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

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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books


Who’s Controlling You? Encountering the Ultimate Connectedness
by Mardi Harjo
Christian Faith Publishing


"A person cannot be saved without first having realized he is lost."

Christian artist and musician Harjo has constructed a thorough, thoughtful treatise focusing on the ideal relationship between human beings and God. She begins with a basic view of that relationship, questioning the reader in clear, rational terms. Do we worship the stars or God who made them? Do we believe that worldly knowledge can save us, or must we look beyond, to an "authoritative Truth that cannot be compromised"? In what do we base our identity? What is our ultimate, utmost purpose? By this means, the author stretches the mind beyond its usual realms of spiritual examination. She is not eclectic but selective in her guidance towards leading a God-centered life. She decries some televangelism as a kind of religious "junk food" and suggests that certain sorts of worship emphasize apparent miracles and wonders rather than their source. She warns that one can be a "nominal" Christian who simply takes in a few spoonsful of religion on a regular basis with the appeal of elaborate rituals, a phenomenon she calls "churchianity." ... (read more)

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Epic Journey

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Chasing the Darkness
by Cassie Sanchez
Morgan James Publishing


"As Watch Guard soldiers, you are the only ones who can protect the Naturals—capture or restrain, or exterminate. That is your job, your mission."

In this novel of fantastic proportions, readers follow the mysterious Azrael, also known as the Angel of Death. As Azrael learns about his true identity and reckons with his teacher, Drexus, readers join him in a divided world, where all who possess unique gifts must decide whether or not they use their gifts for good or evil. Azrael makes a life-changing and identity-altering decision: he undergoes a procedure that gives him magic. Soon, he finds that the original group who accepted him, the Hunters and the Watch Guard, are now against him. Readers see Azrael develop into something he never imagined he could be—a being with a conscience. Azrael goes on his journey of the self, where the people he once vowed to kill are now his closest friends. ... (read more)

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Fun & Delightful

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Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly
by Kimberly Adams
Mascot Books


"As Charlie settled into his new life on Five Mile Farm, he became known for taking care of the other animals in the meadow."

On an idyllic country farm lives an adorable little girl named Carly. Her life in this delightful world of animal companions and days spent playing in the sunshine with baby animals are close to perfect. According to her, the only thing missing is a pony. Word gets around to all the creatures in the surrounding area that Carly is pining for a pony. The Queen Bee, Nora, decides to grant the girl's wish. Her best scout bee, Journey, finds a "pony" that is a bit unusual. Once Carly discovers the new creature in her pasture, she falls in love with him instantly. She does not care that Charlie is a llama and not a pony. The two become fast friends and begin the first of many adventures together. The animals also enjoy Charlie's company, and he feels protective of them. ... (read more)

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Liberation From Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Art of Forgiveness: A Promise of Peace
by Carolyn CJ Jones
Gate Lady Publishing


"It’s as if someone was saying, because you don’t understand something, have a question, or need a hand, you’re defective for some reason."

Demonstrating the dichotomy between a life lived in two entirely different worlds, Jones holds nothing back in describing her own journey and providing a pathway for others to achieve the same level of peace. At its core, the narrative is an opportunity to experience authentic introspection and tackle heavy topics like anger and resentment head-on. ... (read more)

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The Genetic Engineering Question

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The New Eugenics: Modifying Biological Life in the Twenty-First Century
by Conrad B. Quintyn, Ph.D.
Archway Publishing


"There has been a long-standing belief in human civilization that technology can solve any problem that arises."

The term "eugenics" harks back to an earlier era when it was deemed medically and scientifically appropriate to modify or eliminate people—whether adult or embryo—who were considered mentally or physically less-than-perfect specimens. The "new eugenics," controlled by determined scientists whose limitations are few, can have equally powerful if more subtle implications. It involves, Quintyn asserts, "modifying nonhumans to benefit homo sapiens." The chemical engineering of plants and producing genetically altered pigs, monkeys, and other animals are examples of potentially useful areas of study, but all carry dangers, many as yet unknown. Transgenic animals have been developed to be disease resistant or less environmentally harmful, but in the course of evolution, what will their impact be? Should society produce smarter, taller people? Should certain traits, such as homosexuality, be suppressed? The salient question Quintyn raises is: what are, or should be, the limits of such scientific exploration? ... (read more)

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Transformation

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The Gothica
by Patrick C. DiCarlo
iUniverse


"So it was done. The great king was buried at the bottom of the river. Only a few were allowed to witness the burial. When the dam was released and the prisoners slain, Alaric had been laid to rest, and Athaulf led the march north."

In this epic novel of historical proportions, readers enter the often brutal world of the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Romans. Among these groups are a band of refugees. With their homes decimated, these refugees search across Europe for a new home, and some are even forced to fight in the ranks of the Roman army. Among the refugees is Alaric, a bold and defiant boy who will eventually rise to one of the greatest roles in history—the first king of the Visigoths. Readers also follow the tumultuous histories that ultimately shaped the modern world and are quickly lured into one of the most fascinating periods of history. As the rise of violence and the desire for peace and unification rise, they learn not only the intriguing tale of Alaric's rise to power but also the rarely heard stories from the everyday people who lived behind the scenes of those who ruled. ... (read more)

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Faith

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Starlight in the Dawn: The poetic priestess who chose to fight
by Naveen Sridhar
KDP Amazon


"Fate and faith are like friends who fail. Yet Enheduanna remained faithful to her faith, her only friend."

Set on the banks of the Euphrates in 2286 BCE, Sridhar's narrative is driven by compelling worldbuilding and character development. While the novel revolves around Enheduanna, the high priestess of the Temple of Ur, each character has a well-developed backstory that is instrumental to bringing the intricate system of government, politics, and power (and often the abuses of each) to life. Through the narrative, audiences will gain exposure to age-old questions such as the constant clash between church and state. ... (read more)

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Steeped in Realism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Rising Tide of People Swept Away
by Scott Archer Jones
Fomite


"The room was hot, just the way she liked it, hot enough that she sweated in penance. In the kitchen the preacher echoed forth from the radio, his phrasing taut, compelling, and rhythmic as a hymn."

A book cover with all the words of the title written in lower case—a hint, perhaps, that some lives are afforded less respect than others. Then a dedication to the working poor—further evidence that what you are about to read has nothing to do with the public’s seeming obsession with wealth, celebrity, and the glitterati. Lastly, the novel itself—far from a screed or polemic, more an homage to humanity with the realization that the effort is the truly important part, regardless of the outcome. ... (read more)

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Timeless

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Mr. Dalton's Christmas
by Robert A. Valle
Amazon


"...sometimes our gifts can be used for much more."

The author of this unique Christmas tale sets the stage nicely, painting Dalton as a hard-working assistant manager at Macy's with a routine life. Dalton is frozen in time after recovering from an accident that took his wife and ruined his physically demanding stage career almost a decade earlier. Through Valle's artful character development, readers are soon cheering for Dalton to come out of his shell and reinvent himself. He does. But, did he dream this inspiration, did it happen from his own depths of inner strength, or is it all divine intervention? Readers get to decide for themselves as Valle masterfully leaves it open-ended. ... (read more)

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Box Turtle Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Santa Fe Tom
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books


"At the end of the song there was a standing ovation. His humble heart was full of successful gratification."

A bashful and humble turtle overcomes the powerful temptation to retreat into his shell and shares a gift he did not know he was capable of giving in this new book by children's author Bate. Santa Fe Tom, a Desert Box Turtle, wakes up one morning in sunny New Mexico, ready to arise from hibernation. He becomes alert quickly as he hears a summons from other desert dwellers Ray Roadrunner, Quincy Quail, Molly Mockingbird, and Paul Prairie dog. It's time for them to get moving, as they are preparing a big birthday surprise for someone who lives in Critter Town. ... (read more)

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The Unspoken

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Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Aftermath: 9/11 Through a Volunteer's Eyes
by Beth SK Morris
Poetica Publishing


"Subway destroyed, they fled east
on foot, heads covered with ash,
some wearing masks, some still
bleeding from the debris"

This cathartic, eye-opening account of the tragedy that 9/11 bestowed upon the United States transports readers to Ground Zero, where ash and debris fall, where loved ones disappear, and where for years to come, the day’s physical, emotional, and psychological scarrings refuse to disappear, let alone fade. In this haunting collection, the poem “By the Numbers, 6000” reduces humanity to “body parts recovered, sorted / into segments small enough / to fit in a test tube.” Readers find themselves face-to-face with a wife who “buries her face in her workbook, lowers her eyes” as she confesses the potential loss of her husband and the consequences his disappearance bestows upon her and her daughter’s future in the poem “The Lesson.” Meanwhile, toxic xenophobia permeates American society and shocks readers to their cores as they experience it for themselves in the poem “The Physics of Ripples.” ... (read more)

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Ancient Beliefs in Modern Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wheel of Time: Origin of the Holy Days
by D. W. Kreger
Windham Everitt Publishing


"The whole notion that time is like a wheel was a near universal concept among pre-history people on opposite sides of the planet."

