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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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Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rectified
by Pollyanna Porter


"Nothing is ever truly made right or rectified, though, is it? You can’t make right the wrong already done, can you?"

When Sara Scott begins an affair after a chance encounter, it sets off a chain of events that will change her life and those of many others in her small Vermont community. While meeting her lover, Sara witnesses a despicable act of sexual abuse that she soon learns involves a powerful man in her town and a struggling family that he terrorizes. She must then decide to expose her own affair, bear witness to what she saw, and set off a criminal investigation into the years-long abuse of three brothers. Her support of the young men gives them the strength to confront their abuser and get help, but it also fractures her own family. The story of her healing process in the present is told in alternating chapters with that of uncovering the abuse and her attempt to rectify it despite the cost to her own life. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Love Grows

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Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crimson Red: Unconditional Love
by Pichui
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"How is it my fault that food and I have a special relationship going? My sister has always been the opposite."

Pichui effectively challenges the reader with sixty-three succinct chapters through which to ponder why the word love has been confined to such a narrow spectrum by conventional societies. As the book opens, Tina, nicknamed Bunz, the elder sister in a Malaysian family, bathes her pet on a hot Sunday afternoon, comparing her heavy-set self to her conventionally attractive sister. She deftly weaves in incidences of fat oppression, including her experience of barbed remarks from her family. ... (read more)

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Riveting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unconventional: A Memoir of Entrepreneurism, Politics, and Pot
by Jamie Andrea Garzot
Girl Friday Books


"I saw the potential to create a store that was different, that did not have the ‘stoner’ customer at its center but instead embraced all customers."

Scores of inspirational, entrepreneurial memoirs are appealing, but few are quite so riveting as this title. With humor and the same point-by-point fastidiousness displayed in developing her pioneering cannabis dispensaries, Garzot outlines her entry and ascendency into an industry in which she originally had no interest. Never a consumer of cannabis, Garzot's life took an unexpected turn when she sought relief for insomnia and discovered that a single cannabis edible brought her a full night's rest. From there, she became a pioneer in the virtually unregulated California market that, even after many years of regulation, still has many peculiarities. Dispensaries still engage in cash-only transactions because most banks don't allow accounts for dispensaries, a situation created by the federal status of "pot."... (read more)

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Truth & Empathy

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Filling in the Black: One Woman's Journey of Re-Education
by Joan Kantor
WovenWord Press


"I'm on a journey, a quest
to fill in the gaps
of a purposefully false education,
full of omissions and subtle slant"

This collection of poetry answers the call of our times to seek knowledge, historical fact, and truth as a means to understand racial injustice and inequity. Kantor sets off on a quest to learn about the African-American experience left out of the lessons she learned at school. Through visits to museums and historical sites and rigorous reflective practice, she begins to uncover the past and stares it down unflinchingly. With each encounter, she distills the truth in poems that ache with revelation. She looks to the past as a way to grapple with the racially motivated killings of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd. She wants to understand the history of racism in America, so she visits southern states like Alabama and Mississippi and specifically tours the Civil Rights Museum and powerful monuments to the legacy of slavery. Then she captures her response in stirring, insightful poems that demonstrate her desire to grapple with the past in search of healing in the present. She is open-minded and open-hearted in her exploration and desire to "re-educate" herself. ... (read more)

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Mormon Trials

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Vibrant & Endearing

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Five Mile Charlie: Charlie Goes to the Library
by Kimberly Adams
Mascot Kids


"'Carly, do you think we can make a wool coat from my fur?' asked Charlie… 'Grumps! We can make a coat for Grumps!' Charlie said excitedly."

The long-awaited return of Five Mile Charlie is over. The story picks right up from the end of the first book. Carly and her charming animal companions are hoping to find a way to break through Grumps' crankiness. They are headed to the library to discover more about coyotes. If they find clues to his grumpiness, they vow to band together and help him overcome his obstacles. ... (read more)

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Elder Advice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The 16th Second: The Wild Life and Crazy Times of Colt Michael—What Really Happened
by Ted A Richard
W. Brand Publishing


"I have lived through my fifteen seconds of fame, albeit not without scars. But what about the 16th second? What happens then?"

Trauma and homophobia in Richard's hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, led him to Houston, Texas, where he found a vibrant, welcoming gay community—and where he discovered exotic dancing. Performing under the name Colt Michael, Richard became a highly-recognized, award-winning stripper. He spent years living a double life, using drugs and alcohol to bridge the gap between the fabulous, debonair performer and the lonely, insecure young man he truly was. Unfortunately, his wild lifestyle caught up with him, and HIV/AIDS, as well as his rampant substance abuse, took their toll on his body and mind. ... (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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Good Advice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heart Disease & Hypertension: Vitamin Therapy for a Healthy Heart
by Bryant Lusk
Köehler Books


"The information offered here provides a path of least resistance to a healthier heart and longer life."

Health researcher and writer Lusk has painstakingly mined a variety of wide-ranging materials to inform those with heart disease and those who may be susceptible to it, elucidating the best remedies and techniques for preventing disease and improving heart health. He presents an organized examination of the blood vessels, structure, and activity of a normally constructed heart using both words and pictures. He then illustrates what can go wrong, as even the tiniest change can result in a major malfunction, either suddenly or over time. Risk factors include age (people over sixty-five), gender (more men than women), and ethnicities (most often other than Caucasian). Heart disease dangers can be modified by reducing smoking, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight. ... (read more)

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Irreplaceable

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Vivie's Secret
by Terry Lee Caruthers
Black Rose Writing


"The one thing Vivie knew for sure was that nothing would or ever could take the place of her beloved cat."

In this book, Caruthers explores the events of the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary through the lenses of her protagonist, Vivie. When Vivie was a child, she had to flee Hungary with her family. Unfortunately, she had to leave behind her beloved cat, Norsk. This separation caused her sorrow and sadness, as she saw Norsk as a member of her family. It was hard for Vivie to cope with this reality. In addition, the author points out the fact that the family stayed united and fought hard to get out of Hungary. They eventually succeeded but with a few bumps on the road. Along the way, they met allies and friends that helped them out. Sadly, Vivie's mother passed away, leaving the protagonist feeling guilty. Vivie's father would send her to the United States, hoping for a better life for his daughter, and enlist her to keep a family secret. ... (read more)

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Rich Culture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Talk Till the Minutes Run Out: An Immigrant’s Tale at 7-Eleven
by Benedicte Grima
HigherLife


"Nur Ali momentarily closed his eyes on the brightness of the store . . . He reached with the fragile tendrils of memory to conjure up, at the very least, the smell of fried dough and freshly brewed tea."

