US Review of Books - Book Review Service

US Review Blog Twitter Facebook Instagram GoodReads Linked-In USR Subscribe US Review RSS feed

Book Reviews

search engine by freefind

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 publishe testimonials about the USR.

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

Featured Reviews
 

Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Knock
by Carolyn Watkins
Mindstir Media


"I quickly learned that military kids must be flexible."

As an inspirational memoir and a tribute to military families, this picture book for middle-graders stands out with its down-to-earth reflections by the author and tender watercolor illustrations by Lindsey Erickson that evocatively enhance the nature of the text. Watkins’ honesty about her real-life experiences fosters readers’ ability to have fruitful parent-child discussions about these emotional matters of separation and possible loss. The author stresses that her family could have shared their feelings more: “Perhaps Mom and I could have talked more about our feelings. I have now learned that sharing feelings makes it much easier to cope with them.” Likely this is why her book includes notes for parents and educators in the end matter with questions, points to consider to bolster these necessary conversations, whether at home or in the classroom. This guidance could help children feel safe to express their feelings and work through any emotional difficulties caused by missing the absent military parent or by fearing for their life. ... (read more)

Read the US Review of Books Previous Edition

back to top

Featured Book Reviews

 

Stunning Historic View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

General in Command: The Life of Major General John B. Anderson
by Michael M. Van Ness
Kӧehlerbooks


"While he had been abroad, he dreamed of home and now at home, he held firmly to the relationships formed abroad."

Biographies, by nature, are a peek into an individual's lifespan and contributions to society. In this book, however, Van Ness successfully manages to not only give a glimpse of Major General Anderson's life but also delivers insight from a unique vantage point into many of the most pivotal moments in American history. At the same time, this work is genuinely made special and personal by the continuous efforts of the author, Anderson's grandson, to both learn and chronicle his grandfather's gargantuan impact. In his quest to fully unearth the life of a remarkable general, Van Ness combines his family knowledge with relentless research, leaving no stones unturned in his mission to shed light on one of the principal figures of the 20th century. ... (read more)

back to top

Quests & Beauty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Stone for Bread
by Miriam Herin
Livingston Press


"'The issue was never authorship, Rachel. The issue isn't authorship at all.' He turned and stared at her, his eyes bloodshot from the wine. —“What it's about is murder. And not just by the Nazis. I too was complicit.'"

There's quite a mix of character and circumstance in this novel of mystery, history, and soul-searching: a seasoned, enigmatic poet whose heyday was two generations ago; a very pretty and engaging graduate student just starting out her life today; a shadowy Frenchman whose nearly century-old actions have long-lasting consequences. These three contrasting personalities set this very original tale in motion, but the plot grows from there into a dramatic, almost journalistic who-what-where-and-why saga that spans not only generations but also equally disparate scenarios. One scenario involves a quest to discover the true authorship of some famous concentration camp poems. Another is a quest to figure out how we decide who we are and what we need to do with our lives. Indeed, there may be several quests that are part of this story, but Herin weaves them together as a single seamless tale. ... (read more)

back to top

Healthy Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Spiritually Fit You
by Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"So now, what happens when your sight is spiritually operating at 20/20 on a regular or daily basis?"

The concept of fitness has almost unanimously been conceived as that of appearances—both physical and tangible—and that of mental health. However, now more than ever, spiritual health is a key component of one's existence, a bridge between strong mental and physical health. Integrating scriptures to accompany the author's lessons and salient advice, Braswell's work focuses on the aspects of the spirit that will help keep the wandering mind from going astray permanently. The author's vision employs a combination of a realistic outlook (understanding that human nature is, at its core, imperfect and fallible) with hopeful exuberance. The Bible is mankind's spiritual compass. When utilized and adopted into daily life, it will not only allow one to stay strong of mind during adversity but also live in the grace and mercy of God regardless of the outcome. ... (read more)

back to top

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)

back to top

Compulsion & Desire

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

HomoAmerican - The Secret Society
by Michael Dane
Amazon.com Services


"This Secret Society, of which I am a member, is no more visible to me than I am to them."

With the rise of noteworthy novels and biographies from LGBTQ writers such as Paul Lisicky, Noelle Stevenson, Brandon Taylor, and Ocean Vuong, Dane joins the ranks with his hefty, detailed memoir. The reader is invited into Dane’s private, life-long search for identity. With intimate detail, the author reveals a well-traveled, storied life where somewhere along the way he “stopped being a real character,” only recognizing himself in reflections. He examines the painful moments of childhood and his chaotic passage into adulthood. We follow him as he roams among outcasts, immersing himself into an invisible society that is known only to a few. Dane probes the duplexity of visibility and invisibility, like a dancer on stage in front of audiences and an object of desire, yet continuously feeling lonely and invisible. For Dane, he moves through a world of night. He wanders in shadows and “darkness, of passion and pleasure.” ... (read more)

back to top

Coming of Age Through History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Born Crazy
by Bonnie Sanford Collins Bostrom
The Canelo Project


"The journey requires of us the ability to leap into darkness, play tag with time and break our own hearts."

Bostrom's childhood in the 1940s on a remote ranch in northeastern New Mexico gives her a unique grasp of the rhythms of the natural world, and the simple life oriented toward family and community that shaped her requires a great deal of stamina, resolve, and patience. Bostrom reveals much about the matriarchs of both sides of her family as well as paying homage to the patriarchs, offering a window into the ongoing manifestation of the divine feminine that arises in all cultures. The title seems to nod not only to the oddities and imperfections of Bostrom's life but to the crazy wisdom that is inherent in the very act of living. She humorously points out in one essay that sperm are both male and female, a simple but revelatory fact not acknowledged in what many see as the patriarchal slant of American culture. ... (read more)

back to top

To Live 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)

back to top

Secret History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

White Seed: The Untold Story of The Lost Colony of Roanoke
by Paul Clayton
Amazon.com Services


"He was playing his part in all of this, pretending that they could make a go of it in this God-forsaken place."

Maggie Hagger is just one of many passengers leaving England and making her way to Chesapeake, Virginia, in 1587 as one of the future citizens of Sir Walter Raleigh's colonies. Raleigh's Virginia promises the start of a new life to Maggie and others—like the newly appointed Governor John White, as well as Captain Stafford and his soldiers—but first, they must survive the journey to the Americas. Yet Maggie and the other colonists soon learn that settling down in Chesapeake will be much harder, as tensions between the Native American tribes there and prior English settlers still exist. Labeled as one of America's oldest mysteries, the failed colony of Roanoke is at the heart of this novel, which explores the possibilities of what went wrong and what happened to the inhabitants. ... (read more)

back to top

Suffering Loneliness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer's Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation
by J. W. Freiberg
Philia Books


"Loneliness, I realized, is the sensation of inadequate connections to others, just as hunger is the sensation of inadequate nourishment and thirst is the sensation of inadequate hydration."

Consisting of five stories taken from the author’s work as a lawyer, this book offers a study in the causes of subjective chronic loneliness in those whose connections with other people “fail to provide the security, nurturing, and soothing care that others enjoy from their healthy connective networks.” In looking over his many years of case studies, the author narrows down the types of misconnections experienced by the chronically lonely into five categories: “Tenuous Connections,” in which the connections between clients are uncertain or unreliable; “One-Way Connections”—for example, unrequited love; “Fraudulent Connections,” wherein one’s relationship is based on deception and manipulation; “Obstructed Connections,” where one is prevented from being emotionally available; and “Dangerous Connections,” in which the relationship can cause devastating emotional and physical harm. For each of these misconnections, Freiberg includes a case study from one of his past clients to illustrate how people who are in relationships with others may still suffer loneliness because of the failure of their relationships to offer healthy connections. ... (read more)

back to top

Transition to Chapter Books

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Doc's Dog Days: A Hickory Doc's Activity Book
by Linda Harkey


"'Doc, you can learn a lot about a book by eating its binding.'"

Linda Harkey, a former educator and museum docent as well as a hunting dog enthusiast, writes children's books about the beloved and oft-visited topic of canine capers, making the old new again by featuring a specific breed close to her heart—German short-haired pointers. In this third book of her series, the adorable black-and-white illustrations by Mike Minick are begging to be colored and doodled upon with markers, pencils, or crayons, making this both an educational and a fun diversion likely to be appreciated by kids and their caregivers, parents, and teachers. ... (read more)

back to top

Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lord Chamberlain's Daughter
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"That was the story people told about me. I'm glad, of course, it wasn't true."

Lord Chamberlain's daughter, better known as Ophelia, has a new story to tell. In this satisfying remake, Ophelia's fate is markedly different from the one Shakespeare assigned her. In this story, she is alive and well and ready to talk about her childhood friendship with Hamlet and Horatio, palace intrigue, and the warmongering of men in power. Shakespeare's setting remains, and the time and place of the original play are intact, but the plot has gone astray, reimagined and rebranded with a powerful female protagonist driving the action of the familiar story's milestones: the murders and resulting power shifts. The story is structured as a confessional of sorts by Ophelia to Fortinbras, who visits her after he learns that she is alive and living in the countryside. Ophelia begins her story by filling in the details of her adolescence at Elsinore castle, roaming freely with her brother Laertes and pals Hamlet and Horatio, while her father, Polonius, advises Hamlet's father and strategizes a war with Norway. She continues through her own awakening to the suffering of the common people in the war effort, the corruption of the castle, and her own heart's desire. With her motives revealed and her secrets shared, Shakespeare's heartsick, mad Ophelia is transformed into a savvy woman of power and rebellion. ... (read more)

back to top

No Average Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Defending Guns
by Steven Prevosto
World Castle Publishing, LLC


"The wind rushing wildly through the trees and over the land is like the spirit of man driving him to feel fulfilled in his pursuits."

In 1878, bad guys are hired by Douglas Pitt, whose goal is to take land surrounding Kansas City for a large cattle ranch. The hirelings include the town's sheriff and deputy, who obey Pitt's orders at whatever cost. Most of the other hirelings are already on wanted posters. The main good guy is Anthony Augustus Peters, a traveling actor from New York and quick-shot gun aficionado. He meets Fox Cloud, a Lakota Sioux and former child captive who knows English. They pose as bounty hunters wearing clever disguises from Anthony's makeup kit. Another important yet unseen character is Anthony's deceased wife, Mary, who inspires his death wish. Dressed in black for the final scene, will Anthony get his death wish as in Hamlet's tragedy? Can this adventure end well? ... (read more)

back to top

Ideal Women

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Viral War: A Fairytale of Perfect Women
by Josephine deBois
AuthorHouse


"And now, perfect women; yes, but we always managed to make women perfect."

In New York City, Samuel, an ordinary traffic cop, manages to thwart an attempted kidnapping. This sets him on an investigation like no other. He befriends Sohee Suh, the acclaimed Korean singer who was almost kidnapped. Sohee's DNA carries a secret that Samuel works to uncover, exposing a complex plot involving sex trafficking, government coverups, and biological warfare. ... (read more)

back to top

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)

back to top

Musings & Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


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

In her second book of collected poetry, the author has organized her musings and insights into six categories. Each chapter follows the themes of home, animals, places, riddles, caffeine and wine, and family respectively. The home chapter is the most explored, following memories of homemaking and raising children with all the energy and chaos they can bring. The chapter on animals considers the impact of family pets and wonders what life would be like in animal form. The chapter on places recalls old residences and other colorful memories of location. When writing on the theme of riddles, the poet considers things that are somewhat contradictory or mysterious about life. Not surprisingly, the chapter on caffeine and wine is a treat for the sense of taste, using language to express flavor. Finally, when exploring the topic of family, Goka revisits the endless tasks of homemaking, as well as considering her dual role as both mother and child. ... (read more)

back to top

A Mormon Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Children of a Northern Kingdom: A Story of the Strangite Mormons in Wisconsin and on Beaver Island, Michigan
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"Gabriel has only seconds to realize that they must leave everything behind, even the animals and the tools. He blinks. How can he tell the others?"

