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June 2019

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 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

Catch, Release
by Adrianne Harun
Johns Hopkins Press


"It didn’t occur to us then how we carry the terrors of civilization within us."

With this wonderful collection, Harun has accomplished two rare feats. First, she’s taken the Eric Hoffer Book Award grand prize with a work of adult fiction for the first time in its history. Second, and no less important, she’s delivered a cohesive story collection, when so many today seem hurried and uneven. Instead, Harun appears to be a master of the form. She threads interior monologue, which in longer works can become an endless slog, to reveal superb insight—instead of, well, just too much information. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Making a Leader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact
by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis
Greenleaf Book Group Press


"'Are you happy where you’re at? Do you feel like you’re fulfilling what you’re meant to in life?' ... it was a question she knew she needed to answer..."

This leadership book isn’t your common offering about building a great team, establishing good relationships, and building trust to bring out their best (not that you won’t learn valuable information about those things). But as strong leaders know, delivery is everything, and this small offering delivers valuable insights and knowledge in a big way. ... (read more)

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A Complicated Character

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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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Becoming a Leader

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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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Max's Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Case of Emil Diesel
by Patricia Menton
Xlibris


"Art survives. That is all that matters. Each piece tells our history. It is our gift to future generations. It is our legacy."

This novel is a fictionalized account inspired by a true story. It involves a private art collection illegally seized by the German Democratic Republic in the years during the Cold War. ... (read more)

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Enthralling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cost of Justice
by Michael Skeen
Outskirts Press


"...a segment of our population has been convinced that the government is the enemy..."

Fast-paced and realistic, this novel is enthralling. The author imagines, "What if the news media worst case scenarios of our time actually came true?" Skeen puts the possibilities in writing in a three-book series. Although this is the final book in the trilogy, it stands alone without confusion. ... (read more)

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Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


"He called the desert the perfect place for him because so little moved. Just one big photograph, so it provided the illusion that his life was back to normal."

There is an exceptionally fine line between intense introspection and prolonged navel-gazing. That line is a tightrope author Bolick walks precariously in this tale of one man’s unyielding search for enlightenment. Bolick’s protagonist desperately wants to come to grips with personal answers to profound questions such as why are we here, what does consciousness really mean, and can we ever truly understand one another or, for that matter, ourselves. The author encases these soul-searching queries in a story that dispenses potential answers much like a time-release capsule—a few now, a bit later, and eventually perhaps enough to ward off congenital melancholia. However, these intermittent answers raise additional questions. Does the patient stand a chance of actually being cured or merely treated? Should his doctor heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”? ... (read more)

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A Western Gem

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Off The Well-Lit Path
by M. S. Holm
Sentry Books


"Rugg did not ask the cop why he robbed adolescent girls of their innocence and bragged of the obscenity. He knew the cop would have no answer."

Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality. ... (read more)

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Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books


"'I have died a couple of times, and there's nothing out there but cold dark space.'"

Generally, engineers and other professionals don't morph into successful writers. But Don Calmus, a retired engineer, has writing talent and took the time to study the craft, enabling him to write this stellar novel. Not only should he not "stay in his own lane," he should write a sequel. ... (read more)

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Surviving Stroke

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Wonderful Stroke of Luck: From Occupational Therapist to Patient and Beyond
by Janet R. Douglas
Archway Publishing


"Even though I did not see myself as handicapped in terms of doing my job, obviously others did."

Janet Douglas knew that her family had a history of stroke. And as an occupational therapist, she knew all the warning signs, the symptoms, and how to defend against something she had a genetic disposition toward. While attending a country wedding reception for her nephew, she became sick to her stomach and believed she was having a heart attack, turning a blind eye to the diagnosis she dreaded most. The next month was spent in and out of consciousness, in hospitals on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, including in places she once worked. Despite surviving narrow odds after neurosurgery, Douglas continued her denial that the diagnosis she feared had happened to her. As she struggled through physical therapy, she continued to improve enough to be sent home and set her sights on a difficult goal: 90% recovery of how she was before the stroke. ... (read more)

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Generations of the Chesapeake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Family Matters
by D. C. Moses
Cherry Street Publishers


"But what had happened to Alex and Barry…so busy, so loving, so passionate for self-discovery, so yearning for self-transcendence?"

The untimely death of their son, Lu, is a shadow that haunts and looms over the Byrnes family. Each one grieves his loss in their own private way while attempting to find a way forward, immersing themselves into their careers and daily life. Then father, Barry, faces a life-changing decision when his company requests to relocate him to Washington. This sets in motion the mixed feelings and introspection by Barry and his reluctant wife, Alex, who contemplate the uncertainty of their future so close to retirement. They each reflect upon the early years of their marriage and life before and after Lu’s death. Others in the family must also come to terms with the tragic familial loss. As they each face uncertainty in the way forward, they learn something of themselves and one another. ... (read more)

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Magical Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Gondoliers: The Secret Journals of Fanticulous Glim
by Paolo Mazzucato
BepiBooks


"Venice has a secret, and you know if you open your mind and search deep enough you might discover more than you imagined."