Using what he has learned in his thirty years of travel in the study of archaeological sites around the world, Kreger offers a comprehensive work that traces the origin of many of our holiday traditions to Neolithic beliefs. The author constructs a "Wheel of Time"—"a complete and concise model of all the special days of the year observed by our ancestors and what they might have meant to them." He discusses ancient sites across the world erected to mark the changing of seasons by following the movements of the sun and moon. Such sites as Stonehenge, Kokino Observatory, and Machu Picchu are discussed, as are places in North America. Many illustrations of the wheel which emphasize and explain his premise are included. Kreger also refers to literature, such as the writings of Julius Caesar, the Venerable Bede, and the various legends of King Arthur to further expound upon his conclusions. ... (read more)

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Initimate Past

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A Korean Chronicle
by Josephine deBois


"We have all heard what’s going on out there: brutality, oppression, and cruelty. It’s wrong. We went through the horrors of two wars... and we still feel them."

This epic-like drama intricately spans fifteen years and eleven TV-like episodes. Readers follow Phillipe Farber, an anthropologist, as he researches the lives of traditional Korean families and individuals. Meanwhile, Phillipe also finds himself immersed in wars that have long-lasting consequences, not only for Korea and the Korean families involved but also for Phillipe. Readers are transported into Korea's majestic and ethereal landscapes where "tongues of fog envelop and caress the hills, like gentle eiderdown quilts lying over the awakening landscape." They also find themselves navigating Korean families' everyday existences and the circumstances that shape, stitch, and tear apart relationships in the most tumultuous of times. ... (read more)

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Evocative Prose

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)

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Mormon Trials

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The Way to the Shining City: A Story of the Early Mormons in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"He said the time had come when men of high reputation in the sight of God could take extra wives..."

Gabriel Romain is a young doctor among the Mormons who began relocating to the city of "Far West," Missouri, taking refuge after the church's financial speculations in Kirtland, Ohio, had failed. By 1838 there were more than four thousand Mormons in Far West. This novel joins Gabe and his sister Marie, escaped slave Eb, his friend Nathaniel, and others as they re-orient themselves in this new place. Tension builds again between believers and other Missouri citizens, culminating in Governor Boggs's infamous "exterminating order" after mustering 2,500 militia troops to put down the "Mormon rebellion." Joseph and Hyrum Smith negotiated a surrender by October of 1838, and the body of believers once again forfeited their property and rights to gain safe passage to Illinois. Most of the novel concerns Gabriel's wedding to Bethia, who seems to suffer from depression, and his encounter with the rapidly changing circumstances of life in Nauvoo, Illinois. ... (read more)

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Top of His Game

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

And Throw Away the Skins
by Scott Archer Jones
Fomite


"All things on earth, both good and bad, last only a little while."

Good books have advantages over good friends. Like friends, they can provide diversion, comfort, and the sharing of a plethora of emotions; but unlike friends, you don’t need to take their feelings, needs, or desires into account. You can gobble them up in massive chunks or simply nibble at them now and then, returning only when you decide to do so. Good books never feel slighted, nor do they ever take offense. Yes, good books have their advantages, and Scott Archer Jones writes good books. This is one of them. ... (read more)

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Social Scene

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cromby's Axiom
by Gary J. Kirchner
FriesenPress


"He was an outsider, looking at the world dully, as if through bad optics, as if it were black and white when it should have been brilliant colour."

Kirchner paints a bleak, highly controversial picture of humanity's future in his debut novel that is reminiscent of other dystopian masterpieces like The Matrix. Kirchner places the reader in the mind of its protagonist, Tommy (or "TeePee" as his raving fan base calls him), to ponder whether privacy and independence are more important than a constant connection with others on a level that is beyond words. Like The Matrix's Neo, Tommy is metaphorically "unplugged" from the technological world he has been rooted in and forced to make a difficult choice: join a band of independent thinkers, known as the Ketchen, who dream of a revolution that will free the minds of all, or re-integrate himself back into the Hive, to be embraced by the love and adoration of eight million people. ... (read more)

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Dark & Sinister

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Insomniac: Short Stories for Long Nights
by Joe Kilgore
Encircle Publications


"The moon was round and pale as a communion wafer, but it had no absolution to offer."

In this dark, psychological collection, readers visit the fringes of terror and the darkest depths of the human psyche. Murdering husbands thrive on revenge regardless of the consequences. An anonymous voice possesses the power to brainwash a nation and forever transform the American landscape. A mysterious woman walks her cat in Paris and reveals a sinister secret to a questioning passerby. Readers also find stories of rogue assassins ready to turn their lives around, only to find that karma has different plans for them, and enter realms in which a person's preference in wines is a measure of their character. By the book's end, readers have traveled to the past, where the laws of the Wild West reign supreme, and independent men are tested not only by the harshness of nature but also the hostility that grows with the slightest provocation between fellow humans. ... (read more)

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Unforgettable Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eban and the Dolphins
by Carolyn Davis


"I think that he could be a leader—perhaps a liaison between us and humans."

Lost and adrift in the foster care system, Eban retreats to the ocean, where he is drawn to a pod of bottlenose dolphins that he discovers swimming near his coastal town. Initially, he connects to the patterns of sounds coming from the dolphins. As he spends more time with the pod, he begins to see these amazing animals as the family that has eluded him all his life. In a lovely twist on the coming-of-age tale, Eban joins the pod of dolphins and escapes into a world he chooses rather than remain to suffer in the human world that leaves him sad and disconnected. Growing up with the dolphins as his family, Eban becomes a beautiful bridge and healing force for animals and humans. With a deep knowledge of the oceans and the needs of dolphins, Eban is able to channel his experience into environmental activism, and his life becomes an inspirational call to action for all young people. ... (read more)

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Mythical Creature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Michigan Dogman: A Diary
by Scott Devon
BookTrail Publishing


"There are magical times in this life that help us sustain the tragedies."

Where, when, or to whom he was born, the Michigan Dogman does not know. He is aware that stories about him have circulated since the nineteenth century. He also knows that he stands eight feet tall, weighs five hundred pounds, has the head of a dog and the body of a man, and is covered with hair. His appearance frightens most people so badly that he never has a chance to demonstrate his humanoid intelligence or his doglike good nature. Intensely shy, he is predominantly nocturnal, but he is also acutely lonely and longs for just one human friend. An equally brilliant and reclusive professor of music finally gives him an opportunity for virtual and live companionship. Through technology, Dogman learns to create wildly popular art he can share worldwide even as he remains unseen. Is this cautious, tender friendship strong enough to withstand frequent separation and ultimate tragedy? ... (read more)

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Action-Packed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hell Holes 4: A Slave's Revenge
by Donald Firesmith
Magical Wand Press


"Although the master’s two imp guards and their hellhounds gave us the evil eye, they nevertheless opened the compound’s front gate for us."

In this action-packed, danger-filled adventure, readers meet Paul Chapman—a teenager left on his own after the death of his mother, his father, and his twin sister. An evil group of alien demons takes Paul as their captive, and he soon finds himself on a planet called Hell. Enslaved and awaiting death, Paul finds himself with a new master who makes him an overseer. Meanwhile, Paul meets Elle, another slave who changes his outlook and motivates him to conquer all that Hell delivers. When tragedy strikes, Paul's life is once again altered. The protagonist then embarks on his newest adventure, that of seeking revenge. Paul's pursuit of vengeance returns him to the one place that he thought he would never see again—Earth. ... (read more)

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Sincerity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beyond Death: Continuing Stories in the Afterlife
by Sally Muir
Outskirts Press


"What I call my ‘voice’ is telepathically communicated guidance from a source that loves, guides, educates, comforts, and blesses me."

Just before and immediately after her good friend Ninette passed away at age ninety, author and spiritual seeress Muir began receiving messages from her that became the basis for this fascinating vision of life after death. Ninette, like Muir, had been drawn to study at the Sancta Sophia Seminary and become an ordained minister through that pathway. For nearly a year, Muir heard and transcribed Ninette's sage counsel, described in scrupulous detail from that realm known to some as the Other Side. ... (read more)

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Fast & Furious

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Saudi Oil Gambit
by Reginald Nelson
URLink Press and Media


"Our destruction – the destruction of the western way of life – the end of western civilization is their only goal and focus."

Inspired by his lovely wife, Nelson—a dentist with aspirations beyond the examination chair—shares an idea with his sensei at the dojo where he trains. The sensei runs the idea by a CIA colleague, and Operation Loudmouth, in which transmitters are implanted in patients' (suspects') teeth, is born. The book tracks a Saudi terrorist plot the team learns about through the transmissions and America's response to it. ... (read more)

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Haunting Love Story

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Utopia Project - Everyone Must Die
by Billy Dering
Pinewald Press


"And no matter how fast he moves, he is never able to outrun a viscous, red tidal wave that churns body parts, bones, and entrails."

The world does not go out with a bang or a whimper but a silent flash of red (or, more precisely, death by a neuron beam). In this action-packed story, everyone was supposed to die, paving the way for a superior type of human. But like all things in life, it became complicated and messy. This is the tale of the survivors, who didn't die like they were supposed to and fought to live each new day as if it were their last. ... (read more)

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Far-Reaching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mixed Blood: Reconciling My Colonial Family’s History in the Dutch East Indies
by Astrid Berg, PhD
Amazon KDP


"There was little opportunity to grieve, and the focus was on looking ahead and forgetting the horrific past."

