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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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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Featured Book Reviews

 

O'Connor's Story

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Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Art Imitating Life Imitating Death: An Exploration of Guests of the Nation by Frank O’Connor
by Cónal Creedon
Irishtown Press


"It is often the case that the people telling the story are more important than the story they tell."

Cónal Creedon’s contributions to Ireland’s and international arts and letters are legion and nearly legendary among his fans. This volume reprints his original lecture exploring the memorable short story “Guests of the Nation” by eminent Irish author Frank O’Connor. It is the title story in a collection of the same name, first published in 1931. The story quickly became a classic and was included in an Exploring English I textbook anthology in the mid-1960s, where Creedon first encountered it as an impressionable twelve-year-old schoolboy. ... (read more)

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Lifetimes Unfold

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Artifacts and Other Stories
by Ronna Wineberg
Serving House Books


"You wonder if what a person wants—if the wanting itself—ends up being his or her undoing."

This marvelous collection of fourteen stories explores human relations through the voices of complex and interesting characters seeking connection and fulfillment through different stages of life. The female protagonists found in most of these stories are navigating marriage, divorce, mid-life desire, or late-life love. Many are constructing new lives in the wake of loss and are adjusting to shifting priorities, new responsibilities, and startling revelations. The stories also explore caring for aging parents, facing illness, and dating during the later stages of life. ... (read more)

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The Journey

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Coming Full Circle: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America
by Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger
Olympia Publishers


"This massive clear cutting led directly to major environmental impacts. Many wildlife populations were rapidly declining because of the annihilation of their habitats."

Using a blend of historical fiction and poignant truths, the narrative delivers a spirited discourse on conservation, our environment, oneness, and, chiefly, the concept of coming full circle. With authors whose credentials speak for themselves and their commitment to Mother Earth, the beauty of this book lies in how easily it is brought to life for audiences. Titlow, whose background in natural history and photography, and Tinger, who helps future leaders fuse business with sustainability at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, leave no stone unturned in delivering a truly comprehensive commentary on the origins and imminent threats our planet faces. ... (read more)

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Success Strategies

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Be Transcendent to Sustain Happiness: Ethics Philosophical Essays—Reduce Miseries and Stresses
by Yvon Milien
yMilien


"Transcendental knowledge and the will to learn how to act correctly are sure ways to sustain happiness in this life."

Author Milien offers sound, wide-ranging guidance for self-improvement based on the legacy of some of the world’s greatest teachers. His vision for attaining and maintaining earthly happiness is arrayed here in eighteen essays examining the subject from a variety of fascinating angles. Initially, Milien says, one must be careful not to “put the plow in front of the oxen,” as an old adage humorously suggests. To make meaningful strides in life, one must develop a strategy for assuming one’s proper place and knowing the work involved in that place. To do so, self-control will be required, along with the development of well-chosen intentions and the ability to put principles into sound practice. One angle of examination comprises rising above a mere “life history” to create a vibrant “life story.” The latter demonstrates one’s triumphs over adversity and overcoming of weaknesses. Using this story, it is then possible to persuade and convince others of one’s worth, leading to advancement in many spheres. ... (read more)

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A New Philosophy

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One Family: Indivisible: A Spiritual Memoir
by Steven Greenebaum
MSI Press


"Each of us can make a difference. And together, we can all make a difference."

Author Greenebaum's childhood was spent as a member of a respectable Jewish family in a safe, all-Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of about six, he heard grownups discussing the Holocaust, forging a deep, lasting impression. He realized, "I am Jewish," and some people, not just Hitler but Americans, even Christians, hated Jews. Greenebaum was sometimes bullied by other children because of his small frame, invoking yet another "life lesson" about the perils of mob consciousness. In the sixth grade, after some years of religious education, a voice, the first but not the last, spoke to him, saying, "They are killing each other in my name. Stop it." Looking back, he believes that message changed his life. As a thoughtful young person, he would grapple inwardly with such issues as pride. Should he be proud of his accomplishments or avoid any form of self-congratulation? ... (read more)

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A Worthy Gem

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Nothing Comes After Z: Death and Retribution in Tepoztlan
by Ana Manwaring
Indies United Publishing House


"I am that person, Dylan, I wanted to shout. But it would be a lie. I was a girl with too much baggage, and part of the baggage was after me."

JadeAnne Stone is in a world of hurt and confusion. She is recovering from a recent gunshot wound and being tended to by her estranged biological father while residing at a former brothel. JadeAnne is fleeing from the lethal Los Zetas and their attempt to ensnare her in a large human trafficking ring. Her refuge from immediate harm lacks security in her mind. The man who calls himself her father is still enshrouded in mystery. Her once ally may have led her into a trap, and she doesn't know who to trust. She saved a young teen from human bondage but is at a loss in how to get her back to the United States. JadeAnne's confusion yields to anger, as she desires payback against the criminals who harmed her. ... (read more)

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A New Way to Relate

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2 x 2 on the Ark: Five Secrets of a Great Relationship
by Mary J. Giuffra, PhD
Balboa Press


"Building a love relationship and being a strong marriage partner require a lot of intentionality and self-awareness."

Falling in love is easy. Swept up in emotions and the excitement of something new is like a rose-filled wave that lifts lovers to dizzying heights and sets them off on shore to find their way. Then the hard work begins, and sometimes that work demands the help of the experts. With over forty years of experience, Mary Giuffra offers resources and practices to empower couples to build and maintain long-lasting relationships. Filled with practical advice, insightful revelations, and candid examples, this guide will inspire couples to transform their relationships. Strategies are thoughtfully designed and thoroughly explained, so the hard work feels manageable and the results within reach. ... (read more)

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Musical Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Violin Thief: A Curious Tale of Lost & Found
by Genie Higbee
100 Wings


"Young Douglas’ runaway imagination is a growing problem. He believes the rogue violin communicates with him across time and space."