This magical novel begins with the promise of a journey unlike anything ever seen before. Following the adventures of 15-year-old Fantina, a self-proclaimed explorer who comes to Venice in 1902 at the request of her uncle, it delivers just that. Fantina makes her way from an orphanage in Boston to find her Uncle Gio at work restoring one of the old churches of Venice. The adventurous Fantina is intrigued by this work and recalls her father saying that Gio’s work restores not only the architecture of the city but its stories and legends as well. When later she is approached by a white pigeon that suddenly becomes a fairie, Fantina embarks on a fabulous adventure leading her through the streets and history of Venice as she seeks to discover what secrets the city holds. ... (read more)

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An Intrepid Storyteller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cognition
by Jacques St-Malo
Ballista Press


"How can a clock tick if time itself doesn’t know in which direction to flow?"

How does one explore scientific, philosophical, cultural, and moral questions without wading laboriously through the muck of debate and diatribe? If you’re this author, you weave it all into a tapestry of good old-fashioned adventure. Nothing takes complicated intellectual queries and injects them with pulse-pounding energy quite like a rousing thriller—which this novel certainly is. ... (read more)

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Surviving

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Miracle at Dachau: My Opa's Story
by Laurin M. Haupt
Ghostwriters Network


"We were men driven by sheer moral spirit, and we would not be crippled by fear."

Much has been written about the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Readers will find that the Dachau guards considered their gentile political prisoners no more human than their Jewish ones. Told through the eyes of Haupt’s grandfather, Simon Johann Haupt, the book reveals how he, his brother Fritz, cousin Albert, and friend Herman become increasingly angry as they watch their village fall under the thumb of Hitler. Determined to deter the rise of hatred, they resist, and the consequences are dire. They are arrested and become political prisoners at Dachau where they find cruelty and debasement being doled out daily. Johann and the others fall into the depths of despair yet try to bolster each other through the endless abuse and long hours of hard labor. They fight to retain even a shred of human decency—something their captors lack. ... (read more)

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Direct Answers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Common Sense and Reasonable Answers
by William Warren Luce
Seacoast Press


"World peace is achievable. We simply have to change our perception, believing that it is attainable."

In a book that examines life from many points of view, a retired military officer has delved into politics and religion, asking questions and coming up with startling but often sensible responses. The book as a whole seeks to examine in detail many major concepts that we think we should live by or have been conditioned to believe. The author then proceeds to pick these concepts apart, from branch to root, offering a different way of approaching such time-worn notions. The basic premise is that, despite what we have been led to believe, we can change the world, but we must do so by changing ourselves. ... (read more)

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Pithy & Accessible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prescriptions for the Soul: A Healthy Life as Prescribed by the Great Physician
by Ida Dean, Ph.D.
AuthorHouse


"The Holy Spirit wants to live in you."

This volume serves as a Christian “prescription” that “moves the soul to a new mental or spiritual awareness” as directed by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, via the biblical Word of God. The many metaphorical prescriptions within the chapters are offered to heal those who are broken-hearted, who are imprisoned in various forms of ill health or error, and as a wake-up call for those not yet acquainted with the Great Physician. ... (read more)

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Brave Hen

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chookalooka: The Tale of a Battery Hen
by Marie Hocking
Xlibris AU


"Please.....
Free all my sisters
From their cages of pain
And let them run free
In green paddocks again."

A little chick grows up knowing only a battery shed, crowded in with thousands of other little chickens just like herself. Lights are always on to keep the hens awake and laying eggs constantly. But this hen is different; she has a yearning to be free. At the corner of the shed, there is a door through which she can see the world outside. A long time passes with no chance for escape, but one day a truck comes by to pick up the hens in their cages. The little hen spots a bent wire in her cage and manages to squeeze through the gap, flutter her wings, and land on a busy road. But luck is again with her. A kindly lady pulls over, gently picks her up, and takes her home where she will be given a name—Chookalooka. She gladly lays eggs for her new, caring family and occasionally enjoys a treat—“sharing a sip of beer or two” with Granny. ... (read more)

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Memories

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Poplar Hill
by Stephen Ramey Glines
Wilderness House Press


"The Depression and the War colored the rest of our lives, my whole generation."

Kitty Stevenson resided in Germany before WWII as an American socialite, a woman somewhat oblivious to the worst of the war, as if seeing it too closely prevented its clear focus. She managed to leave Nazi Germany on the last boat to New York, arriving just days before the Germans invaded Poland. Now, in Nova Scotia, Canada, she is dying of heart failure, determined to tell her life story to her best friend. This story inside of a story lets readers get to know the delightful main character, Stevenson, when she is both young and old. Glines skillfully weaves the two stories together. Seamlessly, readers go from the 1930s to the 1990s as Stevenson lives her daily hospice life and her memories aloud. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Nexus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooperative Lives
by Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing


"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"

Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision. ... (read more)

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The Right Thing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Better Days
by Len Joy
Kindle Direct Publishing


"Sometimes love has to be enough."