Informed by the author’s decades of study and fieldwork in the Middle East, this powerful novel explores one Pakistani family’s efforts to navigate the post-9/11 world of violence, cultural displacement, and exile. The main character, proud middle-aged patriarch Nur Ali, immigrated to the United States from northern Pakistan’s Swat Valley when the area turned into a warzone, making earning a living impossible. Ali found a community of expatriates and a job working the night shift at 7-Eleven. Enduring 15 years of exile, Ali worked to support not only his immediate family but also an extended network of relations, his only connection to them coming through constant telephone calls and dreams of returning. The chapters alternate between describing his family back in Pakistan—their marriages, births, and deaths—and descriptions of his grim, unchanging existence behind the counter. ... (read more)

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Hell Has a New Ruler

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Annihilation
by Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing


"Lucifer's most frightening power is annihilation. You don’t need knives, spears or firearms when you can turn your enemies to dust with the wave of a hand."

Hell has a new ruler, and her desire for eternal power knows no bounds. When Queen Lucinda replaces her father on the throne of Hell, a new reign of terror and perverse dominion begins. But maintaining control proves to be more difficult than Lucinda imagined as political enemies conspire, secret alliances form, and her father's spirit returns to claim what it is his. Evil retribution is unleashed when he reclaims the throne in a stealthy, unexpected move. Lucifer punishes his daughter and begins the hunt to kidnap and possess the enigmatic Samara, who becomes his queen by brutal force. But some outside of Hell believe Samara to be the miracle prophesied to destroy Lucifer and save the world from annihilation. Will she discover her power in time, or will Lucifer's mark consume her? ... (read more)

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Moving Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blue Skies and Tail Winds
by Gerry Cole
Stratton Press


"'We’re too low and we’re going too slow. Watch out for the trees!'"

The Cole family learns firsthand that life can change in an instant. In this moving story of survival and resilience, a mother faces the greatest challenge of her life when over sixty-five percent of her son's body is burned after he survives a fiery plane crash. After enduring more than forty operations, Matt and his family find a new way forward and fervently believe that "quitting is never an option." As the mother narrates the experiences of the burn unit, she captures the constant worry and fear that becomes a new part of her life as her son spends more than five months in the hospital. The journey chronicles Matt's lifelong passion for flying, the accident, and the arduous recovery with vivid details. While told from the mother's perspective, the impact on the entire family is also explored. ... (read more)

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COVID Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Resilience
by Diana Richmond
Quantum Discovery


"Don was curious to see what would become of the world, even though he occupied only a tiny cell within it."

As Covid intensifies in March of 2020, a collection of individuals in this pandemic novel are swept up in the isolation and fear brought on by the virus. The experiences of caregivers, friends, and families through fevers, testing, and quarantines are startlingly unique but also universal in some aspects. Richmond tells the stories of individuals but captures the confusion and uncertainty that left no one untouched from March to January of 2021. Each character, family, and relationship struggles to make sense of the unfolding catastrophe. To support the fictional stories, Richmond also includes vignettes from history and literature that serve as a chorus of insight about living and loving through difficult times. Each chapter covers a month in the pandemic and captures the progression of the societal fallout from the virus. ... (read more)

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Assembly Line Blies

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chop! Chop! Chaplain!
by Heidi Revelo
Stratton Press


"I'm not a quiet chaplain. I'm not the one who sits in a corner in quiet contemplation with a whisper of an answer once in a millennium."

As a part-time chaplain at a 2,800-employee meatpacking factory in Nebraska, Revelo came into contact with workers from all over the world. In this book's short, sermon-like chapters, she lifts up key moments of levity, difficulty, and illumination to show the effects of her experience with them. Many of the funniest incidents surround wordplay, such as when a Spanish speaker thinks a chaplain has to do with chopping the heads off of cows. In another, a Spanish speaker and a Somali speaker compare hola and Allah. ... (read more)

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Perception Over Reality

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mommy Clique
by Barbara Altamirano
Atmosphere Press


"Only a funny thing happened: I realized no matter where I went, I was still me. I just couldn’t seem to shake off the person I’d always been."

In this play-like comedy, the neighborhood school bus stop is where the stage is set for a significant amount of the book. But it is the moms and not the students who are at the center of it all. In a story featuring a select group of archetypal characters, Altamirano tells of a clique of mothers who are at the top of the popularity chain. Elise, the queen bee, likes control and to never be outdone, treating her "friends" more like subordinates than anything else. When Beth, the new mom in town, moves to the neighborhood, she becomes the latest target for Elise's pranks, a way to initiate her into their group and also show the newcomer her place. Little does Elise know that this just might be her undoing. ... (read more)

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Intelligent & Humble

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Growing Up in Marriage…Perfectly Flawed
by Tena L. Parker
Bookside Press


"I needed God to give me a second chance at life."

Author and spiritual aspirant Parker has given over much of this latest work to confessions. From her lengthy introduction forward throughout this series of religious-based essays, she focuses on many multi-layered issues surrounding marriage, womanhood, and manhood, utilizing biblical parables and metaphors designed to guide readers to new vistas. One of her first images is that of the mirror—her way of looking, not at a physical mirror, but at an internal one that she has named her "mirror experience." Examining herself frankly, she knows that the experience always indicates her need for a "God intervention." ... (read more)

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Never Give Up

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The First Bloodline: Book One: Blood of Cain
by Michael Neville and Roman Neville


"I would like to say it is between good and evil, but it is more like between bad and truly evil."

In this book, the authors explore the theme of good versus evil through the lenses of their protagonist, Michael, who is the son of Cain from the Bible. Cain, of course, is well known for killing his brother Abel. Michael recounts in detail how his father turned him into a creature of the night. One day, Cain savagely attacked his entire family and killed his wife and daughter. However, he forced his three sons to choose between dying or living as eternal evil creatures. They all chose the latter. At that moment, Michael made the sacrifice to lead a life alone and exact revenge on his father for destroying their family. Throughout his journey, he navigates between two worlds—the living and the undead. ... (read more)

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A New Series

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Dead Man's Pose
by Susan Rogers and John Roosen
G-EMS PTY LTD


"When Ninel saw Miroslav lying on the floor, he threw a quick punch towards Ric, who in turn kicked him in the left kneecap."