Family, history, culture, and a wide view of the world make up this fascinating work by author Berg. Her father emigrated from Java in the East Indies to the Netherlands, married a European beauty, and moved with his family to the United States when Berg was very young. Her father was strict, her mother sometimes frustrated and angry, and it took many years for her to begin to wonder why and to delve into the reasons. One clue was encapsulated in the term "Indisch," or Indo-European, opening a trail that led back through several generations and across the world. ... (read more)

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True Thought

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Wisdom of the Men
by Clint Arthur
Wharton MBA Books


"Everyone wants home runs. No one wants to do the work."

One of the great aspects of the modern age is that it is now easier than ever for promising authors to share their stories, and some of their tales really need to be shared and discovered. This engaging book is one such offering. It is told by a talented and earnest storyteller who has managed through a tenacious drive to propel himself towards success. Along the way, he formed a compelling recipe for personal achievement and collected anecdotes from a laundry list of famed celebrities. ... (read more)

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His Abiding Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Am Yours and You Are Mine, God’s Love
by Rev. Kelvin McKisic
Go to Publish


"Love is both an attribute of God and a description of his being."

Minister and author McKisic presents a guide to understanding love in its ultimate sense: that of God for his human creation. His love was evident when, after the disobedience of man in the Garden of Eden, God took the slow but sure steps to create and offer his son to the world, giving us, McKisic says, "an out from the effect of sin." God had already fashioned a beautiful natural world from which food and water and beauty could be gleaned. The author allows the reader to follow the progression of God's chosen people as they were oppressed in Egypt, then led out of that domination and into the land of milk and honey. Moses was selected as the leader of the Israelites, assigned by an appearance of God in a burning bush. Moses felt unworthy and unequal to this huge task. But at every juncture in this journey, Moses would see that God's love provides. God arranged that the chosen people would have sufficient wealth when they left Egypt. They were also guided by a pillar of fire by night, given a rain of manna each day, and the staff of Moses to purify water for their drinking. ... (read more)

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Liberian Intrigue

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Blood Before Dawn (Book 2 of the Dung Beetles of Liberia Series)
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing


"History turns on lucky chances just as it does on planning."

Pilot Ken "Spike" Verrier returns with his beautiful wife, Samantha, to Monrovia, Liberia, to purchase rough diamonds. The diamonds could help get his airline business up and running again. Ken's initial working man's dilemma collides with CIA operatives who are secretly inspiring a revolution. This is a West African country where tribal rivalries entangle with class conflicts. Mobs demand rice. With Americo-Liberians growing opulent, the Chinese, Russians, and Americans play political chess with a country whose women seek empowerment and poverty-stricken country people barely survive. ... (read more)

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Lost Civilizations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Atlantean Conspiracy
by Mark Gibbs
Great Writers Media


"Suddenly the door locked shut and vibrations grew more and more intense. The chambers moved in jerks then it hit with a splash."

The mythology surrounding Atlantis is varied and provides many story elements to explore. Gibbs grabs hold of that mythology and offers up a modern Atlantis tale with roots in the past. The novel opens with the Atlantean inhabitants and the impending doom their advanced civilization is facing. They have outpaced all their BC counterparts but haven't built up any immunities to common disease or the warmongering of man. Natural, volcanic forces threaten their isolationist existence, and they realize they must leave their advanced, above-ground existence and learn to live alone in the sea. The story moves from that devastating decision to the modern era and follows a researcher who believes the myth of Atlantis is based on fact and hopes to prove it. ... (read more)

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The Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Rogue
by Sally A. Allen
Xlibris


"He was an imposing figure, six foot four with black curly hair and eyes that could see right through you."

The calendar may proclaim that Winston Clark III is thirty-five years old, but everyone around him says he never grew up. He flaunts his inherited fortune, drinks hard, and keeps company with a different lady of the evening every night. He loathes every living creature except his prized Arabian stallion, and that dislike is universally mutual. People resent his use of wealth to do and get anything he wants, not least because they know that Clark money built most of their rural Illinois town and that supplying Winston's huge ranch with goods the land cannot produce guarantees their livelihoods. ... (read more)

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Immediate Events

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prometheus' Gift
by John Sangster
AuthorHouse


"The hard work for the firefighters was done. Now it was up to the eyes of experience and the knowledge of science to find out what this fire was all about."

This intricate novel is set in a small town occupied by quite a few big-city migrants looking for a calmer life and less troublesome times. They find just the opposite as a number of disturbing fires with mysterious fatalities rock the usually quiet hamlet and send both longtime locals and recent transplants into a search for answers. A house fire turns up only one body when there are supposed to be two. Another conflagration uncovers another corpse. Suddenly, the FBI is swooping down to take charge of things, and the locals are wondering why. The town's priest hears the confession of someone directly associated with the deaths, but his vows demand silence. The arsonist is compelled to not only observe the infernos but also start more of them. Soon a raging wildfire gets hellishly out of control. This time the firefighters themselves pay the ultimate price. ... (read more)

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Saints & Sinners

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Killed Coriolanus?
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"The mad King Timon of Rome would order the arrests of the republican traitors, find them guilty of treason and sentence them to die."

In this thoroughly researched book, readers learn the story of Timon, who, after growing up in a Greek orphanage, discovers his true identity: he is the last surviving member of the Trojan royal family. Accompanied by his companion, Lukas, Timon travels to republican Rome after a special invitation. As Lukas and Timon befriend their special host's son, Marco, readers follow the trio into the realms of history typically unexplored by common scholars. After returning to Rome, the three young men navigate brutal elections which threaten Marco's father. As Timon struggles for his rightful place among his people, the narrative reveals the political rivalry, jealousy, and the nuances of social class that defined a person's destiny at this point in history. ... (read more)

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Psychic Primer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Spirit Club Mediumship Uncovered
by Donna Young


"The more we work together, the more our hearts open, and we love without judgement."

In her engaging book, psychic Donna Young recounts lessons learned in accepting the life of a medium with positivity and determination. Born in Australia, Young communicated with spirits as early as age four, often unable to distinguish between the living and the dead. Considered a bizarre child, she was medicated to normalize her. Then at age sixteen, cancer and the development of a cerebral thrombosis—a blood clot of the cerebral vein in the brain—during treatment changed everything. Despite the slim chance of survival, Young fully recovered. After her near-death experience, she embraced a life-long, careful dedication to being a medium and helping others. ... (read more)

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Old Rules, New Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Embracing the Law of Attraction: Out of the Box, Into the Light
by J.M. Jones
Authors Press


"Do you honor and value yourself? Do you live the best life possible?"

By exploring counsel from great masters, and most especially the words of God and Jesus given in holy scripture, author Jones offers readers the inspiration as well as the structure needed for deeper understanding. Compelling concepts wrapped in the law of attraction, such as self-actualization and synchronicity, provide the basic framework for her thesis. One can become one's best self and reach out to others who will seemingly have been waiting for the messages one has to offer through imaginative focus based on time-honored wisdom. The "I am" revealed as God's name is a strong clue to the need to be an active participant in one's own life. And, the author suggests, it is not possible to love others and change others if one does not love oneself. Therefore, self-examination is a major first step to positive living. Remembering that God loves all his people can give special motivation. Knowing what one really wants and needs is key. Jones reminds readers of the major steps to be taken: Ask—"let the universe know what you want": Believe—that that which is desired is already there; Receive—be open to see and accept abundance. ... (read more)

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Doing It

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Runnin’ with FROGs: A Navy Memoir
by George R. Worthington
Authors Press


"I lived through the NAZI-Fascist challenge, served in the active Navy from 1961 to 1992—and the proverbial Lion’s Share of the Cold War."

Though retired Rear Admiral Worthington's narrative takes readers on his personal journey, his ability to also capture a defining era of the U.S. Navy—and the military as a whole—is highly illuminating. In particular, the origins of the Navy SEAL are effectively conveyed. Worthington depicts his experiences with a raw authenticity and credence often left out of the history books. This is not just a book of facts but rather a dive into the mind and story of an individual who repeatedly demonstrates his mettle in the most rigorous and challenging of situations. ... (read more)

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Harrowing Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blessed: A Family’s Struggle to Rise from the Ashes
by Dr. Sherri A. Young
WestBow Press


"Statistically, we should not have survived our explosion. By the grace of God, we did survive, and we will forever be grateful."