This magical story begins in 1941 in Elizabethtown, New York, where a haunting violin melody slices the starry night and mingles with the smoke from a burning farmhouse, a temporary refuge for Basque immigrants. Now homeless, the colorful, gypsy-like band departs, accidentally leaving behind the violin, which miraculously survives the fire. ... (read more)

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Future Debt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Biotechnology: Scientific Advancement versus Public Safety
by Conrad B. Quintyn
World Scientific Publishing


"It is clear that tinkering or tweaking—which gives the impression of minor changes—for a desired effect can also lead to drastically fatal results."

In the history books, the twenty-first century will be known for many things, but the technological advancements that have revolutionized life itself will be at the forefront. In Quintyn’s text, readers get an incredibly comprehensive history of the evolution of biotechnology. At its core, the author is determined to demonstrate that though genetic engineering has forever altered the way we live, the ripple effects it has undeniably caused leave many unanswered implications for society, ones that future generations will have to fend off and decipher if nothing is done now. ... (read more)

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Fully Relatable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Portion of Malice: Ages of Malice, Book I
by Lloyd Jeffries
Buckminster Publishing


"I must say, with no small amount of journalistic regret, I became a part of the story in this mansion in the desert."

Cain, also known as Thaddeus Drake, wants journalist Emery Merrick to write his biography. Emery, once a Pulitzer award winner, is now washed up and in need of work, so he accepts Drake’s offer. Drake’s is the story of a lifetime—actually, of many lifetimes—beginning when Cain kills his brother Abel at the dawn of time according to the biblical record to an epic, game-changing project in the 2000s. Drake uses X’chasei, his secret organization, to organize Middle East peace talks, train an elite band of unblemished children, and establish one world currency, all to win a fateful, earth-shattering audience with God. Meanwhile, X’chasei’s enemies in the Vatican threaten to undo these plans. While Drake teeters on the precipice of victory, winning another Pulitzer for telling about it turns out to be the last thing Emery wants. ... (read more)

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Revolutionary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Auction
by Elci North


"Are you telling me The Auction wasn’t designed to strengthen the American family?"

The Handmaid’s Tale meets 1984 in this timely, captivating, alternately hilarious and infuriating dystopian novel that presents a plausible scenario in a future USA. The right to terminate a pregnancy is a small facet of any woman’s worries, with birth control banned and babies the primary source of government income. The most genetically fit babies command the highest prices at auction, and no couple keeps their biological children after giving birth. Worse, there’s no right to decide when to have a child or even whom to marry. Women are forced to marry their rapists or other unsuitable mates during the thirty-eight-year-long administration of President Boyce, who declares the 1950s and 1960s to be the “Halcyon Days.” In fact, the only television options available to Americans are mid-twentieth-century programs and films that reinforce Boyce’s philosophical gaslighting. ... (read more)

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Historical Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume III - Fate
by Ian Crouch
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights


"This day would be lost to Pyrrhus because of the preparations, the following day because of hangovers. The feast was still a political triumph."

This book is the third installment in the A Pyrrhic Victory trilogy. In it, readers gain even more insight into the ancient military commander respected still today. Readers follow Pyrrhus through his barring from Rome and the rejection of his peace terms. Pyrrhus accepts an invitation to lead the powerful Greek cities in Sicily against the ruthless invaders, the Carthaginians. Pyrrhus then gains their support in the war he wages against Rome. This book is not only a careful look at Pyrrhus’ military greatness but also an insightful glance at who he was as a person as it incorporates a fictionalized portrayal of his relationship with Bircenna and Hellenistic faith, which was part of his existence. As it concludes, the book focuses on the small circle of individuals who made sure Pyrrhus’ remains were cared for with the utmost respect. It also briefly examines how Pyrrhus’ death set the stage for the next major turn in history—the beginning of the twenty-three-year-long struggle for control of Sicily: the First Punic War. . ... (read more)

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Innovative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reality Prism: A Raven Novel
by Paul E. Vallely Major General, US Army (Ret) and John D. Trudel


"These America haters of the left and their Marxist and Fascists friends like BLM and Antifa do not advance civil discussion or unity."

This innovative book blends fiction and fact to address what the authors see as a Marxist takeover of America. The chapters are written as distinct types of prose: normal narrative or general reading; non-fiction discussions of threats, such as a New World Order and The Great Reset; action or suggestions to regain freedom, prosperity, and safety; and heroic fiction in which the authors' theories are presented as a predictive thriller. Throughout the non-fiction portions, the authors expound on the current state of American politics and what is seen as an effort by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to change America into a Marxist state. This theory is reinforced by the fictional part of the book, which tells a terrifying story of the assassination of a sitting American president. ... (read more)

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Patience

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She so loved the world...: Book 1
by Dean Powers
Xlibris


"Ask me where you will go
When you die?
…You go to someone your mom and I trust
Who will love you just as much."

Universal and evergreen, Powers’ poetry spans decades as it traverses the spectrum of themes from life, death, the material world, and the spiritual world that follows. Interestingly, the compilation stems from dream messengers and inspiration through the poet’s many hikes. Overcoming a traumatic childhood, Powers’ journey of self-forgiveness embodies a pure passion for the “playground of life.” ... (read more)

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Building Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sit Down and Have a Beer Again
by Greg Wyss
Cholla Needles Arts and Literary Library


"I don’t know who
got all the money
but I do know
it was the last contest
I ever won."