An unholy trio of bigotry, fear, and religious persecution hovers like a malevolent cloud over this narrative of Mormon settlers in the American Midwest of the1800s. Cruel, oppressive, and violent behavior repeatedly confronts the principal characters in Stienon's historical novel. Yet it is not the monstrous conduct of their persecutors that will remain with you at story's end. Rather, it is the faith, strength, and resolve of the oppressed that will surely leave the most lasting impression. ... (read more)

back to top

A Human Map

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Whisper Across Time: My Family’s Story of the Holocaust Told Through Art and Poetry
by Olga Campbell
Jubaji Press


"it is not possible to change the past
but it is possible to transcend the influences of the past"

The author was confronted by an “explosion of emotions” as she neared retirement. She writes, “It was if I had been sitting on a volcano all my life, and it had erupted.” She began to feverishly honor her mother’s haunting loss of many family members during the Holocaust. She also started to grapple with the epigenetic roots of her own inherited, intergenerational despair through the medium of her prose, poetry, painting, digital photo collage, and sculpture. Campbell felt she was “giving them back their identity and their dignity, giving them a voice.” The artwork speaks to pain and loss but also displays the joy and exuberance of her ancestors’ lives before the fascist specter and ravages of war claimed them. ... (read more)

back to top

New Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lonely Voyagers
by Dalt Wonk and Simon Blake
Luna Press


"Stop! Listen! We are lonely voyagers… It all depends on your perspective."

By the late nineteenth century, the understanding of scientific principles that began in the Enlightenment during the 1680s had taken hold in Western Europe. The French, of course, experienced their own thirst for such knowledge. To accommodate it, in 1873, scientist brothers Albert and Gaston Tissandier began to publish a magazine they called La Nature. This medium sought to render scientific concepts understandable to the layperson through conventional language and identifiable everyday images, many of which were hand-drawn in those early days. Each of the 26 collages in this unique work by Wonk and Blake is pieced together from pictures originally printed in pre-1961 issues of La Nature. ... (read more)

back to top

Believable Ways

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All of Me Wants All of You
by J.Z. Howard
ALL4U


"Decades ago they'd shared such an adventurous spirit; could he honestly write words reflecting the same now?"

Dean and Kate Nelson are an apparently happy couple who appear to be successful in work, in their relationship with each other, and as parents to two daughters who love and respect them. Their love is real, but emotional and physical intimacy is missing from their marriage. Dean finds it exciting to meet Larissa, the mother of one of his company's employees. They have a few meetings and share a few kisses, but Dean ends the relationship before it becomes an affair. He is deeply religious as well as a caring spouse to Kate, and he doesn't want his marriage threatened. ... (read more)

back to top

Dark Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

This Side of Water: Stories
by Maureen Pilkington
Regal House Publishing


"So there you were, all happy and unaware, in the heart of his secret plan, until he slipped his two slim fingers inside you and helped himself to your soul."

This is a book of secrets. It is not the grand, specific, or cartoonish kind, like who stole the diamonds or who canoodled which forbidden partner. No bright smoking guns and fingerprints sparkle here. Rather, the secrets explored and exposed are of the far more deadly variety. They are the ones that grow inside people, mixed with innate shame and desires, the very essence of humanity, along with its incriminating frailties. No one is supposed to know these secrets. But apparently someone does. ... (read more)

back to top

Ailing Body

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Is the Church Sick?
by Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"There is a remedy and cure for the church, and it is found in Jesus, the Word of God."

In this lively, extended analogy, author Braswell poses questions regarding the various sorts of dysfunctions that may be afflicting the Christian church and its congregants. First, she imagines the church with a virus and suggests some candidates for the virus' symptoms: pride would be a major suspect, and weakness or laziness are other possibilities since once the church reaches a "certain depth of maturity, fatigue sets in." Such sickness can begin in the church leadership and spread to the congregants. What about coronary heart disease? The church may have blocked arteries, loss of appetite for the "food" of the spirit that has been watered down over time. If such a disease is causing a blockage in the church, God is needed to perform major surgery. ... (read more)

back to top

Myths & Signs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Suicide Dilemma: Finding a Better Choice
by Rebecca Morgan Gibson, LCSW and Lynn Mills
Cosworth Publishing


"You don’t have to be a mental health professional to recognize that someone is suicidal. If you respond and reach out in a caring and intelligent manner, the person may be saved."

A down-to-earth reader regarding suicide, the book covers significant information that the lay public needs to understand not only to be knowledgeable about the subject but to be an ally for those who suffer, including the suffering of one’s self and one’s own suicidal ideation. Topics include preventing suicide, losses, the myths and truths regarding suicide, symptoms of depression, talking to a suicidal person, treatment and recovery, and seven stories of people who have been suicidal. It ends with a discussion of the main points regarding suicide and how to survive when someone you love commits suicide. The book also offers research regarding this issue. ... (read more)

back to top

Time Out of Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shock Wave 2: The Book of Vallora
by Florian Louisoder
Amazon.com


"We see time as this big thing that spans eternity and we forget to appreciate and value the moment."

In this second book in the author's series, time travelers Scott and Linda DeSantis return from Atlantis to their own time; however, the world they find is a much different place than the one they left. History has rendered an alternate reality in which America, defeated by Germany in the Second World War, is now a totalitarian nation. Technology is used to keep watch and exert control over the American public. For Scott and Linda, this new world in which they have arrived, one in which their own children are unrecognizable to them, is one of danger. They are immediately hunted by old enemies who are now in power and find themselves trying to escape to safety, all while being under surveillance by this new and frightening government. The two have one goal: to stay alive long enough for the secrets held in the Book of Vallora to lead them back to their real home. ... (read more)

back to top

Mexican Passage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Moon and the Sea
by Bronwyn Rodden
Amazon.com Services


"'Make a good life for yourself, Annie,' she murmured, ‘for we’re a long time dead,’ and patted my hand."

This genre-bending tale of pirates, treasure hunters, and adventure seekers spans generations and time periods, offering up a bounty of thrills along the way. The story begins with Anne, a restless rebel who leaves Ireland for the New World. When her mother dies, her father is left to tame her wildness. Ever the contrarian, Anne often dresses as a boy to experience more freedoms as she frequents taverns and docks late at night and alone. Drawn to the ships at port and the promise of the seas as freedom, she marries a sailor. On a stolen sloop with a loyal crew, they set out for the Bahamas, where she promptly falls in love with a pirate, abandons her marriage, and begins a life on the high seas. From Anne, the story fans out to encompass a cast of characters connected through time, treasure, and a remnant from the past. ... (read more)

back to top

Beautiful & Vivid

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Debts and Vengeance: Third Volume in the Good Neighbors Series
by Janet M. Dann
DannWorks


"Both had been known to kill with little provocation and now both were feeling very provoked."

This third novel in the saga of the Dacia, Wagner, and Epstein families depicts the power of family and community against incredible odds. The Wagner and Dacia families have survived a violent turf war brought into their community by Mafia-supported bootlegging. The victory of these rural families against the criminals has sparked the musical career of August Wagner, "The Fighting Cowboy," who mocks the Mafia members who invaded his town. But Primo Moretti and Zeke Volakis, crime bosses implicated in those events, pine for vengeance. Uniting their efforts to achieve revenge, they launch retaliatory attacks against the families that include kidnapping. When these efforts fail due largely to the efforts of the savvy Dacia women, Moretti solicits the help of Chicago boss Signore de Luca. Will the plots of the Mafia bosses succeed, or will the targeted families somehow manage to escape the mobsters' machinations again? ... (read more)

back to top

Existential Speculations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Suspended Sentence: A Memoir
by Janice Morgan
She Writes Press


"As a parent with a teenage son in a detention facility back in 2003, I could only wonder: who will be the catcher in the rye to keep young persons with mental health issues today from eventually falling into the coils of the criminal justice system tomorrow?"

In her revealing memoir, Morgan observes the uncertain trajectory of her son's path from childhood to the criminal justice system. When Dylan is arrested, he is suddenly transformed from a University of Cincinnati student to a criminal. Morgan is "scorched by the shame" of this bombshell, reflecting upon their relationship while trying to understand his inner struggle. She traces his boyhood, wishfully reversing time to prevent his downward spiral. With frankness, she considers the loneliness and insecurities, the impacts of her failed marriage, and her mistakes and guilt as a parent. Tormented by a myriad of "what if" questions, Morgan inspects every aspect of their lives for reassurance and meaning to it all. Simultaneously, she casts light on mental health issues and the undue pressures of society. Coming to terms with her son's bipolar disorder, Morgan candidly probes the complexities of the condition and the agonizingly slow wheels of justice. She navigates the blurred lines of teen angst and examines the emotional and financial toll an affliction has on everyone. ... (read more)

back to top

A Panoramic Portrait

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lake of Fire: Book Three of the Yellowstone Series
by Linda Jacobs
Goodreads Press


"'There was once a great volcano here. The lake fills its crater,' Cord observed. She’d seen obsidian here in the park and other once-molten rocks."

Set in 1900, nearly a century before the 1988 fires that ravaged Yellowstone (the focus of the first book in the series), this novel delivers the same electric energy in depicting characters that interact with the spirit of Yellowstone as in the earlier books. While fire is not as encompassing in this particular story, it undoubtedly plays a pivotal role. The author’s ability to move the plot and character development forward while painting a vivid picture with sensory images is on full display. ... (read more)

back to top

Bittersweet South

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blue Weeds: The Alchemy of a Cajun Childhood
by Francois Meaux
Balboa Press


"My mother was my first alchemist."

Nostalgia is a wonderful, refreshing tonic for many people. It is a kindly balm that they use to cocoon themselves within friendly moments from the past, whenever the present seems unwelcoming. All the memories recalled are usually, by nature, filled with warmth and comfort. It is an increasingly common practice for an artist to return to where they began and reminisce. Thus when a reader is confronted by a voyage home that isn't needlessly one dimensional and instead explores all the various emotions of childhood, the content comes to life. ... (read more)

back to top

Humanity at Stake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Perfection of Fish
by J.S. Morrison
Black Rose Writing


"Maybe there's something in the water."

In the small town of Assurance, North Carolina, agoraphobe Nadia Holman is the last remaining resident. Nadia relies on Berky Benson, a former student and resident, to take care of her while she attempts to document and preserve Assurance’s history. What Nadia doesn’t realize is that her genes are being used and manipulated by Berky, who believes that society is trying to eradicate masculinity, and who funds a genetic manipulation research project in the hopes of creating subservient women. Diana, Nadia’s twin sister, stops by Assurance for a visit and realizes both her sister and her sister’s love for their hometown are being exploited. Diana joins a ragtag team of rebels who work together to uncover and undo the dangerous experiments helmed by Berky’s laboratory team, Xanadu. What ensues is a clash of cultures, beliefs, science, and manpower with the future of humanity at stake. ... (read more)

back to top

True Acknowledgment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Spiritual Checkup
by Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"You don't have to worry about rushing through your checkup because it is your need that He is here to take care of."

Just as people of all ages schedule appointments with their medical doctors throughout the year to ensure that all is well with their physical bodies, so too must one check in with one's maker, God, to assess spiritual issues in one's life. This is the primary argument posited by Braswell's self-help book. If we take the time to check such vitals as blood pressure, any significant changes in weight, x-rays when bones are thought to be broken, and preventative medicine including mammograms and the like, it is equally important, writes the author, that we make "appointments" with the Great Physician—our primary care provider, Jesus Christ. "The Lord is very concerned about the whole you," Braswell writes, "and He wants to address and fix everything." The author, who herself is a licensed practical nurse as well as a current pastor and Christian counselor, lays out for the reader in thirteen chapters a plan of action. ... (read more)

back to top

Real Peace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Secret Keeping: Overcoming Hidden Habits and Addictions
by John Howard Prin
New World Library


"If anybody knew about their secret lives, their good standing in the community would be destroyed—and they are fully aware of that."

Secrets have the power to manifest into a destructive lifestyle. Through vignettes, Prin establishes the devastation wreaked by secrets, while simultaneously providing a way out from the mental prison of anguish and shame that perennially gnaws through the human spirit. As an addict turned licensed drug and alcohol counselor, the author's experiences both as the "victim" and as a professional are undoubtedly trustworthy and relatable. ... (read more)

back to top

Trauma's Wake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cobalt Chronicles
by Kathryn Den Houter
Mission Point Press


"…I do know that women need to be empowered by using the best tool available—education."

A childhood that never existed cannot end. Young Congolese girl Esynama toils in her country’s lucrative cobalt mines starting when she should begin to go to school. Her scant wages always go to pay her father’s gambling debts. When she is eleven, her mother dies. Nevertheless, Esy’s mother always believed in the power of education to make a more meaningful life for her daughter. Finding encouragement in the pages of her mother’s diary, Esy seizes the opportunity to attend classes. But when she herself becomes a mother at age 13, she must trade book smarts for the wisdom of the streets of her war-torn nation. Women in her society serve only one purpose to predatory men. Raw survival instinct supersedes, but never banishes, her desire for intellectual growth. Then, a merciless attack nearly ends both Esy’s dreams and her practical plans for survival. Will she ever complete her long-sought education? ... (read more)

back to top

Spanish, Native Fusion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Chile Line: Historic Northern New Mexican Recipes
by Liddie Martinez
Pajarito Press


"My grandma once said to me, 'It will be you who will keep our story going.' Thank God, once again, she was right."