One night in January 2018, author Young awoke to the strong smell of propane, growing more intense second by second. She woke her husband, Adam, and their ten-year-old daughter, Gabi. Outside, Adam discovered that a recently filled propane bottle had come loose, rolled down, and collided with the house. Five minutes later, as they stood outside their lovely two-story country home, it exploded. Almost everything they possessed, including family heirlooms and beloved pets, was consumed in a monstrous blaze. Friends and family stepped in almost immediately, finding them lodging and providing immediate necessities. Traumatic months passed awaiting action from insurance companies. Whatever they found by picking in the hazardous rubble was all they had of their old life. Good advice from friends and helpful strangers, the surprise discovery of a mysterious white box, and a firm religious grounding ultimately brought the family to their new circumstances, grateful for what they survived together. ... (read more)

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Holiday Tales

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Christmas Treasures
by Bruce Spohn


"'Christmas is what you put into it. If you put joy and love in, that is what you will receive'"

This collection of Christmas stories is infused with military tributes and dedication to tradition. Most of the stories share the same characters. In one story, Tim is a sullen teenager who prefers Christmas vacation with his friends to a family trip. Then, he becomes a grandfather on the other side of the coin. Dave's Christmas decorations in one story inspire Sam in another tale. Sam is a child during WWII in an early narrative and plays a department store Santa in the 1990s in later tales. Sandy is an American soldier deployed in Gaza in one story, then a Katrina volunteer in another. Each tale of transformation bears a Christmas message of good news recapitulated in an epilogue.

The book itself acts as a fable. Its format conveys that abundant gifts are from the heart and not the pocketbook. The stories create their own lineage and tradition by building on one another, like the family Christmas traditions they celebrate. Although the stories employ biblical references, Jesus is rarely invoked. Rather, a general godliness pervades in scenes of people overcoming barriers and helping one another. For instance, a family enlists men at a homeless shelter to fix up a neighbor's house. American soldiers and a Muslim family join forces to escape a bomb attack. The stories develop into a final climactic tale in which businesses and individuals enact a detailed and rigorous plan to assist Katrina victims. Typos pose a challenge to the book's otherwise effective, streamlined format. However, the Christmas spirit comes across in the characters' consistent efforts that maintain the legacy of Christian ethics. ... (read more)

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High School Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Valiente: Courage and Consequences
by A. G. Castillo
Archway Publishing


"Still he just couldn’t understand the emptiness he felt in his chest. It was like his soul was searching for something, but it didn’t know what it was."

This coming-of-age story follows eighteen-year-old high school senior Chente, a basketball and tennis player who is also the school's valedictorian. Chente is one of five children whose father recently died. Besides trying to cope with this loss, Chente's best friend, Jimmy, dies from suicide, and Chente blames himself for his death. The book takes readers on a journey of seeing what life is like in high school with all the teenage angst that goes along with this. ... (read more)

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Impeccable World-Building

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The Crooked Forest: Legacy of the Holey Stone
by Joni Franks
Xlibris


"Remember, you must always beware of the humans. You never know if they might be in an accommodating mood or not, unpredictable as they are."

While rummaging through the enchanted Crooked Forest for mistletoe, young Willow and her mother, Luna, are separated as Aidan, a human, is chasing them. Alone and uncertain of her mother's fate, Willow's shock is warmly interrupted by the entrance of a mesmerizing fairy dog, Gyzmo, a Pembroke Welsh corgi determined to cure his friend's broken heart. What ensues is a series of adventures that take the duo from their meeting with the delicate water fairy Dewdrop at the headwaters of Sleeping Creek to the dream lodge in the Cave of the Crystals. At every turn, Willow and Gyzmo learn what true strength is, with each plot twist pushing Willow closer to her call to action. ... (read more)

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Action-Packed

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The Prophecy
by J.B. Liquorish
Balboa Press


"The one who holds the Foekey shall find his answers at the sacred vale."

In 500 BC, dragons have returned after a long absence to the skies of Scotland. A young man, Warwick, must face his destiny and embark on a dangerous quest to find the hidden meaning behind a mysterious key and a hazy prophecy. As he travels further from home, he begins to understand that his fate is connected to the dragons, and he must rise to the challenges of his time. An arduous journey takes him over mountains, inside caves, and across waterways to learn that the dragons are, in fact, real and not mythical and that they will bring winds and fires of destruction. With the help of Rowan, a seer, he must unravel the mysteries of the dragons and his role in their destruction. Warwick will risk everything to become the dragon slayer he is prophesied to be. ... (read more)

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Survival

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From the Brink of Death & the Gates of Hell
by Joseph Hentosz
AuthorHouse


"I explained to my beautiful, dearest, lovely future wife and her mother and her father and their family that my hero, my maternal grandfather, was critically ill and dying in hospital and he will not die happy until he sees me, his favourite grandson."

This book starts off in the year 1940 when an Englishwoman meets a Polish serviceman. A romance blossoms, and a loving relationship forms. However, happiness ends and tragedy unfolds as the couple's family grows. Readers take an intimate journey with the author through the times and circumstances that were woven together to form a lifetime. From detailing the experiences of having an early morning paper route to working as a part-time delivery boy, the book's author offers an intriguing portrait of his life prior to an RAF career. The narrative then provides the author's depiction of death as an unwanted friend who constantly reminds humans of its presence. Throughout the book, readers find insights about overcoming difficulties and tragedies that threaten to break a person. The book also explores a child's response to witnessing domestic abuse as the author details his mother's experiences at the hands of an alcoholic, abusive husband. ... (read more)

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Something for Everyone

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Houston Has a Problem!
by Saint Andrews
AuthorHouse


"This was my nightmare come true. We decided we had no choice but to deny everything. So, after we returned to the barracks, we tried our best to get back to our rooms undetected."

In this book, readers find bold, brash, honest, and confessional personal narratives about social class, race, sexuality, and how the places a person calls "home" can make, break, or shape a person's perceptions of not only oneself but also society. From football practice to boot camp to punk rock band life, readers have an insider's look inside the author's pain and struggles with identity. In other chapters, they travel down the winding road of drug use and partying. Readers also learn about the horrific world of sexual abuse and the toll it takes on victims for years to come. However, the book leaves one with the certainty that when one story ends, another begins, hopefully for the better. ... (read more)

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Dark Shadows Revisited

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My Memoirs of the Dark Shadows Conventions
by Anthony Taylor
AuthorHouse


""...Dark Shadows Convention was a marvelous meeting Place to cherish, reflect, and look forward to future accomplishments That the Dark Shadows serial inspired since its debut in 1966."

Since the nineteen-fifties, there have been science fiction conventions where fans and writers can meet and greet, followed by lectures and talks given by the authors. Some television series that have reached a certain level of popularity have also spawned fan conventions. The 1960s television series Dark Shadows is one of those "cult" TV shows created and produced by Dan Curtis that a certain subset of people revere. They are willing to spend substantial amounts of money to travel, stay in hotels, and pay for meals while attending the usual three-day convention. This book is one such fan's recounting of nine such Dark Shadows conventions, beginning in 1993 and extending to 2016. Autographs given by the cast are described, as is the emergence of the actor Jonathan Frid one year after the series' 1966 debut, boosting its ratings with his portrayal of Barnabas Collins. ... (read more)

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Cultural Interpretations

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A Stay-At-Home Dad vs. the Bible
by Trevor Catlaster
Xlibris


"Evangelical Christians often promote salvation to non-Christians as a form of spiritual completion rather than the beginning of a sometimes tumultuous walk with Christ."

Many people live their lives using Christian scripture as a guideline for how to act, what determines right and wrong, and how others should be treated. Yet scripture has been translated and re-translated hundreds of times, leading to discrepancies and disagreements that can cause entire factions of believers to splinter off. In this personal tale, the author describes his experience as a caregiver father and how those around him used the Bible to justify ostracizing him from his family and getting divorced solely for him being a man and not the primary financial earner in the home. Examining key verses that many use to support these and similarly destructive and exclusionary decisions, the author turns a critical lens on them. He utilizes the knowledge gained from his master’s degree in ministry and theology to interpret the passages from a broader perspective, urging one to have a more open mind and a less rigid way of thinking. ... (read more)

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Excellent Quotations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

By, For, and About Marines: A Book of Notable Quotes of the U.S. Marine Corps
by Lt. Col. Sidney Atwater, US Marine Corps (Ret)
Xlibris


"'The appearance of Marines on foreign soil has always in the past indicated the beginning of extremely dangerous military adventures.'"

The United States Marine Corps enjoys a special blend of awe and mystique surrounding it that few other branches of the military can claim. Time and time again, they have been called upon to heroically do the impossible. As a result, they have earned respect in the eyes of their peers the world over. This book tells the history of the Marines one quote at a time, from all kinds of sources both within the military and outside of it. Rather than serving as a comprehensive historical text, this book compiles quotes from politicians, presidents, soldiers, and civilians to put together the storied and fascinating history of the famous military branch. The author sets the stage for each chapter, explaining the times and the conflict the Marines are engaged in. The voices of the past fill in the details from there, creating a rich oral history of this elite fighting force. ... (read more)

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Philosophical & Mystical

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The Karma Hotel
by Dr. Samineh I Shaheem
iUniverse


"They were chosen mostly because of their desire and hunger to know more about the happenings in their lives, and because earthly and practical explanations were not sufficient."

