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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

Water Music: A Cape Cod Story
by Marcia Peck
Sea Crow Press

"Tides filled and emptied our small world and I tried to figure out who belonged to whom."

In the summer of 1956, eleven-year-old (soon to be twelve) Lily Grainger describes her family’s annual summer vacation at their undeveloped property on the shore of a salt pond on Cape Cod. As this coming-of-age novel progresses, it mirrors the Beaufort scale of wind velocities that mark each chapter heading with increasing speeds and potential damages, an apt reminder of the increasing tension in Lily’s parents’ marriage and the marriage of her forceful Uncle George and delicate Aunt Fanny. Lily describes this crescendo of life-changing events in the prologue: “All summer the storm gathered and gathered, took its breath from every direction we thought we knew, and lashed us into spindrift.” Interestingly, the summer of 1956 is meaningful historically as the shipwreck of the Andrea Doria happened nearby on a July evening. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Biographical Inspiration

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Beyond the Bukubuk Tree: A World War II Novel of Love and Loss
by Loretta Goldberg
MadeGlobal Publishing


"Life... was a mystery, often full of malice."

Like most gay men of the early to mid-twentieth century, Dr. Jake Friedman’s homosexuality is explained away as an embarrassing “tendency.” Thrilled to discover a woman with whom he can share intimacy, he proposes marriage early on, intending to fulfill his promise after the war. Jake feels drawn to volunteer after a tragic auto accident that kills a coworker and as a response to the fascist genocide in Europe and the Japanese invasion of the Pacific region that cast shadows across the free world in 1941. ... (read more)

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Resolve

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Trust and Confidence: Inside the Battle between the Secret Service and Ken Starr
by Jim Lichtman
Scribbler’s Ink Press


"'What [Starr] did was over the top,’ Merletti said. He did not use good judgment. He went way beyond the parameters of common sense.’"

The names Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky will forever be intertwined for all the wrong reasons. With the end of the twentieth century nearing, the world's eyes were seemingly on the sitting president’s extramarital affair. While this topic will undoubtedly be covered in the history books for generations to come, Lichtman's research, which includes speaking to many of the chief players, has resulted in a candid presentation of the content that is simultaneously insightful and entertaining. ... (read more)

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Deeper View

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Richard Nixon: California’s Native Son
by Paul Carter
Potomac Books


"We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions."

When one thinks of President Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, in this biography, award-winning author Paul Carter works relentlessly to bring the true essence of Richard Nixon to the forefront, a feat which he performs masterfully and with grace and simplicity. Audiences will gain exposure to Nixon’s humble roots in rural Whittier, California, and Yorba Linda, California—his birthplace—when it was just a fledgling Orange County city with hardly three hundred residents. What’s more, though, is that Carter truly shines a light on the kind of person Nixon was. The premise is that, for all intents and purposes, while the former president was a superb tactician, he transcended that and was a giant of a man. ... (read more)

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Extraordinary Read

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The Butcher on Colfax
by J.T. Tierney
Curtiss Street Press


"Sitting on opposite sides of the court room, Maggie Quinn and Alice Kelly wept."

Four young Irish immigrants seek their fortunes in Denver, Colorado, filled with enthusiasm and dreams for their new futures. Emmett Kelly, the titular butcher, has meat-packinghouse experience in Chicago and longs to open his own butcher shop or grocery store. He may be considered the lead protagonist because the novel opens and closes with his predicaments, but the story is truly not Kelly’s alone. He becomes acquainted with Thomas Quinn on the train to Denver, a young carpenter who is quieter and much less brash. The young men soon find a wealth of job opportunities and female companionship in the rapidly growing city. Despite the era’s restrictions for women of all ages, Alice Butler and Maggie Sullivan are high-spirited young ladies with viable dreams of their own. More interested in romance than in making a headlong rush toward marriage and motherhood, they’re inclined to seek both adventure and respectability in their new environment. ... (read more)

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Beyond the Usual

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Prejudice, Racism, and Tribalism: A Primer for White People
by Anthony M. D’Agostino, MD
Page Publishing


"The reader should clearly understand that a divided citizenry is essential for the preservation of great fortunes."

D’Agostino, a psychiatric and behavioral health expert, offers his personal and professional opinions about the differences between racism, prejudice, and tribalism in his book. He clearly explains in the introduction that he is neither a sociologist nor a scholar of racism, nor has he spent years researching and writing about this issue. His interest stems from his viewpoint as a mental health professional looking through the lens of psychiatric concerns with the complex of “motivations and emotionally important belief systems.” To this end, the author primarily examines the trajectory of race relations in his lifetime as he experienced the black-white racial divide, although he also cogently covers the topic historically. ... (read more)

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Live Positive

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A Journey in Grief
by Diane Davies
Oculus Literary


"I woke up this morning thinking about my full day ahead with anticipation of a good day. Little did I know how this day would end, turning my whole world upside down and inside out."

In this intimate book, Davies shares a deeply personal story about reckoning with death, grief, and life after losing a loved one. The author recounts her story of losing her husband in daily journal entries. These entries help readers understand the process of acceptance that happens after someone dies. They also learn about how the support of one’s family and community can make the grieving process more navigable. Throughout the collection, poems appear with certain journal entries, and these poems help memorialize the author’s husband, Butch. However, the poems’ inclusion is also a testament to the healing power poetry and literature offer during difficult times. As readers progress through the journal, they learn that the author’s assertion, “Grief demands to be handled on its own terms and in its own time,” is an adage to adopt and live by when facing grief and trauma. ... (read more)

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Jazzy & Gritty

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Hellfires Shake the Blues
by Peter Jacob Streitz
BluePisces Press


"At least I’m not
a constipated
ass-wipe
like that Suit
in the crosswalk.
Look at the poor bastard.
Probably escapes
Pleasantville
every morning
like his tits
are on fire…"

This collection by Streitz is the first of four Bar Bibles of Poetry authored by him. In this volume, his attention falls on subjects ranging from bartenders to civil rights leaders, E.D. to selfies. Several poems deal with sex and love, from the lofty heights of romanticism to the street level of strippers and masturbation. He spends time on drunk writers hiding in their homes, dancers who should have been writers, beetles rolling balls of dung, and fathers who find themselves protective and uncomfortable. ... (read more)

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A New Favorite

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Oscar and Otto: Troll Tales and Other Stories from Grandma’s Cottage
by Betty Cetas
Windy Sea Publishing


"…Otto was very heavy from all the worms he’d been eating. With a final tug, Otto pulled Oscar into the lake. And again Otto swam away, laughing."

From the outset, Oscar and Otto are destined for confrontation. Oscar loves to fish, while Otto loves to trick fishermen. One day, Oscar’s fishing takes a turn. He keeps putting worms on the line, getting a nibble, but hooking no fish. He soon runs out of worms. While sitting in wonder in his boat, Otto approaches, thanks Oscar for all the worms, then splashes him and laughs as he swims away. Of course, this angers Oscar. He begins to plan and plot, but Otto still seems to get the best of him, and Oscar ends up falling out of the boat into the lake. Meanwhile, Otto is bragging more and more to his friends. Finally, Oscar comes up with a more devious plan and hooks Otto. Although Otto gets away, he is no longer bragging as he has a hook stuck in his mouth. When winter comes, Oscar is still fuming and making plans, while Otto has trouble eating. When Oscar forgets to be cautious and falls through the ice, Otto has a decision to make as he sees Oscar fighting fearfully to find a way back to the surface. ... (read more)

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Clear Philosophy

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Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral
Tellwell Talent


"Procirclism has departed from the free will issue and proclaims there is neither free will nor no free will. There is just will and that is the force necessary to manifest behavior."