Entrenched in generations-old culture and tradition, Martinez's work is less a recipe book and more of a savory experience bursting with the energy and authenticity of a rural northern New Mexico family farm upbringing. While the majority of recipe books are de facto manuals with step-by-step instructions that yield an almost robotic experience, Martinez's cookbook tells the story of her family and her community. From her first real memory—the "smoky scent of bacon frying in the kitchen"—to her grandmother's green apron and Spanish music playing during culinary adventures, there is an undeniable element of connectivity that is sure to grab the readers' attention. ... (read more)

back to top

Better Being

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Be Wise Now: A Guide to Conscious Living
by Gael McCool
FEEL Inc.


"You can be wise now, despite whatever difficulty is presenting itself, by consciously engaging and integrating the wisdom that is already alive within you."

After a traumatic experience in her life, the author took exception to the famous quote by Descartes, "I think, therefore I am." This resulted in her creating a multi-dimensional model of self: fifteen parts used as interrelated filters through which to experience the world. These filters are explained in-depth, each in a separate chapter of this 440-page self-help book. ... (read more)

back to top

Davenport Return

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Black Dawn (Book 4 of the Davenport Series)
by Brett Diffley
BookLocker.com


"The Shadow, they called him. A man who couldn't be seen. A man who fought evil, killed without mercy."

Tom Spears is not proud to be a professional killer. He never sought the reputation that precedes him, the one summed up in the sobriquet "The Shadow." He once worked for the Manatone family, a powerful branch of the New York mob. Then Spears killed one of them. Now those that remain seek his life. They kidnap Spears' wife, Tanya, sending him on a nationwide search. If an activity is illegal, the Manatones are involved, and growing marijuana is fair game. In the growing fields of upstate New York, Spears discovers that "The Shadow" is a rallying cry for six displaced children of murdered field workers. His quest expands to include avenging the children. A Mexican cartel tries to steal the Manatones' monopoly on the product. However, Spears doesn't care who grows the weed, as long as he can eliminate those who would harm the woman and children he loves. ... (read more)

back to top

Hisotrical Time Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The King’s Broad Arrow
by Kathryn Goodwin Tone
Marron Press


"He let out a cry when he hit the water—too surprised by the impact and the ice-cold temperature to stifle it."

Tone's historical novel tells the story of young Sam Nevens during America's Revolutionary War. Sam and his best friend, Eamon, can't help but talk about the friction between the colonies and Britain. Sam's father owns a mill and has to leave the best trees picked out by British surveyors for the British Navy. Being caught cutting one down can have severe consequences. Although both boys are too young to join the militia, Eamon has a plan to go to a neighboring town, lie about his age, and join the fight. Sam doesn't believe he has the courage to be a soldier and isn't sure that fighting a power as strong as Britain is a good idea. However, Sam will be swept up in the revolution nonetheless, as he is caught trying to hide one of the trees his father cut down that was reserved for the British. He is captured and put on a prisoner ship. From this point, Sam begins to meet a rich selection of characters as he becomes more and more involved with the revolution and the reasons for which it is fought. Sam will interact with and help notables such as Thomas Paine and George Washington, as well as help print some of Paine's pamphlets from Ben Franklin's deserted house. Eventually, Sam even ends up fighting for the militia under the command of a young Alexander Hamilton. ... (read more)

back to top

Another World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Save Magic City
by Rocsanne Shield


"'Let’s stop dreaming. I told you there is no magic in our world, or I would be a witch...'"

A book for the child at heart, this narrative traverses the space-time continuum, propelling banished knight Sir Edmund from fourteenth-century England to the United States in 2007. Reminiscent of the holiday film Knight Before Christmas, the story opens up with a "damsel in distress." Leona is pleading desperately with the universe to send some good fortune her way. When her adopted eight-year-old son, Leo, comes across a fully-armored Sir Edmund in a clearing nearby their home, what ensues is a story of redemption, love, time travel, and, ultimately, a beautiful father-son type bond. ... (read more)

back to top

Light, Fun Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Orphan Rock
by Bronwyn Rodden
Amazon.com Services


"And for a second, as a moth passed nearby, its wings dusted angelic white glistening in the harsh light, he felt a tiny shaft of hope. Then nothing."

In a mystery regarding the murder of Jack Spandel, a local real estate agent, the book takes us through a variety of potential culprits related to Spandel's death. He had offended others in a variety of ways, both personally and professionally. His body was found close to a high-class restaurant and a local park that served as a gay cruising area, although he supposedly wasn't gay. Along with the possibility of a secret deal regarding mines in the area, a problematic marriage, a difficult teenager, affairs, and the question regarding a Chinese co-worker and the death of another person, Jack's murder is a difficult case. Detective Ros Gordon and others are tasked with finding the murderer, all while dealing with Gordon's probationary status and past and present relationships. And how does her former relationship with another cop influence her work and affect her case? ... (read more)

back to top

Coming Out

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Secret Agenda
by Felicia C. Williams
Truetrust Agency


"She thought to herself how she had nothing more to lose and everything to gain, her freedom being paramount."

The joke in the film The Shawshank Redemption is that all prison inmates in the maximum-security facility are innocent: just ask them. In this book about female inmates in a southeastern prison facility, the quartet of incarcerated friends and soon-to-be daring escapees share the distinction of being guilty. They did the crimes, and now they are doing their time. But this is not for long. Using the powerful bonds of their friendship and the willingness to risk that comes with having little left to lose, the women forge and implement a plan to deliver themselves to better lives. How they proceed and whether they get caught are the compelling questions that drive the book’s narrative through a well-paced and appropriately suspenseful ride. ... (read more)

back to top

Hits the Ground Running

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Animal Parts: A Peter Romero Mystery
by David E. Knop
Bookbaby


"Romero knew he was on his own."

Peter Romero, an officer with the Cochiti Pueblo Police Department, has been having a hard enough time as it is lately, what with a struggling marriage and local officials breathing down his neck. But his life is really thrown for a loop when he not only is tasked with killing a cougar who has attacked hikers, but also the cougar shows up in his bed still very much alive. The cat wants revenge for his murdered mate and cub, and he wants Romero’s help. Romero then finds himself embroiled in a thrilling mystery that involves everything from poaching, a black market for animal organs and parts, windigos, and even murder. With the help of the cougar as well as the spiritual world, Peter must find the key to solving the mystery. ... (read more)

back to top

King is Dead

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bound in Flame
by Katherine Kayne
Passionflower Press


"'Maybe you lost a dream, Papa. I am sorry, but I will not give up.'"

A self-proclaimed suffragist with a fiery personality and a love of animals, Leticia Lili’uokalani Lang aims to be one of the first female veterinarians. For 1909, this is a bold goal. On a return trip home to Hawaii by ship from boarding school, Letty springs into action to save a horse from drowning by jumping overboard. Thus, she crosses paths with the owner of the horse, Timothy Rowley, an estranged English aristocrat hard at work to accomplish his dream of owning a sugarcane plantation. But destiny has something else in mind for Letty when she learns that she is a makaha—a gate connected to the magic of her land. Letty must now juggle learning veterinary practices as well as how to use the sacred power she is privy to, as her healing powers of flame can also spell disaster. Will Letty be able to control both the fires of her power as well as the flames of desire? ... (read more)

back to top

Real Hero Instructions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Superhero University: The Ultimate Superhero Training Manual
by Harbinger Ektoutheou
Stratton Press


"Christ Jesus is the Supreme Superhero because He is the One and only Savior."

In this fascinating treatise, author Ektoutheou asserts that to be a superhero, as many young people desire, one must “go above and beyond the call of duty” consistently, answering the call of real, spiritually based love for one’s fellow beings. He offers his Superhero University to educate potential helpers. Some examples of superheroism already exist: MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) started small, spread throughout America, and has reduced drunk driving. Aaron Feis threw himself in front of his students in an act of sacrifice at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Morality, the author states, is not relative; evil exists and must be combatted. Love exists, like the air we breathe. But it is Jesus who saves, invoking our will to action through his example. To be a superhero, you must believe in him, focus on finding solutions, and be available without fear when trouble arises. You may not always succeed, but you do your best, “then let go and give the situation to the Savior. ... (read more)

back to top

A Woman's Courage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Soraya: The Other Princess
by Saber AZAM
Westwood Books Publishing


"Unlike other females of her generation, she dared to address all men, stare straight into their eyes, state substance and logic, and refute unsubstantiated claims."

In the introduction, AZAM is vigilant to tell us this is “in no manner Soraya’s biography.” This is only a synopsis of the overall neglect and suppression of women in Afghanistan. This thinly veiled fictional account is inspired by his friend Soraya Ludin’s life. She is the daughter of politician and Afghan diplomat Kabir Ludin. AZAM’s four-decade friendship with her and admiration prompted him to pen his “own recollection of her dazzling personality and remarkable endeavors for Afghanistan.” He dedicates the book to “all Afghan women.” ... (read more)

back to top

Learning to Walk

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Three Quick Steps: An Inspiring Account of Struggle and Recovery
by Robert Emmett
Robert Klem


"If you ask a polio victim what he wants, and he answers honestly, it is to be normal or at least perceived as normal."

Afflicted with polio at age nine, the author spent many agonizing years, days, and minutes fighting the disease on numerous fronts. After initial surgeries and daily physical therapy, he was able to crawl. By 1954, he could walk with crutches. By his sophomore year in high school, he no longer needed them. Thus began a lifelong inner conversation with “Mr. Normal” who pushed him to act like everybody else, even if it meant running on icy pavement. Friends and classmates learned to walk more slowly to stay with him, just as he determined to participate in more activities with them. He learned to play (and win at) cards, ping-pong, chess, and tennis. The latter he accomplished by taking just “three quick steps” and developing a power serve. He wanted to study medicine but was fortuitously guided to chemistry instead. He enjoyed a successful career, becoming a high-ranking executive in the chemicals and minerals industry. ... (read more)

back to top

Mapping the World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When a Conscience Knocks
by James Skinner
Cyberwit.net


"“...although he had been relatively stable... and was now well into the forgetful stage, there was enough of Sr. Don Juan Miguel Ochoa there to appreciate the farewell."

A story of international intrigue is told from the viewpoint of a young female English teacher under a two-year contract at a school in Tehran, Iran. While there in the 1970s and just before the rescue operation of plane hijackers at Bengasi, Jenny Robertson meets Juan Miguel Ochoa, a Spanish Embassy secretary. Juan Miguel quickly proposes, and they marry in a whirlwind before the end of the year. The couple travels well and freely around the hotspots of the world as Juan Miguel is often reassigned. They are unable to have children but thoroughly delight in each other’s physical company. They also enjoy sightseeing in the Middle East, South and Central America, and the United States. Years pass as Juan Miguel rises in the diplomatic ranks. However, their adventures bring to light new information, which causes Jenny to wonder whether their union was by accident or design. What will Jenny do now that Juan Miguel is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is retired from diplomatic service at age sixty-two? ... (read more)

back to top

Her People

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crown of Crowns
by Clara Loveman
Amazon.com Services


"We are the leaders of this society, and we must be role models."

Geniverd is a land where the gap between the nobility and the common folk grows every day. It is a realm where technology has displaced primary jobs and human behaviors, and an uprising may be coming. Kaelyn, a member of the nobility, is being pushed by her family to marry another nobleman for eligibility for the Crown of Crowns. This ceremony selects the new king and queen to rule over the six clans and all the citizens. Yet Kaelyn is in love with a commoner, her dear friend Roki, and has no interest in ruling as queen. When tragedy befalls her family, Kaelyn's life trajectory changes as she finds herself vying for societal change, the crown, and love. ... (read more)

back to top

Future of Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Boy Who Was Destined To Be King
by Ricky D. Wilson
PageTurner Press and Media


"He would think about different things. He would dream about his village having everything so they wouldn’t have to go far to fetch supplies."