The quote above is from a poem entitled “The Prettiest Smile,” a piece from the second of the book's three main divisions—“Even More Beer Pleasures”—a collection of small press publications from the seventies. It ostensibly covers a time when his grandmother used all of her spare change to skew a “Prettiest Smile” contest judged by the number of coins donated in jars placed by a little boy’s headshots. Like many of his acerbically toned poems, this one can be read as a metaphor for life, literary or poetry contests, and even how we judge beauty. In over ninety poems written in the seventies about ex-wives, American society, football mania, hourly wages, the North Pole, and more, the poet’s oeuvre ranges in tone from skepticism to irony, with occasional notes of despair and subdued rage sprinkled throughout. Aesthetic distance is very thin here, with the poet’s emotions taking the front seat, achieving an honesty and relevance that most “poetry” shies away from. ... (read more)

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Engaging

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Survivors of a Future That Never Happened - A Cultural Review 1974-1994
by Robert Coe
Firenze Books


"Despite claims of feminine strength and independence, her lust for surrender had re-fueled an almost eighteenth-century vision of a Woman."

People usually have no idea of how significant some present events are until they are seen in hindsight. When the importance of these fixed moments in time is chronicled by a gifted storyteller such as Coe, the result is a treasure. The author's book consists of a compelling series of first-person reflections by an artistic spirit frantically capturing the sights and sounds of an entire generation's potential. These are broken up into thoughts, snapshots, and moments, each being viewed by the main character, struggling to define the empowerment and emerging atmosphere of the day. ... (read more)

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Santa Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Declaration (A Tale of Two Santa's Book 1)
by Damon Peel


"I’ve looked for ways to bridge the gap between me and Nick."

Santa’s origin story comes to life in this inventive tale of two saints battling for the true spirit of Christmas. Former toymaker Saint Nick is a familiar character checking his naughty and nice list and doling out presents accordingly after the gods have endowed him with his unique powers. Saint Bakura arises out of personal sorrow to become an alternative Santa that believes everyone deserves a chance at happiness and gifts despite behavior. As these two saints establish their bases of operation in separate poles, they get caught up in a clash of ideology and personality that eventually descends into violence and mayhem among the elves. ... (read more)

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Theological Truths

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hope from the Garden of Eden to the End of the Patmos Island
by Andrew Choi
PageTurner Press and Media


"Hope for eternity will not disappoint you."

Author Choi has arrayed material from the Holy Bible to assure readers that, like himself, they can find hope and rely on God to see them through life's challenges. Following an etheric and pragmatic theme throughout, he begins with "God's Creation of the Happy Life"—the biblical story of Eden and the events that took place there. God meant Eden to be a kind of heaven on earth, the name meaning "delightfulness." Adam and Eve were given the best possible circumstances to appreciate and experience that, receiving all the necessities for happiness: survival needs, security, meaningful goals, love, and self-esteem. But very early in the tale, Satan enters the picture. The result is failure and a sense of darkness. ... (read more)

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Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Genetic Soul Brothers
by Wayne E. Criss
Bookwhip Company


"Dave looked up. It was as if he was looking into a mirror. This stranger had his face, his red hair, his jade green eyes, and even a cleft…"

In 1975, four couples were seeking treatment at a fertility clinic in Virginia. In each case, the wife was implanted with a maturing blastula ten or twelve days after fertilization. Every family believed it was getting a unique specimen or child. Each family was from a different part of the country and lived very different lives. Happily, each treatment was successful, and all four women gave birth to a baby boy. ... (read more)

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Nuggets of Wisdom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

There Go I: A Collection of Short Stories
by Bill VanPatten


"I’m part of something much bigger than life itself. The images coalesce with the chaos that is the universe."

Like his two other short story collections centered around places he used to live, VanPatten's latest offering takes place where he grew up, in north central California. These intimate tales prove worthy of the accolades for his previous stories and novels.

Their characters navigate current relationships through the lens of past traumas like abuse, divorce, and impending death. Some protagonists are kids forging better futures for themselves than the hard legacies left them by their families. Most stories feature gay, trans, or other people fighting for acceptance by society. The author's career as a bilingual academic shines through the last and longest story, about a Mexican-American family breaking up and coming together again around the youngest member, a teen, in a psychiatric hospital. Its redemptive ending characterizes the surprising and hopeful turn the stories take. ... (read more)

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Pattie’s Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bouquet of Stars
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media


"Some flowers were not meant to be put in a glass of water on a table and admired.They needed to shine for the world to see."

During the late 1800s, young Patricia Hanover has a recurring dream. She encounters a field of flowers she cannot pick. There are too many, and in the end, they become stars. In her efforts to preserve the beauty of her dreams, Patricia encounters life-altering events. Her father dies in a tragic accident, leaving her and her mother alone. Her mother then remarries, and the family travels to Windswept, a prairie town. It is in Windswept that Pattie and her young siblings Shirley and Doyle encounter Fred Hammond—a widowed man and his young children. In this story, Pattie, adept at teaching children, finds her destiny while Windswept itself grows from a nascent prairie town to a thriving community. ... (read more)

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Brotherhood

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inside the Grey
by Bobbi Groover
Satin Romance


"They were sensations he had never felt before, not even with Lavinia."

This captivating story follows the adventures of Brayden, who is searching for his best friend, Caleb. Union raiders took him because he was accused of hiding a rebel convict. They plan on hanging him. Brayden is ready to do anything possible to find his dear friend. Life has not been easy for him because he is still grieving the tragic death of his wife. At this point, it is essential for him not to lose another loved one. Brayden begins this journey with the help of his friends. Along the way, he crosses paths with Kawley, a mysterious lady with many talents. She is looking for her brother, who was also taken by the Union raiders. She is determined to find him. At first, Brayden and Kawley do not trust each other, but throughout this journey, they will come together to find their loved ones. ... (read more)

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Historical Context

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rough On Rats
by Bob Riepe
Gotham Books


"Buck did his best to protect himself by blocking his face, but he was no match for the young attacker. Down to his knees he fell. Paul pounced on him…"