The free will debate has raged for over 2,000 years. Do individuals have control over their own actions and decisions, or are these actions and decisions predetermined by the gods, logic, nature or nurture, or many other forms of determinism? In this new work by Kral, he takes the reader on an intellectual journey that attempts to provide an alternative to the free will question. Upon initial inspection, the question, at its heart, seems to imply either a yes or no with explanations while excluding other answers. However, Kral manages to create a compelling third option, which posits that the question itself is flawed. He argues that “will” cannot be considered free or not free. His reasoning breaks down what the word means in the context of this question, and his results lead him to create an additional theory about the source of human behavior. which he has titled procirclism. ... (read more)

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A Triumph

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I Am Perfectly Flawsome: How Embracing Imperfection Makes Us Better
by Tom Collins and Michele Molitor
WME Books


"So yes, strive for excellence, but do not chase perfection."

The book opens with a bold declaration that all forms of perfectionism are unhealthy. Collins and Molitor denounce the concept of “normal” perfectionists who are more productive and achieve greater success. As perfection is inherently unattainable, its pursuit is an inevitable path to frustration, which adversely affects mental and physical health, relationships, creativity, and productivity. Inspired by Kintsugi—the Japanese art and philosophy of “golden repair”—the authors advocate rejecting perfectionism and adopting the “Flawsomism” mindset of celebrating imperfection, striving for excellence, and embracing failure as an opportunity for growth. ... (read more)

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The Journey

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I Could Have Been One
by Donald Wm. Jeffries
Dorrance Publishing


"Will those, who have drifted away from Christianity, come back to it in order to save their soul for the next life?"

Author Jeffries recalls his personal history, expanding it to a broad vision of his nation and the world. Born during World War II, he recognized early on that men in his parents’ “Greatest Generation” were spurred by the trauma that all warfare can evoke and, therefore, strove to achieve more once they returned home, building new neighborhoods and aiming for meaningful employment. Similarly, American women who had contributed industrial efforts to the nation’s defense, symbolized by the popular image of “Rosie the Riveter,” resolved to be conscientious wives and parents while also starting to seek outside employment. The postwar years thus wrought numerous upswings in ordinary American life. Meanwhile, citizens of central Europe, where whole cities had been obliterated, were still grappling with extremely challenging aftermaths. One ominous signal was the burgeoning of Russian communism and its concomitant movements of socialism and similar, politically far-left movements. ... (read more)

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Resilence

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Sun Tzu's Café
by Eric Bornstein
MindStir Media


"This plan would allow the CPC to gain access to America’s upcoming best and brightest young minds."

Transporting audiences into a riveting espionage thriller, Bornstein pushes the limits of science and technology to create a potentially cataclysmic outcome that is as plot-centric as it is character-driven. Loyalties are tested regularly, revealing the fortitude of the main characters and their determination to achieve their goals at all costs. Not your typical thriller, the narrative is tied to one’s roots, family, and being wronged in a way that can’t easily be forgiven. ... (read more)

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Masterful Storyteller

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The Kings' Despair
by Ed Cannon
Xlibris


"Yet danger lurks in the shadow’s ploy
Will they triumph or be destroyed?
– DeChance"

This third book in Cannon’s enjoyable fantasy series continues the saga of Sillik. Having returned home to Illicia, “the most powerful and wealthy city in the land,” to learn of his father’s death, he becomes king. With his wife, Renee, by his side, Sillik surrounds himself with trusted advisors. The city is attacked by dragons and the horrible Schula—“green-skinned, long-tusked creatures.” As it becomes clear that the dragons and Schula are attacking other cities, war seems imminent. The Seven Gods and Illicia are pitted against the nine dark forces, which include the formidable gods Mind Breaker and Soulcrusher. As the two factions move toward war, it becomes clear that Sillik and his people will need to harness all their magical powers if they are to defeat the Nine. Will they succeed, or will all be lost in the final battle? ... (read more)

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Passion

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The Force of Art – A Life for Painting: Biography of a Vietnamese Artist: Van Den 1919–1988
by Juhani Murros
Austin McCauley Publishers


"By removing needless details in pursuit of perfection, Van Den followed in the footsteps of many great artists, writers, composers, and painters."

Juhani Murros made an unexpected discovery during his visits to art galleries when he worked for an organization in Ho Chi Minh City in 1990. A small still life in an unobtrusive gallery commanded the Finnish physician’s attention. “It was an unpretentious oil painting, yet its dark, mysterious colors and the emotional tension of its disciplined composition set it apart.” Thus began a long journey of discovering the art and life of Van Den, a frugal and kind Buddhist of mixed Chinese and Vietnamese ancestry who studied in Paris for less than two years during 1950-52, a volatile period during the first French Indochina War. ... (read more)

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Cast of Characters

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The Leaning Tower
by Charles McNeill
Warren Publishing


"In the past, he had wrongly assumed academics pursued the truth wherever it might lead."

The relationships between instructors working in a dysfunctional sociology department at a fictional Florida university in the late 1980s are realistically explored in this novella by educator McNeill. While many workplaces, whether in government, the private for-profit sector, or even non-profit organizations, have these ego-driven, ideological clashes that create a hostile environment for some employees but provide unfair advantages to others, this story reveals the particular problems that arise in academic settings, and in this case, with dramatic, destructive results. The drama is also a cautionary tale determined by various departmental cliques that disregard the warning signs of trouble ahead for not only department faculty but for the entire university and the outside community as well. ... (read more)

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Myths & Magic

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Mystic Prince
by M. A. Richter
Alexander Publishing


"You made that choice of your own free will. I want you to flourish and fulfill your potential."

Prince Khael Stratton is a mystic who seeks to deepen his knowledge of such arts to help those in need. Following a mission, he reports to the city of Cambridge—ruled over by his brother—and has a close encounter with a pickpocket who steals his signet ring. Alongside his bodyguard, Grant, the prince manages to track down the young woman, Vixen, who suffers from a foggy memory while demonstrating a great talent for skills associated with assassins. Prince Khael finds it an odd happenstance in a time when a terrorist group known as the Chelevkori are making active attempts to eliminate the royal family for a perceived wrongdoing by his grandfather, Loren, and it is further compounded by reports that tyrannical rule has seized the city of Skemmelsham over which he rules. Prince Khael forges a contract with Vixen, and with Grant, they go on a journey to liberate the city. ... (read more)

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Transformation

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Fred Clayton
by Frank Accettura
Archway Publishing


"Let me put it this way: have you ever tried kissing a value?"

Fred counts on his dad when his inability to keep a job and keep his weight in check causes conflict with his mom and sister. When Fred’s dad dies and his sister (his primary income buffer) moves away, Fred and his mom are on their own until Fred’s wrestling champion girlfriend, Mary Ellen, arrives, giving Fred the boost he needs to defend himself, literally and figuratively. ... (read more)

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Fluid & Engaging

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The Means of Keeping
by Rich Marcello
Harvard Town Press


"Many of us didn’t realize how much energy it would take to simply survive in a world that devalued what we aspired to accomplish. Most of the artists I know gave up as I did."

David and Tereza have been together since they were children. Both are progressive and intellectual thinkers. As young lovers, they believe they will change the world together. However, the circumstances of life end up taking them down separate paths. Each eventually marries and has children, although they are able to keep their families close and their more platonic love intact. When they leave a family barbecue together, a microburst brought on by advancing climate change brings down a jet that slams into the house, killing their loved ones. This leads to a terrible argument where they shut each other out, each one wallowing in their own destructive guilt. When they finally patch things up, they take their tested and, at times, confusing relationship to the Ashami Institute, a retreat for artists and intellectuals. The institute is in bad shape financially, and David and Tereza, along with David’s new girlfriend, formulate a plan to take over the leadership and turn the institute into an environmentally friendly, sustainable community. However, the increasing climate crisis and the ever-evolving complications of their relationships threaten to tear their lives apart again. ... (read more)

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Spoken Right

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How To Say What You Mean Without Being Mean
by Jan D. Thomas
Author's Tranquility Press


"In order to gain skill in communication, you must practice the principle of taking personal inventory. Check up on yourself."