There are first-rate writers. There are excellent storytellers. Every now and then they even reside in the same body. On occasion, these hybrids are also able to tell their tales in a uniquely American voice—one that’s easy on the ear even when it’s hard on the heart. Pete Dexter is such a writer. Davis Grub and Elmore Leonard are a couple of others. If this novel is any indication, and it certainly is, you just might want to put Len Joy into that category, as well. Joy’s tale of one man’s midlife crisis—not precipitated by internal navel-gazing but rather by snowballing external factors—is that rare parable that makes many of us wonder how we’d react if we were in the crosshairs and forced to choose between doing what’s best and doing what’s right. ... (read more)

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Big Plans

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dung Beetels of Liberia: A Novel Based on True Events
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing


"I can’t say for certain that it was a damp, drizzly November of the soul or that I wished to be called Ishmael, but events had reached a turning point."

After his older brother’s tragic death, Ken Verrier drops out of his classes at Cornell University in the summer of 1961 to opt for life as a transport pilot in West Africa. The ever-present dung beetles become a metaphor for the various groups he flies from the capital, Monrovia, and into the bush. All of these groups seem to be seeking to “roll” something out of Liberia. The Americo-Liberians live as “big men” at the top of the national social ladder. The missionaries and Peace Corps volunteers seek to do good. Meanwhile, the diplomats, politicians, international corporations, hustlers, ex-Nazis, and Israeli Nazi-hunters are all scrambling to manifest their agendas and reap profit amidst a mosaic of tribal cultures. ... (read more)

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Comfort & Advice

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What’s Stopping You Today? 6 Keys to Everyday Success
by Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD
Vibrant Radiant Health


"Change your reaction to stress and you will change your entire life."

Are you feeling a little stressed and worn down? Do you feel like you’re somehow holding back and keeping yourself from becoming an unstoppable force? If you are, Dr. Cynthia Howard is here to help. The executive coach has worked with thousands of professionals to help change people’s lives for the better by recognizing chronic stress factors and changing them. She has broken her teaching down into six key points on how to bring about positive change in your life. She addresses everything from how to channel your capacity to steps to take when life becomes hard and more. ... (read more)

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Personable & Engaging

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Success Resurrector: Greatest Self Help Book of All Time
by Dr. A. J. Rolls
Trafford Publishing


"Don’t make excuses like most people. You have to use unfavorable situations and unfavorable circumstances as a reason to do better not worse."

Many people feel like they’re stuck at a dead end in their lives. Maybe it’s in their relationship, career, finances, or even just trying to get in shape. Using his signature techniques, Rolls uses this book to reach out and motivate the audience to take control, remove the obstacles they don’t realize are in front of them, and achieve success. Through parables, visualization and affirmation techniques, and stories that are both humorous and tragic, readers will be able to relate to each chapter and discover the ways that they’ve held themselves back with excuses or negative associations. Once those obstructions are taken out of the equation, success is a matter of stating what you want to have, making it a reality, and pursuing it relentlessly, even if there is a significant risk involved. ... (read more)

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Serve God Through Others

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Called to Serve: Rising to the Call
by Marti Szostak
Stratton Press


"Prayer is the highest expression of the Christian spirit of love and it is also its chief nourishment."

Service is one of the core tenets of Christianity, but what exactly does it mean to serve? Is it enough to serve those in our households, families, or just to be there for friends and coworkers that need support? Examining dozens of qualities of what it takes to be a soldier in God’s army, the author’s book provides clarity through explanation and scripture on how to truly serve one’s fellow human beings. ... (read more)

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Beyond Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Our Magnificent Afterlife: Beyond Our Fondest Dreams
by C. David Lundberg
HeavenLight Press


"Many have forgotten that we are spirit, temporarily inhabiting human form."

Award-winning author Lundberg follows up Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions with a well-researched and thoroughly referenced text that instills belief in the earthly bodies governed by the fear of the unknown. Lundberg tackles complex concepts and comprehensively unpacks them to better facilitate audience understanding. ... (read more)

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Special Powers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Witch Port Video Game
by Leonard Bassed


"'We were tricked into playing a video game called the Witch Port, and this game transferred powers into us,' Mackenzie informs her."

An innocent night out in NYC changes high school friends Martin Robinson, Francesca Dubois, and Mackenzie Hollister’s lives forever. All this occurs after a seemingly normal encounter with the mobile phone video game called The Witch Port. The three students soon find themselves with magical powers which they link back to the video game. While all seems fun and games at first, the friends end up targeted by the MacQuoid brothers for their unorthodox acquisition of powers. Now tasked with staying alive, will they be able to learn to control their powers in time? ... (read more)

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A Learning Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ask, Knock, Seek and Find
by Mark James Foster
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"In reality, you have to be ready to get the questions answered the way the Lord can best answer your prayers."