When four people check into The Karma Hotel, they embark on a transformative experience through deep introspection prompted by psychic readings, hypnosis, aromatherapy, and massage. The hotel is staffed by women and men committed to exploring the self that requires connecting people to memories and even to past lives with the hope of learning from these encounters. Adriana, Jennifer, Alexander, and Daniel are all changed by the lessons and experiences they have after opening their minds and souls to the probing work of gaining self-knowledge and moving forward in truth and wisdom. Dr. Shaheem's purpose is to raise awareness of readers who stay for a while with these four characters in this unique setting. ... (read more)

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Telling Her Story

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From Exile to Freedom: The Chronicles of My Life
by Lizzie Toomer
Trilogy Christian Publishers


"These images and sensations of rejection and abandonment became my inheritance that influenced an important part of my thinking."

Toomer's autobiographical narrative of her grueling early years into adulthood is at times downright harrowing. Yet, it is her ability to push through and keep pushing, particularly when she discovers her faith, that is beautiful. More than anything else, the author's text is a testament to the flawed nature of humanity. However, her journey also brings home the point that unwavering faith in the Lord can decipher even the most complex of life's codes. ... (read more)

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Prophetic Blend

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Reparations for Slavery
by Prophet Anthony Starnes
Stratton Press


"The main issue of this book is not slavery per se or even reparations for slavery but the fact that another civil war is coming."

There are two major elements blended in this powerful offering by author Starnes. The first concerns the history of and responsibility for slavery as it was practiced in the United States, reminding readers that black Muslims instigated slavery among their own African people and facilitated its global spread. Therefore, Starnes asserts, economic reparations for those affected by that evil institution should be made by Middle Eastern, Muslim-dominated, oil-rich nations. But this has not happened because of policies of American governance that, for example, allow the acceptance of Jihadist Muslims as U.S. citizens and promulgate generally socialist ideals. The second greatly disturbing element discussed is the possibility of a coming civil war. Starnes advises readers to strengthen their Christian faith and prepare for horrific warfare on every front. ... (read more)

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Intimate Portrait

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Here and Hereafter: The Eternity Connection
by Joy Ibsen
Stratton Press


"Suddenly, Bedstemor had a job to do. Her time had come. She raised her head and blew short little breaths."

Ibsen poignantly relates a series of vignettes of individuals ranging from idealists to dogs confronting life-endings, asking why, and forming new perceptions of experiences in other dimensions as they accept, integrate, and journey off onto various new beginnings. She hopes that this stunning and moving compilation "will lead to more enjoyment of here, a new conscious awareness of the hereafter, and new understandings about the connections between them" since she believes that those interconnections make life fascinating. ... (read more)

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Passionate

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The ABC’s of Jug Band Music
by Morgan Cochneuer
AuthorHouse


"Now you’ve heard a song about the ABC’s of Jug Band Music won’t you sing with me?"

There are a lot of ABC books from which to choose. This one focuses on using original lyrics from the alphabet song to explore jug band music. Most of the lyrics focus on the instruments used in this genre of music, although there are a few exceptions, including a pirate and a question. Each letter gets its own page, rhyme, and full-color illustration. The book also includes a brief description of what jug band music is and when it came to prominence. Overall, with the bright graphics and simple, recognizable rhyme scheme, the book is upbeat in tone and suited for even the youngest readers. ... (read more)

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Family Journey

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Marble, Grass, and Glass
by B. Sham Moteelall
Xlibris


"It would be impossible to choose one hero for this book because now they all seem like heroes to me."

Written in a biographical fiction style, this poignant yet triumphant hybrid memoir/biography documents the author's heritage as a descendant of East Indian indentured servants bound to work on British sugar plantations. This system lasted from 1838 until 1917. Some of Moteelall's family members were among the estimated 240,000 souls who emigrated to British Guiana (now Guyana), a "story of servitude contract that resulted in life sentences for many . . . an atrocious system that reinvented and redefined slavery." ... (read more)

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Tech & Theory

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Secret Mayday
by Finn Seldal
AuthorHouse


"Making The Future is no easy task; one is continually trying to prepare for it and has always sought to do that."

In the near future, science has progressed to accomplish so many things that people once believed to be possible but lacked the tools to turn into reality. So many of those technological leaps forward are the result of the brilliance of one man: Norn deSpace. A terrorist plot to destroy a clean power plant known as Fusion Island that provides energy for the world is narrowly foiled by Norn’s clever plans and the actions of his skilled friends. When an asteroid known as 2050HA approaches Earth, Norn is part of the team that determines it contains valuable ore deposits and must extract the minerals in secret. These and other missions at the edge of possibility make up the day-to-day life of Norn and his companions in this look at life just decades away. ... (read more)

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Engaging Aggregation

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Gardening: A Growing Addiction
by Jo Ann Wiblin
iUniverse


"Before making a planting decision, think ahead 20 years."

Experienced gardener and writer Wiblin offers advice born out of her years of practice made up of wondrous successes, some very taxing physical labor, and a number of try-it-again moments. She began her planting hobby—bordering on obsession, she admits—after her children were grown, harking back in memory to her own childhood following her grandparents around their garden, shelling peas, and planting tiger lilies. With her husband, her "chief enabler" in their obviously shared dedication, she constructed a greenhouse and began planning and planting in earnest. ... (read more)

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Sweeping Tale

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Lights, Camera, Incognito
by Martin P. Travis
Xlibris


"There was no need for Abel to look up. No need to feel the scowls, the looks of hate, the words or racism from those who surrounded him..."

Abel finishes college in Tuskegee, Alabama, and leaves his sharecropper father's home and its brutal history of racist hate crimes and murder to fulfill his dream of writing in New York. However, a mistake soon sends him fleeing, and he spends nearly two decades exiled in Hollywood in the domestic service and sometimes amorous embrace of a Hollywood writer and his beard of a wife. Over the years, as fortunes and times change, all three face the costs of the cutthroat, fickle, and politicized film industry, leading to tragedy, loss, and new paths. The road leads Abel back to Harlem, where he builds a family and a theater career as a playwright and producer. Still, the times follow him, and he must remain nimble and ambitious as he chooses his future. ... (read more)

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Illumination

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Poetry of A Life
by Sharon Romero
Xlibris


"Love is gone, and it has went astray.
No matter what, it can’t find its way.
Lost in time without a home or place to stay."

Fittingly titled, Romero's compilation encompasses a lifetime of emotions and experiences that span the spectrum of heartwarming to deeply reflective and philosophical. The work is a guide on how to live life (and truly live it), escaping from a never-ending rat race for the next material accolade. Exploring universal themes like love, birth, disappointment, and aging from the context of fleeting time, the poet leaves audiences mystified by the simplicity yet power of her poetry. ... (read more)

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Growing Up

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The Fanfare of Life: A Collection of Short Stories
by Bakilinna Warjri
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"Thus was born our story times of legend – out of simple need, you understand."

The trials and triumphs of childhood are highlighted in Warjri's vivid stories. Her first pup disappears one night during a thunderstorm with no explanation from her parents. A Christmas tree argument between her father and grandfather results in a shooting on their veranda on Christmas Eve. A child learns the loneliness of boarding school after her parents' divorce, while another observes the disgrace of a school friend who becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Classmates of a boy too poor to stay in school contemplate profound truths about the harshness of fate. A ten-year-old finds resourcefulness in caring for five sick siblings. Another self-actualizing child, forbidden to have a hairy pet, befriends a local alley rat. ... (read more)

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Eternal Scar

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The Forgotten
by Barbara Dorger
Xlibris


"As I drove my car past the barricades and road closures, I realized it felt like a different world. A major shift had occurred."

After September 11, 2001, so much changed in such a short amount of time that it can be dizzying to consider. Recalling how lax security could be in places is almost like a dream. While much attention and remembrance are given to the lives lost and the emergency responders who risked everything, and rightfully so, there is another group curiously ignored in these tributes and memorials. The flight crews and pilots on the four hijacked commercial flights had to make decisions they were not trained for and had never been involved in to try and save themselves, their passengers, and potentially others on numerous other flights. In this series of essays, the author draws on her decades of experience as a flight attendant to examine the circumstances of 9/11 and give those brave airline workers their due honor and respect. ... (read more)

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Intriguing Viewpoints

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God Promised
by Mihai Melecciu
AuthorHouse


"You should research everything you hear; you cannot accept everything blindly."

Stemming from deep introspection, Melecciu's work is predicated upon answering the profound questions that linger in humanity's mind yet never truly get answered. While scripture is certainly integral to the text, it is the cognitive and philosophical journey into the mind that leaves a mark. ... (read more)

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Actionable Content

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Your Devil Self vs. Your Angel Self
by Harvi Vilks
AuthorHouse


"Why do you choose to hold on to negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and depression?"