This delightful novella features a boy living in a small village named Tapolis on the outskirts of the city. Hope is different from the other children. He does his chores like everybody else, but there is still something unique about him. He often seems to be lost in thought. He is a dreamer with "curious eyes." One day while en route to the main city, Hope overhears a conversation from a group of bandits who seek to overthrow the King. None of the guards believe his story, and yet Hope could never tell a lie. Eventually, barging past the knights, he makes his way to the King himself and tells him what he has heard. The King sends his knights to investigate, and sure enough, Hope's warning saves the kingdom from the band of evil miscreants. Years later, the King has aged and is looking for a worthy replacement. He seeks in his successor someone who excels at reading and writing, is "knowledgeable enough to make the right decisions for the people," and is entirely honest. ... (read more)

back to top

The Blend

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cat Tales: Da Real Pussy
by Mick E. Jones
PageTurner Press and Media


"I discovered that there were unwritten cat laws. If you feed a cat, you have to take it in or move."

In a heartfelt, hilarious tribute, author Jones salutes the felines that have pranced through his life. Elmo purposefully attaches himself to Jones and his family, staring soulfully into Jones's eyes while perched on the hood of his car, or waiting at the door "meowing to get his morning rubs." When a local flying squirrel threatens the relationship, jealous Elmo exacts revenge. Cool Cat is a charming female who seduces Jones with her calm demeanor and wriggles her way into his heart, his home, and finally into his closet, where she has a litter of kittens. A psychic predicts that Jones will encounter a black cat "from hell." Jojo fits that description. A "gift" from a friend, Jojo is a tough but loveable creature that delights in destruction. Melvan—like Jones, his son, and grandson—is a fighter, proving his prowess in a fur-flying match with the neighborhood dog that can't out-box this feline Muhammad Ali. ... (read more)

back to top

Honest Approach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Anti-Sell: Marketing, Lead Generation & Networking Tips for Freelancers Who Hate Sales
by Steve Morgan
Amazon.com Services


"The whole point is to arm you with a ridiculously long list of ideas... for you to choose from. You’re not expected to implement them all..."

Morgan is an SEO professional who resides in the UK. The author takes time to attend local meet-ups and community or networking organization events. He has also participated in a co-working space. His book gives examples of people who met ideal clients through a referral or recommendation from the person seated next to them. Morgan also explains the socialization advantages of running meet-ups and planned meetings for organizations. These volunteer positions are equally productive for finding clients and are less time-consuming than owning a co-working space. For those who do not live near local groups, online contacts can be made through Twitter hashtags and LinkedIn recommendations. The author also discusses how freelancing can cause you to grow into either opening an agency or learning to pass work on to others. ... (read more)

back to top

Overcoming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Resurrection Lily: The BRCA Gene, Hereditary Cancer & Lifesaving Whispers from the Grandmother I Never Knew
by Amy Byer Shainman
Archway Publishing


"After learning more about hereditary cancer and BRCA gene mutations, I knew I could not live with myself if I remained silent about the information."

When Shainman discovered that she had inherited a breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutation, and therefore a significantly increased risk of cancer, she decided to take concrete action for herself, her family, and others with similar hereditary odds. Inspired by her late grandmother's medical records, she delved headfirst into her family's history of cancer. With her detailed research on hereditary cancer, she opened a door to realizations that she couldn't ignore. This memoir depicts the progress of her medical journey and, ultimately, her informed decision to take preventive measures—opting for a hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, and bilateral mastectomy with follow up reconstructive surgery—to reduce her chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer. As a digital ambassador for the National Society of Genetic Counselors gene pool, Shainman's mission is to help others get ahead of their heightened risk, as well. This book, and the tips and guidance within, is yet another tool for her to advocate for BRCA positive men and women everywhere. ... (read more)

back to top

Wild West

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Measuring Up: Fourth Volume in the Good Neighbor Series
by Janet M. Dann
DannWorks


"The Lucky D was set in rolling grasslands, studded with clumps of ponderosa pines, aspen, and bur oak."

David Epstein, his wife Rebecca, and their two children, Deborah and Daniel, are excited to be embarking on a trip to the South Dakota farm of the Josif Dacia family. As a reporter for The New York Times, David is given the assignment to document their journey west in return for his family’s passage. As they also plan to attend the wedding of Fritz Wagner and Flora Doyle, they join members of the wedding party at the Dacia’s en route to the wedding and Fourth of July rodeo in Wyoming. Fritz’s brother August, a singer-songwriter of some fame, has a job singing at the Corn Palace, and the group stops along the way to watch his performance. Unfortunately, things don’t go smoothly as backup singers Floyd and Trixie DeLaney turn out to be big trouble for August. Also, an old enemy of the bride’s shows up as an unexpected guest. ... (read more)

back to top

Love & War

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sirocco: A French Girl Comes of Age in War-Torn Algeria
by Danielle A. Dahl
Coffeetown Press


"Someone started a new record. Couples resumed dancing, but the music, louder now, couldn’t cover up the thuds of three more explosions… And yet the dancing continued as if nobody heard anything."

This title of this well-crafted book refers to the powerful, hurricane-force sirocco winds that well up from the Sahara and sweep through northern Africa into the Mediterranean. Likewise, winds of political, social, and familial change blow through this memoir of growing up during the Algerian war of independence from France. The French had colonized Algeria since the 1830s, and the colonists who emigrated there eventually formed twenty percent of the population. Dahl’s family had lived in Algeria for four generations, but were caught in the crossfire when war broke out in 1954. The memoir is narrated by “Nanna,” ten years old when the war began. She documents her world through 1962 when Algeria gained independence. The oldest of five children, Nanna goes on a typical coming-of-age journey: navigating family life (in particular, dealing with an overbearing father), school, interests, friends, romance. But layered over this journey are violent attacks and the inevitability of having to flee a homeland that is fast becoming no longer a home. ... (read more)

back to top

Naked Truth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stolen Hours: Breaking Free From Secret Addictions
by John Howard Prin
Syren Book Company


"Secret lives center on substances, objects, or events—not people with whom we are meant to connect."

In a book about breaking free from destructive secret behaviors, an addictions counselor candidly reveals his 40-year history as an individual caught up in the world of secret-keeping. “Secret Keepers” is the term Prin uses to define individuals whose unhealthy addictions “have strong power over them,” resulting in extreme misbehavior and even violation of others. The author focuses on how abusers of alcohol and drugs, gambling, sexual addictions, and other addictive behavior resort to “stealing away” hours to feed their secrets. Prin reveals his own story, starting with innocent enough childish obsessions. But throughout the intimate narrative, we learn his hurtful behaviors come to include an intense desire to harm his mom, take his own life at certain low points, and more. ... (read more)

back to top

A Man Rising

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From an Outhouse to the White House: And Then Some
by Hal Davis
Stratton Press


"In Vietnam, nothing that had come before mattered.... I was just a grunt."

Davis begins his book by recounting his childhood memory of the outhouse, illustrating his early life of poverty. He had a long way to go before ultimately landing a job as a Secret Service Agent at the White House. But it's the other part of the title "And Then Some" that really drives this story. All that Davis experienced between his early childhood and his work in the White House makes for a truly compelling page-turner. The story of his life is fascinating, making this book hard to put down. ... (read more)

back to top

Coping

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Waking in Havana: A Memoir of Aids and Healing in Cuba
by Elena Schwolsky
She Writes Press


"As I looked around the circle, I couldn’t help wondering which of my Cuban friends I might never see again."

In 1972 and filled with youthful enthusiasm, Schwolsky leaves her son in a rural hippie commune with her ex-husband. She ventures to Cuba to join the youthful, idealistic Cuban revolutionaries. She joins a "heady and often confusing mix" of the fifth Venceremos Brigade, which "threw people together from the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, La Raza Unida, Students for a Democratic Society" as well as a multitude of members from other socially conscious organizations. This initial visit to Cuba sparks a lifelong interest and passion for Cuba's rich, diverse culture. Shortly after Schwolsky loses her husband, Clarence, to AIDS in 1991, the island nation, although off-limits to U.S. citizens, offers her healing and personal rebirth. In 1996, Schwolsky finds herself in the ever-important role of educator and, more importantly, friend to Cuba's stigmatized and sequestered AIDS patients. This poignant, relevant, and emotional memoir reminds readers that viruses and epidemics—unlike people, societies, and drastic medical and political policies—do not discriminate. Nor do those suffering from them warrant exclusion from family, community, and existence. ... (read more)

back to top

Battle Frontiers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew: A Memoir
by Hendrika de Vries
She Writes Press


"Being the old, dark child of the past, I was the one bound to my mother through the secret memories that everyone wanted to leave behind and forget."

De Vries's memoir tells of her time as a child in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Her father, the traditional provider and protector, is taken to a German POW camp, and the young de Vries and her mother are suddenly left alone in an occupied city with no one to depend on but themselves. As the war goes on and the occupation lengthens, food and safety become scarce. De Vries' mother begins to take bold steps to ensure the safety and welfare of her child. Even as suspicions run high, and neighbors report neighbors, de Vries' mother begins associating with the resistance. She even shelters a young Jewish girl in their home, fully aware of the danger that brings to herself and her own daughter. ... (read more)

back to top

Settling Anew

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Franklin Family Odyssey, Homesteading in Alaska: The Beginning
by David W. Erickson
Stratton Press


"When Johnny was five, it began. Almost every night, the youngster had the same dream."

By the time Johnny Franklin is five, he is hunting and fishing with his father, John, and helping with chores around their northern California cabin. He is also the protector of his younger twin brothers, Denny and Donald. The family is close, and as the boys grow, Johnny enjoys the adventures he shares with his dad in the wilderness. Eventually, Johnny marries Becka Jones. When his new bride's family decides to move to Alaska to stake their claim on land there, Johnny and his wife leave with them. Johnny's other family members soon follow to seek their fortune in the Alaskan wilderness, and the families grow even closer. The only thing that puts a damper on this new adventure is the persistent dream Johnny has had since childhood. Always at the back of his mind is the fear that perhaps the dream is a premonition. ... (read more)

back to top

Riding Rough

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adventures of a Dog Man: Finding Fidelity
by Gordon Garrett
Stratton Press


"He discovered, in time, that those who trust no one are usually not to be trusted themselves."

Grew Tuckett was born blind in one eye and therefore forbidden to play childhood sports. His handicap does not lessen his passion for dogs. He spends his adult life breeding, training, grooming, and showing German Shepherds. Nor does his condition prevent him from enjoying female company. He marries twice, losing his first wife to breast cancer and his second to divorce. He has 19 long-term affairs and plenty of casual sex with nameless women between relationships. Not at all to his surprise, but often to his fury, some of these women also cheat on him, ruining his trust. There are only two constants in Grew's life: his adopted son, born of his first wife's infidelity, and his unfulfillable quest to find the perfect woman. That woman is Chloe, subject of a song to which Grew owns the sheet music. Will Grew ever find a real-life "Chloe" of his own? ... (read more)

back to top

Wit & Irony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Baobab: A Novel
by Larry Hill
First Edition Design Publishing


"'So, in summary we have a dead General, SCUD missiles, two missing Peace Corps volunteers, a bunch of girls talking about a coup d’état, and an order to leave town. Other than that, it’s pretty quiet.'"

Novels about earnest diplomats pursuing their particular nation's interest in other countries are rife with interesting characters. Two examples that this book brings to mind are the seemingly naive Pyle in Graham Greene's The Quiet American and his cuckolded Pineda in The Comedians. Multiple characters traverse the pages of this chronicle, but two, in particular, draw the lion's share of interest: Political Officer Bernadette Kelly and Regional Medical Officer Michael Eisenstat. Both are committed to doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. However, they harbor no illusions that those abilities are often limited by the backwater conditions of the fictional West African nation in which they ply their trade and the decidedly low level of interest from the country that sent them there—the United States of America. ... (read more)

back to top

Monsters & Darkness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dream Wizard Conquers His Knight Mare
by Dr. Alexander Randall 5th
Westwood Books Publishing


"Nightmares are the dreaming mind trying to resolve a conflict. Exploring the content of the dream can lead to profound insights into who you happen to be."

A boy named Sandy plays and plants all the time in the great garden in his yard while accompanied by his faithful dog, Rem. And yet, young Sandy is never satisfied, Everywhere he looks there seem to be more weeds in his garden than anything else of value, such as plants for food. His primary concern becomes figuring out how to get rid of all the weeds without doing any work. He sets out on his quest to find magic to do the job. ... (read more)

back to top

Saving Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wild Herd: A Vanishing American Treasure
by Deborah Kalas
Val de Grace Books


"All the while, the high temperatures of summertime bring the horses close together in huddles, all swishing their tails to find relief from... swarming flies."