At some point, everyone has experienced the feeling of being misinterpreted, either in words or intentions. Often this causes the listener to feel defensive or offended, leading to a conflict even in situations where the speaker felt they were being considerate or even caring. In this book, the author draws upon his experiences of both working within the New Mexico correctional systems as well as years spent in ministry and in support groups to help readers communicate clearly and considerately with people from all walks of life. At the end of the day, when one has a message that one wants to be heard, but ultimately, being heard is not the goal, the focus should be more on being understood. As the title implies, wanting to say what one means can lead to conflict, but with practice and empathy, it is possible to express fully transparent feelings without ignoring the other person’s situation. ... (read more)

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Beautiful Bar Talk

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No Words…Just News: Another Bar Bible of Poetry
by Peter Jacob Streitz
Blue Pisces Press


"Poetry is spiritual news.
Transmitted from past reporters
via future epitaphs."

Streitz dives into an impressive and expansive range of topics, tackling them head-on rather than tiptoeing around them as most normally do. In the process, audiences get to reflect on how they interact with their own lives and the stimuli they are constantly surrounded by. Above all else, however, it is the poet’s ability to use language, particularly metaphor, imagery, and satire, to create a remarkably relatable and universal connection with his readers. ... (rea d more)

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Learning Now

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Teachable Moments: Lessons to Enrich Our Mental Health, Our Spiritual Journey and Our Relationships
by William Stephenson, PhD
WestBow Press


"We are a culture that has lost the ritual of unity."

In his capacity as a counselor for those facing life-threatening illnesses, the author pulls upon what he deems “teachable moments” that have emerged through his work. He divides the book into three sections or themes which he sees to be of the most importance to those with whom he has worked. Each section begins with an introduction to the theme. He uses the Bible and examples from his practice and personal experiences to discuss each concept. Each chapter closes with a few questions to enhance one’s understanding of the material by applying concepts to one’s personal life. Lessons cover common interests and concerns of his clients, such as forgiveness, taking revenge, and how to achieve serenity. The lessons are short, and the book can be used effectively in individual or group Bible studies. ... (read more)

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Surfacing

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The Girl in the Water
by Joseph Howse
Nummist Media


"You have an inherited desire, to live as others do not live, like the characters of literature."

Nadia lives in the Soviet Union with her parents and sister Nastya. The Soviet empire has begun to crumble as the Cold War is reaching its apex. The reign of President Mikhail Gorbachev is in full swing, and perestroika has shifted the political and economic landscape. Nadia is intelligent and has a bright future ahead of her. As she is in her mid-teens, her parents opt to have Nadia live with her grandmother. Nadia is crestfallen at leaving Nastya, but she gets to learn more about Gramma in her new home. Gramma was a soldier during the Second World War, and her spirit has never wavered. Nadia returns home to discover that Nastya is married and expecting a child. The world is changing, and Nadia ponders her own place in it. ... (read more)

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Revealing Truths

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Notes on the Next Life
by Gwen Chavarria


"In toto, what God wants for the world is the loving unification of its peoples, joining them together in one common fellowship."

Author Chavarría has created an epic journey for her central characters—from birth to lives on earth to death and beyond. The central focus is Belinda, whose emergence from the restrictions of the womb to “quiet, cooing voices” forms the first chapter. Raised strictly by her grandmother, intelligent Belinda proves too shy, sometimes too outspoken. She experiences genuine regret and guilt about a rowdy incident in her early college years. Seeking normalcy and structure, she marries a self-seeking entrepreneur and, after a miscarriage, has a daughter, Gloria, whose name belies the child’s deep-seated mental and physical disabilities. ... (read more)

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Passionate

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Night of the Hawk
by Lauren Martin
She Writes Press


"I have spent an abundance of time trying to understand why intelligence in women is so frightening to men."

This diverse collection of lyric poetry opens with an introduction to key terms from the Yorùbá religion Ifá. Written in styles ranging from free verse to elegies, odes, prose form, and visual poetry, this volume explores a wide variety of topics with a recurring underlying theme of spiritual reverence. The powerful imagery in the poem “Lepidoptera” compares a dancing moth surrounded by other bugs to people seeking spiritual enlightenment: “traveling into the night in the dense bush…risking green mambas and killer ants.” The combination of visual design elements and written expression in “Dawn” lends a creative flair and challenges readers’ interpretation of the author’s artistic intent. ... (read more)

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Plot Twists

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Slaying Paradise: Legend of The Iron Warrior Vol. 1
by T.V. Holiday
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing


"I’m your fist in the war, right? A warrior powered by faith huh! I’m the Iron Warrior, right? Prove it! Prove it to me!"

A police officer named Travis Holiday is heading home to his family when a truck driving aggressively sideswipes his vehicle over a cliff. Miraculously, Travis survives but is somewhere other than where he expected to be. A mysterious man says that God is calling him to travel to a strange city named Carnage Coast, where he is expected to fight on God's behalf in what appears to be the final battle between God and Lucifer. In this strange city that exists seemingly between worlds, the citizens are no strangers to corruption and crime, though there are some who still keep their faith and simply try their best to make life better. In his quest, Travis has been bestowed with the powers of the Iron Warrior, a superhero-like figure who has strange powers and superhuman strengths so long as he keeps steadfast in his faith in the Lord and his mission to protect God’s creation from evil influences. ... (read more)

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Intrigue

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Tidewater
by Eric B. Miller
Milbrown Press


"It [kindness] was like the bits of grass that grow between stones in the city… there was a little bit of it everywhere…."

Beginning with a train arrival and ending with a plane landing, the novel follows an East Coast family through the WWI era. Like the train brings mail to Andrew and Alice Croft on their farm “chateau” on Maryland’s eastern shore after the war, the middle of the story brings their past into the present. How Alice and Andrew met in China, their sons Rory and Autie’s military and business careers, and their adoptive daughter, Laura’s, romantic pursuits lead the novel to a surprise barnstormer landing at the farm just before a new beginning: a wedding. While each character travels around the globe, Crofts’ home base becomes a microcosm of the world at one dynamic point in time. ... (read more)

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Faith & Endurance

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The Prearranged Plan
by Alyssa McBath
Prominent Books Edge


"She needed to be stronger so she could fight harder and protect her children."

Elisa McVeigh’s earliest memories were traveling as a toddler from England to Scotland to visit her husband. During Elisa’s infancy, her parents arranged her marriage to three-year-old Ian, Laird of the McVeigh Clan. Elisa’s childhood was filled with brutal abuse at the hands of her parents for the slightest infraction, real or imagined. At the tender age of seven, Elisa lost her mother and was forced to assume responsibility for managing her father’s estates and caring for her younger siblings. Traumatized by sexual abuse and determined to become self-reliant, Elisa trained in self-defense while planning her escape to her husband’s homeland. ... (read more)

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Discernment

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Anointed Warriors in the Army of God
by Dr. Don Bell
Writers' Branding


"The believer’s strength and determination during times of hardship has a profound impact upon the world."

Building off his twenty years in the Marine Corps, Bell delivers a work that is essentially a guide for resolute Christians to have the tools to sift through much of the fodder being presented to them and understand their role in end-time events. With so much of the world in flux, be it political, economic, or otherwise, Bell approaches his warrior mission in the same manner as his marine service: unconditional devotion to saving souls through prayer and trust in their Savior. ... (read more)

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Outstanding & Moving

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The Table by the Window (audiobook)
by Paul Leon


"This means my vengeance is not mine to take and I should continue giving the writer’s block what it wants."

A writer loses his friends, family, and home because of his writer’s block. With the help of a familiar stranger, he finds a table by the window at a coffee shop that changes everything for him. The table gives him back his creativity and his life. However, like everything in life, there is a catch. He can only write at that table and nowhere else on Earth. The familiar stranger soon comes back to haunt him. The writer flees to another town, starts to work at a coffee shop, and meets Tristan. Tristan is also suffering from writer’s block and finds his own table but with tragic results.

Leon’s prose is poetic and unnerving to the end. His referencing of the Bible and Dante's "Inferno" throughout the story makes it all the more brilliant. This is a psychological look into the writer’s mind and what a person will do to keep their career from failing. Tristan, for instance, tells the main character that his family is rich, but they are going to cut him off because he left his Ivy League school to become a writer. Like the main character, Tristan’s writing career is a life-and-death situation. If he can’t write, he won’t have a family or a home to go to. ... (read more)

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Youthful Turmoil

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London Bridge: A Fictional Memoir
by Steven Dhondt
Archway Publishing


"How could anybody so sharp dedicate himself to the statureless Jack London and not only get away with it but prosper?"