Revolving around the idea of tapping into one's best self, Vilks' text focuses on reconditioning the mind as a catalyst to escape from the layers upon layers of living out one's "devil self." The author examines the metaphysical elements that unify nature and consciousness to achieve a higher vibrational state. In the process, sensitive topics are tackled with fearless authenticity, including but not limited to depression, sickness, self-love, and detachment. ... (read more)

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Metaphor & Imagery

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Waiting for the Muse: Poems of Anna Akhmatova
by Frances Laird
AuthorHouse


"But later this epoch will surface,
Like a corpse on a spring-swollen stream"

The fabric of nearly all poetry is one's muse, the entity or experience that acts as a catalyst. Nevertheless, the muse is ever-evolving, as evidenced by Laird's commendable effort to capture the iconic Russian poet Anna Akhmatova's works through direct translation. On the surface, the poetry spans the spectrum of light and dark, featuring early poetry rooted in love and, later, the brutal chaos of Stalin's reign. However, digging deeper, one may surmise that the ultimate muse spearheading Akhmatova's poetry and subsequently Laird is life itself. ... (read more)

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Military Experience

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The Junior Officer Bunkroom
by J.J. Zerr
Primix Publishing


"'How many forms of government has the human race tried? Politics is a beast that eats itself to death.'"

In 1970, U.S. Navy pilot Jon Zachery worries that the Vietnam War will end before he has a chance to fly any combat missions over there. If that happens, the eleven-year veteran will be discharged and forced to do what he dreads—find some mind-numbing civilian job. Jon's also trying, with ever-increasing amounts of booze, to outrun the specter of his deceased son and the possibility that another pregnancy could kill the wife he's always called "Dearest Teresa" in his letters home. But it's a loving letter from Teresa that lifts Jon's despair. He quits drinking and rekindles their romance. Jon's optimism grows when he's sent to Vietnam with his squadron, Warhorse. ... (read more)

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Identity

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Ninety-Five
by Lisa Towles
Indies United Publishing House


"I guess I'm curious to see more than just five percent. I'm looking for the other ninety-five, and the door that might lead me there."

Suspense and technical jargon abound in this internet-age thriller. A recent transfer to the University of Chicago, Zak Skinner struggles to cope with sudden and painful life changes. Along with his protective and ever-reliable childhood friend Patrick Riley, Zak embarks on an exploration of college life that leads him unexpectedly from drug experimentation to the seedy underworld of the darknet and counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Zak stumbles upon an uncannily magical, self-writing notebook after a woefully misguided ayahuasca trip. Through the guidance of others, Zak discovers that this notebook, along with a collection of seemingly innocuous sales receipts, are bread crumbs left for the initiated. Zak follows the path down a rabbit hole leading to System D, a labyrinthine material iteration of the darknet. With his life in danger, Zak is determined to figure out who is behind System D and what their nefarious objectives may be. ... (read more)

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Crime Saga

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Rescue of Officer Moreland
by Lee David Estes
Writers’ Branding


"He knew that he was going to be shot. The question was, was the wound going to be fatal."

The importance of upbringing has never been more apparent than in the author's portrayal of Larry Oliver and Jeff Moore. While the former hailed from an abusive family with an alcoholic father, the latter watched his father beat his mother. Both were byproducts of incredibly dysfunctional families that ultimately paved the path for the two to begin their career in crime. What started as petty crimes, from shoplifting to purse snatching, quickly progressed to dealing and ultimately becoming bona fide drug suppliers. Unsurprisingly, the novel's two main characters come together in a prison weight room, hatching a plot for when they get out. ... (read more)

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Inspirational

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Trademark Made in America: “Blessed” Not Cursed!
by Mary Ross Morris
Writers’ Branding


"This is our land too, because it was paid for by the lives of our ancestors and their blood, sweat, and tears."

Many African descendants in America bear the cruel legacy of enslavement. During the years of the slave trade, African men and women were captured and brought here in chains, tortured or killed for the smallest infraction, with no knowledge of the language, no personal possessions, and few familial connections. But Morris believes that added to these factors was an insidious plan to make slaves even weaker and unlikely to rebel. It was detailed in what is known as the Willie Lynch letter. This document was first brought to light in the 1970s and said to be a transcript of a speech given by Lynch, a plantation owner from the British West Indies, to a group of white slave owners in Virginia in 1712. In it, Lynch, whose name became synonymous with the term for murdering blacks, describes the method for managing and controlling African slaves. Mere violent punishment is ineffective in the long run, he stated. What was needed was a psychological restructuring of the slave’s deepest values. ... (read more)

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Cat Love

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The Just Visiting Cat
by Mary Lou
Trafford Publishing


"The big fluffy cat was old and looked a mess. Surely he had travelled far in his many years."

What seems transient becomes permanent in this colorful, heartwarming tale of a big fluffy cat that finds a welcoming home with a loving family. As family members think the cat is "just visiting," the cat proves them wrong by constantly showing up in the places the family least expect it to and declaring those places as its own. Just when the family thinks the cat is "theirs" enough to sleep in a lovingly bought bed, the cat proves them wrong again. Instead, the cat chooses the top of the outside trashcan. As the kitty chaos continues, what becomes most apparent is that cats, just like any other creature, cannot be owned, and the sooner humans realize that, the better. As the big fluffy cat continues to surprise the family and claim its place within the family, the cat—without the family members knowing it—more and more brings out the best in them. More significantly, as a band of brilliant peacocks wanders into the family's yard and life, the book reveals the magnetic magic that a few acts of kindness can unleash and how that kindness can become the glue and stronghold of a community, no matter how small the community is. ... (read more)

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Ripped from Headlines

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Rescue of the Nadia Marie
by David Estes
Writers' Branding


"'This is the Nadia Marie, Mayday! Mayday! We are sinking and need immediate help. Can anyone hear this transmission? Please respond.'"

When John and Julie Schwartz fly from Seattle to Florida to buy a forty-foot sailboat, their lives are changed forever. The couple sets sail with their eleven-year-old daughter from Florida, headed for Hawaii, and eventually back to Seattle. But along the way, a series of mistakes and mechanical failures force them to abandon the vessel for a life raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with little hope for rescue and a typhoon headed right for them. In a race against time, luck and skill converge. A rescue mission is underway with the U.S. Navy taking full command and the president himself making difficult decisions in the face of a family's certain death. ... (read more)

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Changing World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

African Quilt: Stories of the Asian Indian Experience in Kenya
by Harshi Syal Gill and Parvin D. Syal
Goldtouch Press


"He discarded the mantle of his British experience and assumed the simple garb of an ordinary, local resident."

The world was divided and splintered into warring tribes and cultures. The histories and legends of the past were told by song. Life was hard, and the climate was unforgiving. This is the world that the reader is effortlessly transported into with each of the book's riveting passages. ... (read more)

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Chronicles

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Around the World in 12 Years and 12 Square Meters: Memories and Insights
by Steffen P. Russak
Authors Press


"Suddenly, our dream of travelling the world with all comfort in a well-chosen motorhome became feasible!"

Upon retirement, Steffen and Marianne Russak set off on an epic journey around the world in a custom motorhome. This vivid travel memoir chronicles their adventure as they crisscross the globe collecting memories, living life to the fullest, and living deep in the moment every day of the journey. ... (read more)

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Scientology

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yankee Dawn
by Michael Cumiskey
AuthorsPress


"His instruction was at the first sign of resistance employ total destruction as the selected response."

When an individual is so determined to create change, even if it means having to topple the British monarchy, there will undoubtedly be ripple effects and unanticipated ramifications. Stanley Groom, an American by birth and criminal by action, is exactly such an individual—one who goes through life neutralizing obstacles with surgical precision and simultaneously using the art of persuasion to gain the approval of those in high-standing positions. Though hardly a protagonist, Groom is still the star of Cumiskey's novel and the driver of an electric, action-packed plotline that features backstabbing and murder around every corner. ... (read more)

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Young Explorers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Intriguing Escapade at Swim Camp
by Sherry Walraven
Authors Press


"She didn’t really want to hurt them, but they asked for it, so she had to dole out the punishment."

Grace Walden and her friends are all on the school swim team. This year, they have a new coach, Coach Sheila. Coach Sheila wants to push the girls and win a championship. She decides the team needs more practice and motivation and convinces the swim team parents to allow her to take the girls to a nearby lake for a swim camp lasting several days. Grace, the twins Silver and Gold, and Lisa Acre are best friends and consider each other as sisters. Grace and her friends are excited about attending camp together and look forward to having some downtime to explore their surroundings. Besides making a new friend—the good-hearted prankster Zeke—the kids also find a mysterious cave and meet interesting and bizarre locals. What these kids do not know is that Coach Sheila has secrets of her own. ... (read more)

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Honest Recall

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The General’s Wife: The Final Betrayal
by Brenda Gantt
Writers' Branding


"This has been an ordeal that no woman should go through."

This searing portrait of a marriage tells the story of a woman forever changed by traumatic experiences in the clutches of her narcissistic husband. Gantt's brave memoir begins with her childhood experiences with an abusive mother and her first marriage, which turns abusive. Gantt works hard to create a new, independent life for herself, working at a bank and raising her children. When she meets Phil, she never sees the warning signs that might have prevented her from beginning a thirty-nine-year marriage that will end in a bitter divorce, immense heartache, and terrible betrayal. Gantt narrates her memories with anger, sadness, and confusion as she struggles to understand her husband's cruelty. The actions of her stepchildren also weigh heavily on her as she recollects their horrible treatment and disrespect toward her for most of the marriage. ... (read more)

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Pandemic Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Have We Found Our Better Selves? What We Can Learn from COVID-19
by Meril R. Smith
Writer's Branding


"We have the ability to prepare for another such event now. Will we?"