Louis “Buck” Steichen was blessed with a wonderful wife, Ellie. They had many children, both girls and boys. Buck expected that his boys would help him on the farm while his daughters would learn domestics from his wife and marry well. Buck always dreamed of being successful, whatever course he chose. He had many homesteads and farmed quite a bit, but he never could make good. Buck was best when dealing with horses. Rats were always a problem around Buck’s home, but he always dealt with them with his favorite poison, Rough on Rats. However, Buck’s life didn’t go as planned. His family was continually plagued with typhoid, and he lost many family members to the disease. His optimistic wife always found something to be thankful for during their trials, but they began to wear on Buck’s faith. Buck’s daughters often defied his father and had older suitors, which often turned into pregnancies. Buck couldn’t accept this, and after losing his wife, he lost his self-control when he found another daughter with an older man. He lost his temper and threatened her with a shotgun, ending up in jail. After nearly a year in jail and losing his family and almost all he had, he finally got out and made a new start. But he was attracted to the young wife of a questionable acquaintance and found it hard to keep his desire in check. ... (read more)

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Smart Fun

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stan and Allen: A Book about Gender
by Huxley Ren Bunn
Archway Publishing


"Stan replies, ‘Nope– Your gender has nothing to do with your romantic feelings. Being non-binary doesn’t determine who you like or love dear and tender.'"

In this playful, colorful, and educational book for readers of all ages, readers meet Stan and Allen, two alligator friends. Stan identifies as non-binary. When Stan and Allen visit their favorite lemonade shop, the Mud Slug, a giraffe named Gregory accidentally misgenders Stan. When Allen provides a gentle and careful correction to Gregory, a unique conversation about gender identification and pronouns blossoms. As Stan and Allen are helping Gregory understand what it means to be non-binary, Ryan enters the Mud Slug, wanting to return a pink umbrella he found on the street. Just as Ryan exclaims, “Pink is for Girls!” Stan clarifies that they love pink and that pink can be for anyone. From there, a friendly conversation about their gender identification ensues. ... (read more)

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Dark Side Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The DNR Trilogy: Volume 3: Clinical Justice
by Don W. Hill, MD
Bookwhip Company


"Brewster was essentially isolating the existential matters of life, death, and love within the confines of the penitentiary of his own mind."

This dark but inventive medical thriller plops readers into the final episode from the rollercoaster life of J.D. Brewster, a medical student with a flair for drama and a penchant for revenge. Already saddled with a depressive malady that leaves him at odds with his colleagues and friends, due partly to the rigors of early 1980s medical school training, Brewster seems to attract misfortune. He crosses paths with Mumbo Jamar Apoo, a felonious black criminal who renders him sterile by smashing his remaining testicle in a brutal attack during a carjacking. This event closely follows an attempted murder and car chase by a cartel in Mexico after Brewster volunteers to work in a free clinic. In a triple whammy, Brewster soon loses his fiancé to a cluster of avoidable medical problems he is unaware of but that many in his circle of medical acquaintances blame him for not treating. Thus festers Brewster’s angry embrace of what is known in his Texas medical school as the “clinical justice system.” ... (read more)

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Disastrous Flight

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

MH370 Airliner Down! A Flight Plan Gone Wrong
by A.A. Zicard and J.E. Holling
Outskirts Press


"For them, it’s more important to save face than tell the truth."

Coauthored by an airline pilot and an aeronautical engineer, this intriguing international thriller presents a well-researched, plausible, yet fictional scenario that educates and entertains. The authors’ combined knowledge of the aviation industry plus military operations and counterintelligence brings a plethora of authentic technical detail into this high-concept novel. Inspired by the real-life disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 from radar on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the book recounts the loss of 227 passengers and twelve crew members that became the deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777 aircraft at the time. The initial international search involved scores of ships and aircraft from seven different countries and lasted for two months. After the Malaysian government admitted the truth of the unusual altered flight path, Australia took the lead in an even more complicated search of deep water in the Indian Ocean. ... (read more)

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Universal Overview

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Ayahuascan Search of My Truth
by Vincente M. Bobadilla
PageTurner Press and Media


"Now, Izoek has brought his voice to this world to provoke the awakening of the masses without any distinction."

At age four, growing up in Peru, author Bobadilla had visions of “sparkling creatures” that would presage the many events that followed. In school, he initially proved unusually bright and helpful to his teachers, but a near-fatal accident changed him from an outgoing child to one with learning problems and loneliness. When the family moved to the United States, Bobadilla started college, feeling he had been given a new start. However, he continued to have paranormal experiences. Hearing of Ayahuasca, a healing method prevalent in his native land involving certain herbs, rituals, and the guidance of shamans, he began to study it in detail. It had connections to his academic field of psychology, but most importantly, it related to the astral world with which he had felt a communion since childhood. ... (read more)

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Living History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Breaking the Silence: A Novel of Spain's Civil War (English Version)
by Maria Nieto
Ink Start Media


"Living with grown-ups was tiresome; they were always either lying or making rules."

Born from an American mother and a Spanish father, Mari is a child during the Spanish Civil War. She can barely remember her mother, who grew sick in Madrid and went back to New York hoping for a cure. She lives with her extended family, where she is mostly ignored except for the attention and stories of her grandfather, Don Juan. When Franco’s forces march into Spain and attack Madrid, her family joins the other rebels to help defend it. Her grandfather helps organize the people and writes supportive texts to inspire them while her uncles join the fighting, and her father drives an ambulance. One day, Mari and three other children wander to the front lines and are hit by an artillery shell. This experience will haunt Mari all her life. Later, when most of her family flees Madrid as Franco’s forces win the war, she becomes enamored with Franco’s youth brigade and decides to join. This decision will impact her whole family. ... (read more)

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Epic in Scope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Basilisk: A Novel
by Miriam Herin
Wisdom House Books


"The love for God has a hard struggle against the loves of this world, Spica, especially the love for a woman."