Tom Pierson enrolls in Abbott College in the 1960s with an ambition to distinguish himself as a student of literature. He soon falls under the sway of Dr. Duke Becker, who, impressed by Tom’s essays, invites him to attend an upper-level seminar on American literary naturalism. Dr. Becker’s abiding passion is Jack London, a lonely pursuit in an era when London’s books are dismissed as trivial fiction by the literary establishment. As Tom devotes himself to the study of London, he becomes enmeshed in campus drama. He repulses one girl with his fondness for Lewis Carroll but wins the attention of the beautiful Sherri Redding, who works in the dean’s office. Dean Cody is investigating Dr. Becker, who was recently accused of blasphemy by a wealthy lady whose donations are essential to the survival of the college. Tom struggles to navigate the intricate social dynamics of this new environment, torn between his loyalties to Dr. Becker and his relationship with Sherri, as one secret after another spills into the open. ... (read more)

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Evangelical View

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The Future of Our Nation
by Alvin R. Ervin
Xlibris


"Prayer needs to go back to our schools. It needs to be accompanied by the study of the Bible, and teachers should have a right to spank our children."

Written as a series of letters in 2001, 2002, and 2020, this book argues that America has been specially blessed by God but that the nation has rejected its spiritual heritage by removing God from the public square. The 1962 Supreme Court decision barring sectarian prayer from public school classrooms is presented as the watershed of a long spiritual decline, downstream of which has come a rise in violent crime and premarital sex. Compounding the matter, eleven years later, the Court effectively made abortion legal, which, in Ervin’s view, makes Americans complicit in state-sanctioned murder. The result, he writes, has been the deaths of some fifty million unborn babies, an atrocity without parallel that merits the swift judgment of God. Ervin is hopeful, though. He believes that the people of America are, by and large, decent Christian folk and that it’s time to take our nation back from unelected elites. ... (read more)

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More Nice Than Naughty

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Santa Clawziz Comin-2-Town
by Michael Carter Griffin
Bennett Media and Marketing


"he be comin down the chimney-he be makin some noise-singin Merry Little Christmas to duh girls and duh boys..."

This book offers up a modern-day twist on the traditional holiday song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Griffin uses colloquial language, phonetic spellings, and pseudowords in an attempt to deliver an updated version that readers will find relatable. The book cleverly compares Santa Claus’ famous annual trek from the North Pole in a reindeer-drawn sleigh to an alien spaceship or double-decker jet aircraft flying through the air and traveling across the sky. ... (read more)

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Defining Situations

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Paying Attention: A Spiritual Journey
by Reverend Ronald Cole


"Although I did not know what spiritual truth was at the time, spiritual truth is what I would be seeking throughout my life."

Many people who claim to have had a spiritual experience often talk about “answering the call” or being receptive to God and his message. In this autobiography, the author retells the major events of his life, from growing up in the California projects before the civil rights era to serving in Vietnam and returning home to find his place. Early on, he reveals a vision he received pushing him toward military service but kept hidden from others for fear of being ostracized. On top of this, he continued to live his life in a secular, worldly fashion, believing that before he could give to others and serve, his needs had to be addressed first. And given the general attitudes and racial tensions at this time and beyond, there was much he felt was deserved in order to balance the scales. ... (read more)

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Life Well-Lived

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tiger Cartoons
by William W. Fortenbaugh
Authors' Tranquility Press


"…the three preceding cartoons refer to male skippers… the present cartoon offers a correction. Now we have Connie, wife, mother, and skipper who teamed up with Nat Gifford as crew and won…"

Fortenbaugh’s collection of cartoons always depicts the characters as tigers. This arises from the fact that Fortenbaugh was an undergrad at Princeton University, which has a tiger as a mascot. The cartoons he captions and illustrates are mostly dominated by happenings at Princeton or family matters. The Princeton issues cover many things ranging from campus life, wrestling (and the near termination of that program), and reunions. The family memories include his marriage to his wife, Connie, the births and accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, their own anniversaries, and recent Christmas cards. Fortenbaugh mentions that many of the early drawings, particularly in relation to Christmas cards, have been lost over the years. Through the comics, readers see the Fortenbaugh couple travel together through the changes that come from raising a family and growing older together. What is learned is that this is a loving family, with their own ups and downs, who have a lifelong connection to Princeton, display a sense of humor, and enjoy time visiting with former classmates. ... (read more)

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The Vocation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Don't Miss School on Mondays!
by Pat James
Aspire Publishing Hub


"When, during the school day, do children have a chance to be most alive and use all of their senses?"

For many children, teachers are figures in their lives who they see and spend time with on par with their own families. The impact that teachers have on the development of the children who become their students is immeasurable, and so it is important that the members of this profession come to work every day with inspiration and enthusiasm in the face of what can be truly difficult challenges. This book includes several personal anecdotes, memories, and methods for success collected by the author over her career as a teacher with the intent of helping other teachers make each day of class exciting and engaging. Dealing with the unique requirements each student brings to school, difficult parents, burnout, and administration can be overwhelming for any teacher, but by sticking together and reminding themselves of why they teach, they can find joy in every lesson. ... (read more)

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Unconditional Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No, You’re Crazy
by Jeff Beamish
Roundfire Books


"Family is a blight on our gracious souls."

A teen with drug-addled parents and a rare mental illness experiences her first taste of familial strength and loyalty in this young adult metaphysical thriller. Sixteen-year-old Ashlee Sutton believes she’s transcending her physical body and has occasional clairvoyance. Because of her parents’ addictions, Ashlee almost raises herself and is often forced to act as the sober adult in the family. Her father quickly embraces the possibility of acquiring a fortune using Ashlee’s psychic abilities to gamble. But the large financial windfall from their one and only casino jaunt fuels his accidental overdose. ... (read more)

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Saving the Day

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Merna the Mermaid
by Sandy Bennett-Holmes
AuthorHouse


"Little did anybody know, she had a secret that only her family knew about."

Merna is a mermaid. After getting injured in the ocean, she receives help from a fisherman named Mark. They build a relationship, get married, and have a daughter together. Moving to a coastal town in Maine, Merna becomes well known as a doting mother, helpful neighbor, and community volunteer. No one outside Merna’s family knows that she is a mermaid who changes back to her original form by getting wet, and it proves to be a costly mistake for a burglar who breaks into her home. Merna fills the whole house with water, knocks out the thief, ties him up, and calls the police. She drains the house to hide any evidence of her being a mermaid before the authorities arrive. Just like that, she has saved the day. ... (read more)

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Journey In & Out

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back: A Novel
by Alle C. Hall
Black Rose Writing


"A pod of baby dolphins surrounded the raft. They leapt as they swam, shrinking in order to sail through the spaces in the deck and back into the sea, where they grew."

In this novel, Young Carlie is the victim of her father’s sexual abuse. As she endures adolescence and keeps what her father does to her a secret, she develops a plan to reclaim her life. When she finds herself with seemingly unlimited access to her parents’ funds, Carlie determines that she will have her revenge. However, what she quickly learns is that no dollar amount can compensate for all that she has lost as a victim of her father’s abuse. ... (read more)

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Transcendent Tone

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Concerto for an Empty Frame: Music for Survival
by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios
Kelsay Books


"I remember that ride back from the city,
when we stopped to swing around the light poles like children."

Divided into three movements to mimic an actual concerto, this book’s poems create a representation of the human emotional experience that makes its complexities accessible. Poems like “Early in Morning in Bethesda” examine a relationship’s tenderest moments. “Little Box” embraces an experimental form that is both peaceful and chaotic. “Grief at Full Moon” captures where loss compounds one’s interactions with not only the physical world but also the emotional one, and the memory of a loved one becomes a haunting force that controls one’s being. In other poems, the sanctity of nature becomes a healing, cleansing entity, while “the first grace of snow” offers a turning point in the speaker’s grief cycle. Fueling the musicality inherent in these poems are the experimental structures of lines and stanzas that form a concerto unlike any other. ... (read more)

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Pandemic Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emma and the Big Blue Summer
by Sharon Stamas
Beaver’s Pond Press


"She decided to call him Big Blue."