Fittingly titled, the text outlines the methodology and steps behind uncovering the answers that might not be readily visible without eyes of faith. Unlike other spiritual nonfiction, Foster’s text does less preaching and more observation through concrete visions from his dreams. From the get-go, he puts his audience at ease and builds a connection with them by sharing intimate details about his own life. What’s more, the Bible verses cited in the book are not standalone. On the contrary, they are necessary complements to the particular segment of the book. ... (read more)

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From Humble Beginnings

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life: God's Plan - The Wonder of It All
by Helen Goldie
LitFire Publishing


"I pondered on those words. Could God be 'pleased' with us, the way we were living in this present age? I wondered."

From humble beginnings comes the opportunity for great works. Helen is a young girl in Canada who has survived life in the Great Depression and dreams of being a singer but who also has her chances vanish one after the other. Archie is the Scottish son of a miner who, after losing both of his parents rather suddenly, enlists in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Just a few years later, they are collaborating with their choirs for a special event in Canada, and a connection is made that will last a lifetime. Telling her and her husband’s story, Goldie recalls their marriage and their spiritual mission, traveling the globe and working at the forefront of the Baptist World Alliance before embarking on their own ministry. ... (read more)

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Impressive Aphorisms

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Inspirtational Wit & Wisdom
by Howard A. Crosby Sr.
LitFire Publishing


"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails."

Crosby divides his impressive compilation of aphorisms into alphabetical chapter categories (minus the letters ‘Q’ and ‘X’). While some compilers might opt to arrange their quotations by topic as well as alphabetical order, the author has chosen to allow his collection to shine primarily through the number and quality of the ones he has gathered. The quotations cover a nearly infinite range of topics, and the potential to apply these to life’s challenges is readily apparent. Many will appeal to Christian and spiritually inclined readers, and the author recognizes Our Daily Bread for their kind permission to allow him to include inspirational thoughts drawn from thirty years of their well-known devotional booklets. ... (read more)

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Mystery& Antics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

13/13/13
by Dakota Umlauf
Xlibris


"The return of the 13th month. Why'd it have to happen in my lifetime?"

It was New Year’s Eve in Manhattan, New York. Although the year should have been ending as the clock struck midnight, a twisted, despairing adventure was just about to begin. As the calendar flipped to the thirteenth month, set in motion was a peculiar chain of events that would change the perception of the world for 12-year-old Tyrone and his best friend and long-time crush, Red. ... (read more)

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Good vs. Evil

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Aussie Impasse
by Kevin Johnson
Xlibris


"Slowly, he realized that – whist the Granger family existed – his chances of capturing Orack were zilch."

This third book of this wildly imaginative trilogy returns to the story of David Granger and his family who are empowered with magic and grappling with evil forces bent on destruction and mayhem. Laden with intense action sequences and rapid-fire teleportation, the book leaps from David’s personal life to the global concerns of the United Nations to the cosmic consequences for the universe. ... (read more)

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Larger Than Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rory's Adventure
by Patrick Robertson
Xlibris


"All he wanted was a happy family life, a good medical practice, and the opportunity to do some clever investments."

From a young boy watching his father run a business to various trips abroad and sex with goddesses, Rory Patrick Malloy has led an interesting life. With an appetite for adventure, success, and sex, Rory sets out to seek all three while trying to build a foundation for himself. As he makes his way through medical school and the setting up of his own practice, Rory navigates the good and the bad, appreciating and grappling with existence along the way. ... (read more)

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Real Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grow Yourself Beautiful: A Smart Girl's Guide to Following Her Heart and Focusing on Her Inner Joy
by Sharon Caldwell Peddie
iUniverse


"You are the most important relationship you will have."

Growing up is hard. With puberty, school, and navigating the changing landscape of being a young adult, there’s a lot of pressure and stress to figure it all out. It can also be argued that young women feel this stress and pressure even more so than their counterparts. Luckily, in today’s society, there is a plethora of information and media available for young women seeking guidance. Written by a mother who has raised three girls and also volunteers with young girls from age five to eighteen, this book is full of kind advice on learning how to love oneself and appreciate this time of growth. ... (read more)

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Common Emotion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Human Experience: A Collection of Poems
by Z. K. Black
Xlibris


"I find warmth in the illusions"

Characterized by the short verse found in some of Robert Bly’s light lyrics or the more modern style of Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur, Black’s book of verse offers brief explorations on her personal experience as a young woman. The works range from two to three-line quips to those that fill a full page, with most averaging about the length of a sonnet. The verse is predominantly free-verse, though there is an occasional use of end rhyme. The poems focus much more on the abstract language of thoughts and feelings than on the concrete, visual imagery of mental pictures. In tone, the pieces are easily accessible to the average reader and won’t confuse with literary jargon. ... (read more)

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The Great Big World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Suzie Slither's Woods
by Wanda Birchler
LitFire Publishing


"The whole woods rejoiced that the one friend who was lost had now been found, and their ‘family’ was once again complete. Friends and family are truly the best life has to offer."