A fire rolls through the city of Chartres, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Chartres is home to one of the larger Catholic churches and is thus of strategic importance. The inferno serves as an apt metaphor for the destructive forces dividing the church in 1134. Bishop Gauvain lives in Chartres and believes numbers can bring order from chaos. Gauvain is concerned by the recent upheaval in the church, but he is even more unnerved as he learns of the murder of a couple of monks. The monks' murders appear to be ritualistic in nature. Gauvain is further alarmed by the possible arrival of Peter Abelard, an alleged heretic being hunted, who is also the father of Gauvain's apprentice, Spica. Gauvain ponders the connections between the monks' deaths and the pursuit of Abelard. ... (read more)

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Sound Advice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reaching the American Dream
by Kenneth Smith
Author’s Tranquility Press


"Your career does not define who you are. You define who you are."

Writer Smith has seen America change significantly since graduating from high school in 1970. He interweaves important elements of those changes in this guidebook for young people starting out in life and beginning to make crucial decisions about the direction they want to go and the place (in relation to home, family, and profession) where they hope to end up someday. ... (read more)

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Officer Defense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Birds of a Feather
by Michele Wallace Campanelli
Ewings Publishing


"This time, he had to fire the nail gun to stop two of them from flawing him. He shot them dead right in the heart as he had the largest one."

Officer Laura Camp and Officer Dirk work together at a juvenile detention center in Florida. Most of the juveniles in their care are from warring rival gangs. This bunch includes the up-and-coming boxer and gang member Jack “the Mack” Stubins. Jack is currently detained for grand theft. He is hoping to make bail before his championship fight on the upcoming Friday. However, all plans are put on hold, and the detention center is put on lockdown when vultures begin behaving in strange and horrific ways, attacking and killing people. The guards soon learn that Jack isn’t a terrible kid; he just has a terrible father and has made poor decisions. They decide to help him get to the boxing championship. However, after Jack wins the championship, he and the guards are attacked by armed men heading back to the detention center. Jack’s father, also incarcerated and head of the gang, has planned an escape to Mexico for both him and Jack. Part of that plan includes killing the officers so there won’t be witnesses. Jack, though, has decided he wants a different life than his father’s. He defends the officers and eventually goes back to the detention center with them. However, vultures are gathering, and when the rival gang members arrive to free their own and kill Jack, the deadly vultures see an opportunity to enter the facility. ... (read more)

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Mesmerizing Pace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Redeemed
by Pollyanna Porter


"I, David Sumner, who has never done anything noteworthy; did something significant this morning."

Art dealer David Sumner finds his life disrupted by a chance encounter with the Dunne family when he saves the life of their son, Tommy. Having stopped to use his cell phone for work, he notices Rachael Dunne as she nurses her infant daughter, Amy. When Rachael’s son, Tommy, dives into shallow water and is knocked unconscious, David rushes to save him. Though this act of selflessness plants the seeds of change in the wayward David, it is a process for him to come to terms with his past and embrace a life of meaning. ... (read more)

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Secrets of the Universe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Godly Project (Book 1)
by Pin Hwa-Lim
PageTurner Press and Media


"The universe is a field of cooperative and subjective pure potential. It takes orders from us."

This is a charming story about an old man who is a qigong master and a young man who is ambitious to master himself and the universe. Hai San’s grandfather seeks the return of a favor, so he asks his old friend Sifu Wang, a qigong master, to train Hai San in the secrets of the universe. The old man agrees and gives regular lessons to the fifteen-year-old boy. These lessons include what it means to always choose love, how to always get what you want, how to deal with difficult personalities, how to heal from disease, and many other practical life lessons. These lessons are delivered with clarity, intelligence, and kindness. The reader catches on that while the narrative is compelling enough to keep a reader turning the pages, these golden nuggets of wisdom are the real substance and inspiration in this read. ... (read more)

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Enigma Joe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Auto-Biography by Joe Biden: Based on a True Story, Mostly
by Eric Wentz
Quantum Discovery


"But, I have to admit, no other boys could fart like him…. Like Jose used to say to us after mass, 'Fart is an art.'"

Written in an undeniably satirical tone, the author has reprised the role of President Biden and penned his version of an autobiographical account. Though jabs abound, and there is little doubt about who the target audience is, the delivery comes across as less harmful and playful than it often is in similar political satires. Even praises of Biden, such as "is he possessed or just truly a genius," are quickly flipped into references such as him being the "black hole" of humanity. ... (read more)

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Fact & Fiction

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

¿Eres tú? A History of Lonquimay
by Frank Tainter
Go To Publish


"The price that some people have to pay for being a good citizen in their country of birth can be a strange thing."

Tainter tells a complex story in the style of historical fiction writer James Michener. Wrapped in a shawl of romance and fable, this saga of Robert and the González family unfolds the history, plant medicine, folklore, and politics of the Lonquimay Valley in Chile. The journey begins at least 13,400 years ago when the González ancestors trekked from present-day Montana to what is now the Lonquimay Valley, located in Chile’s Araucanía Region in the northernmost part of Patagonia. Along the way, shooting Clovis point arrows at prey and foe, the Gonzálezes experience what has now become folklore in Chile. In early legend, a gray-garmented stranger bestows the power of the machi (healers) upon them and their descendants. The stranger directs them to the land of the sacred pehuens (evergreen tree), and they become Pehuenche, the People of the Pines, a subculture of the Mapuche (Araucanian) society in Chile today. Tainter makes clear his belief that Pehuenches were a separate cultural and linguistic society before absorption into the Mapuches, and both subsisted on and sold the nutrient-rich pine nuts from the pehuens. ... (read more)

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Thought-Provoking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pearls of Purpose
by Quinn Morris
PageTurner Press and Media


"Even our daily routine can be a spiritual act of worship. We need to seek God’s will in everything we do."