Elaina runs a yoga studio in Sydney, Australia. One morning, one of her regulars, Mario, rushes up to her before class and wants to speak with her. She tells him that they can have a coffee and speak after class. However, as class ends and everyone begins to rise from their last, restful pose, Mario doesn't move. Elaina guesses he has fallen asleep but begins to panic when she can't wake him. Another student, Ric, stays to help Elaina. Mario, however, is dead. Both Elaina and Ric feel that something is off. Elaina believes she owes it to Mario to get to the bottom of his death, and Ric happens to have the resources and connections in the city to help make that happen. ... (read more)

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Colorful, Engaging Characters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fire and Ice
by B.T. Polcari
The Wild Rose Press


"Only Sara Donovan can come up with someone going to great lengths, including digging a tunnel, to steal one of the world’s largest diamonds..."

Both young adult and adult readers will quickly be charmed by this standalone sequel to Against My Better Judgment, the first book in Polcari's award-winning A Mauzzy & Me Mystery Series. The determination and grit of university student Sara Donovan are once again put to the test when the amateur sleuth discovers irregularities while working as a museum archivist intern during her summer break. As the story opens, the Carlton Museum staff are scrambling to install a traveling exhibit of diamonds and rubies on the last stop of a two-year national tour. ... (read more)

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Echoing Classics

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As the Sun Rises, Darkness Falls or Does It? Book 2 of the Katiann Series
by J.D. Kiser
Archway Publishers


"'Your mother is a brave woman. One day you will realize how much she loves you and her people.'"

In this second book, Katiann's happy, interracial marriage to Mat is interwoven with their increasing awareness of their destinies to lead the spirit world. There is a violent conflict for dominance between the evil dark spirit and the Grand Spirit, Tika, who can overcome evil. Katiann has allies and protectors, but, ultimately, she must harness a great deal of courage and faith to deal with her antagonists and protect Tika. The dark spirit enters Mat's village and tries to overtake it as Mat, whose being has been invaded by the dark one, tries to protect Katiann and his town. Meanwhile, Katiann's friends from the United States are trying to find her to take her home with them. A major factor that both complicates the situation and encourages Katiann is that she is pregnant. Although the dark spirit is exorcised from Mat, it is persistent and frequently tries to hurt Katiann. ... (read more)

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Tender-Hearted

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Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond
by Lis Anna-Langston
Mapleton Press


"In the end everything is okay. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end."

Cotton, the narrator in this fictionalized memoir, grew up in a family whose communication consisted of secrets. She didn't know who her father was. Her mother was a drug addict and undiagnosed psychotic personality who disappeared when Cotton was eleven. She often lived with her grandmother and two schizophrenic uncles, whose "Voices" tormented them to violence and absurdity, filling Cotton with abiding fear. An invisible dog-man, a neighbor who prayed hours a day, and her mom's drug-dealing boyfriend were Cotton's best friends. ... (read more)

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A New Philosophy

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The Full Extent: An Inquiry into Reality and Destiny
by Richard Botelho
Windstream Publishing Company


"Consciousness is intimately connected with matter and energy, even causal to their being."

Many theories concerning the nature of reality have emerged from quantum mechanics. In this book, the author explains the many facets of the field of study and how it has helped shape the way people think of reality. The author begins, "The grandest experiment in history comes from Quantum Mechanics, and its results—the Double Slit Experiment—are not only astonishing but revolutionary." The work is divided into three parts: "The Question of Reality," "A Spiritual Universe," and "Universal Destiny." Within these three sections, he expounds on such concepts as the role consciousness plays in perceiving reality, quantum entanglement, megatheories, and other theories that have evolved from quantum mechanics. The author discusses different levels of reality, the soul, spirituality, the nature of reality, and the purpose of existence. ... (read more)

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Lurid Drama

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Deadly Distrust
by Mary Schaller
Xlibris


"People who commit murder aren't always predictable. You could be seen as a threat, and then you may become a victim."

Gina and Elly are friends and roommates living in San Francisco in this twist-filled thriller set in 1979. Both women are starting new lives as nursing students after leaving abusive marriages, though their similarities end there. Studious Elly focuses on her exams, while Gina dives into flirtations and dates, seeking the new love of her life. Gina's search ends tragically when she dies of poisoning on a clandestine romantic getaway. Elly works with Gina's brother Todd, a police detective, to determine which of Gina's lovers could be behind her untimely end. Could it be Gary, her possessive and jealous ex-husband? Perhaps it is Allen Pace, the dangerously charming doctor at the clinic where Gina worked, or Mark Jacobs, the professor who studies deadly mushrooms. Every answer they find leads to more questions. ... (read more)

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Folksy Vignettes

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Land of Bear and Eagle: A Home in the Kodiak Wilderness
by Tanyo Ravicz
Hancock House Publishers


"In conserving the wilderness, our own animal spirits are at stake. Without them we die."

In 1995, author Ravicz was one of a handful of lottery winners assigned homestead acreage in Alaska to those who had the will and ability to improve and ultimately claim it. To fulfill his homestead obligation, he and his family—wife Martina, four-year-old daughter Miranda, and a baby on the way (a son to be named Kodiak)—would need to build a dwelling and live in it for a specified time. For Ravicz, this would mean occupying the land he called Cottonwood while building a habitable structure, being alone for months at a time, cutting trails, and deciding where and how to place a house on their fifteen-acre plot on Kodiak Island, accessible only by boat or airplane. In 1998, the family moved in and learned to live with the quietness of nature, which, they would soon realize, was almost never quiet. ... (read more)

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Mistaken Identity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Marriage of Figgalo
by Dr. Philip Emma


"'I lied to the cops and pretended to be the homeowner. Then I took Figgalo’s body to a shopping center and left it in his car,' I said."

Mick Maux, a retired scientist, lives with his wife, Carol, in Connecticut. Together, he and Carol work as detectives for the wealthier types around town and for those who, for one reason or another, prefer not to get the police involved. Carol is the beauty with common sense, while Mick has a particular knack for reading people and getting to the truth of the matter. One day, Mick meets with a possible client in Brooklyn and stops into a bar near the Brooklyn Bridge. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a strange house with a dead man on the couch next to him. When the police knock on the door, a panicked and confused Mick lies to them and later takes the body to a shopping mall where he abandons it in a car. What follows is a black comedy including murder, a cast of quirky over-the-top characters, and a case of mistaken identity. ... (read more)

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Eternal Benefits

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What Christian-Suffering Is Not! And What It Is!
by Ron Craig
Writers' Branding


"Only sufferings that serve and honor God, and truly help others, have eternal rewards attached to them."