There is much to enjoy in this positive collection of tales following Suzie Slither and her woodland friends. Suzie is a friendly and curious “pretty little snake” who is “green with orange and brown stripes.” She lives on a Missouri farm where her innocent curiosity gets her into troublesome predicaments. Thankfully, she is among equally curious and supportive friends. As Suzie learns from her mistakes, appreciating the great big world around her, Bircher imparts important lessons about kindness and friendship to her young readers. ... (read more)

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Get Smart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Very Near the Line: An Autobiographical Sketch of Education and Its Politics in the Thatcher Years
by Donald Naismith
AuthorHouse UK


"No one had thought to ask, let alone answer the question: Could the emerging national curriculum be taught within the teaching year?"

Donald Naismith was the education officer for twenty years serving under the educational directive of England’s stateswoman, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The author published this 227-page sketch to guarantee access to specific documentation that details activities initiated by three borough schools: Richmond upon Thames, Croydon, and Wandsworth. Thatcher’s directive was to remove the influence over a modern school system by local officials. However, it turned out that these local boards voluntarily followed through to help achieve Thatcher’s comprehensive educational goal. Other issues that presented roadblocks included changes in government leadership, economic difficulties, a reduced number of school candidates, and assessment testing. ... (read more)

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Real Beauty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pikes Peak, America's Mountain
by Jack Denton
Xlibris


"Pikes Peak’s massive size and beauty in all seasons is pure joy for my artist soul."

Denton’s collection of 100 beautifully reproduced landscapes produced during his six-year endeavor to capture the ever-changing beauty of Pikes Peak portrays this huge, granite mountain located near Colorado Springs, Colorado, during every season. His choice of vistas is varied, with each exuding its own charm and array of colors. ... (read more)

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Hopeful Pup

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Mr. Fuzzy Ears: Searching for a Furry Friend
by Donna Carr Roberts
iUniverse


"Even as a baby, he searched for a friend to play with. He asked the puppy in the mirror, but the puppy just stared back."

Mr. Fuzzy Ears was adopted from the Humane Society as a newborn puppy. He loves his human Mom and Dad very much, but he really wants a companion more like himself. He searches everywhere for a friend, but the mouse and chipmunk are too shy, and the mischievous squirrel will only play if Mr. Fuzzy Ears can climb trees. When he approaches his owners about his lack of friends, they take him back to the Humane Society where he meets a variety of animals all looking for a forever home. Finally, when the story seems to be coming to its conclusion, there is still a surprise in store for Mr. Fluffy Ears and his expanding family. ... (read more)

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A Legend

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Prairie Monster
by Ronald S. Martinez Sr.
iUniverse


"They began to learn each other’s languages and customs, and together they fell in love with the prairie monster."

This intriguing children’s book—a fictional account of friendship, danger, and imagination—references historical events in a fascinating and memorable way. Young boys Igasho and Tomas are best friends in the town of La Junta, Colorado. La Junta is Spanish for “the meeting,” which references the meeting place of two cultures: Native American and Spanish. The friends become inseparable playmates and learn each other’s language and customs. During their exciting explorations of the trails, they discover a large footprint and create a vivid story about the “prairie monster” which made the footprint. Father Marcos, a Catholic priest who is their friend, guide, and mentor, encourages them to find men of science and alert them of their discovery. However, danger may shatter their mission of changing the world when Cuerno Verde, a Native American enemy, chases and finds their group on the Santa Fe trail. Will scientists get to discover the data and drawings of Tomas and Igasho to make their own conclusions about the monster’s existence, or will the obstacles lining up against making this discovery public prove too formidable? ... (read more)

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Coming Clear

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unbalanced: The Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Bipolar Woman
by Lisa M. Fina
iUniverse


"I lived my life... in a paranoid and suicidal state, for... twenty-one years. When the depression and suicidal state ended, the paranoia continued for another twelve years."

Fina’s account of her years of living with schizophrenia and bipolar disease is an unfeigned tale of her struggle to become healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. Her autobiography begins with her account of a childhood in which she was abused physically and emotionally by her father. The story is heartbreaking, and Fina pulls the reader into her brutally honest account from the first page of this book. This straightforward recounting of her battles continues as she relates the events of her life after leaving home at an early age and falling into an unconventional lifestyle. ... (read more)

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Rational Approach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Reluctant Messenger - Tales from Beyond Belief: An Ordinary Person's Extraordinary Journey into the Unknown
by Candice M. Sanderson
Clark Press


"The message captivated me; the authors of my first message about a flower had revealed themselves through this familiar lyrical language."