Author Morris constructs a cohesive Christian guide to assist readers in pursuing and maintaining their faith despite and within everyday occurrences and distractions. Her initial chapter asks why one should pray, proposing seven dynamic reasons: to ask God for his care, to commune with him, to confess, to give thanks, to invite miracles, to ask for aid for others, and to submit to God’s will. ... (read more)

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Real Results

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Good Intentions—Bad Consequences: Voters’ Information Problems
by Phillip Nelson
PageTurner Press and Media


"Economists claim, with varying degrees of consensus, a whole range of unintended consequences of the naïve altruistic voting associated with liberals."

Economist Nelson explores voters' choices and consequences through a thought-provoking, libertarian approach. This keen-eyed, academic observation of human nature is supported by citations of like-minded authors' economic, philosophical, political science, and sociological studies. Readers may wish to explore the cited authors' publications in part or full to grasp the full thrust of Nelson's arguments. ... (read more)

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Vividly Descriptive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life On A Road Less Traveled: Or, Memoirs from Behind the Scenes of History
by Loudell Insley
Bookside Press


"History was being made and I had a view, not from the front row seats, but even better, from the wings, with one eye on the stage and a hand behind the curtain, helping the principals play their roles."

Insley has had unique experiences and met truly extraordinary people. In this autobiography, she chronicles her professional life, which began after she attended the University of Maryland. Her first job was in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy during the mid-sixties. While she loved the fast-paced and exciting work, it did concern her conservative Methodist parents. Insley had no way of knowing when she started that she would be at the center of so many pivotal events in American history. These included the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the tremendous upheaval that followed in cities around the country, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and the Watergate scandal. ... (read more)

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Riveting Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Descent into Hell: A Continuing Memoir of the Son of John F. Kennedy’s Assassin. Two More Killings and Their Consequence.
by Bruce H. Bell
Bookside Press


"My father would rather see me dead, than have his secrets exposed. I felt the weight of tragedy, Greek in nature, awe-inspiring in its force."

For a book so incredibly comprehensive in scope, the root is undoubtedly an evolving father-son dynamic that exposes the underbelly of society and sheds light on several of history’s watershed moments from a unique vantage point. There is genuine care for large portions of the text as Orris Bell grooms the author, his son, to follow in his professional footsteps as well as the extracurricular indulgences he affords himself as a womanizer. Overall, the memoir probes into a son’s growth and the chaos that leads him to what most deem an inevitable death trap in Vietnam. ... (read more)

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Captivating

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kugelach Stones for a Dagger
by Lanton Hamby
Bookside Press


"The new star had been the constant topic of conversation throughout all of Beersheba."

Young Abijah, an only child, lives with his father and mother in Beersheba. Abijah and his mother enjoy each other’s company and have a close relationship. He loves her dearly and feels, “This woman is more than just my mother. She is my best friend.” Unfortunately, the relationship between father and son is strained. Joab is a hard and sometimes cruel man who shows no affection to Abijah and little to his wife. As Israel is under Roman rule, this Jewish family must follow the decree of Augustus Caesar that all must be counted in the census. The three head to Jericho in compliance with the decree. They join the many others on the road to comply with Caesar’s command. When they begin their journey, Abijah is amazed by the number of people traveling. However, the people are “standing around and pointing to a new star.” Abijah questions his mother, who he calls Eema, about the meaning of the star. She tells him, “I don’t know, I have never seen a new star before, and I have never seen one that shines as brightly as that one.” ... (read more)

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Impressive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pass the Feather: Walking Lake Erie
by Carol A. Trembath
Lakeside Publishing MI


"We will now walk Lake Erie to safeguard water for our children and grandchildren. Soon it will be time to pass the feather."

Trembath's illustrated children's book is about the Ojibway people's modern-day trek around Lake Erie to raise awareness for the need to protect the Great Lakes. It is the fourth book in the Water Walker series that depicts the courageous acts of the Mother Earth Water Walkers. The journey around Lake Erie is told from the perspective of Mai, a young Ojibway girl. As she walks around the lake with her family and tribe, Mai learns about her ancestors' journeys and relationship with Mother Earth. Additionally, she is told about the Four Sacred Medicines. Through her walk, she gains a greater respect for Mother Nature and the responsibility she shares with the rest of nature to care for the "sacred water." ... (read more)

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Time & Insight

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Forever a Farmer
by Donna Gene Stankey and Ramona Hammel
Ramona Hammel Books


"He thought of the virgin fields, and that he had been the first person to put some of this land into cultivation."

The land is often emblematic of our loyalty, with entire life spans sometimes revolving around one piece of earth. The land bears witness to the joys and sorrows and, in many ways, becomes a confidante. In the tale, Stankey's father, Ralph, is undoubtedly the main protagonist as his actions and experiences, particularly with family and friends, are consistently in the spotlight throughout the book. While the story is of a farmer, his land, and all the interconnected experiences and emotions therein, the story is just as much one of strong bonds, family, nature, and the essence of being human. ... (read more)

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A Good Plan

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Operation Mom - My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man
by Reenita M. Hora
GenZ Publishers


"I guess any seventeen-year-old girl who has a crush on a pop idol needs to get her mother off her back."