Through the prism of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Kalas’s photographic prowess takes readers on a riveting glimpse into the innermost lives of horses. The portfolio compilation not only exudes a genuine love for these majestic animals but, in many ways, humanizes them by capturing their most tender moments—be it newborns in the caress of protective parents or horses collectively grazing on the plains. It would not be far-fetched to describe the author as a horse whisperer. Her love of horses began at three. She has been riding since she got her first pony at six, and her combined passion for horses and photography has manifested itself into her wilderness forays. ... (read more)

back to top

Elevated Action Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Storm Warning (Davenport Series Book 6)
by Brett Diffley
Amazon.com Services


"She had even tried the 911 emergency operator to get any information about the pandemic. Again no one had answered."

The best kind of fiction can make its created world relevant to the reader and make the setting tangible to the visual imagery of the audience. Sometimes, however, you find a perfect storm. The general themes of this narrative make it all the more real. It is filled with characters experiencing all the global uncertainty that so many have to reckon with in today's world. ... (read more)

back to top

Kitchen Legacy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Secret Recipes from the Corner Market
by Carol Ann Kates
Penny Lane Press


"My father taught me my most valuable lesson about cooking. Great food begins with shopping. The quality of the ingredients used when preparing the meal is just as important as the recipe."

Transporting the reader to an era in which a pound of apples cost a dime, and market owners personally inspected ingredients for quality, Kates offers both a tribute to fresh, family meals and a versatile how-to guide for food lovers of all backgrounds. The work opens with the engaging history of Steele's Market—the Colorado-based food chain started by her father, Merrill Steele, in 1940—and continues to showcase the value of family in charming, educational asides that appear on nearly every page. Even the recipes that appear throughout Kates' pages are derived from those she perfected for the family business. ... (read more)

back to top

Lyrical Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Wounded Deer Leaps Highest
by C.P. Mangel
Eyewear Publishing


"I would let go of the sky, sink into the shadow beneath the bluest wave which would swallow me up in all its darkness."

Titus (Ty) Horace, a black lawyer turned successful novelist (under the nom de plume Ovid White), and his fair Jewish wife make a life-changing move from Chicago to North Carolina. The couple is reluctant to take their striking, confident young daughter, Asa, away from educational opportunities and leave their comfortable lives in 1950s Chicago. However, Ty has inherited ninety acres of land, the remnant of a former land grant passed through his family for over a century. His aunt’s will contains a provision that he must reside on the land or forfeit the entire estate. Thus begins an obligation that grows far graver than anticipated. ... (read more)

back to top

Unique Elf Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Impish: The Christmas Elf
by Amanda McIlwain Hauser
AuthorHouse


"Some gifts packaged with silver bell crepe
Some gifts hidden within nutcracker paper and tape!"

For half of the year, life is dark and dreary at the North Pole. As frostbite sets in, there is no light, and even the polar bears and reindeer get gloomy. All of this changes when we meet Impish, one of Santa’s elves who longs for brightness, cheer, and warmth. Impish, it so happens, is in charge of the wrapping of gifts for boys and girls all over the world, and her little workshop is just outside the Big Guy’s door. And so, she devises a plan. What ensues is laughter, cheer, a brightening of the place, and—perhaps most significantly—a new, fun system which changes how good boys and girls all over the world on Christmas morning use their natural insight and creative intelligence to “figure out” which gifts they receive from Santa. ... (read more)

back to top

Morality tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jerome
by Peter Leibert
Xlibris


"...something magical happened. Jerome smiled."

This children's book is based on the true story of a legless man discovered in Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, in the 1860s. However, it is highly fictionalized. Possibly to soften the intensity for young readers of a tale about a legless man, the two who find the man, Jerome, are Corgis. They can't communicate with him, yet they persist in making him comfortable and warm. The Corgis' friend, an old otter, has an idea to give Jerome even better care: "The village should adopt him and treat him as a friend…" ... (read more)

back to top

Overcoming Trials

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The First Christmas Day Trilogy
by David Jonathan Bradley
AuthorHouse


"The intelligent young museum director very carefully brought back to life three amazing stories."

The Christmas miracle is a story that has been celebrated and passed down through the centuries. It is a time associated with both generosity and introspection. While there has been a multitude of stories about Christmas, this book adds three unique and endearing tales to the collection. The narrative revolves around three characters who are drawn to the inn on the day when Jesus is born: an innkeeper’s son who yearns for the attention and praise of his father, a blind donkey who is trying to find worth despite being ridiculed by his siblings, and a child angel who’s looking for the perfect gift for the Son of God. The stories, though told through separate points of view, are interwoven by how each character is forever changed by their experience with both the baby Jesus and his family. ... (read more)

back to top

Owl Joy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rooke’s Island: The Prophecy of the Staring Eyes
by S. K. Whalen
iUniverse


"We, the Owls, are the Silent Watchers of the World. We watch, we listen, and we learn—this is our greatest responsibility, and the source of our wisdom."

When Adelaine Margery Josephine Ida Hilda-Ann Mutters receives a letter one afternoon postmarked "private" and adorned with piercing owl-like eyes, little does the humble woman know her entire world is about to change. Summoned to meet a Mr. Sidney Snog concerning the death of her Uncle Jack—and her inheritance of an entire existence on the famed but little-understood Rooke's Island—it's not long before her newfound role within a wonderfully elaborate underworld of Owls begins to bear fruit. A 2,000-year-old prophecy which will bring about the new Owl King depends decidedly on her involvement and portends an extraordinary series of events to unfold in the life of Margery, with close friendships made along the way and no shortage of delightful adventure. ... (read more)

back to top

Great Satire

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Non-Product Consolidation Operation
by John Ropa
Xlibris


"During the mega merger of two generic pharmaceutical corporations, an errant shipment jeopardizes the existence of the Non-Product Consolidation Operation, a miscellaneous package export warehouse."

The Non-Product Consolidation Operation is a small branch of Generic Equivalent Corporation (GenEQ), a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Its team of the mixed competencies of Myrtle, Naomi, Rachel, Ralph, and the inept manager, Lawrence, is charged with packaging and shipping products to overseas firms. The lack of capable management obliges the team to spend a considerable number of resources trying to rectify mistakes, such as misrouted packages and lost invoices. In the wake of a merger, the corporation's president sends a vice president of finance to determine the future of the branch office. ... (read more)

back to top

Verve & Energy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Red Sunset
by Jose Luis Almazan
Xlibris


"He wasn’t afraid to die, but he needed to survive to denounce these brutal murders. He softly sobbed and rubbed his eyes. At this point, it seemed to be the best idea."

This story, initially set in Mexico in the 1950s, revolves around a family. It is a chronicle of hardship, struggle, and eventually perseverance. From a wild, backcountry farm to the metropolis of Mexico City, the family’s history is unveiled as they deal with horrific violence, overcome tragedy, and eventually come to grips with what it means to live each day to the fullest. ... (read more)

back to top

Kid Hero

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Henry and Anthony: The Adventure of a Canada Goose and a Homing Pigeon
by H. Lynn Beck
iUniverse


"You must become a goose who can hear the Great Goose’s words and never doubt them."

Every kid wants to be the hero of their own story, whether it be fighting a disability, a school bully, or society’s judgments. In the case of this book, the main protagonist is a goose who, along with some friends, learns to change the world despite being at a disadvantage or disabled. The author does an excellent job of crafting an entertaining and poignant story of how someone can make a difference in the world despite having a physical disadvantage and being an outsider. Henry loves flying more than his brethren. Because of his affinity for humans, he ends up with a leg that will never heal. He feels called to something greater and follows that voice as he heads on a journey, partaking in many adventures and picking up friends along the way. ... (read more)

back to top

Wide-Eyed & Dangerous

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Global Adventures of Arguille MacGregor
by Arguille MacGregor
iUniverse


"He often wonders why he has been so blessed… but can only answer that question with stories of his continued adventures and what destiny awaits."

Writer and raconteur MacGregor recalls experiences ranging from sweet romance to enduring friendship to extreme danger in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The opener finds him working in Colombia where guerrilla forces were often known to kidnap and sometimes murder rich expatriates, and but for a technical problem, he might have met that very fate. On a two-week sailing vacation in Australia, navigating on a stormy night, he nearly runs head-on into a huge transport ship. Back in Colombia, he plants a plastic pink flamingo in the jungle for a lark, only to learn to his embarrassment that the effigy is being studied by environmentalists. In Brazil, he meets a gorgeous Latina woman destined to be his wife. A new job in China has to be curtailed since he arrives at the time of the Tiananmen Square terror. Other international incidents, both amusing and chilling, round out this memoir, revealing a life boldly lived and zestfully embraced. ... (read more)

back to top

Fate & Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Portuguese Witness
by John Reidy
AuthorHouse


"'You have to take him for who he says he is,' said the old man, 'even if the concept of someone travelling from one time zone to another is difficult to accept.'"

Paulo de Silva Barros is a highly accomplished architect and business owner across Portugal, running hotel chains and designing various structures for the local government and clients. But Paulo’s success isn’t without heartbreak and hardship, as he’s endured many losses and loneliness over the course of his life. Claudio Braccarri is a landowner and mine owner of ancient Rome, fleeing Lusitania from the invading Suevi hordes. He is en route to Olissippo with many of his belongings when a lightning accident strikes him, setting a path in motion that will allow Paulo and Claudio to meet under unlikely circumstances. ... (read more)

back to top

Culture Clash

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ashes in a Coconut
by Bo Kearns
Moonshine Cove Publishing


"Her family expected her to return to the States. They argued it was safer there. But safety was no guarantee anywhere. And she no longer considered the place where she grew up to be her home."

When Laura leaves behind her ambitions to save her marriage by moving to Indonesia with her husband, she discovers more about herself and her marriage than she ever did in New York City. She expects a getaway that will strengthen the bond between herself and her husband, Jack. Instead, she’s met with obstacles that put their relationship to the test when Jack falls into corrupt dealings in an attempt to save the Indonesian bank he has been entrusted with as president. The longer they stay, the wider the gap between them grows as the bank’s interests conflict with Laura’s values and a newfound love she discovers—saving the rainforest and its endangered primates. ... (read more)

back to top

Final Testament

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

One of God’s Chosen Vessels: A Journey of Faith, Love and Loss
by Bill Mehr
AuthorHouse


"As someone facing extinction... my reaction to the deadly diagnosis, wasn’t flying off to Paris, but hunkering down... learning to appreciate family, friends, and church, even more."

The author was an active member of his community in northern Virginia, writing a blog and volunteering with youth and the homeless. He and his wife Connie married late in life and spent seven happy years together. A fractured vertebra related to a fall changed the course of their lives. X-rays revealed that Mehr had carcinoma in the lobe of his right lung. Yet, he was never a smoker. This book records the author's experiences, observations about God, and the wisdom garnered during months of treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer. That December, the author chose a different path. He opted to discontinue chemo, continue volunteering at the hospital, and lead as active a life as possible. Unfortunately, multiple brain tumors required radiation treatments, and Mehr died the following April. ... (read more)

back to top

Health Challenges

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Patient: Sacrifice, Genius, and Greed in Uganda’s Healthcare System
by Olive Kobusingye
AuthorHouse


"The doctors and nurses had to put on brave faces, and to continue to reassure the patients that they were doing all they could..."

A former surgeon at Mulago Hospital in Uganda, author and educator Kobusingye offers a chronicle of that country’s social history and medical developments set against a backdrop of contrasts. Young people wishing to study medicine attend Makerere University, where the author studied, and take internships and possibly practice for longer terms at Mulago, the large, nearby facility. The two institutions have grown side by side, weathered many changes of policy, and experienced gradual improvements over the past 50-plus years. The author views these sister facilities through the eyes of the many patients and medical practitioners who have passed through their doors. The dramatic case histories constructed here are often disturbing, revealing in the gripping experiences of caregivers and sufferers alike the healthcare discrepancies that still exist in Uganda between the small minority of the privileged and the vast majority of the country’s rural poor. ... (read more)

back to top

Real Insight

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Divine Gift: More than a Healing Story, It’s a Life-Changing Testimony!
by Barbaro Baez Alvarez
Xlibris


"When we die, our bodies die, but our ideas, personality, and qualities are present in the lives and hearts of the people who bonded with us..."