In 2020, any plans for summertime fun have seemed to come to a complete halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young Emma dreads that thought, even as she loves spending time with her grandmother, who encourages her to enjoy the wonders of a pond nearby. While there, Emma spots a blue heron and becomes so fascinated by him that she later gushes about the encounter to her grandmother. She decides to name the blue heron “Big Blue.” The next day, she brings out a fishing pole and begins catching fish that she shares with Big Blue. This begins a relationship between the two that is built up throughout the summer. Emma has a wonderful time with her new friend, and even after going home, she continues to think about him. Eventually, she discovers that Big Blue comes to the pond every year in the spring so the friends can continue to enjoy each other’s company. ... (read more)

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Charming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Zen and the Art of Astroturf
by Bronwyn Rodden
Wyndow Books


"all those smooth hills
that peace and
quiet
with cows
overlapping and intertwining
and religious
spirits move
together
at the clouding
of the moon"

Within this poetry collection, Australian writer Rodden has arranged forty-one contemporary poems reflecting both urban and rural experiences. Within the first selection, the poem’s speaker is driven to “make for the trees,” an attempt to avoid indoor offices where everyone else seems to be. There arise suddenly throughout these poems vivacious, invigorating lines, such as “In the library I try and try / to cram in all the poets and storytellers ….” Other poems tell of the writer’s experiences working among crews fighting bushfires in the wild. And some selections—such as the slightly eccentric, dry-humored “dead chicken-meat day”—paint a rather zany picture in which “the sign says / two skinned chickens for 6 dollars” as the speaker finds herself panting past KFC en route to work. In “The Loaded Dog,” a rustic pub sporting “Depression swaggy” photographs of “romantic gold miners / in classic beards” offers Devil’s Choice beer—with raspberries. ... (read more)

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Award-Winning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Diabetes-Free Cookbook & Exercise Guide: 80 Utterly Delicious Recipes & 12 Easy Exercises to Keep Your Blood Sugar Low
by John M. Poothullil, M.D., FRCP with Chef Coleen Cackowski
New Insights Press


"I have teamed up with a professional chef who has created fantastic-tasting recipes that will help keep your blood sugar low."

The two authors—one, a retired physician, the other, a professional chef—have developed a compilation of meals and exercises to regulate blood sugar and promote health overall. Poothullil has written extensively that the cause and exacerbation of complications from type 2 diabetes is glucose from the ingestion of too much food from grains. He maintains that type 2 may be cured by greatly reducing the intake of grains and following practices that the author has devised based on his twenty-five years of research in and observation of type 2 diabetes. Chef Cackowski has created appropriate recipes for meals and snacks. The philosophy of eating includes permitting one's body to determine what it needs nutritionally and to choose foods that contain the appropriate nutrients to answer those needs. Low-impact exercises for relaxation and circulation include deep breathing and toe-tapping. ... (read more)

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Intriguing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Will Always Love You
by Darlene Porter
Authors' Tranquility Press


"With her attention focused inward, Jonathan had occasion to consider the person who had become closer to him than any other had ever been."

Set in Chicago, this story is a Cinderella meets Pride and Prejudice romance. Orphan Genevieve Davidsley is sent on a path to become a nurse in a convent. However, when she is kicked out due to her penchant for running, she has no choice but to return to abusive aunts who seem determined to make her life a living hell. A chance encounter while running with the family dog leads to a collision that alters the trajectory of her fortunes. ... (read more)

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Fascinating Figure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ruan Lingyu: Her Life and Career
by Patrick Galvan
Cinemodyssey Press


"I watched her stand in front, compose herself a little, and immediately slip into the part. Her emotions were that genuine...."

Though much has been written and recorded about the Hollywood actors who helped make the motion picture industry what it is today, less is known about the artistic contributions of other countries, particularly in the West. For China, one of the most breathtaking yet tragic figures is that of Ruan Lingyu, a dramatic actress of the silent film era who seemed capable of portraying the full scale of feelings effortlessly, thanks in part to her challenging upbringing. Though her performances drew significant acclaim and attention, her life did not become any simpler or easier for her to bear with. That life and her career were cut short at the early age of twenty-four when she committed suicide. Her memorable roles, obvious ability, and tragic downfall made her a legend in early Chinese cinema. ... (read more)

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Ruthless People

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Stalin Stain
by WIlliam Mefford
Fulton Books


"‘Russian history lives here,’ Illya said to the girl, for some reason using a whispered, reverent tone, ‘from the very beginning.’"

With a prologue that opens up with a deluge of insightful facts about Joseph Stalin, Mefford sets the tone early for what is to come: a narrative rooted in suspense and lore, one that is so consumed by the chaos and death that Stalin unleashed on his own people that its ripple effects are felt all the way to America, where the story is set. When he was at the height of his powers, Stalin’s mantra was that death was the solution to all problems. Yet in this work, it is the aura of mystery that his death is shrouded in that becomes the backdrop of the plot. ... (read more)

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Patriot'ing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Becoming American (2nd ed.)
by Cary D. Lowe
Black Rose Writing


"Even as I became officially an American… I still had one foot back in Europe, amid the shattered cities filled with shattered lives I saw and experienced as a child."

Born at the American military hospital in Linz, Austria, in 1948, Lowe’s early childhood was spent in Braunau. His father was employed with the American government, and Lowe spent a lot of days surrounded by both local children and the children of American and international servicemen. Braunau was somewhat infamous as it was the birthplace and childhood home of Adolf Hitler. Nazi Germany shattered the lives and homes of many of Lowe’s Jewish relatives leading up to and during WWII. As a child and young man, Lowe was a constant witness to the destroyed cities and broken, despondent families trying to reconstruct lives after the war’s destruction. ... (read more)

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Children Thinking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adaa's Story: The Remarkable Life of a Rescued Sea Otter
by Rachel J.E. Sprague
Fathom Publishing Company


"Through kindness comes healing."

Most children adore a good animal story. This one will likely be fought over if there is only one copy on the home, school, or public library shelf. This true tale of a rescued baby otter shares concepts of kindness, hope, healing, and the life cycle. ... (read more)

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Dichotomy of Tone

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Gypsy Escapades: An Epic Journey to Outfox a Terrorist
by William J. Jackson
Koehler Books


"Charred frames of blown-up car carcasses, like burnt-out metal skeletons, sat nearby, remains from previous incidents. Where the fresh blast had occurred, orange flames branched up from collapsed walls."

Jill, a young woman full of curiosity and chutzpah, is a graduate student from Princeton who is visiting India to study the local gypsies. She has close contact with Venkie, a great friend of her father. Strange occurrences soon take place. Someone ransacks their apartment, planting a stink bomb. It happens again when they move. Jill learns that Venkie is not only a scholar but has also worked for years in the intelligence agency. Venkie’s former-friend-turned-enemy. Kebab, has links to the Taliban and is threatening to unleash a large, weaponized stink bomb on India if Venkie doesn’t meet him within a certain time using only land travel. Jill is fascinated with the story and recruits two of her gypsy contacts to accompany them on their journey to stop Kebab. ... (read more)

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Daily Trials

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A History of Silence
by Cynthia J. Bogard
Atmosphere Press


"Now I wondered how I could have wasted my talents at this third-rate institution, with its legions of half-literate students warming a seat in my class to complete their history requirement."

While the book begins with the murder of Professor Johnny Wharton, the murder itself is almost superfluous to this brilliantly written novel of intrigue that is primarily set in the mid-1980s. It explores the lives of five women. Four of the women are connected to Wharton, while the fifth becomes an integral part of the book later in the story. These four women include the following: Wharton's wife, Liz, who is an accountant and who volunteers at a dog rescue; their estranged and troubled daughter, Jenny; his grad student Jane (with whom he’s having an affair); and his closeted lesbian coworker, Maddie, who he holds in disdain, and who is the lover of Roz, the fifth woman. The book takes readers through the lives of these women, from the joy and beauty of existence to the trials and tribulations of daily life. ... (read more)

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Cinematic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Plot to Cool the Planet: A Novel
by Sam Bleicher
Newman Springs Publishing


"We’re exactly the ‘drowning man’ that Dr. Hartquist talked about…. Yet no one is even trying to throw us a life preserver.”"