In this mystical memoir, a psychologist turns psychic and shares the results of that experience. In 2013, Sanderson, a widow who had raised two children to successful adulthood, had a demanding but rewarding position as a school psychologist. Things seemed organized and predictable. But then, Sanderson says, “In ten minutes, my life changed forever.” In the midst of her daily commute, powerful words came into her mind, bidding and forcing her to listen and later record a message which spoke of a flower as a “flow-er of energy” and urging her to be such a “flow-er,” to grow and flourish. Though the experience caused her heart to pound, it was positive. Soon afterward she saw a flowering tree and began to see herself as one of its unopened buds. From that day onward, she had a flood of messages of a similar sort, sometimes in the form of dreams, and including words from people who had passed away. Each time, she would do her best to record the communications in a journal and share them on an online site. Nearly two years after the first incident, her message bearers, who called themselves The Muses Within, began encouraging her to write a book. Though she was not sure she was capable of such an undertaking, the idea gradually bore fruit. ... (read more)

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The Gadget

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Countdown to Atomgeddon: The Race to Build the First Atomic Bomb
by James Howell
Xlibris


"It is imperative that we slow the progress of the test detonation- our mission depends on it."

Two reporters from New Mexico, Blake and Nate, catch wind of the clandestine activities surrounding the development of the first atomic bomb. The United States government is ready to test its newest and deadliest weapon. If it works, it will change the scope of modern warfare forever. Ostensibly to minimize the risks associated with testing a bomb of unknown power, the government orders the construction of a containment device, codenamed Jumbo. The transportation of Jumbo to the testing site is plagued with accidents. One man is killed, and another is badly injured when Jumbo breaks free from its restraints. Blake and Nate suspect sabotage and begin to investigate, hoping for a good story. But the man behind the accidents orders his goons to get rid of the two nosy reporters and do whatever it takes to stop Jumbo from reaching its destination. ... (read more)

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Financial Future

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If Money Could Talk
by M. L. Marcos
iUniverse


"The process of acquiring the knowledge of wealth accumulation is learned in small steps, not in giant leaps."

This guide to financial freedom takes the mystery out of building wealth with its no-nonsense approach and practical insights. Marcos breaks down lessons on success and hones in on business development and entrepreneurship as a means to maximum wealth acquisition. The author first builds a foundation for understanding income sources and influences then launches into the various logistics of business development and management. ... (read more)

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Feast of Music

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The Maestro’s Favourites: A Symphony of Taste
by Marlin Wolfe
AuthorHouse


"You will find ways also to create your own combinations to suit your own taste."

Conductor Marlin Wolfe, the founding artistic director of the Vancouver Island Symphony, is also known for his prowess in the kitchen. He has created and served more than 45 five-course meals in order to raise funds for various orchestras throughout his illustrious musical career. Now he shares his culinary expertise in this collection of recipes culled from years of honing his skills as a gourmet chef. ... (read more)

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Frightening Adventure

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The Adventure of Harwood Squirrel (An Easy Reader)
by Dorothy A. Wyatt
Xlibris


"He sat under the leaves of the small, small tree. He did not know what to do."

This book tells the story of a squirrel named Harwood who has everything he needs in the forest. He doesn’t have to worry about food, loneliness, or dangers appearing out of nowhere. Then one day his curiosity gets the best of him, and Harwood unknowingly jumps into a moving truck. As a result, his whole world turns upside down as he finds himself in the city. Harwood finds himself without food or other squirrels for companionship. It takes the kindness of a stranger to make the world “right” again in Harwood’s eyes. ... (read more)

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Lincoln Down

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Lincoln
by Orville Evjen
Xlibris


"'I see much sorrow in your future. But…I also see you will be a light in the darkness!'"

In his graphic novel, Evjen sympathetically examines the hardships and complexities of the lonely sixteenth President and the sinister circumstances that torment him. His story focuses primarily on Lincoln’s struggles with melancholy, where the author reveals he lost his parents, too, and like Lincoln, found comfort in reading (and in art) to free himself from the “long hard road of grief.” He portrays the pivotal losses at different stages of Lincoln’s life which drive him toward deep depression. There is a lore to this haunting story as Evjen paints a vivid portrait of the large-handed, strong-bodied intellectual as an isolated man facing extraordinary situations among villains, ghosts, demons, and angels. ... (read more)

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Real Love

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Love So True
by Stephen L. Vasilas
LitFire Publishing


"Now everyone in the room was chanting. 'Kiss him, kiss him.' And, boy, did they kiss."

Young, handsome business tycoon Xavier Chase seems to have the world in his fingertips. Men want to be like him, women want to be with him, and his technology company is wildly successful in the fields of electronics, video games, and weapons development. The thing that still eludes him, though, is the presence of his high school sweetheart and the woman he continues to save himself for—Leta Porter. Leta is the daughter of another powerful businessman, and while she reciprocates Xavier’s love, she has been promised in marriage to Logan Hays in order to strengthen her father’s business. There is also a shadowy blackmailer keeping her mother estranged. However, Xavier and Leta will stop at nothing to be reunited, and after Leta returns from being sent away to England, Xavier decides that he will do whatever it takes to be with the woman he loves, no matter the danger. ... (read more)

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Until the End

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Delicious Romance
by Stephen L. Vasilas
LitFire Publishing


"Annie was good for him. Everyone could see the differences in Tony since he had met her, and it seemed like he was good for her."