In this emphatic treatise, pastor and author Craig seeks to help others understand the meaning of suffering from a Christian perspective. Whereas historically, some religious systems (notably Catholicism) developed a creed based on human error and the always-sinful intent of the flesh, some modern, evangelical ones may allow a new convert to believe that by the very experience of conversion, one moves forward and can leave one's former misdeeds behind. But why would God give humans bodies through which to know and serve him if they were inherently evil? How can his laws be upheld if people are allowed to ignore them? ... (read more)

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Newly Minted

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven: Journey of a Promise Completed
by Deborah Bouchard
Stratton Press


"As you read this book, you will walk through time from the Garden to the resurrection of Jesus."

Author and missionary Bouchard offers a compressed storyline covering Christian history from its beginnings before the Garden of Eden and reaching beyond the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Her tale begins when God must expel Lucifer from Heaven after that angelic being attempts to take God's power for himself. As Satan (or the Devil), Lucifer still plots to destroy all goodness in a destructive pattern that began with tempting Eve to break God's commands. It was a sad occasion for humankind since it meant that death would become a reality, and God would be separated from people who would have to make efforts to seek him out. ... (read more)

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Resplendent & Lively

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Some Melt Stars for Crowns
by Vincent Hollow
Barnes and Noble Press


"What if dreams
are memories
from the lives
we live at night?"

Hollow demonstrates a profound knack for poetic command from the outset, providing a visceral experience that is bursting with imagery while simultaneously forcing the reader to pause and think about the topic. A fusion of emotion and reason, the poetry unveils the deepest recesses of the poet's inner mind and connects it to the outward daily chaos of the universe. ... (read more)

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Contemplative Pathways

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The Church: The Body of Christ-Preaching Through Ephesians
by Dr. Alvin A. Cleveland Sr.
Stratton Press


"The basic theme of Ephesians is the church, the Body of Christ."

The biblical book of Ephesians, written from prison by the apostle Paul, was targeted at a specific group but contains timeless wisdom for all peoples. Pastor and professor Cleveland presents fifteen powerful sermons that move through these letters, revealing their inner meaning. He first emphasizes the context: Paul communicated Christ's purpose to people struggling to "turn from idolatry to a saving faith in Jesus." The letters convey Christ's role in salvation and as God's equal who can help to direct religious conversion and righteous life. Many aspects of ordinary life are explored: the role of man and woman in a marriage; the dangers of lust; the "born again" experience; the respect children should pay to parents; the particular needs of black Christians; and the threat of "devils" within congregations who stir anger and incite evil deeds. Above all is the saving grace of Jesus, who can guide followers to construct a firm foundation of understanding and carry the shield of faith. ... (read more)

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Fascinating Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Calarel: The Beginning Journey
by Robert Gayhart
Stratton Press


"We work for a peaceful existence in the light. But there are those who would foolishly rather have the evil and darkness rule."

This sprawling fantasy epic centers on Calarel, a young half-elf who decides to leave her father's home to seek her fortune. She finds the adventure she yearns for as she travels. Confrontations with bandits, battles with strange creatures, helpful and magical companions, and more await her in her travels. As Calarel and her various allies deliver messages and perform favors for nobles and commoners alike, a pattern starts to emerge. Powerful magical forces seek her out in the form of attentive elf nobles, enchanted weapons, and demonic horses. All intimate that she has an important role to play in the coming battle between the forces of good and evil. Calarel's destiny is only partially revealed in what is likely to be the first of many collections of her adventures. ... (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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A New Quest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Discovery of the Five Senses
by K.N. Smith


"Their bonds were indeed intertwined, strong enough to never be broken."

Danger disrupts the peaceful town of Danville Heights in K.N. Smith's mesmerizing young adult fantasy. Smith spins an intricate tale that stretches across time and worlds, where secrets and revelations emerge and forces of good and evil clash.

Five high school friends—Kinsu, Chase, Rhee, Jordan, and Alex—share a bond of brotherhood. Like anyone suddenly thrust into the awkward stages of being a teenager, the boys face the usual pressures of school plus personal and social angst mixed with excitement and uncertainty about the uncharted waters of life beyond high school. They thrive on sportsmanship and dutifully complete routines of homework and chores... until everything changes. ... (read more)

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Middle-Grade Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rescued in the Rockies
by Pat Lockridge
Ink Start Media


"As boys and horses seemed to be judging what to do next, the fire broke over the ridge behind them…"

Stepbrothers Tyler and Danny are trapped at home when a super virus hits their area. Their dad is in the military and overseas, and their mother is quarantined at the hospital, gravely ill. The boys don't want to end up quarantined with others, so they decide to flee their town before the authorities catch them and head into the hills. They have some basic camping knowledge and supplies and Danny's faith in God. Luckily, the boys are able to secure a few horses and a guard dog. However, they are not prepared for the hardships they will face, including injuries, hostile animals, bandits, wildfire, and winter. Danny's faith carries him through the hard times, but it also annoys Tyler, who doesn't want to hear about it. The boys will have to learn how to lean on each other—and possibly Danny's faith—if they plan to survive their time in the wilderness. ... (read more)

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Finding Heart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heart of the Sea
by Riya Surana
Xlibris


"Olivia took the heart of the sea and put it back to where it truly belongs."

Deep down in the ocean, there is a girl named Olivia whose job is to guard the heart of the sea. When she realizes one day that the heart is missing, she swims to the surface in hopes of finding the thing she values most. When she reaches the air, she sees what has happened to it, but because she has a tail instead of feet, she cannot do anything to get it back. The boy who has taken the heart of the sea is long gone, and she wonders how she can tell her father that she has let it be taken. Many years later, the boy returns. When he befriends Olivia, and she buys legs of her own, she is finally reunited with what she has yearned so long for. ... (read more)

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Dangerous Science

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Conspiracy
by M.J. Polelle
Lido Press


"Nothing could stop him now. He pushed away the microphone. He didn’t need it. The voice of an old man on the verge of death had become the roar of a young lion."

Chicago in the year 2028 is the primary setting for this thriller that zigzags from The Windy City to the nation's capital to Gulf of Mexico beaches to a seedy hotel room in Cuba. Cops, politicians, industry titans, scientists, gangbangers, and more cross dangerous paths as plots beget subplots that comingle with backstories to form a chronicle of mayhem, murder, and multiple conspiracies guaranteed to keep readers turning pages tenaciously. ... (read more)

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Emotional Poignancy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

And Trouble Followed
by Michael T. Tusa, Jr.
Red High Top Press


"The righteousness of their cause seemed to be their only weapon."