Examining the many difficulties and stresses of the Covid-19 restrictions in place in 2020 and beyond, author Smith provides a thoughtful viewpoint along with many pragmatic strategies from his own experience and that of others. He reminds us that this is not the first time Americans have faced lifestyle changes as a result of widespread infectious illness. During the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, Americans were asked to self-isolate and practice high standards of personal hygiene. Now, with a much larger population and much more extensive communication, measures taken can be far more complex, requiring the cooperation of every family member. Children are kept from schools and social gatherings. Parents are forced into a role as teachers, and it is still uncertain when these restrictions will be changed or how those changes will occur. ... (read more)

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A New Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

2012: The Weak Economy and How to Deal with It to Empower the Citizens
by Joesph Albert Gorski
Authors Press


"Major tax increases have no political chance to be passed to attempt to help pay for supporting an ever increasing federal government."

Readers enter the unstable American economy, circa 2011, when "A deal was made between Congress and the President at the beginning of August 2011 to increase the debt ceiling on government borrowing by over two trillion dollars" in the name of preserving the federal government. Then, as America sat on the verge of the 2012 election, the crisis continued, and readers learn that many state and local departments began protecting themselves from the economic slaughter by cutting the jobs of some of America's most essential workers. Readers also discover that America teeters on the verge of financial collapse because of increased national spending, which then threatens the global economy. In a close examination of the rise of the independent-minded voter, the book reveals an in-depth discussion about the changing landscape of American voting, as well as proposed solutions to the economic crisis facing American workers. ... (read more)

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Intelligent Vision

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

2016: The Rise of a Third Party in the US
by Joseph Albert Gorski
Authors Press


"The message of a bold third party would truly be exciting and a welcome relief from the usual dismal politics."

Looking at the American political system from its earliest conception to the elections of the twentieth century, author Gorski is convinced that only a third party's well-designed inception and serious incursion can change the current template. Our country was founded on innovative principles that gradually improved over time with the elimination of slavery and recognition of the rights of all who are born here. However, about 100 years ago, Gorski states, changes occurred that have had an increasingly damaging effect. Primary among these was the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank, which resulted in the gross devaluation of a currency that, prior to that time, had retained a steady value. Once in place, the Federal Reserve System allowed for the support of foreign wars, "exploding deficits," and rising inflation, with no direct benefits to citizens. And our system of laws, founded on a few strong principles, has become so complex that it is almost impossible for ordinary people to grasp. ... (read more)

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Action-Packed Memoir

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Have Chignon—Will Travel: Touring Italy with the Bluebell Girls 1960-1961
by Elizabeth Dale Phillips
W. Brand Publishing


"I was going to Italy on the following Monday! I was going to be a Bluebell Girl!"

Elizabeth was weeks away from graduation, on the precipice of youth and adulthood. Options for women were limited to being a wife and mother or a secretary until married. Her family was already astonished at her courageous move to London immediately after receiving her diploma. She was happy with her newly found independence, and providing for herself gave her self-confidence. Still, she felt as though she was seeking something more. ... (read more)

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Gospel Analysis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

You Say So: The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth
by D.C. Thielmann
Writers’ Branding


"The fact remains that the damage has already been done as a direct result of how the New Testament has been interpreted by the Church."

With countless scriptures available for the layman to peruse, the reader is bound to get lost amid one expert voice after another and thousands upon thousands of pages. In Thielmann's comprehensively researched and referenced work, the premise is focused on peeling back the curtain behind the arrest of Jesus, the ensuing trial, and ultimately the aftermath in a manner that accounts for numerous variances. These include but are not limited to the time period, the customs of the era, the language spoken, and the discrepancies between expert commentary. At its core, the book convincingly establishes the disparities among the four Gospels and provides an unbiased understanding of perhaps the most pivotal moment in human history from largely unexamined and deemphasized angles. ... (read more)

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Self-Help Memoir

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lifetimes of a Journey: My Amazing Journey of Coming Alive and the Power of Unconditional Self-Love
by John S. Davis
W. Brand Publishing


"I think about my mission of creating a world of unconditional love and… my own life being filled with it…"

The author's happy childhood—what he calls his first lifetime—ended abruptly with the death of his father, with whom his relationship had become strained, when he was a freshman in college. What he calls his second lifetime began his sophomore year of college, included the start of his engineering career and the births of his son and daughter. It ended when his first marriage broke down. His third lifetime began when he met his second wife, Kathy, in 1997 and ended when she died of pervasive cancer nearly nineteen years later in July of 2016. His fourth lifetime, he asserts, began thirteen months after her death when his grief softened into treasured memories, and he resolved to create a world of unconditional love, including self-love. This fourth lifetime, which features coaching others in the art of unconditional self-love, continues today. ... (read more)

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Heart & Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Matters of the Heart
by Ruth Cherry, PhD
Writers' Branding


"She didn't present them with any needs.... If the world (as interpreted by her parents) couldn't handle her needs, she just wouldn't have any."

Often, teachers gain just as much valuable insight from their pupils as they impart to them. Cherry's experience is no different as she weaves her own experiences and upbringing with that of her clients to help readers ultimately understand the power of one's inner spirit and the art of listening to that inner voice. At its core, the text presents a duality of how one should be the Controller as well as the inner child who, despite being obedient and doing "what's right," constantly gnaws at one's desire and goals and delivers a feeling as though something is missing. ... (read more)

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Mind & Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Matters of the Soul
by Ruth Cherry, PhD


"As we grow with life experience we come to appreciate the fullness and richness of our individuality."

Clinical psychologist Cherry creates an enthralling look at how people might live more fully by acknowledging their inner selves and the deep reality that lies within them and, indeed, subsumes them in spiritual freedom. But to find and know that reality, one must search for it. Her book provides a guide to that adventure. Everyone has what Cherry refers to as "subpersonalities" that may control a person in ways one has never imagined. These may include a Hurt or Angry Child, Victimizer, Rebel, Controller, or Warrior, to cite some of the many projected selves that Cherry depicts. In showing readers how these subpersonalities proscribe and predict their behaviors, she uses examples of real people dealing with their own search for spiritual connection—a realm in which one no longer has a need for subpersonalities. ... (read more)

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Engaging Saga

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jemmy and the Little Spider of Hope
by Sergio Diaz
Writer’s Branding


"This is the story of Jemmy, the most courageous mouse in the world."

Two thousand years ago, a tiny mouse, only eight days old, helps to change the fate of the entire world. Jemmy lives with his mother, Samaria, in the cellar of an old warehouse. His curiosity keeps him quite energetically scurrying about in his limited surroundings, helping his mother pick up grains of wheat stored in their little world. But while whizzing about one day, Jemmy discovers a shining thread hanging from the ceiling. He investigates and finds that at its end is a shimmering silver spider named Hope, who has been sent to alert the world to something special that is about to happen. In a nearby cave, an extraordinary child will soon be born. Hope’s mission is to act as a guide to those seeking to greet that newborn, and he chooses Jemmy to help him. ... (read more)

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Small Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Whoever Heard of a Purple Happy Tree?
by Joyce Timberlake
Writers’ Branding


"But running away is not the way to solve your problems."

Kingdom of Joy is the home to many magical forests and amazing creatures. In Morning Glory Patch, Joy Babies live peacefully with trees, flowers, and little animals. They have built a harmonious community where every day is a wonderful, playful journey. The adventure begins as the Joy Babies encounter a young tree crying in the forest. He has no name and seems to be lost. As the animals gather around concerned for the sad sapling, the ducks are acting silly to cheer him up. His smile brings so much delight to everyone that they name him "Happy Tree." From that day forward, Happy Tree and the Joy Babies are inseparable. ... (read more)

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A Great Scientist

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

During the Pandemic with Edward Jenner
by Dr. Barbara ten Brink
Authors Press


"Some were blinded by the disease. But these survivors became champions so that the malady would not befall their children or their neighbors."

In this unique book, young readers meet Robert, a boy undergoing a smallpox vaccination. As they follow Robert's journey, they discover the story of Dr. Edward Jenner, who pioneered the concept of vaccination and created a vaccine that changed the world—the smallpox vaccine. Inspired by what he encounters as a boy, Robert grows into a scholarly young man who graduates from the Katharine Lady Berkeley Grammar School and begins an apprenticeship with Dr. Jenner. As Robert navigates his training, he learns the details of Dr. Jenner's career and personal life. He also learns an important lesson that the book's youthful audience can take to heart: while one's career is an important aspect of one's life, it is not all-defining. Being a life-long learner is the key to a fulfilled existence. ... (read more)

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Bad Religion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cult That Calls Itself the Church of Christ: What Everyone Needs to Know About What They Teach
by Ron Craig
Writers' Branding


"This is not about some difference of opinion between preachers, or denominations. This is about Bible Truth versus church leader error."