Vasilas cooks up a potboiler in this thrilling novel. Two young lovers with a mastery of martial arts, a pinch of disaster, and a ruthless villain are the perfect ingredients for a romance novel that will keep you guessing until the end. ... (read more)

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Optimism

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A Journey With Dauphine: A Spouses Challenging Adventure to Be With Her Military Husband, the Likelihood Questionable!
by Patricia Bowen Pope
Xlibris


"I was always amazed at the kindness and thoughtfulness of others."

Dauphine, a cherry-red 1961 Renault Dauphine, takes the reader on a sweet journey down memory lane. Purchased by Pope when her husband, Connor, was drafted during the Vietnam War, Dauphine explores a time when gas was 30 cents a gallon, and cars traveled 40 miles on that gallon. This was a time when girls slept with rollers in their hair, companies had six-month-pregnancy policies “for your and the baby’s welfare,” and hospitals allowed stays of five days for mother and newborn. Pope does the talking, but Dauphine is there, carrying the newlyweds through the tender beginnings of a young marriage: the joys, the thrills, the penny pinching, and the many moves of a stateside military family. ... (read more)

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Dickensian

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Huntington
by F. A. Green
BookVenture Publishing


"'Don’t dare move, Huntington,' Augustus pleaded. 'God would leave a rope dangling to help you out of a hole, not to hang yourself with.'"

Nesta Fletcher is a bit of an outcast, more so when she is accused of having burnt down her school. With her father struggling to find work and her mother absent, Nesta occupies her time with a book lent to her by her teacher, Mrs. Cowling. In the book, Nesta discovers a story somewhat similar to hers about a group of children scraping by on their own, each with an animal friend. The two oldest, Owlie and Monk, are similarly accused of having burnt down their own school. The local Reverend requests that Professor Oxborough visit the boys’ home and take them into his custody in order to give them food, shelter, an education, and help find their parents, but the boys offer up what resistance they can. ... (read more)

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Return to Africa

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Tokolosi
by John Skinner
Westwood Books Publishing


"With even more assistance from foreign donors urgently needed, a vital question remained – was it all too much to expect?"

Six-year-old Tsabo Mashedi lives in the fictional African village of Katama. He is a traditional “herd boy” who watches over the family livestock while his mother and siblings do nearly all the rest of the work. Typically, fathers would do little more than talk and decide, but Tsabo’s father is not typical. He has a job as a policeman, but when he realizes Tsabo’s potential, he takes a better-paid job as a miner so that his son can go to the mission school and then to university. Tsabo excels beyond his greatest expectations, winning a scholarship to Oxford University. His four years in England, instructed and mentored by Dermot McCausland (the book’s narrator) will lead to a successful career as a lawyer—though with many stops on the way. ... (read more)

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Mythic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Quest: A Lakota Legend
by Charles Richard Latona
Westwood Books Publishing


"Even in the dim light of the campfire, signs of a lifetime of harsh winters and hot, dry summers were easily seen etched deeply in his brown skin."

Books about Native Americans are certainly scarcer than those about people from other countries who came to America to plunder, profit, or simply to start a new life. Fortunately, over the years both fiction and nonfiction tomes have begun to recount tales of the initial inhabitants of the United States. There have been heartbreaking books such as Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee and meticulously documented histories like Joseph M. Marshall’s The Journey of Crazy Horse. Latona’s book is now an addition to those about the first Americans. His is a novel that brings history and humanity to life. It achieves more than simply a presentation of time, place, and conditions that existed in earlier days. It personalizes history and even legend by peopling its pages with characters that seem real yet simultaneously larger than life. It constructs a believable chronicle that also feels mythic. ... (read more)

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Worldbuilding

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Trees Unlimited
by Clem Masloff
BookVenture Publishing


"It was Rambatan who showed me that general liberation had to become the aim of my actions."

When Landia’s prominent leaf collector Gimel Vexa and his daughter, Lea, get invited to view a unique leaf collection belonging to Mem Samekh, they are oblivious to how their lives will change as they enter a new rainforest world. From the get-go, the Vexa duo encounters a half-naked, bronze-skinned Varzean man on their way to Mem Samekh’s latifundium. The narrative centers around trees, their immense power, and how they can change the world by interacting with technology. However, nested within the dense forestland are major undercurrents of tension brewing between Mem Samekh and the Varzeans, who were the original owners of the land that currently houses the Samekh’s plantation. ... (read more)

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Young Man Rising

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Teruf the Dreamer: Book 1 of Teruf’s Progression in Succession Series
by Mark James Foster
BookVenture Publishing


"Would he even be allowed to remove anything from this sacred repository, or was it only wisdom that he would be permitted to take?"