The Civil War has been over for three years, but the battlefield horrors are fresh in the minds of the surviving veterans. Dalton, Midnight, Reverend, and Shadrach served the Union Army and have formed a bond forged in bullets and blood. They have looked out for each other during the war, and now, each sets out on their disparate paths as their service has concluded. Dalton heads out West, with his soul conflicted on whether peace is truly meant for him. Shadrach embarks down to Alabama, seeking out his family. Reverend and Midnight head north. Reverend is looking to start a church, while Midnight is searching for a quaint life with the right woman. As each man reaches their destination, they quickly learn that the fighting is not over. ... (read more)

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A Blessing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Milkman Story
by Paul Robbins
Xlibris


"It was not until I met the Milkman that I actually heard the gospel."

Writer Robbins has had a long journey from his childhood. The son of an atheist Jewish father and an agnostic Jewish mother, he was sent to Hebrew school and learned by necessity how to disguise himself as a gentile in various contexts. The name of Jesus was forbidden in their home. In high school and beyond, Robbins had the urge to wander, adapting a hip lifestyle in a self-designed truck camper that looked like a tiny chapel due to his carpentering skills. Christian evangelism was then on the rise, so Robbins explored it but remained spiritually conflicted. ... (read more)

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Love Conquers All

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Why Did You Fall in Love With Me?
by Sabije Dervishi Veseli


"I was feeling in love with someone that only existed inside my body and spirit."

In this captivating tale, the author depicts the love story between a young girl and a spirit in her dream. It all began one night when she fell asleep and saw a handsome man pretending to be her fiancé. At first, she was lost and confused by this stranger. Every night, this spirit would intrude into her dreams and oblige her to go on walks with him. She was very fearful of sleeping at night because she did not want to see him. However, the more she spent time with him, the more she started falling for him. From there, everything started to unfold uniquely, and her nightmares turned into beautiful memories. ... (read more)

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War Effort

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Twix Heaven and Earth
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media


"They were told it was a trick of the rivers and the echoes that the battle was so close, but that was hard to believe for the dozen young ladies from the American Prairie."

When Iota Redhawk's husband is killed with a flaming arrow, she must raise their two children alone. Lorraine dreams of working in medicine, while Vernon hopes to fly one of the big, fancy new flying machines. The outbreak of the Great War offers them both a chance to fulfill their aspirations. Nearing the age of eighteen, Vernon sets out for Europe on the side of the Allies, demonstrating an aptitude for flying aircraft. Lorraine follows shortly after that, enlisting in the Red Cross. The two are stationed not far from each other, in the vicinity of the strategic Belgian town of Ypres, which has been the site of intense fighting resulting in the loss of a million men. Before the war ends, their paths will converge in unexpected ways as they seek to prove their mettle in the furnace of conflict. ... (read more)

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Folksy Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Delphic Oracle, U.S.A.
by Steven Mayfield
Regal House Publishing


"The bishop was right. In Delphic Oracle, I was a good fit."

The linked fates of a few individuals impact generations of families in Delphic Oracle, Nebraska. Maggie Westinghouse and her mother moved back home (then called Miagrammesto Station) after the death of Maggie's father in World War I. Maggie's life consisted of rumors about her paternity and her troubling swooning spells. Her future was up in the air until she met the dashing and mysterious July Pennybaker. However, Pennybaker's effect would not be solely limited to Maggie. Their relationship will become gossip for decades to come. In the present day, Delphic Oracle is ground zero for various speculative mysteries, such as the duration of Teddy Goodfellow's latest wandering, the possibility of a tornado wreaking untold havoc through town, and the identification of human remains unearthed in a nearby lot. ... (read more)

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Explorations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God Out of the Shadows
by Delores J. Porter
Xlibris


"The living Word of God, when we get it right, will be our strength, our healer, our full armor!"

The author propounds a view of the Christian gospel, which, she believes, offers humanity the chance to battle evil and accept God through free will. This redemptive creed refutes all ideas of predestination and God's support for those who harbor evil in their hearts. Such notions, taught widely by many churches, suggest that God would have planned for and "approved" evildoing. In contrast, Porter insists God in no way condones thoughts and actions spurred by Satan. Carefully examining church history and mining deep biblical messages, she makes case after case revealing Satan's "lies and deceptions" in her self-assumed symbolic role as "a lawyer defending our God." One example cited concerns Jesus confronting the moneychangers at Jerusalem's temple. This can't be seen as an act of punishment since those who sin punish themselves in their refusal to accept God's wish for them. Instead, it is a powerful revelation of Jesus' role as Satan's foe. ... (read more)

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Stress Model Research

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Applicability of Several Stress Models and the Relation to Change and Stress Management in the Working Situation
by Elisabeth van der Gulik
AuthorHouse


"A healthy organization is subject to change and stress."

This book is a treat for language enthusiasts as it offers both the Dutch and English versions of the text in one volume. The author examines the importance of various stress models in relation to organizations. In a healthy organization, there is a balance of "strain and rest," but many problems can be present that negatively affect the worker, varying with the individual corporation. The book discusses the stress models and utilizes them in exploring employee skills in functional and dysfunctional agencies. It then focuses on a number of specific cases from various companies and organizations in order to put these stress models into action. It also examines the stress models from health psychology regarding coping, including the interaction model, transaction model, health behavior model, predisposition model, and the illness model. ... (read more)

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Powerful Minimalism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

There Are Still Woods
by Hila Ratzabi
June Road Press


"On the trip I didn’t take to the Arctic Circle
I was eaten by a polar bear."

Gentle yet haunting, this collection takes readers through a world damaged by climate change and on the verge of an irreversible, dystopian disaster. A mourning speaker guides readers through emotional confusion and acceptance that mimic the everchanging, complex environments the speaker encounters. The narrator also expresses reverence toward nature, which "starts when the animal discovers you." Readers then find a return to Emerson-like principles that remind them of the connection they share with nature as they find themselves alone with wildlife, "considering each other / calculating a series of decisions." The book presents a stark message about how what is lost due to humanity's collective inaction has irreversible consequences: "You listen for the deer / but there are no deer." ... (read more)

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Heartfelt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Poetry Corner
by S.R. Sutton
PageTurner Press and Media


"I give my devotion and my heart."

This extensive collection features pieces from several poetry anthologies written by Sutton (alongside contributions from other writers) and is intended as a legacy for his children. A brief bio introduces the author, discussing his education as a nurse, close family ties, and motivations as a writer before leading onto the seven major sections that make up the work. Each section covers a wide variety of topics, including identity issues, societal reflections, opinions on life, and the importance of healthy relationships. While mostly nonfiction and serious in tone, offerings like "Moon Child" and "Ali's Vindaloo" are either fantastical in nature or have lighthearted twists that are pleasant surprises to read as well. ... (read more)

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Mind Games

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

iCon
by Constantine O’Donnell
Writers Apex


"This introduction is about my last 18 years of strife since I was labeled Bipolar."