Born in Cuba, the author came to America at age 15, sponsored by his father. From ages 17 through 19, Alvarez experienced various stresses, some normal and others more extreme. The typical teenage desires for a married life were accompanied by rejections that made him anxious. On top of that, there were troubles in helping his mother come to America and in adjusting to his father's new wife and family in the U.S. When Alvarez was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he experienced difficulties while in both countries. Eventually, he was able to identify his own need for hospitalization and for help resolving imbalances due to changed medications. During his thirties, the author became engaged to and married a Columbian bride. The couple became happy parents of a daughter. ... (read more)

back to top

Rising

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Born and Raised in Sawdust: My Journey Around the World in Eighty Years
by Lewis Thigpen, Ph.D., PE
AuthorHouse


"If each of us does what he or she can, and stretches that help even further than they think they can, all of us will rise. And our communities will be transformed from sawdust into giant, solid oak trees."

The author of this finely detailed yet essentially unhurried, understated autobiography spent years as a distinguished engineer, researcher, and professor. But as the first third of this memoir clearly points out, that was hardly a foregone conclusion. He grew up in the Jim Crow South faced with prejudice, few opportunities, and limited resources, and for most of those early years, he didn’t even have an idea what to do with his life or how to figure it out. Yet, through diligence, ingenuity, good values, high morals, a basic trust of what’s possible, and plenty of adventure—from the army to the planting fields to the laboratories—Dr. Thigpen made a mark. He may not be world-famous or well known outside of his professional or academic circles, but as an American success, his story, or more accurately his life, is well worth the recognition provided here. ... (read more)

back to top

Potential Spent

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Tale of Silence: True Story of Jonathan Ned Cole
by Ned Cole
Xlibris


"Death of one so much loved is a long-lasting agony for those still living who can never again see your smile."

At times heartwarming, at times gut-wrenching, Cole's narrative features the first-person perspective of his late son, Jonathan. Based on a true story, the plot weaves through the Cole family member's lives, as seen from Jon's point of view. The Coles, an all-white family, adopts Jonathan, who is black and deaf, at a mere three-months-old. ... (read more)

back to top

Internal Reflections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Conversations With Myself: Short Introspective Discussions About Life
by Michael William Peterson
iUniverse


"Are you happy?
What?
Are you happy?
What does that mean?
Which of these words do you not understand?
I understand them all, but it’s a rather complex question."

We all talk to ourselves from time to time; that is simply part of being human. To work out problems, justify certain attitudes, or even because one aspect of our personality conflicts with another, self-discussions are natural. Peterson discovered this truth some time ago, and thus his unique, honest, and often humorous book was born. His treatise reflects on the human condition—everything from men and women, happiness, work, language, education, war, taxes, swearing, sports, TV, and movies to God. Peterson developed an innovative method to go about writing these “conversations.” Seven primary “personality types,” as he calls them, all which are equally taken from his person and mind, develop the conversation. He uses specific, consistent fonts to aid the reader in following along. ... (read more)

back to top

Interwoven Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Your Heart Is the Master
by Sandra Diaz
Xlibris


"As I went deeper into my spiritual journey, this idea that the mind functions better as a servant to the heart started to make sense."

Counselor Diaz advises people in varying states of trauma, emphasizing her conviction that positive solutions emerge from “being in the heart.” Diaz had dreams of her deceased boss, Evelyn, urging her to contact her distressed widower. Diaz and Henry had several meetings permeated with Evelyn’s messages, helping him to move on with his life. Mary was a student who couldn’t finish school because she lacked funds. Diaz asked her to concentrate on the healing aspects of the profession and pray for assistance; her prayers were answered with an unexpected special endowment. Scott was a trauma victim who worried about two disruptive men in the institution where he worked. Diaz counseled forgiveness and concentration on divine light, and when Scott took her suggestion, the problem stopped immediately. Highly intelligent, Jim feared he would never succeed because he had a DUI trial hanging over his future. He took Diaz’s word that he could overcome this barrier. Infused with the sense of positivity she projected, he was released from legal bindings and began his medical studies. ... (read more)

back to top

A Love Letter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living with Madness: A Love Story
by Rona Riley
Xlibris


"But I patiently waited for the good. I always knew the good, sweet, loving Robin was in there, somewhere hidden by the worst of him."

This notably candid memoir recounts a forty-five-year marriage and the illness that nearly consumes it. The author begins with their childhoods—hers in Montreal and husband Robin's in Long Beach, California—during The Great Depression. Riley is a shy, Jewish girl, spared from her father's abuse toward her sister. Robin is the youngest of three brothers and "the one with most magnetism." Too much freedom at home leads the brothers to drug use and Robin's eventual contraction of the "slow-growing disease" Hepatitis C. ... (read more)

back to top

Togetherness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Early Years in India
by Wobine Ishwaran
Xlibris


"In India it is tradition that the wife serves first the children, then her husband and guests, only the men."

For Chennappa Gouda, happiness is not defined by wealth but by experiences, family, and community. In 1920, Hiremallpur is a tiny agricultural village in Karnataka, India, where Chenappa and Basawa raised a family of nine sons and a daughter, the norm for the early twentieth century. At its core, Ishwaran’s story, based on the true story of her husband’s upbringing, is rooted in traditions, culture, and gender roles. ... (read more)

back to top

Cheng Continues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Professor and CEO True Story, Vol. 2: A Fascinating Journey to Success
by Richard T. Cheng
Xlibris


"I thought, Finally, I am in the dreamland I had been longing for. But I was 10,000 miles away from my home, my roots, and my loved ones. Suddenly, a feeling of loneliness set in."

In 1985 and at the age of 51, Cheng, a computer science professor in Virginia, left academia to start a small company, which he soon turned into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. A decade later, his company was awarded a government contract for $240 million. Just how he came to the U.S. in the first place—his stressful childhood in war-torn China, youthful brushes with death, wide-eyed love of all things technical, faithful dog, brutal ocean journeys, and dozens of other personal details a nd anecdotes—form the basis of this autobiographical digest. Covering the years from when he was a young teenager to his arrival in the U.S. as a 27-year-old electronics expert (who had to leave his wife behind), this book—one of several volumes—is proof positive that natural skill, steadfast persistence, and a little luck with some fate thrown in make for a fascinating life. ... (read more)

back to top

Visionary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walk with the Black Moses: Sandy Stephens’ Inspiring Stories of Hope and Determination—How You Too Can Aspire to a Legacy of Greatness
by Barbara R. Stephens Foster
iUniverse


"He always expected to be the best, and although life did not always go according to his plan, he never faltered in his pursuit of love, justice, and joy."

Sanford “Sandy” Stephens, well known in the annals of college football, was a determined, talented sportsman and outspoken proponent of human rights. His sister, author Foster, paints a picture of their strict but loving upbringing: both parents were members of the NAACP, and civil rights were a topic often discussed within the family. Sandy had a direct, bitter experience of segregation when he and some black friends visited Washington, DC, after their exemplary work in the school patrol. Relegated to rundown quarters and scant, inferior meals compared to the white boys in the group, Sandy became, a friend recalls, “a vociferous advocate of equal rights.” Adept in all school sports, he became the first black American college quarterback. At the University of Minnesota, his skill propelled the Gophers twice to the Rose Bowl. His honors included induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame, and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. ... (read more)

back to top

Peace & Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Awaken You
by Loretta Venten
Xlibris


"Discover you, your values, your beliefs, your potential, your love."

The author offers up a compilation of uplifting poems infused with mindful meditations and advice. As a work that began as a therapeutic writing practice, Venten shares what her poems have illuminated for her about the true nature of our world, our humble place within it, and the divinity that exists within ourselves. In passing along these realizations, it is her mission to instill awareness and open-mindedness in her readers, as well as the various lives they touch every day. Organized by sections, this collection revolves around the theme of awakening inner consciousness—the balance between mind, body, and spirit—through recognizing our individual sacred spark and our shared connection with one another. ... (read more)

back to top

Prose & Music

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dr. Howard on the Keweenaw (Second Edition)
by P.J. Howard, M.D.
Xlibris


"Yooper: a special person from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula."

The book offers a variety of topics, beginning with the most important piece—the full definition of a Yooper; to understand the rest of the book, you need to understand these beloved people. Part autobiography that begins with his childhood, part travel documentary, part medical journal, part weather news, and part tribute, the author’s book travels with the insights of a historian through the beautiful landscape of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He covers the copper mines, the formation of Michigan through the Ice Age, the area of the Keweenaw Bay, and the area of Native American tribes. After retirement in the mid-2000s, the author accepted a locum tenens position in Hancock, MI, fulfilling a life-long interest in the shores of the Gitche Gumee, which he also examines through poetry and music. ... (read more)

back to top

A Legacy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Bird Book: Alma’s Story Revisited
by Patsy Levang
Xlibris


"Her only hope to communicate with the world lay buried in the pages of the bird book."

Sometimes treasures are found in the most unlikely places. Such is the case when Levang is handed a box of items belonging to the deceased, Alma, an extremely shy woman who spent much of her long life within the confines of her bedroom. The author’s introduction relates the story of the illusive Alma and her family, who lived on a farm in Minnesota. Though Alma rarely spoke, her paintings and the sparse accompanying prose describing the beloved birds she watched from her window speaks volumes about the heart and mind of this mysterious woman. Among the ninety-three paintings rendered in watercolor, pencil, and colored pencil are those birds which Alma observed and those she read about in various books. The author enhances each picture with additional information about each bird but leaves Alma’s paintings as she received them. ... (read more)

back to top

Holding the Frontier

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beyond the Saga of Rocket Science: In Space to Stay
by Walter Sierra
Xlibris


"The International Space Station (ISS)—the most costly and complex project ever undertaken in human history—was 60 years in the making."

This is the third in a four-volume series penned by a man who has spent four decades in the aerospace and defense industries. This volume first explores the Apollo program, created largely in response to the Soviet's success in launching first the Sputnik satellite in 1957, followed by Yuri Gagarin's first successful orbiting of the earth in the Vostok 1 in 1961. President Kennedy helped give focus to the American response, and the 17 Apollo missions were the result. The first six were unmanned test flights, except for Apollo 1, where three astronauts died in a module fire. There was a total of eleven manned flights, with a successful moon landing in July of 1969. Watergate and public ennui regarding space exploration cut funding until 1981. Then the first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched. The author covers both the Challenger and Columbia disasters and has decided that the shuttle was never truly operational but only experimental like the X-wing series of jets. Thirdly, the author describes the slow evolution of the ISS. The final section, "Aesculapius," discusses the X-wings, the Mars expeditions, and other experimental spacecraft. ... (read more)

back to top

Military Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The PFC
by D. A. Wells
AuthorHouse


"He threatened to shoot me.... I told him he better not miss because if he did I would take that rifle from him, shove it up his ass and pull the trigger."

This is a short memoir from a Midwesterner recalling events that occurred when he served in the army during the early 1950s. It consists of a collection of remembrances that transpired both stateside and overseas. While most of the author’s European time was spent in Trieste, Italy, there are references to such fabled cities as Casablanca, Ankara, Athens, and even parts of Yugoslavia. ... (read more)

back to top

A Roadmap

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Briefly Biblical: A Concise Contemporary Commentary on Genesis King James Version of the Holy Bible
by Deacon Jerry Shilling
Xlibris


"A man at his best is at best still a man."

The path to the light and salvation is often through the depths of darkness. Shilling’s experiences are no different as his former life traversed a journey of sin and indulgences combined with a complete thrashing of the human spirit from a mental, physical, and emotional level. Only through these experiences, however, has “Crazy Jerry” found a support system as strong as the sanctuary of Jesus’ Soul Saving Traveling Mission. His resurgence and transformation are especially remarkable because, as he states himself, his own family is currently finding their faith. ... (read more)

back to top

A Refreshing Voice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Life and Journeys of a Dabizi: (Big Nosed Foreigner) In China - From Mao to Hu
by Albert Riley
Xlibris


"I also had the opportunity to drive through rural areas, explore farm villages, and observe the people and their daily activities."

Over nearly nine hundred pages, Riley shares life experiences that span four decades. What makes this text so compelling is the simultaneous depiction of the author’s autobiographical journey with China’s journey from underdevelopment to ultra modernity. His various experiences amount to almost two dozen visits as a government employee as well as through his affiliation with the Florida Splendid Theme Park and the China adult education program of Stetson University. ... (read more)

back to top

Pet Tales

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Unexpected Life: Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
by Evelyn Parker
iUniverse


"...these animals would never be tamed, and I didn’t attempt to do so. But I won’t forget the feeling of communication as we stood silently..."