Teruf Warwick is a normal boy who goes to school, gets into trouble with his friends, and can’t wait to grow up. One night, he has a dream that shakes him to the very core of his being, one of a peaceful valley disrupted by a bright light and a devastating flash flood. A voice permeates through him and says only two words: "Dream Walker." The next day, Teruf is unable to focus on anything except reliving the dream over and over. Deciding to share the dream with his father, Rubin, Rubin shares with Teruf the history of his family lineage. Dating back to the biblical Noah, the Warwicks are called to use magical abilities to keep the world safe from evil machinations and maintain harmony with both God and nature. ... (read more)

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Get Ready for Med School

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

7 Full-length Practice Tests for the MCAT: 5 in the book and 2 online
by MCAT Prep
RuveneCo Publishing


"Using quality practice exams followed by a routine, comprehensive review will result in an improved MCAT score in the medium to long term."

So you want to attend a medical school and understand that acceptance depends on your scaled scores from a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)? Since the MCAT is the prerequisite for admission to nearly all medical schools in the US and Canada, students need time to study in advance. The publisher of this paperback book presents a two-part preparatory option for you and your parents to consider. The combination provides a total of seven tests, having answers only available online, with online access to interactive review and a discussion community. ... (read more)

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The Way

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Ado and the Dawn's Awakening
by Maria das Graças Rafael Pereira
Xlibris


"There are seven positive chakras and seven negative ones, to which the Catholic Church cleverly associated the seven deadly sins, occupying the body’s lower part."

Maria attends her recently deceased aunt’s funeral in the small Brazilian town of Cataguases in 1997. An angelic vision informs her that she must take part in a test—a mission regarding a “chalice” of redemption. She decides to stay instead of returning to Sao Paulo with her family and soon encounters Jose Soares, a man who works with lepers. Later, a young man rushes in saying he just shot his wife in a jealous rage over her unfaithfulness. The Brazilian police are called in but cannot find a body. It turns out that Rita, the supposedly murdered wife, actually faked her death and is now living with a Greek millionaire who wants her to help him steal a priceless replica of the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus used in the last supper. Maria coordinates with Interpol and infiltrates a local Christian cult that would also like to steal this chalice and melt it down for money. ... (read more)

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Heartrending

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears: A Mother's Journal of Caregiving, Tragedy, and Hope
by Colleen Curzon Openshaw
Archway Publishing


"We believed that parenthood was a noble calling, a mutual creative experience with God to help His spirit children progress by experiencing and learning from mortal life."

Openshaw presents the reader with a mother’s poignant journal of love, loss, and faith. The book is a true chronicle of a devoted, spiritual couple with nine kids who are committed to faith in God and the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A reader better understands the etiology and challenges of primary immunodeficiency disease with the author’s simple and accurate medical description of it. She sees the many challenges she experiences in her life as an opportunity to strengthen her faith, build parenting skills, and become a better person. Her dedication to her family and church is evident and inspiring in this life story. A reader also gets to know her late husband, Mike, through his journal entries dispersed throughout the book. ... (read more)

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Virtues Matter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Humble the Bumblebee
by Mona Litzenberger
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"She noticed his humble lifestyle and named him Humble the Bumblebee."

Generationally, while today's K-12 students are becoming more and more reliant on technology and less on personal interaction, it can be argued that the need for young people to use their imagination has become considerably marginalized. In this children’s story, younger audiences will be presented with the opportunity to form connections with an assortment of insects and animals that they will not only be able to connect with but, to a great degree, also relate. Revolving around a cast of characters that will rekindle memories of Charlotte’s Web, Litzenberger’s plot focuses on a honey-making contest that brings old friends together and leads to new ones. ... (read more)

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Shattering Secrets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Enter At Your Own Risk!
by Timothy R. Bartlett
Westwood Books Publishing


"Every event is uniquely done for each perfect stranger, like yourself, who happens to pop in for a day or two of adventure."

Fans of twist endings and surprise details will be in for dozens of delights with this collection of short stories that has been steeped in cleverness. From the ghost towns of the Old West to the farthest reaches of outer space where starships wage war and planets function simply as prisons, there is no limit to what the reader will find on every page. A gang of flies will get the karma coming to them for harassing the other insects. A naval journey across the world will result in inexplicable torture and the exposing of a ring of spies. A jewelry shop will be robbed, and all of the inventory will return itself to the shelves. Transcending setting, genre, and expectations, these stories are designed to be enjoyed, shared, and read aloud. ... (read more)

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Lost and Found

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

100 Sermon Outlines for Personal and Group Bible Studies to Preaching and Teaching God’s Word
by Joseph Jeremiah
Xulon Press


"Application: God can use anyone to accomplish His purpose when that one turns to him in faith, fears him, and does His will."

Author and preacher Jeremiah presents a manual for teaching and preaching Christian beliefs in a multitude of contexts. Each of the 100 outlines contains biblical quotations, further exploration offered by the author, and an application showing how the material can be targeted in a sermon. The opening selection is, fittingly, “A New Beginning,” which quotes from Exodus regarding the meaning of Passover and God’s promise of deliverance. The subjects are diverse, including those highlighting notable women in the Bible, the difference between man’s law and God’s grace, “lost and found” symbolism, and evangelism for youth groups. ... (read more)

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