When young Ila finds herself obsessed with superstar Ali Zafar, who once spoke two words to her outside a concert venue, she and her best friend, Deepali, conspire to distract Ila’s mom, Veena, who is dismayed to find her daughter determined to spend her entire summer break chasing the impossible dream. Veena is a noted writer and herself obsessed—with her work. Veena is divorced, often rather dictatorial toward her daughter, and so wrapped up in her own world at the keyboard that she will need some prompting to accept the dating scheme orchestrated by her wilder-natured friend Maleeka. ... (read more)

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Uplifting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Right on Time: Poems for the Right Moment
by Walter A. Wheat, M.A.
Author's Tranquility Press


"No moment that I would trade
For the sense of peace and tranquility
That I have felt down through the years"

A collection of poetry that revolves around faith, Wheat’s work depicts evergreen and instantly relatable experiences of the everyman. At times, readers will experience verses of joy. In other moments, they will encounter sorrow and everything in between. Yet, through it all, the poems are almost always imbued in faith, hope, prayer, and Christ. As a former Vietnam veteran, Wheat has seen the darkest of darknesses, and as such, it is incredibly encouraging for audiences to see how such a man can reprogram the prism of his life to faith, humanity, and the Lord. ... (read more)

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Lively Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Forever Yours: How It All Began, Book 1
by MeNitreis Holman
Xlibris


"Babe I’ve loved you from the night I met you. You just don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of hearing you say this to me. I’m in love with you and nothing or no one can ever change that."

Tahleea Layton is an intelligent, business-minded woman with a sense of her own worth. When she meets football star Andre Hassan, he practically begs her to marry him. The chemistry they share is palpable, and though Andre is a consummate flatterer and good in bed, he is also young, impetuous, and egotistical. Tahleea quickly tires of his constant flirtations and flings with other women. She advises him that he will need to mature considerably before she will ever consider dating him long-term. Soon she finds herself caught in a love triangle involving Andre and a friend named Jaxon, who treats her with the utmost respect. She and Jaxon seemed destined for each other, that is until his career calls him away to Japan. ... (read more)

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The Right Pairing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wine 101: A Brief Introduction to Wine
by E. Terrence Woolf
Author’s Tranquility Press


"Ultimately, one can learn about wine only by tasting it."

This accessible little primer course on wine achieves what many larger and more institutional guides fail to deliver: a sense of invitation, belonging, and potential understanding for those with an interest and taste in wine but who have little foundational knowledge or confidence about the subject. For every novice wine orderer who has shrunk into their chair when stared down by a snooty sommelier or fumbled with choosing a bottle to gift or serve, this book takes a friendly approach, reaching out in the spirit of inclusion and then reducing the complexities of wine down to some sensible basics: categories of grapes, types of wine, ways and reasons to decant and serve certain wines in optimal ways, recommendations for storing and tasting, and even tips for understanding wine ratings. ... (read more)

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Cogent Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The North America Model for the Book of Mormon: From Jerusalem to Cumorah
by William Peter Midgley
Page Publishing


"The balance of The North America Model analysis suggests a landing on the southeast coast of the United States for Lehi."

According to the Book of Mormon, there were three migrations from the middle east to “the promised land.” These migrations began with Jared and his people in 2500-2200 B.C., whom Midgley asserts landed on the “northeast coast of America.” Leaving Jerusalem for the Red Sea in 600 B.C., Lehi and his people eventually made their way to the southeast coast of the United States. This group was followed by the people of “Mulek, son of Zedekiah, king of Judah, who left Jerusalem around 587 B.C. to escape capture by Nebuchadnezzar.” It is the conclusion of the author that each of these tribes landed at some point on the eastern coast of North America. Using geographical documentation and his own observational experiences as an architect, Midgley presents an in-depth study of passages concerning their travels to offer his model for a North American landing rather than the landing in South America, which is a popular belief. After establishing travel routes for these three tribes, the author continues to pinpoint other geographical locations included in The Book of Mormon. These locations include the river Sidon (identified as the Ohio-Mississippi rivers), Cumorah, where Joseph Smith discovered the golden tablets in New York, and various cities and areas such as Bountiful, Desolation, Zarahemla, Manti, Gideon, and Midonni. ... (read more)

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Pushing Forward

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream
by Garret Thomas Godwin
Xlibris


"Using his Kung Fu training, Pope attacked Bernfeld straight on with a plum flower punch to Bernfeld’s throat while Price maneuvered behind him."

Trick Hartland was born in 1953 to a Navajo mother and a cowboy father. His mother raised him while his father worked. Living in a small town in New Mexico, Trick didn't have many people to play with, so he spent much of his time with his imaginary friend, Carlos. Later, he would find his first girlfriend in Little Dove. Trick always enjoyed the outdoors and was an athletic teen, which led to his decision to join the Marines after school. He served in Vietnam and ended up with a special group of Green Berets working in the opium business. When that ended in bad blood and murder, Trick decided it was time to return to America and leave the military. Little Dove was also returning to their hometown from L.A., and the two eventually married. Little Dove worked and took care of the home while Trick was trying out majors and taking up with a medicine man. Eventually, Trick became fascinated with Mormonism. His constant neglect of Little Dove led to their divorce. Trick would eventually find a career in pharmaceuticals, and, on an extended trip where he decided to visit some early Mormon sites, he ran into a man who swore to kill him years ago in Vietnam. ... (read more)

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Real Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wake Up America! THE USA HAS 4.7% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION, OUTSIDE THE USA, 95.4%
by Charlie Pedersen
Matchstick Literary


"I present this as a world war, not a military one…an economic and ecological war pitting democracy and energy productivity against poorly directed short-term money."

Examining nearly every critical global issue of the twenty-first century, the author delivers numerous "aha" moments that will undoubtedly be thought-provoking for all inhabitants. Pedersen opens the narrative with more of an analytical approach that, in no uncertain terms, emphasizes a calamitous collision course toward the end of civilization as we know it. Further, juggernauts like the United States must become more deliberate in working collectively on world trade. World leaders, from China and Japan to Germany and India, are progressing rapidly, particularly in the realm of technology, yet the United States exhibits tunnel vision. In Pedersen's work, a combination of sound research and engaging dialogue makes for a piece that, at the least, merits consideration and further thought. ... (read more)

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Unpredictable Humor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

But Is He Jewish? and Other Quirky Tales
by Daniel Wolf
GoToPublish


"Reflect upon your life, then pursue with vengeance anyone who gave you advice."