There is an old saying about making lemonade out of lemons. That sentiment well suits this book. Joe, the author's husband, had a massive stroke in 1990, and the doctor advised that this middle-aged couple move to a quiet place and live a less stressful lifestyle. They found and bought a property in a hollow in the woods of Arkansas, far removed from their once-busy social life in Florida. Little did they expect the various "neighbors" they would soon have to show up on the deck of their new home or roam through their backyard. ... (read more)

back to top

Ordeal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Runecaster: A Tale of Ancient Germany
by Thomas White
Xlibris


"When we reach the outcropping, I look down and see what seems like the entire earth below us..."

Bjorn, a young man hailing from Os on the shore of Skagerrak, possesses unique gifts passed down to him from his mother. Known as an erilasz, Bjorn understands that his gifts are special but sometimes a curse. When he finds himself kidnapped by a violent tribe that slays his entire village, Bjorn’s life turns in the most unexpected way: he becomes a scribe and a sacred seer fit only for a king—King Armin of Germany. As Armin uses Bjorn’s gifts to guide his life and political destiny, Bjorn becomes entrenched in battles, political schemes and rivalries, rancid marriages and divorces, and others’ fated-for-glory-or-death lives as Germany wages war on the Romans, and Armin attempts to unify Germany’s many, various tribes. ... (read more)

back to top

In the Details

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Getting the Truth: Discover the Real Message. Know Truth. Know Deception.
by Joe Koenig
Principia Media


"It’s harder to lie than to tell the truth."

This useful guide contains a concise step-by-step analysis of the truth or deception inherent in verbal and written statements based on forensic linguistics, the science of determining a person's unique communication pattern. The author is a fraud examiner and retired Michigan State Police officer with investigative experience in a range of crimes, including homicides, financial fraud, narcotics violations, and public corruption. He describes this book as "a digest; a compilation of over 40 years of experience, education, and research." On a practical level, the principles of discerning truth and falsehood in written and verbal communication, as outlined in this volume, allow both professionals and laypeople to learn to "identify and follow… tracks to get the truth, the deception—the real message." Koenig's clear analyses cover many factors of interest to both trained observers and others interested in the business of discerning "between truth, partial truths, and fiction." ... (read more)

back to top

Revenge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Not For Hire
by G.J. Prager
LastCall Press


"I regretted not providing them with a proper burial, but they would have left me to rot as well. There are no winners in this world—only survivors."

Working in a well-worn genre has its pluses and minuses. One plus is a loyal audience for stories told a certain way. One minus is all those stories told the same way. An author has to be good to hold his own. Prager is and does. In his novel, a shopworn protagonist gets himself involved in dirty business for the typical reason: money. Surprisingly, the down-and-out protagonist is not only cynical when he wants to be and sinister when he needs to be, but he's also self-aware, insightful, and unashamed to admit that he's scared when he should be. ... (read more)

back to top

Yes to Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

On With The Butter! Spread More Living onto Everyday Life
by Heidi Herman
Hekla Publishing


"Boldness isn’t necessarily courageous or heroic. It’s a willingness to act with confidence or to take a risk. It’s confronting fear or insecurity..."

As we age, it is easy for people to focus primarily on health and taking care of oneself. The author's mother took a different approach throughout her ninety-plus years of life. Her mom's motto was "Just say yes" to any new activity or challenge, like she did with tandem paragliding when eighty-eight or learning the "Chicken Dance." However, stepping out of your comfort zone does not always require a big leap. For example, the author's mother spent a year (her 93rd) with the plan of doing 93 new things—new mini-adventures and experiences at any new location. ... (read more)

back to top

A New Look

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Apostles Methodology to Interpreting Scripture
by Marcelino Esquilin
Authors Press


"Today Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, has made a Covenant with the LORD in our behalf."

Esquilin’s text employs a unique approach to substantiating Christianity: a scientific and analytical method to establish common faith in Christian believers. However, this text is just as compelling for those who are not devoted Bible students. Rooted in the knowledge of theology, the text suggests that interpreting scripture using Jesus of Nazareth’s message conveyed through the words of the Apostles is the ideal methodology because there is no speculation whatsoever. Rarely is a book of faith executed with such impartiality and objectivity, strictly relying on what is noted in scriptures. The premise, ultimately, is not to push a particular end goal, but rather focus on the process for believers to embody the word of the Apostles, and thus Jesus of Nazareth, in their daily lives. ... (read more)

back to top

Humanity Changing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Epiphany: The Acolyte
by Patrick Totman
Xlibris


"'There are many who fear that I meddle too much in political matters in my native Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.'"

Adam Thelen is a Jesuit priest who has had an affair with one of his students and gotten her pregnant. Another Jesuit priest, Hans Kung, knows about it and interferes by telling Adam that he has helped Lorena get an abortion and will transfer her into postdoctorate school away from him. But Father Kung wants a meeting with Adam's mother, Emily. Adam can't figure out why, but he refuses, smelling trouble. Kung attempts to murder Adam, but Adam kills him first. Adam's father, Charles (Chaz) Thelen, is the managing partner of an investment banking firm with offices and trading desks in New York and San Francisco. His wife Emily and ex-wife Gisele both are partners in the firm. They learn that Kung's boss, Max Spektor, is interfering with the Ghanaian market. All this stress brings a sudden epiphany to Adam that Krakow, Poland, and Pope John Paul II are important. Adam actually meets the Pope, who tells him that it is the Holy Spirit acting through Adam's epiphany. ... (read more)

back to top

Evil Plot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Saving General Patton
by Robert Corns
Xlibris


"There wasn’t time to think, and Hershey hurled himself onto the killer’s back and wrapped his arms in a death grip around the neck of Karl the assassin."

A military family is at the heart of this novel that takes place just before America enters into World War II. The majority of the story is set in the California desert, where General George S. Patton is in charge of training operations for tank battalions plus the defense of vital areas and facilities in the Western United States. Before the tale has run its course, readers will discover how a trio of rag-tag boys helps foil an assassination attempt on one of the most notable generals in American history. ... (read more)

back to top

Ripple Effect

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Out of Devil’s Hollow
by C.S. Whitman
Xlibris


"Only lost souls were left to the remembrances of horror that had blanketed the lives of so many that summer."

Nine-year-old Suzy Jennings is a carefree, precocious young lady in the summer of 1957. Living on her parents' 120-acre farm in eastern Kentucky, she spends most days lost in her own thoughts in the creek bed until her mother, Lorna, calls her in for supper. However, one day she hears strange voices in the woods which mark the end of her childhood. On an outing to town, she is horrified to recognize one of the voices when the town drunkard speaks to her mother in a familiar tone. Her fear causes her to keep this recognition to herself even as she watches her family unravel. Suzy is eventually made aware of a deep and horrifying secret held by her parents, yet she struggles with the knowledge. Events are moving fast and becoming dangerous, and Suzy questions whether she has waited too late to reveal what and who she heard in the woods. ... (read more)

back to top

Fun Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Hot Summer Day
by Rod Mortenson
Xlibris


"Ah! This is the life of a mouse! A good day, and good friends to share it with."

Young readers will delight in this chapter book about three young mice exploring the forest near their homes. The mouse friends—Squeeky, Spike, and Curly—have distinct personalities but get along well as they surmount obstacles together on a sunny afternoon. Mortenson writes about their encounters with an owl, a mole, a beaver, a huge (by mouse standards) crop of blueberries, and a surprise animal at the end in an age-appropriate style that's clear about what the mice are feeling rather than making readers infer. Descriptions of other animals and the forest surroundings offer accurate and unique ways of thinking about what's being depicted: "They heard the crackly sound of a small black and white bird…." Mortenson adds fun little notes in the story, too, such as, "In the distance they heard a couple of chipmunks chattering to each other. It sounded like they were very upset. That's how chipmunks always sound." ... (read more)

back to top

A Courageous Crocodile

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

CrocoBoy and the Ducklings
by Aanya Savi and Vineeta Sri
Xlibris


"CrocoBoy is not just a figment of (six-year-old) Aanya's imagination; he is the goodness that exists in nature."

One day, as literate Mummy Duck sits reading a book next to her three duck eggs, a larger egg rolls down a mountain and lands in the nest. Mummy Duck cares for the egg along with the others. After they all hatch, Mummy Duck has four offspring: the ducklings—Packo, Jacko, and Quacko—and a kind little crocodile named Croco. Croco loves his life among his feathered family, and they respond to him and his helpfulness with returned love and gratitude. The calm comes to a halt one day when "a big, bad crocodile" enters their environment with the intention of eating the ducklings. The big, bad one challenges Croco to act like a crocodile and throw the ducklings to him to eat. Croco agrees, but throws rocks instead and breaks the other crocodile's teeth. The injured crocodile runs away, "never to be heard of again." Croco then promises his family that he will always protect them and becomes the hero, "CrocoBoy." ... (read more)

back to top

Kind Deeds

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Frances the Magical Fairy and the Baby Gosling
by Tom Nelson
iUniverse


"When she was just above the little gosling, she could see how covered in oil the little baby gosling was. He was not a happy gosling; he was sobbing and sniffing. You wouldn’t like to be covered in oil, would you?"

An uplifting story about helping those in need, this work introduces us to Frances, a brave and kind-hearted fairy who spends her days protecting those who cannot defend themselves. One day, as she flies over a pond, Frances spies a mother goose with her beautiful gosling children. Appreciating the lovely scene, she notices a gosling separated from the family, unrecognizable due to the thick, dark oil that covers his feathers. Flying down to console the gosling, Gary, she soon embarks on a forest adventure to help her new friend. Seeking advice from numerous woodland creatures, she struggles to find a solution, until a wise owl points Frances in the direction of human help. Taking him to a nearby ranch for assistance, she falls asleep, overcome from the journey. As she awakens, she finds Gary gone. Just as Frances begins to lose hope, the farmer’s wife releases a now clean and fluffy Gary into the yard. Overjoyed to see her friend, Frances reunites Gary with his mother, Gilda. The story concludes with Gary and Gilda joyfully agreeing to pay forward the compassion they have been shown. ... (read more)

back to top

Profoundly Refreshing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

First and Foremost: American Unity, The National Purpose and Preamble 2.0
by Richard D. Cheshire, Ph.D.
iUniverse


"Is no one safe in America? We are born free. But we cannot be safe unless we are free to fight for it."

The cottage industry of politically divisive books has expanded at a staggering rate in the past few years. Booklists and shelves are awash with highly partisan opinion pieces written by radio entertainers that only seek to alienate readers. The desire for national unity and a common purpose is something that most Americans have a marrow-deep longing for and what this fine book is all about. This book showcases all the many causes that are responsible for this current climate of national discontent. These range from hostile opposing parties to foreign interference, with all of them leading to a situation where our country's needs are outstripping our political will and abilities. Yet this book does not seek to merely diagnose the problem. It also creates a roadmap forward for the average reader. ... (read more)

back to top

Strong Sense of Balance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Less Than Perfect Life
by Isabelle Olivia De Luca
Xlibris


"I've often said that if it wasn't for my pets, I don't know if I could have made it all these years!"

Looking back on a life full of stories and beloved friends, family members, and cherished pets, the author of this book shares her experiences and memories with readers. Starting with her early childhood in a cold-water flat in New York City, major life milestones are covered with stark honesty and colored by an instinctive roadmap of the Big Apple that comes with living there all of one's life. In time, the author starts a family of her own and excels in a career working for government offices, juggling stress at home and in the office with grace. After retiring, she finally leaves the city. She relocates upstate, settling into a peaceful but still entertaining routine with her pet Chihuahuas, taking the time to reflect on her journey and capture it on the page. ... (read more)

back to top

When It Mattered

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy
by Diana Gillmor
PageTurner Press and Media


"It is better to put your sorrow away in a special box and take it out only now and then."

Edwina Spear Gillmor is born to wealth and privilege and then marries into more. Unfortunately, she now lives between the repressed high societies of early twentieth-century Europe and America. The same prestige that comes with receiving a consummate education from the finest European schools, mixing with the likes of Winston Churchill, or driving a shiny blue Rolls Royce will be irretrievably damaged if she strays from her expected joint roles of wife and mother. Conventions of her time limit her direct interactions with the husband and three sons she adores. Edwina is independent-minded, embracing the liberated attitudes of the Roaring Twenties and later decades. But embracing them is vastly different from living them, and a secret she keeps for 24 years could destroy the life and family Edwina treasures. Is a rash decision made one afternoon in a quest for independence enough to ruin a life of which most only dream? ... (read more)

back to top

Action-Filled

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Said I Can Do It, I Did It and So Can You
by Dave McEwen
LitFire Publishing


"I had been expected to learn to live in a wheelchair and here I was WALKING out of the hospital!"