A pastor explores the stated doctrines of the Church of Christ and explains his strong disagreement with those doctrines and the assumptions on which they are based. One major way in which he feels the Church of Christ deviates from correct Christian teaching is the matter of water baptism. The Church of Christ teaches that redemption is simultaneous with water baptism performed in and by the church. Craig points out that Jesus never stated that. Instead, he emphasized the difference between man's physical "water birth" and the need to be born again in spirit, "from above," which could happen before or even after church baptism. The author offers many biblical incidents and pronouncements to prove this point. Another false teaching he sees of the Church of Christ is that miracles were prevalent in the time of Jesus and performed by Jesus, but that since the completion of the Bible, there have been and will be no miracles again. Yet Jesus indicated many times that miracles would always be a possibility. He said, for example, "He who believes upon Me, the same works that I do, he will do…" (John 14:12). ... (read more)

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Earth & Water

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A River: The Thread that Binds
by Bud Beamer, MD
Authors Press


"History often repeats itself.
Although situations are the same,
outcomes may be different.
Steelhead, for one, play a different game."

Not since A River Runs Through It have readers encountered a book like this. Dedicated to the fine art of fly fishing for steelhead trout, this poetry collection takes readers on the fishing journey of a lifetime. Opening with colorful artwork depicting natural, calming scenes, the book then segues into detailed observations about landscapes, personal connections to the environment, and the challenges faced on the river. The intertwining of artwork and poetry continues throughout the book as stunning photographs of fishermen navigating pocket waters and fat fall steelhead in their native waters. Other poems and pictures emphasize the importance of passing the fly fishing tradition from generation to generation and how this heritage is paramount to conservation. ... (read more)

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Lasting Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It Is Morning
by Vernon Bargainer
Writers’ Branding


"Why did people assume lasting friendships aren’t made in grade school? For Andy, grade school was where life began... where character was made or broken."

Andy Boone's character dramatically enters the audience's orbit with his car having just run through a barbed-wire fence and being flipped over onto Dub Grimes' ranch. In typical Bargainer fashion, the narrative takes a simple feeling—the longing of childhood love—and explores it to such depths that readers will inevitably search their memories for the same feeling. When Andy finds himself in the vicinity of his former elementary school, he becomes mesmerized as though a magnetic forcefield is calling him to a playground where he feels he's left something unfinished. While Andy's character largely dominates the narrative, his commitment to finding his childhood crush, Lorrie Dean, sets up readers for a raw and authentic experience. ... (read more)

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Lorrie & Andy Return

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Remember Running
by Vernon Bargainer
Writers' Branding


"Lorrie Dean grabbed the gun and the phone and turned to run as her adversary sprang awkwardly toward her. When he did, she shot his right knee."

This sequel to the author's It Is Morning opens with Lorrie Dean and Andy exchanging wedding vows. Andy had searched for Lorrie Dean and finally found her despite her being in the witness protection program. The two fell in love and decided to make a lifelong commitment to each other. As the bride is about to say, "I do," two men waving guns disrupt the ceremony and drag her away. Although the men declare they are with the FBI, Andy doesn't believe them. He and Kelly Surrat, his best friend, futilely chase the car down the road. Although she has been kidnapped, Lorrie Dean is a very capable woman, and she manages to escape, but not before being raped by one of her captors. As she tries to deal with the guilt she feels over the experience, she pushes Andy away. Andy tries his best to support her but feels like everything he does is the wrong thing. Meanwhile, Kelly has had sudden contact with her mother, who has been gone for over a decade. Her mother wants to meet, but Kelly sees no reason to meet with someone who abandoned her. ... (read more)

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Positive Messages

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Star Upon a Dream
by Kendall T. Newell
Xlibris


"As long as there are stars in the night sky, there is no limit to what you can achieve."

In this book, young readers meet Meleah, a girl with high goals and vivid dreams. Meleah wakes, excited for her school's Career Day. As she shares her excitement with her father, her father shares his story about how he found his calling. The story then shows Meleah meeting a doctor, a policeman, and even a fire chief. However, every time Meleah imagines herself as one of those people, her classmates spoil Meleah's daydreaming by pointing out her weaknesses. Meleah weeps, " 'I am not good enough to do anything!'" However, her father comes to the rescue, reminding her that if she works hard enough, she can do whatever she wants to in life. ... (read more)

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Freedom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Mans Big Day
by Lonnie Lesane, Sr.
Xlibris


"I am four and a half years old. This is a story of the day I went to pick up my brother from school."

Young Percy walks with his mother each day to pick up his older brother from school. However, one day his mother has a migraine, and Percy can't wake her up, so he decides to walk alone to the school. He gets the leash for his dog, called D.O.G., and they begin walking down the alley. But he finds that being alone is very scary and imagines the worst, including monsters, grizzly bears, and lions. He's also scared of the traffic that they encounter. They manage to get to a local store, where the owner tells him to be careful. Percy and his dog run into a policeman who tells Percy that he'll come back to make sure Percy is safe while waiting for his brother. He continues to be scared with his active imagination. Finally, his brother comes to him. They see their mother at the store, and she's understandably upset. ... (read more)

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Getting Better

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bruno’s Will to Heal
by Darla Deeds
Xlibris


"Bruno understands that he must try the hardest in his life to walk. He loves his farm family more than anything in the world!"

Bruno is an energetic, friendly black labrador that lives on a farm with his human family—Ray and Susie and two cats named Trouble and Cattail. Bruno's responsibilities revolve around guarding the property at night, alerting the farmers if anyone drives up, and scaring away predators that might cause trouble. One day, while lying behind a pickup truck, Bruno is accidentally run over and becomes critical. The veterinarian informs Ray and Susie that if Bruno never walks again, he will not survive. With the help of the doctors giving him therapy and the love of his family, Bruno begins to walk again, though he no longer has control of his tail. Back on the farm, Bruno is overjoyed to see his loved ones again and resumes his otherwise idyllic life in the countryside. ... (read more)

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Wishes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

William’s Christmas Dream
by Linda Carol Morris
Xlibris


"Even the animals
Know that Christmas is here
The donkeys, the sheep
The goats and the deer"

In this beautifully illustrated Christmas story, readers find themselves in Tumpton Town, where it is Christmas Eve. Young William sleeps in his bed, awaiting all that Christmas Eve promises. As William dreams, readers find themselves part of a Santa-filled adventure. After snowflakes tickle Rudolph's nose, Santa's sleigh crashes. But the reindeer work together to make sure Santa can keep his promise to the world's children. Readers travel across snowy mountains and through blinding blizzards with Santa and the reindeer, and along the way, young William learns the true meaning of the Christmas season. By the story's end, readers are celebrating Christmas with William and his family, who are thankful for "their kind little boy / Who thought not of himself / But of others' joy." ... (read more)

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Love & Faith

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lt. Ripley
by Mary Duncan
Xlibris


"Some people say that I am her guardian angel, but I am not. She is my guardian angel."

Lt. Ripley, formerly an abused and abandoned blue-eyed dog, tells this children's story about rescue, rehabilitation, and a new life with a good family who help her provide toys and hope to hundreds of children who experience a range of disadvantages. Lt. Ripley and her human mom practice patience and acceptance through their relationship with each other. Ripley has learned to trust her humans and become a symbol of possibilities to people in different communities through time. Her human relies on Ripley's and the other non-human household members to discern whom the family may trust and befriend among humans. ... (read more)

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Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


"Share your light and love with others. It's up to you."

Bright colors shimmer over voluminous cascading pages along with stellar quotes from inspirational celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Wayne Dyer, Sid Simon, Terry Cole-Whittaker, Jack Canfield, Louise Hay, Susan Jeffers, Joy Wilt, Nelson Mandela, and Marianne Williamson. To the background of teachable phrases such as "Be your own cheerleader" and "It's O.K. to make mistakes," a plethora of evocative images by Khary Guerra-Olivares attract the eyes of readers. For example, a terrified mom sneaks up on a green-and-black fanged snake behind plants. A rooster lands in the center of an innocent flower. A bespectacled grannie scoots across a page on a skateboard. And a ballerina flies through the twinkling sky, brimming with starlight. ... (read more)

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Organ Matters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Perfect Match
by Dennis Ross
Archway Publishing


"This third unexpected death in the dialysis unit seems to make the likelihood of coincidence an absurd possibility, Selena thought."

Disease, danger, potential medical malfeasance, and even murder intertwine in this engaging novel that explores how far doctors will go to save patients, administrators will go to save hospitals, and families will go to save one another. Before the story ends, some lives are lost, some are saved, and some are changed forever. ... (read more)

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Satire & Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In Place of Strife
by Elizabeth Reinach
Great Writers Media


"There would never be an enhanced salary for her, or an interesting employment, nor the camaraderie of colleagues."

In forty-one chapters covering topics such as hate crimes, sexual harassment seminars, confrontations between colleagues and political parties, probation, mental hospitals, elections, police, political turmoil, disabilities, race, caste, projection of fear, stigma, interactions between trade unions and management over petitions, and political leafletting, Reinach has creatively depicted vibrant characters occupying untenable situations to illustrate and comment upon timely political and social issues. This includes issues such as how being "too fat to work" can impact women and how employment offices handle such discrimination. ... (read more)

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