In the opening pages of this novel, what commences with a charade aboard a cruise ship where neither person is who they claim to be culminates with the ruthless murder of a prolific climate scientist. The names Ingrid Halverson and Mark O’Mara, while both aliases, set the stakes quite high for what is to come. Nothing is off limits, secrets abound, and yet there is an Orwellian Big Brother-type presence that seems to have eyes on all the happenings, however discreet. ... (read more)

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Working Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Time-Full Friendship
by Sam Heidari
Xlibris


"Miss Second ran, Mrs. Minute walked, and Mr. Hour did his slow walk, till Mr. Hour finished one full circle. The great success!"

On the surface, Heidari’s children’s book is incredibly sweet and heartwarming, a feel-good story in every way. However, probing further reveals that it is much more than that. Heidari’s work is a crafty and creative educational piece that is both entertaining and a tailor-made way to help young minds understand the concept of time. ... (read more)

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A Pastor Emerges

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Best Servant Story: Life of Tony Roam
by Antonio Garcia
Gotham Books


"No matter what names you have been called, or what treatment you have been shown, create in yourself the person you want to be."

Author and pastor Garcia has created a memoir of a boy gone bad melded with the revelations of a young man searching for life’s higher meaning. He is both. His tale begins when he is in solitary confinement in prison, punishment for participation in his street gang’s attack on a law officer. He bears the nickname “Tony Roam,” given to him by his gang mates to denote his apparent inability to escape his life of crime and poverty. What can he do in this depressing atmosphere? He pulls up memories from his childhood as the son of a loving, hardworking Puerto Rican mother and his early upbringing in an urban New Jersey slum. He recalls hearing as a small child that his beloved father was dead, with no details given by his grief-stricken mother. ... (read more)

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Enduring Family

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Two Brothers
by Luke Roberts
Bennett Media and Marketing


"The pain he felt, the punishment he gave himself, was the only place he could find comfort."

Paul Davidson relives the nightmare every night in his mind. The trauma of his son Ryan’s final moments on earth plays on a loop. The consumption of alcohol and drugs only postpones the inevitable nightly event. The abduction and murder of Ryan was a tragedy that tore a hole through the hearts of Paul and his wife, Ellen. Since then, Paul has become consumed with rage, a man waiting to be triggered. His brother Joe is concerned with Paul’s downward spiral, his emotional descent on display for all to see. Joe wants to reach out to his brother but doesn’t know how to approach him. Soon, a third party reaches out to Paul with an offer of revenge that may be too good to refuse. Paul may have found an outlet for his fury. ... (read more)

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Depravity Afoot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Molly's Milestone
by Marlys Beider
Wheatmark


"The secret to happiness is freedom… and the secret to freedom is courage."

A riveting prologue introduces this action-packed saga of money, corruption, kidnapping, and the search for family. When beautiful Ursula escapes the clutches of her criminal husband and father-in-law, she does not anticipate that Molly, one of her twins, will be torn from her side. A long journey ensues to reclaim what is hers, involving international crooks, depravity, deception, and murder. ... (read more)

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Impending Danger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Controlled Flight
by Mike Van Horn


"Paul was thinking about Psalm 23:4. He didn't consider himself an overly religious man, but he knew this passage."

Smithson, a dangerous criminal, kills a fellow associate named Biggs. He does not want the murder to be traced back to him. Unfortunately for him, Lauren Hull unknowingly has incriminating evidence in her camera that can send Smithson to prison. Smithson feels he has to retrieve the camera and the SD card because, for obvious reasons, he does not want it to be posted on a social media website or seen by the authorities. He does some research on Paul and Lauren Hull and finds out that Paul is retired from the Air Force. One day, Smithson breaks into the Hull's home when no one is there. He searches everywhere for the camera but does not find it. Now, he must devise a plan to locate the camera before law enforcement gets ahold of it. ... (read more)

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Mobsters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Made & Unmade: A Detroit Mobster's Story
by J. G. Cope
Alkira Publishing


"We are these emotional animals that use our big brains to find 'logical' reasons to justify doing what even the average child knows is wrong."

Imagine being a fly on the wall in the brain of a cold-blooded murderer. What prompts someone to kill? What catalyst led them down that path? What was their story? In Cope’s crime narrative, there is less glorification of the mobster life and more character construction. Using the first-person point-of-view of the main character, Joey, the novel gives audiences a direct seat into the mind of a killer.... (read more)

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Friendship & Responsibility

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alexander Finds A Home
by Vicky Ann Meier
Holzer Books, LLC


"This is the one! He has a cool white eye patch, and I love his ears!"

Meier’s debut work is an endearing tale inspired by her granddaughter Ellie. It is the story of a gray kitten named Alexander, whose white eye patch and big ears set him apart from other kittens. Alexander and his mother, brother, and sister live on a farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fremont, a kind older couple. But when the Fremonts relocate, they only take the kittens’ mother with them. Alexander and his siblings are taken to a shelter to be cared for until they find new homes. ... (read more)

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Kind-Hearted Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emmeline Grant and the Monstrous Beesh
by Janice Phelps Williams
Tyler’s Field


"Pletonians from birth, to birth, to birth."

Young Emmeline dreams of becoming a veterinarian or a biologist in the future. She is inspired by her father, who works as a naturalist and travels all over the world. When she convinces him to let her meet up with him on an expedition to the Falkland Islands, Emmeline travels on the Maria Christina, where she becomes friends with a crew member’s son named Demetrio. Disaster strikes when the boat comes under attack and sinks, leaving Emmeline alone when she washes up in the strange land of Pletonia. But she soon makes friends with many of its inhabitants, learning it is natural for them to get reincarnated as various animals. Further, during her journey to visit its rulers, Emmeline discovers that she has personal ties to this fantastical land. However, Pletonia comes under attack by the exiled Valdrimos Pish, who unleashes creatures that kill and stop the reincarnation process. Emmeline and her new friends must work together to find solutions to the crisis. ... (read more)

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Intuition Connection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Halfways: A Guidebook for Strengthening Your Intuitive Connection
by Allision Sutter
Living 360


"Intuition is a multidimensional mechanism that comes standard when a multidimensional soul incarnates."

This book begins with an introduction to intuition, the author’s own process, and the development of this book through manifesting her own intuition. It examines definitions of terms that are used throughout the book, including spiritual terms. The work explores the challenges one may have in looking at intuition. It looks at time-space reality, letting go of the need to control outcomes, allowing change to happen, discernment, relaxation, and the law of attraction. It examines the problems of book learning to the detriment of utilizing one’s inner guidance and ways to listen to one’s intuitive guidance. Looking at destructive beliefs vs. unconditional love is seen as a way of reframing and focusing on one’s soul, as intuition can be viewed as unconditional love. The text also explores how understanding who we have a vibrational match with is a valuable component in understanding our relationships with others, as is shifting our “bad” energy to more positive energy. ... (read more)

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Bedtime Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Amanita Dwellers
by Katya Romanoff


"Varya, why don't we make one wish for both of us? Let's make a wish for a miracle to happen. Have you ever seen a miracle?"

This is a joyful children's fairytale about a mythical creature named Fiokla who lives in an Amanita mushroom. At the beginning of the story, Fiokla lives with her pet caterpillar, Varya. Inspired by the size of her home, Fiokla decides to open it up to guests of all types. After two little blue alien creatures referred to as "fu-fus" move in, Fiokla welcomes a hamster and a mouse. ... (read more)

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Re-Invest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wall Street Lessons: Overcoming Fear, Greed and Being Your Own Worst Enemy
by James Demmert
New Insights Press


"...throw away the outdated idea of buy and hold."