The author had to relearn almost every physical movement after a freak automobile accident left the young man with brain injuries, some paralysis, lack of feeling in some limbs, and a total lack of balance. Having grown up on a farm in Canada and also a dedicated horseman accustomed to a rough and tumble lifestyle, McEwen at first reacted with a sort of mania—ranting, screaming, and even attempting to attack hospital staff. But with the persistent encouragement of family and therapists, and with his own deep determination, he was walking unaided within a remarkably short time. Within a few years, he was able to secure steady, fulltime employment, marry, and manage land and horses. Yet troubles would still beset him occasionally. He battled poor eyesight, broken bones, and the loss of several fingers. In recent times, he has become a vocal proponent of meditation and offers substantiation for the help it can provide for a wide variety of dysfunctions. ... (read more)

back to top

To A Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Travels Through the Years: A Life Story
by James McGee
Xlibris


"My travels with rucksack and thumb taught me lessons of self-reliance and self-confidence and through experiencing other cultures I learned respect and gratitude..."

This tremendous autobiography begins with the author's childhood in Lomita, California, in the late 1930s. It goes on to explore his intentional year of Wanderjahr when McGee took time before college to travel much of Europe. Armed with a simple rucksack and a hitchhiking thumb, he stayed in youth hostels along the way. He then served in the Army, was a corporate president at age 40, and served as an intelligence officer in the State Department's foreign service. McGee's hefty and detailed biography shares a uniquely interesting life story. Using rich detail (and the occasional perfect bit of humor), the author brandishes an extremely healthy appreciation for such academic disciplines as history, genealogy, ethnography, multilingualism, and more. The narrative speaks of his devoted marriage to his wife Peg for 40 years, ended only by death when she suffers a stroke during one of the couple's many extraordinary travels abroad. It also features the couple's successful children: Katy and Jim. The latter was an arborist who tragically passed away at age 48. ... (read more)

back to top

Passion to Heal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Answering America's Problem
by Alesia Graham
PageTurner Press and Media


"Corporate sin opens doors for destruction in any area represented by the leader. This is the number one reason everyone should vote."

According to the author, America and other nations have a single problem. Graham claims it is a sin problem related to rebellion against God's word, commandments, and laws. Beginning from that viewpoint, the author has written eight chapters that define terms and explain what the Christian world believes to be true: that there is a war between God, the creator of this earth, and one of his rebellious angels, called Satan or Lucifer. ... (read more)

back to top

Righteous Words

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Walking in Love: Why and How?
by Suzanne Miller
iUniverse


"Suppose the creation is designed for us to look to the nonvisible reality within us and without us (which some call God) to complete us, to provide the wisdom, strength, and goodness that we lack."

In a book of 68 pages, the author, a former lay minister in an Episcopal church, outlines a path utilizing Christian thought in order to develop a spirituality of love. It explores how we are angry at God and how we need to develop our own inner spirituality with self and with the community. This is accomplished by examining Judaism and Christianity through scripture, then by exploring the importance of Jesus as God incarnated. In this manner, we are then able to walk with the Lord on a path of righteousness, peace, love, and joy. The rest of the book focuses on four core beliefs: God is good; God communicates with us; love is our calling; choosing life over death. In this examination, the author utilizes the story method, especially her own story of trauma and growth. ... (read more)

back to top

Love & Wisdom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woo-Woo Sisters’ Wee Book of Wisdom: Just Some Little Life Essentials I Wish I Had Known When
by Cynthia Ann Drew Barnes, PhD
Xlibris


"These are some of the things that I wish I had known when I never dreamed I’d be courageous enough to be who I am now."

This timely book of wisdom is filled with life lessons for anyone feeling stuck in cycles of neglect and languishing in unfulfilled promise. With clear insight and advice on a range of topics, Barnes delves deep into her own experience to share what she wishes someone had told her when she was younger. Using anecdotes and honest insight, Barnes sets down the tools and mindset needed to find purpose and authentic happiness in life. She firmly rejects the trappings of false happiness that are found in material things, in outward appearances, and in living up to someone else’s standards. She favors being over doing, sharing over squandering, and finding yourself over losing who you are to a world that can batter and bruise. ... (read more)

back to top

Eye on Humanity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

We Are All Patients
by Igwe Ukoha
Xlibris


"It takes an overdose of apathy to create beings such as modern man."

In this philosophical treatise, the author proclaims that “unfettered lust for wealth and power in the face of our inability to control our basic animalistic impulses is an ingrained disease.” In other words, many have become so greedy for money that, for them, wealth has “more value than the lives of others.” Ukoha sets forth his argument using examples of billionaires who care more for acquiring unneeded wealth than paying a decent wage to employees, a health care system that emphasizes profit over care, and religious and political leaders whose main concerns are money and power. He illustrates these problems through short stories. The book ends with the assertion that society has made meager advances. He also includes a call to action which emphasizes teaching children to think in terms that lead to concern for others, rendering a more altruistic worldview. ... (read more)

back to top

Good vs. Evil

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Bible Book: Galactic Dualism
by Daniel J. Lanausse
iUniverse


"'So then your aim to solve a war is by galactic dualism between the two of us?' I asked to clarify. 'Correct...'"

Imagine a combination of the Book of Revelation and Japanese manga, and you will have a pretty good idea about this book. Set around 3002, Earth is now in the Crystal Era and is run by a constitutional monarchy with a king and queen at the head of thirty levels of power and authority. "USA County, France County," etc. exist instead of nations. Earth is threatened with annihilation by an alien race called the Emptredians who worship Satan and want to wipe out humanity. There are four main characters—King Roi Sabedoria, Queen Amo Curador, Wapen Aanval, and Meester Vechter—who are humans with special augmentation. They become android-like warriors with highly technical gadgetry combined with supernatural gifts of power that allow them to fight the Emptedrians effectively. A preliminary attack on Mars draws the humans out to defend their colonies there. Meanwhile, Hacoleabuu, the Emptredian ruler, uses their absence to teleport his ship to Earth and wipe out thousands of civilians. ... (read more)

back to top

Chaos of the Ripple

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Magecraft: Daynor
by D.K. Lange
Westwood Books Publishing


"No one is ever forgotten.... Love does not allow for a person to be forgotten."

Kandor’s coup to overthrow an elderly master mage on Kryton Four triggers a ripple in the fabric of the universe, hurtling the main character, Daynor, through the Gates of Never and to her destiny. In nearly every way, Daynor’s story is a coming-of-age narrative. She has been raised in the graces of her grandfather, a Dumbledore-esque master sorcerer. But as they are having what will be their final conversation, the realization dawns upon Daynor that she is about to be completely alone in a new world that is likely to be nothing like Kryton Four. ... (read more)

back to top

Romance & Intrigue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rosehaven
by D.K. Lange
Westwood Books Publishing


"If one does not have pride in their heritage, they might as well be the product of someone."

Alexander Smithon, a working physician in London, has succeeded to his father's business. Friends with the royal court and of marriageable age, Alex can't help but think of a young woman who was his father's patient six years ago: Angelina Haveland, a half-English, half-Native American who had been rendered blind due to a kidnapping and abuse incident. Angelina, or Shadow Dancer, is in London running an inn. She is trying to secure her rights to her father's estate, Rosehaven. A princess back home in America and a healer in her own right, she is up against her half-brother Randolph, who seeks to claim the property for himself. An audience with Queen Victoria leads to a chance encounter between Alex and Shadow, who quickly become reacquainted. Fighting their feelings for one another, they set forth a plan to help determine Shadow's claims to her father's estate and her place in England. However, these won't be turned over without a fight. ... (read more)

back to top

Bursting with Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Epics of Rathhild: Volume I: The Darkness Within
by Jabari Ashanti
AuthorHouse


"In the distance, a dragon sprouted up from behind one of the mountains. Kitara and were-wolves marched side by side. He couldn't stop this."

The first volume in Ashanti’s series introduces the readers to the many characters and creatures inhabiting the Kingdom of Rathhild. Weakened from years of a bloody war, the kingdom now faces a new threat: an evil sorcerer, Raul. Jay, considered by some to be a demon because of his glowing red eye, attempts to hunt down and kill Raul in distant lands before he can cause too much damage. However, by the time Jay finds Raul, it is too late. Raul has an army with dragons, were-wolves, Walkers, and mind-controlled vampires to attack Rathhild. Forming an unlikely alliance with his estranged brother, Levi, and Bryce, the vampire lord, Lawrence must rally his outnumbered forces and defend against the onslaught. ... (read more)

back to top

Essence of Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Soul Side Out: Universal Laws to Healing and Living Your Best Life
by Summer Bozohora
PageTurner Press and Media


"Self-healing presumes the essential strength, wisdom and integrity of people who live a life in service to Source."

Bozohora's text is a comprehensive and well-researched guide for individuals seeking a substantial life driven by the soul's desire for unity and unconditional affection. More importantly, the universal laws included are not just derived from case studies. They stem from the author's own life experiences both as a faction of the wealthy elite as well as her time in India, where she witnessed poverty at its most extreme. To help the reader absorb and take actionable steps, the author, inspired by her reflection journals, asks probing, introspective questions at the end of each chapter. ... (read more)

back to top

Submerged in Image & Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Visions of Light: Inspirational Poetry, Stunning Photography
by Raymond J. Klein
PageTurner Press and Media


"Break into your own imagination; break through that visual barrier that limits us to doing the same old thing. Your camera, which has made you independent, is a tool."

As a byproduct of his work in advertising, the author often found himself experimenting with photography and light. One result of this decades-long journey of trial and error is a fascination with the interpretive power of manipulated light. To Klein, working with light became, in his words, a way to visualize life, liberty, and sometimes even the pursuit of happiness. While professional photographers travel the world to obtain remarkable, mind-expanding images, Klein realized it is also possible to do so without leaving home, simply by manipulating and photographing various sources of light. Then, under the notion that poems also provide an interpretive source of imagery, he decided to combine the two. Through this colorful and somewhat avant-garde book, readers have a chance to interpret his overall concept at their own leisurely pace. As a bonus, the author shares a few tools of the trade for those interested in experimenting on their own. ... (read more)

back to top

Step-by-Step

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Watercolor Batik: An Artist's Guide to Watercolor Batik on Rice Paper
by Martha C. S. Heppard
Xlibris


"Painting is an art as well as a language. It allows the artist a form of self-expression and development of society."

Batik is an ancient art form that has been practiced across many cultures and time periods. It involves the use of wax in applying dye to different media to often create unusual and striking effects. In this book, Heppard gives this traditional practice a fresh, new twist by demonstrating how it can be used to create contemporary artworks with rice paper and watercolor paints. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to batik, including its history, the tools and materials the artist will need, and clear and detailed step-by-step instructions for techniques and projects. From traditional, abstract batik designs to innovative landscapes and still-life scenes, the book introduces readers to the versatility of this technique. ... (read more)

back to top

Surviving

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No: Sequel to One Small Word
by Gloria Eveleigh
URLink Print and Media


"[T]he most important positive effect from all of her negative experiences was that each had made her into a stronger woman."

This novel is a streamlined, to-the-point account of Frankie’s continued battles against abuse. Frankie does not attend the funeral of her father, who abused her until she told him “no” at fourteen. Shortly after his death, Frankie’s husband, Alex, has a stroke. He was the man of her dreams, and confronting the end of the Alex she knew conjures angry memories of her father’s betrayal. Frankie finds solace in Gavin, a colleague, while caring for post-stroke Alex. She and Gavin, along with other workmates, support one another as they lodge formal complaints against their bullying boss. A new job and flat relieve some of Frankie’s stress, but the bullying continues on the parish council she chairs. After Alex dies, Frankie wonders what the inevitable next challenge will be. ... (read more)

back to top

Week by Week

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

52 Weeks of Practical Applications to Biblical Principles: A Guide to Practice What You Preach or Teach. How to Live the Word of God from Day to Day!!!
by Dr. Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"To walk in the Spirit is to take a strong stand against the works of the flesh."

Dr. Braswell’s work is a resourceful guide for practicing Christians and spiritually curious souls as a whole to understand how to apply the Bible’s teachings to nearly every instance of daily life. Oftentimes, the individual will read a passage from the scriptures and wonder not just about its meaning but its relevance to their individual circumstances. This handbook is as comprehensive as it gets with scripture, interpretations, and even an opportunity for its readership to take notes at the end of each week’s section. ... (read more)

back to top

The US Review of Books is dedicated to fair and honest coverage for all books. We are a leading book review site, often visited for professional book reviews examples.