In his book, the author relates episodes in his life that led to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It offers candid details of his many stays in mental asylums and his years working on ships and yachts, which allowed him to travel the world. His is a tale of alcohol and drug abuse which eventually led to his abhorring the use of both. Of his first time being admitted to the St. Pats mental asylum, he states, "While drunk in 2003, I pretended to have Bipolar to get off with breaking a window in a 5-Star hotel in Dublin's city center." Thus began the author's eighteen years of voluntary and involuntary admissions into asylums. O'Donnell openly tells the story of his life and his fight in order to prove that he isn't mentally ill. ... (read more)

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Motoring About

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Should I "Go Walkabout" in Australia: A Motorhome Adventure
by John Timms
AuthorHouse


"Every time we think there can be nowhere prettier than where we are or have been we find another place that surpasses anything we’ve seen."

John and Elizabeth Timms spent nine months traveling through Australia in an RV. This travelogue chronicles their experiences along the way as Elizabeth keeps daily track of the places they visit while also contemplating the nature of travel and the lessons learned on the road. This account captures the realities of long-distance traveling and honestly portrays the pitfalls they encountered. Elizabeth writes candidly about her uncertainty about being gone from home for so many months even though she is seeing so many amazing places. She truly captures not only the beautiful sites but also the emotions she is feeling throughout this epic journey. ... (read more)

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Straightforward Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Indian Annie: A Grandmother's Story
by Sally Avery Bermanzohn
Epigraph Books


"Following in my father’s footsteps, I became our village storyteller."

This engaging narrative tells the story of a Chickasaw elder who sits down with her nephew to recollect and record her oral history in the last years of her life. Ned serves as a scribe to his aunt as she recalls her idyllic childhood growing up in her village surrounded by her tribe, lifted up by beloved traditions and rituals, and sustained by farming and collective harmony. Born in 1819, the protagonist's life is altered forever when the Indian Removal Act of 1830 forces her family to move into the hills to hide and preserve the Chickasaw tribe. In this place called Freedom Hills, her family takes "white" names to stay safe, and so begins the never-ending conflict to assimilate or even pass for white while also remaining true to the old ways. Newly named Annie will raise her own family in these hills hidden away from Andrew Jackson's Trail of Tears, but tragedy still strikes as the Civil War begins, Jim Crow endures, and racism reigns through the decades of her lifetime. ... (read more)

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Energy Medicine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Place Called The Way
by Corrine Ardoin
Black Rose Writing


"Well, Jackson may have gone away, she thought, but her son's nightmares kept the man very present in their lives."

Ardoin's book tells a story of a pioneer town in a mountain valley that had belonged to a local tribe of natives. The pioneers then built a way station for travelers, and slowly the small community grew. Early in the narrative, two of the men in town argue over the town's name, The Way, with such seriousness that they end up fatally shooting each other. The story then shifts to tell of each of the community's families, seemingly emphasizing how each thrives or suffers based on their use of spiritual wisdom. For example, Coco finds peace by relating to her Hispanic relatives, while Jim finds peace by being responsible for his illegitimate son. The scenes of the townspeople celebrating occasions together show their satisfaction with the harmony they have created. ... (read more)

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Wit & Irony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Killing Time
by Michael Joseph Mahn
PageTurner Press and Media


"The Suburban was moving too fast to stop and allow their passengers to get out. Irish lowered the AR-15 and took out the windshield and ripped several rounds into the driver."

Solid storytelling, captivating characters, and a pulsating pace make this contemporary potboiler a fun and fulfilling ride. The plot is intricate, the prose is precise, and the dialogue often dances with an Irish lilt. For devotees of slam-bang action mixed with enough detail to keep everything relatively credible, this is a doozy of a tale that will keep readers racing from chapter to chapter. ... (read more)

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Bad Sunshine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Medusa's Lair
by Kenneth Funderburk
Author's Tranquility Press


"What is it that you always say, ‘Don’t die before you’re dead’? I’ve come to believe that fear of death is exactly that."

Adventure, adrenaline, mayhem, murder, and more combine in this contemporary novel that follows up on one before it and perhaps sets the stage for another. However, one doesn't have to have read the previous book to enjoy this one. The author does a good job of bringing his readers up to speed without recounting more than is necessary. Still, if one is intrigued by this tale of drug running, money laundering, assassinations, and assignations, then one might want to check out the forerunner, The Fish House Gang. ... (read more)

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The Real Bigfoot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lower Alabama Bigfoot: No Longer a Myth
by Ashley R. McPhaul
AuthorHouse


"But one thing is for sure: there is something out here in these swamps. Something that can’t be explained."

McPhaul's comprehensive collection of dozens of accounts of Bigfoot sightings takes place in just two rural counties in Lower Alabama. McPhaul has experienced several unexplainable incidents himself, which he shares in great detail. After he began to talk about his experiences on a local radio show, many people came forward to tell their own stories, which they had feared no one would believe. McPhaul meticulously recounts these events and provides maps, corroborating photos, and supporting details about the people and communities dealing with this mysterious phenomenon. ... (read more)

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Clan Wars

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blood Moon Brother: The Brotherhood of the Blue Moon
by Talia Sallem
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"Their wolves took control of their bodies and pulled them into the power of the moon, and for the first time in centuries, wolves were roaming the highlands once more."

William Owen MacMahon has the power to be a man or a wolf. However, this doesn't save him from falling under the control of MacNain, another powerful shapeshifter. William is forced to do terrible things for MacNain and mate with his granddaughter. Fortunately for William, a rival of MacNain battles MacNain. During their battle, the bond over William is broken, and he jumps at the chance to flee Canada and return to Scotland. Once in Scotland, William learns that his parents did not die in a car crash but were murdered by MacNain. He also discovers that he is the last living guardian tasked with protecting others like him against any threats. Also, he is informed that MacNain's granddaughter is pregnant. ... (read more)

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Philosophical

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adam Poems for the Living
by Keith Aaron Munroe
Xlibris


"It’s hard to know what to tell you except that death is with us when
we’re living"

In this unique collection, readers find poems dedicated to Adam, a man whose suicide deeply affected those around him. The poems in this collection not only celebrate Adam as a person, but they also act as a means of processing the grief and despair his suicide left those in his life. Poems like "The Funeral Home" offer insights into prophetic moments that held no significance prior to the beloved one's passing. In "Some Other Way," an emotional speaker confesses heartfelt confusion in death's wake. In "The End," the speaker wonders when they will say Adam's name for the last time, and the poem gently reminds readers that the dead are "still alive somewhere breathing in the ashes of the universe like a god." ... (read more)