It's common to have investment fears about buying into the stock market. After all, life is complicated enough. But Demmert is extremely optimistic about investing in stocks and has the numbers to back it up. He explains that even given the higher risk and troughs in the market, stocks historically give the best return on your money. ... (read more)

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Sculpted Art

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Oburoni and Other Stories
by Andrew Rees
Reading Glass Books


"All that preparation work for nothing. Hopes raised, only to be dashed. An apology was just inadequate."

Everyone’s got a story, though many look a lot less like your average fantasy story or hard-boiled crime drama. For many of us, it’s the pain of loneliness, adapting to difficult situations, or moments of elation at personal victories dashed down by the smallest of inconveniences or unfortunate turns. Like events in the life of an average person, these stories are not tales of dashing heroism and sacrifice but accounts of people trying to find normalcy in routine after a divorce, indulging in their hobbies, and looking for work. These are the kinds of stories that get shared around Sunday brunch or over coffee, not to brag or embellish, but because we need others to recognize the work of survival, whether it becomes painful or a point of pride. ... (read more)

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New Perspective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Diabetes — The Real Cause and the Right Cure, 2nd Edition: 8 Steps to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes in 8 Weeks
by John M. Poothullil, M.D., FRCP
New Insights Press


""[T]he real cause of Type 2 diabetes is staring us right in the face. It is our MODERN DIET, heavily filled with complex carbohydrates from grains that flood the bloodstream with glucose (sugar)."

Poothullil emphasizes that his book does not address type 1 (juvenile-onset) diabetes but the type that usually occurs in older humans—although it may occur in children, as well. The main dietary culprits are grains: wheat, rice, potatoes, rye, etc. The way to improve overall health and significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes is to adopt the doctor's guidance to changes in diet and attitudes about eating. ... (read more)

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Classroom Tool

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

ABC Rhyme With Me & Sing
by Joann Cervellino
PageTurner Press and Media


"Always use your imagination to DREAM, CREATE, & EXPLORE."

This book sets out to teach young children the alphabet. Each letter comes with a photograph, often associated with an animal, a treat, a scenic location, or something else fun to give kids a visual representation. Small rhymes accompany each letter and picture, which flow together into a song. The title page also includes a link to the full song for families to sing together, which provides yet another way to help children remember the contents. After the main content in the book, a stylized version of the alphabet appears where animals are solely used to represent each letter. Through the song and some additional lyrics, children are encouraged to always be curious and spend their time learning more about the world. Instilling a love for learning in children is important. ... (read more)

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Empowering & Magnificent

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fireside Reflections: A Papa’s Lessons for a Successful Life
by Alan Dahl
WestBow Press


"A lot about life is learning how to figure things out and how to respond to the many happenings that come along."

One of the primary roles of a parent or grandparent is to summarize all of the hard lessons and important truths learned over a life well lived and pass them down to the next generation(s). This book is written for the author’s own family, but as the lessons contained within are universal, he is sharing his insights and reflections with any who are willing to sit at the metaphorical fire with him and have a conversation. Topics range from managing one’s finances responsibly to taking life at a slower pace and learning to appreciate the process of doing as much as the potential result. Each lesson is told with a mixture of directly addressing the subject and sharing various stories and anecdotes that help to fully expand on thinking about the issue from as many angles as possible. ... (read more)

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Extraordinary Woman

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Rose of Washington Square: A Novel of Rose O'Neill, Creator of the Kewpie Doll
by Pat Wahler
Evergreen Tree Press


"I lost myself in dreams, daring to envision a day when I’d be financially secure enough to add my own voice to causes that moved me."

The year was 1893, and a young woman was wending her way through the streets of New York City for the first time. A determination to help provide for her family drove Rose O’Neill to approach various publishing companies to sell her sketches. She had a talent for drawing beautiful images on paper and believed they could generate profits for the periodicals they were placed in. Her talent and her moxie convinced some publishers to buy various drawings from her portfolio, and her ascent to prominence began. The stubborn male chauvinism of the times initially kept her identity camouflaged, but eventually, she revealed herself to the world, and people took notice. Her creation of the Kewpies would garner her more attention and money, but she maintained an altruistic nature that funneled her money to family, friends, and causes. ... (read more)

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Intriguing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Table by the Window
by Paul Leon


"So many words have been written yet my writer’s block remains, its chains still bind my creative mind. Never does it go except for when I take a seat at that table by the window."

Every writer harbors a hidden fear that the ability to write may escape them someday. And what is a writer who cannot write? This is the central predicament that Leon explores in this slim thriller, where a bestselling writer grapples with the inexplicable loss of creativity. Fallen into despair, the forlorn, nameless writer wanders the city in gloomy contemplation of his plight. It is soon revealed there is a coffee shop table with the word W-R-I-T-E etched into it that offers hope. It is at this table where the writer can write again, due to a shadowy figure who prompts a kind of deal with the devil. But what seems like salvation is really a trap, and the writer must navigate this harrowing, dreamlike existence. After a chance encounter with another young, struggling writer and a moment of spiritual awakening, the narrator finds the strength to regain control of his creativity. This determination sets in motion an ultimate battle of survival between man and demon. ... (read more)

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Many Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Day I Had a Dinosaur
by Ashley Wall
MamaBear Books


"Rex looked frustrated that he was not able to do what everyone else was doing."

In this delightfully imaginative tale, Luke and his friends have an adventurous day with dinosaurs. The book shows young readers how much fun education can be as the children learn new vocabulary and interesting dinosaur facts while having the “best-osaurus” day ever. ... (read more)

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Seeking Justice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ambush: Not Forgotten Not Forgiven
by Robert Rosenbaum
URLink Print and Media


"All I’m saying is there’s a man with a grudge. Who has no reason to like Hazel Lake or Stewart."

C.W. Blakenship and his wife, Jessie, attend the annual picnic at the Hazel Lake Fire Department. They are having a good time with their friends and colleagues until gunshots ruin everything. Everybody takes cover, unable to figure out from where the gunshots originate. It is a total disaster and one in which the shooters manage to get away. This awful event results in three dead and thirty injured. Blakenship is of the CBI, so he ends up investigating the mass shooting. Understandably, he takes this case very personally. Although he and his friends with the sheriff's department, are trying to find the perpetrators, so far they mainly know that the assailants used assault rifles. As Blakenship digs deeper into the case, it becomes more complex than it originally looks like. ... (read more)

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Controversy Continues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crystal Caverns
by S. B. Andresen
PageTurner Press and Media


"After decades of disregard for the very planet that sustained them, they tried to reach beyond to other worlds, other dimensions, other time to gain more…"

A hundred years from now, the Great Pandemic has ravaged Earth’s population, and climate changes have rendered much of the planet’s surface uninhabitable. The majority of survivors have been evacuated to underground shelters in the Moon Colony. Those who refused relocation are presumed to have perished. High-ranking officials in the Moon Colony’s governing body, the Assembly, are given access to Earth’s retreat locations no longer in the quarantine zones. ... (read more)

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Historic Helper

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Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” Helped Win Our Independence
by Dorothea Jensen
Past Times Press


"So raise a cheer for Lafayette, who so loved Liberty: Without him we would not have won our Independency!"

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was a teenage French aristocrat and military officer inspired by the American colonies’ fight for liberty. American diplomat to France Silas Deane gave Lafayette a commission as a Yankee major general. Despite his family's objections and the persuasive tactics of England’s King George, Lafayette remained dedicated to the cause of American independence. He bought a ship in secret, sneaked aboard, and sailed to the American colonies. ... (read more)

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Avenger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Maxym: He Looks Like an Angel but Kills Like a Devil
by Patrick C. Notchtree
Limebury


"'I will kill them all.' That was an ambition that would remain with Max for years to come. "

Set against the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s grab for power in Russia and a rash of global terrorist attacks in the late twentieth century, the novel delves into the complex world of covert counterterrorism. At the age of six, Maxym (Max) Mikhailovich Ivanov suffers an unbearable loss when his parents are killed and ten-year-old sister brutally raped and murdered by religious extremists. Escaping the cruel fate of his family, Max hides in a cupboard. He is rescued by the Russian army after being discovered by a Russian soldier, Leonid. The desire for revenge ignites in young Max after seeing the brutalized bodies of his family. Vowing to his rescuers to kill as many of these terrorists as possible, Max, at the young age of six, begins with those who murdered his family. Praised for his execution of the captured terrorists, Max is admired by the soldiers and given a home with Leonid. ... (read more)

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Remarkable Woman

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High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder: third edition
by Dr. Rose Maria McCarthy Anding
Dr. Rose Maria McCarthy Anding Trust


"I am grateful now for what God has allowed to be."

