosa groaned with exhilaration. Feeling his hands on her was absolute bliss. Her heart was pounding so hard she though she might pass out."

Combination magical fantasy, generational saga, and romantic bodice-ripper, this novel weaves a tale of witches caught up in spells, curses, death, love, and lust. Tragic themes play out over years as this story of star-crossed lovers follows individuals born to battle both their history and their fate. ... The tale is set in a parallel universe, on a land called Magika. In this kingdom by the sea, the inhabitants are witches—capable of heightened senses, flight, self-healing, and more. The plot involves two sets of siblings. Rose and Rosa are twin beauties born into nobility and raised as princesses. The Dawsons—Derrick, Teresa, and Francesco—are outcasts. They are all victims of a terrible demon named Zancho. His murderous ways take their parents from them as children. As the survivors grow, their lives intertwine. While it is not acceptable for the twins, coming from a sheltered and privileged position, to fraternize with the notorious Dawsons, youth, hormones, and hunger prove too irresistible, and soon the couplings begin. ... (read more)

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Coming to America

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Power of the Green Card: They Did What for a Green Card!
by Grant Kennedy
Xlibris


"The American dream is still alive and well for anyone who dares to challenge the obstacles to his or her dreams."

One man came to America after holding down a comfortable job in the hotel industry that had been decimated by a hurricane. He came with a visa but overstayed it. Another came from a middle-class family in Brazzaville, Congo. She ended up in Russia before finding work in America. A third immigrant came from Poland on a visitor’s visa to spend three weeks with her grandmother, but instead of returning to her home country, she found work and began studying English. These are just three of the stories in Kennedy’s book, which is a refreshing, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be an immigrant or the child of immigrants. ... (read more)

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