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Hope & Brightness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reflections: Moments in Time
by Joyce Henefield Coleman
iUniverse


"We stand in amazement
watching magnificent sunsets"

In quiet celebrations of everyday existence and nature, these poems present and elevate the positive aspects of life. Each poem embraces a full range of emotions, and each challenges readers to overcome the negativity of life's constant disruptions by looking for the light in the darkness. The book opens with "Reflections," a poem in which the speaker declares, "I stand on the mount of time" and encourages one to embrace the "inexplicable joys" life offers. "Beauty in the Little Things" offers a reminder to "stand in amazement" and examine "the little things" that compose life's most precious moments. Other poems like "Finding Hope" embrace the idea that "Time is a gift when one is old" and that "Each day is a passing blessing" that provides a new set of hopes and dreams. ... (read more)

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Insightful Messages

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Face of Expression
by Aaron Woodson
AuthorHouse


"I’d rather cherish the love we’ve shared… than perish from not knowing what could have transpired between us."

In sincerely written short essays, readers discover energizing insights about love, life, and faith. Pieces like "Cherish the Moment" read like poetic snapshots and offer sage advice: "May we cherish the moment we soared together into heaven until the end of time!" Other pieces like "Stand Your Ground" read like brief, passionate prayers as they encourage readers to "Expect the unexpected." "The Interview" challenges one to take a more compassionate look at others, and "Rejuvenated" reminds people of faith that "there is nothing more powerful than healing" and that "God is the master of this practice." The book concludes with the powerful reminder that a person should "walk in the truth," "be the light," and "bring it everywhere you go." ... (read more)

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Restoring the Promise

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Apocalypse: Some Thoughts on the Rise of Fascism and the Betrayal of Democracy 1971-2020
by M.G. Montpelier
Xlibris


"Everywhere across the political landscape of the ‘Land of the Free’ there reigns the dismal darkness of disinformation and deceit."

An impassioned commentary on corruption and greed in American society today, Montpelier's political treatise examines the misery such extremism inflicts upon the masses as a newfangled fascism rises to power, betraying the nation's democratic system. In his critique of nearly five decades of conservative Republican "deceit and deception," as he terms it, the author explores everyday Americans struggling to provide basic family necessities in a "profit over people," trickle-down economic paradigm (which he relentlessly refutes). Such "imperial" conservatism, which since the 1970s has rewarded a "survival of the fittest" pursuit of absolute power, has, he writes, fleeced America's wealth and prosperity from its rightful owners—the American people—resulting in mass impoverishment for the vast majority of Americans. Emphasizing the Founders' belief that government is foremost responsible for "promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty" for all, the author argues the nation has not lived up to that promise. ... (read more)

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Wild Territory

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Destiny Cottage
by Dieter Gartelmann
Xlibris


"If you are generous today, you will be rewarded tomorrow."

At a young age, Li Baozhai learns how to rely on charm and spreading joy in an effort to get what she wants. After a failed arranged marriage proposal, Baozhai is determined to live a life on her terms, which includes choosing her own husband yet maintaining personal autonomy. She runs away and sets up a life for herself as a street-cart chef in the village of Nantong. ... (read more)

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Scary Smart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ghost Story
by Victor Bonsignore
Great Writers Media


"The hands on the clock move so slow
The stroke of midnight releases the soul."

The author's book tells two tales. The first focuses on Halloween and trick-or-treating. In a rhyming manner, the story explores evil faeries, dancing zombies, ghouls, and vampires in a haunted house where Dracula is the host. Owls, crows, cemeteries, and coffins also make their appearances. While this is happening, children go trick-or-treating in the countryside under a harvest moon, walking in the woods, and coming upon a cemetery. At home, they carve pumpkins and bob for apples while listening to scary stories. The book ends with a friendly notice from the American Dental Association regarding the need to brush one's teeth after eating Halloween treats. ... (read more)

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Call to Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Earth in Custody: Verses of Lament and Comment
by Subhash S. Naik
PageTurner Press and Media


"The U.N. squabbles
The nations fight
Despite Kyoto’s motto
Pollution increases its might."

In this unique poetry collection, the author tackles such interrelated topics as climate change, humankind's depletion of natural resources, exponential rates of species extinction, the low appreciation of nature, and the monumental pollution problem. Naik begins by explaining that the ancient "environmental ethics" which Indian civilization long embraced—specifically, to live in harmony with nature—have given way to scientific and technological achievements which may have benefits but have been employed at a significant cost to the Earth and her ecological systems. Humanity, Naik argues, is on the brink of disaster in terms of the damage it has inflicted upon the planet. An author of both Hindi and English verse, Naik employs numerous poetic styles: rubais, muktaks, gazals, haiku, limericks, dohas, ovis, free verse, adaptations of cultural tales, and more. With each example, the focus of these poems remains concentrated on the hallmark issue of the dangers of pollution. ... (read more)

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Histroy Comes to Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Trailblazing Thru Milestones 1921
by Claude C. Prowell
Xlibris


"I became a part of the country I was traveling thru and the country became a part of me."

In 1921, Prowell took a road trip out west on his Indian motorcycle, and in 1971 he wrote about the journey. He recounts the people he met along the way and the places he experienced while traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, west to California, and north to Canada. Showcasing self-reliance and curiosity, Prowell has unforgettable adventures and meaningful encounters across 10,000 miles of open land. Highlights include camping in Texas, working odd jobs in California, exchanging his motorcycle for a Ford Model T, and smuggling contraband whiskey across the Canadian border. As Prowell recalls his life-defining odyssey to "go west and see it all," he touches briefly on the lasting impact, acknowledging that his father worried he wouldn't be satisfied at home after traveling so far. ... (read more)

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Facts & Opinions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Feel Better, Live Better: Short Topics to Change Your Lifestyle
by Brad Lucas
Xlibris


"Following a vegan diet is simple."

The author began his search for a healthier regimen after his father's death from colon cancer at age sixty-four. An early influence was Dr. N.W. Walker, who lived to be ninety-nine after many years of following a vegan diet. Lucas was also impressed by the Hunza tribe, known for their long lifespan. The Hunza eat mainly plants. Lucas organized an alphabetical listing of lifestyle factors, foods, medical procedures, and chemicals—from air pollution to zinc—that affect longevity, with care to advise readers to study each one and undertake independent research for their particular circumstances. ... (read more)

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Good and Evil

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sunshine: The Intrusion: A Novel
by Thomas G. Elmer
PageTurner Press and Media


"I was not finding being the hunted very much fun. I’ve found it's always better to be the hunter."