This collection of short stories is a protracted stand-up comedy act, complete with various styles. The initial pieces are akin to one-liner jokes, like the first story in which one of two escapees from Alcatraz laments that he didn’t get to row the escape boat. Middle tales elongate and tackle headier topics such as family relationships, dating, and career choices. In several stories, two brothers disagree about everything except that they hate each other. ... (read more)

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A Cancer Ordeal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From There to Here: A Breast Cancer Journey
by Diane Davies
DeForest Press


"I feel so trapped, and the only way out is surgery to have my breasts and my cancer removed from my body."

In this moving memoir, Davies shares the 302-day journal she kept through her diagnosis, surgeries, and healing from breast cancer. Davies shares details of her journey as she struggles to make treatment decisions, contain the worry, and confront the changes to her body. Her pathway through all of this is fraught with tears and anguish, but her reliance on family, friends, and faith keeps her focused on healing and recovery. By recording her daily thoughts and experiences at doctor appointments, she conveys the realities of a cancer diagnosis and the aftermath, which is full of challenges, questions, and fears. This real-time record of her thoughts and feelings about the cancer diagnosis and treatment serves as a reliable first-person account that can help others going through a medical crisis. Davies offers comfort and wisdom as she leans on scripture, poetry, and support groups to help her through each day of her ordeal. ... (read more)

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Elite Inspirational Coach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Healing Guide to Having a Baby: Infertility, Emotional Wounds and Taking Back Your Power
by Jennifer Coady Murphy
Balboa Press


"Change your thoughts, and change your word. Pregnancy is not just a physical affair; it is physical, mental, and emotional."

Beginning with her own experience of trying to become pregnant, author and counselor Murphy offers therapeutic steps and exercises to bolster the hopes of other women who must overcome fears and doubts in order to achieve their goal. The author’s recollections include the rather cold manner in which women may be treated as they struggle with such pathways as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or simply dreading the time each month when their menstrual cycle tamps down their dreams. Such scenarios are discouraging, but by following Murphy’s advice, acceptance can arise, understanding can result, and success can be achieved. ... (read more)

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Throws a Gauntlet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When We Push Through Sound
by Geoff Sease
Archway Publishing


"He stared at the ceiling and finally saw the growing light of hopefulness in the distance across the dark waters, and he couldn’t rest until he tried to reach it."

Tristan James has reached a pivotal moment in his life. He divorced his sweetheart, Sharon, three years ago, but the loss still lingers. Sharon and Tristan share custody of their high school daughter, Sara. Tristan works at an investment firm where every decision is micromanaged, and the stress is omnipresent. He is living on autopilot, a string of grueling office days where the routine takes his mind captive until quitting time. One of the few escapes for Tristan is his interaction with Julie, a young woman who works at the local bagel shop. Julie is an aspiring musician, reminding Tristan of his younger years. Tristan attempts to get back into the dating world with Julie but is more successful upon meeting a woman named Beth at a corporate event. Life begins to make sense until Tristan’s work situation becomes untenable. ... (read more)

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Trauma Exploration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wagging Tale of Bliss: Reconnecting
by Bhavna Khemlani
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"’We are beautiful souls with a pitcher of love to serve to anyone on a summer day that brightens and proves to be a cheerful moment,’ said Dian encouragingly."

This novel of trauma, bliss, friendship, and love is set in Vietnam with three women who happen to meet one another at a restaurant and develop a loving relationship. They bond over their “baggage” regarding problematic relationships with men, including topics such as physical abuse, karma, drugs in a drink, a gay lover, a married lover, verbal abuse, and other problems resulting in all three women being single. Their friendship develops, and they decide to go on a vacation together where they find the soothing effects of the natural world, having adventures, and relating to each other and the world through a connection to all that is spiritual. On vacation, the women each fall in love with different men and follow their bliss into further love and connectedness, letting go of their baggage so they may embrace relationships again. ... (read more)

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Think the Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reject Self-Serving Power: Helping Others Be Successful and Finding Selflessness in Business, Politics, and Life
by James Michael Matthew
Archway Publishing


"Even if you find you have succumbed to self-serving power, you can use your new understanding to change and continue a successful life and career."

Building on his first book and the JM Prophecies Leadership Code, Matthew’s second offering illuminates how self-serving prophecies fail to achieve the lasting results leaders expect. With the author’s passion for turning the global wealth inequality pyramid upside down, he is providing an opportunity for those at the bottom of the economy and creating a system to engage and change leaders who are focused on their own best interests instead of being focused on nurturing and growing new leaders. The author shares how a leader often makes the final code-red decision that brings about their downfall. This becomes their Rubicon, and their total failure is foretold once that is met. Matthew presents his plan to reindustrialize America, transforming the workforce and then launching an employment recruiting website. Introducing his Circle-of-Life strategy and phased-in retirement, he has a plan to shore up funding for Medicare and Social Security in a dwindling population. ... (read more)

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Well-Paced Debut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Love Jamaican Style
by McDougal Griffiths
Xlibris


"The two gentlemen he had met earlier when he had just got the job were sitting comfortably with two large sub-machine guns around a small low table."

A popular guy and sports star, Merv is looking forward to life after graduation. Although he has a steady girl in Gloria, he takes the opportunity to play the field when she isn’t around. However, he has a hard time finding work after school and finally takes a mysterious job offered through a man employing a girl, Angie, from his school who has a crush on him. The money is good, too good, and his parents and girlfriend want to know what is really going on. After fighting with them about it and cutting ties with them for a while, he eventually feels the same and snoops around. ... (read more)

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