Wade Hampton spent five years in the backwoods of Canada, building a life of solitude in perfect harmony with nature. He focused on routine and being self-reliant. His journey takes an abrupt U-turn when a plane crashes into his lake. Rescuing the two people from the wreck brings with it colossal problems. Not only are the survivors children, but an upstart cartel lord is also hunting them. Wade faces a flood of conflicting emotions about the awful actions required to keep them safe. He slips easily back into a former mentality as his extensive training takes over. Muscle memory enables him to act quickly, ensuring the three escape through the wilderness. He wasn't only leaving the city and modern conveniences behind when he disappeared into the tundra. Was he secretly hoping that if he vanished from society, his horrible past would fade away, too? ... (read more)

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Real Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Person to Person: Change Your Life and Fix the World
by Joeri Torfs & Pim Ampe
Quality of Life World Publishing


"What if there is no board, no shareholders, and no boss, but instead, all of the value of the work is held by the people collaborating?"

This thought-provoking book is for misfits who want to innovate and for those who want to bring more fairness and personhood into work and financial agreements. The content features philosophical exposition, storytelling, and a visionary practicum that offers social and economic innovation applications. How can we decentralize economies so that resources are fairly distributed? How can we make institutions more inclusive so every human contributes, feels heard, and feels valued? The authors provide a plan for making collaborations work by prioritizing quality of life. ... (read more)

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Devotions for Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bitterness Runs Deep: 7 Steps to Uprooting the 7 Roots of Bitterness & Reclaiming Grace
by Dr. Beverly Carnes-Lowe with Isabella Campolattaro, MS
Xlibris


"Like a plant, bitterness starts deep beneath the surface, eventually taking root and producing toxic fruit over and over again."

Carnes-Lowe and Campolattaro have created a valuable, practical manual to help readers acknowledge and deal with any "roots" of bitterness in their lives. This task can be aided by sound counseling and God's grace. Seven elements of bitterness are described at the outset: unforgiveness, resentment, hatred, revenge, anger, rage, and violence. Using a chart that allows for statements of the varying degrees of each aspect and a rating by the reader for each, the authors state in strong but readily comprehensible terms the seven steps that must be taken to rid oneself of the undesirable traits. They present and elaborate on the seven steps for improvement. These include prayer, taking "healing action" (asserting oneself to make needed alterations or learning to let the problem go), and moving on. A deeper exploration of the roots of bitterness includes phrasing for prayers, suggestions for sharing one's answers, and utilizing both an appropriately aggressive stance and the willingness to forgive oneself and others for negative tendencies. The authors continually urge readers to "be brave" as they plunge forward with the methodology propounded. ... (read more)

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An Extraorinary Family

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moon Brothers: The Brotherhood of the Blue Moon
by Talia Sallem
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"According to all the old legends, it all started in Scotland thousands and thousands of years ago."

Luke is a college student living a normal life in Florida with his mother and with friends he has known since he was a child. But as he nears his twenty-first birthday, his mother reveals a family history that changes the course of his life. He learns shocking secrets about who and what he really is. For example, he discovers his real name is Noah and that he descends from members of a Scottish clan that, over generations, have become wolf shapeshifters. With Luke nearing his own transformation, his mother decides it's time to reunite him with his father and teach him the ways of the wolves. When he joins his extended family in Canada, he takes his place as a powerful player in a clan war that will have far-reaching consequences. ... (read more)

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Equine Suspence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Sure Thing: Racketeers, Romance, and Race Horses Rush to the Finish Line!
by Vincent J. Cincotta
Xlibris


"Raymond saw a masterpiece in the synchronized motion of the horses, the jockeys, the vibrant people, and each race as it was run."

Raymond Masterson comes of age in a loving family in Brooklyn. He has a bright future ahead of him after his university education and a stint in the Navy... if only he can figure out exactly what he wants to do. His desire for a fulfilling, lifetime vocation matters more than the allure of making big bucks in the city. Raymond's childhood fascination with horses quickly takes precedence over the nine-to-five grind when he attends local races with his friends. As he reaches out to people working at the racetrack, he finds a mentor and the opportunity to start at the bottom rung as a "hot-walker"—a novice trainer. His hard work brings him a promotion and a budding relationship with a beautiful young socialite who shares his idealistic notions and love of horses. His satisfaction is soon marred by Mafia interference with thoroughbreds under his care. If that weren't tough enough, his love interest's father rejects Raymond outright as an unworthy suitor despite his stellar record as a trainer. ... (read more)

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An Unusual Thesis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rockpeople: Ancient Man Captured in Stone
by Michael G. Hunter
Xlibris


"Hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth was at one or more times, not just populated, but it was also overpopulated."

Author Hunter is a diligent explorer in numerous interconnected realms of science, leading him to the conviction that our planet has been populated and repopulated more than once. He believes one proof of this phenomenon is the appearance of very tiny people encased in stone. Hunter has photographed many rocks and includes some of those depictions here, showing such minute details as a woman screaming, a man walking his dog, and even a man in a kilt carrying what appears to be bagpipes. Many of these "rockpeople" wear colorful clothing and sunglasses, suggesting a civilized, advanced culture. Some rock imprints appear to be animals such as rhinos, moose, and elephants. Hunter urges readers to study the photographs provided not once but several times until the images gradually emerge. The author's well-organized theory presented here is that millions of years ago, while heavily populated with these apparently civilized humans, Earth's orbit intersected with that of another planet, possibly Jupiter, instantly freezing, or "siliconizing," all life forms. ... (read more)

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Retribution

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

As Pure As Snow
by Cory Maddalena
darkstroke


"Korman looked almost peaceful, but Jackson Bailey knew better than to trust the quiet nature of darkness. In it rested something insidious, curdling, vile."

The town of Korman thrives because of its steel industry. Seventy years ago, the steel factory went up in an inferno of flame and death, and the community barely recovered from the tragedy. Now the immigrants and refugees who staff the new factory see parallels between what they are experiencing and what happened just before the blaze. Siblings Tessa and Assam are determined to evoke change before another tragedy occurs. On the other side of progress, Korman mayor Anthony Hemsworth will go to any lengths to keep the town from changing, even if this means neglecting his family to ensure his next term. And Rose Wilson, the town's oldest resident, must face the pain of her memories and the struggle of accepting the present. Young documentarian Brooklyn Toomes puts herself in the middle of the town's conflicts. In the process, she makes an astonishing discovery. Deep in the ruins of the old factory is a creature formed by both the fire's molten steel and by the neglect and denial of the entire town. ... (read more)

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