This is the inspirational testimony of the author’s deliverance from twenty-five years of substance abuse and the amazing feats she has accomplished since. Although a preacher’s kid and raised in the church, sixty-eight-year-old Anding found herself at rock bottom—addicted to crack cocaine, devoid of all self-esteem, and estranged from family and friends. Her last chance came in the form of a free ninety-day drug rehabilitation program that encouraged participants to fall in love with Jesus. In the program she affectionately nicknamed “God’s repair shop,” she found healing and forgiveness for a past littered with adultery, promiscuity, deception, domestic violence, failed marriages, drugs, and political scandal. ... (read more)

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Wealth of Scripture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hidden Treasures
by Jennie Murphy
URLink Print and Media


"We all want to be loved, but we can live without it."

This is one woman’s testimony of faith, endurance, and spiritual growth. At the tender age of ten, Hannah made a confession of faith and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal lord and savior. Afraid to be viewed as different by her peers, Hannah kept her newfound faith secret. Early on, she was called to be a missionary nurse, but fear and low self-confidence held her back. Instead of heeding the Holy Spirit’s call on her life, Hannah rebelled, ran away from God, and married a nonbeliever. ... (read more)

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Powerful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mary Magdalene: A Disciple and Friend of Jesus
by Rev. Dr. Bonnie Ring


"Often the men misunderstood or questioned Jesus. Mary Magdalene showed that she grasped what Jesus meant more than any of the others."

Author Ring has created a colorful, readable tale of the noted female disciple of Jesus, Mary Magdalene. Presented in simple, vivid prose with powerful and evocative pictures on each page, she recounts the early years of Jesus’ life, including his baptism by his cousin John. The incident is depicted with the two men standing in the Jordan River as a pure white dove hovers overhead. Jesus then began to gather what would become his group of twelve disciples. His miracles and preaching also attracted many women, with Mary Magdalene becoming the most prominent in biblical lore. ... (read more)

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Auto Enthusiast

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Automobilia
by Jason J. Marchi and Jeffrey L. Buford, Jr.
Fahrenheit Books


"My flight was in jeopardy. The galaxy-spanning space exploration career I had developed in my spare time for the last twenty years was going to be cut short by the breaking up of a simple shopping group."

In this anthology of forty-one short stories and nine poems, one enters a realm where a love for automobiles abounds. In these stories, readers discover automobiles that change and transform lives as well as vehicles with which their owners share a range of emotional attachments. Stories like “Final Frederic” capture the tragedy some vehicles bestow on others. Others, such as “Built to Last,” rely on personification and give the automobiles they feature human emotion. The anthology’s poems also contribute greatly to the collection. Poems like “69 Firebird Convertible” celebrate the freedom and nostalgia vehicles offer their owners. “Chester and the Model T” is a clever narrative poem uplifting the simpler times when vehicles were not synonymous with American transportation, and horses were still the main transportation method for many families. ... (read more)

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Emotional Moments

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Bridges Between Our Hearts
by Jennifer Collins
Words in the Wings Press


"The message is clear—crystal clear. We love our children, and regardless of what happens, that will not change. It’s truly unconditional."

In this third book in Collins’ Love That Does Not Die trilogy, readers are returned to Larissa in a state of survivor’s guilt. Her family is growing, and new opportunities to love and care for her reunited children and grandchildren fill her with hope. However, the pain of losing her daughter and not wanting to be overbearing and chase her son Everett away has her walking on eggshells. Set amidst the pandemic of 2020, a series of events unfolds that leads to Larissa taking care of her granddaughter Beth while Everett is away in Europe on business and then forced to stay there during lockdown. More connections from a musician to Everett’s biological father begin to appear in surprising and unexpected places as Larissa’s family continues to thrive despite past and present hardship, tragedy, and loss. ... (read more)

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Turbulent Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mary Alice: Gypsy Nurse
by Cora Brantner
PageTurner Press and Media


"Injured people in shock need to be protected from the cold… I’ll go to the infirmary and get what I need."

In Brantner’s narrative, a chance encounter between a nomadic Gypsy community and an injured man, Ernest Beebe, sets the tone for the theme of boundless compassion and empathy that is prevalent throughout the novel. Though many see the gypsies as primitive, they ensure that Ernest honors his commitments when he impregnates Ercyline. While he himself is morally corrupt in nearly every way, the one good thing he does is give birth to Mary Alice, whose journey throughout life becomes a testament to living a life of faith and resilience. ... (read more)

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Connections

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Paradigms of Marriage with Companion Workbook
by Robert O. A. Samms, Ph.D.
PageTurner Press and Media


"Perhaps the greatest threat to achieving and maintaining intimacy is selfishness. As human beings, we are basically selfish. We express that daily through self-preservation."

Paying homage to his late wife, Dr. Pamela Samms, the author takes inspiration from her four decades as a marriage educator and his own extensive experience in pastoral marriage and family counseling to deliver a guide to building fundamentally strong marital relationships while weaving in biblical principles that can be applied to practical, day-to-day experiences. In creating paradigms that are both personal and easily relatable, Samms essentially takes the science out of marriage so couples can internalize and then execute upon the models of a rock-solid relationship foundation. ... (read more)

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Major Events

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Visitation: An Intensely Personal Narrative
by Art Perkins
PageTurner Press and Media


"The Bible is replete with accounts that in a modern context would surely be attributed to UFOs."

When considering the potential for alien visitation or UFO sightings, many people would lump these phenomena into either fictional or occult status. Yet in this nonfictional, measured account of his own personal experiences, the author of this book reveals how his encounter with an unidentified flying object mysteriously pushed him from a secular life to one of faith. Studying scripture with intense focus, he not only came to understand many of the events in the Bible to have ties to extraterrestrial experiences but also had surprising realizations about the feminine nature of the Holy Spirit and a solution for Jesus’s feeding of the masses with only scant amounts of both fish and loaves of bread. Taking passages from Genesis all the way to Revelation and then combining them with a modern understanding of the typical UFO sighting, things that seemed to be lacking context or explanation suddenly seemed clearer to the author. ... (read more)

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Faith Within

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lots of Luck Noblesse Oblige Rentier
by Ron Matejka and Marilyn McKenzie
Authors' Tranquility Press


"The supernatural love of God instantly flowed between the two of them as if their souls were combined as one."

Staff Sergeant Dan Mastik is returning home, wounded and weary, yet resolute in his love and faith in God’s plan for him. The narrative opens up with a chilling scene. Dan may be coming home, but the four flag-draped coffins of his fallen fellow soldiers leave him torn. Dan’s introspective nature allows audiences to naturally enter his mind and experience his feelings in their most raw state. Additionally, from the very beginning of the novel, civilian audiences are made privy to a snapshot of how the right equipment, especially aircraft, makes all the difference. Yet there is an inherent dichotomy to the machinery. The C-17, for instance, is utilized as a pivotal tool for medical units. Although it is designed as a tool to take lives, it also becomes instrumental in life-saving measures. ... (read more)

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Obsession

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

After You, My Dear: I Will Always Follow You
by PJ Ellis
iUniverse


"The memory of Victor’s unmasked hatred in divorce court never left me."

Selena's mother controlled much of her life while grooming her to be the perfect fashion model, but now Selena feels she has finally walked away from living under someone’s dominance. Selena is smitten when she falls for Victor LaRoche. Their relationship is both loving and passionate. However, it only takes a short time for cracks to appear in Victor’s facade. The inconsistencies in his behavior morph into a daily barrage of emotional and physical abuse after Selena and Victor wed. Selena knows she needs to escape and travel a great distance to be free of her husband’s control. She believes she has found liberation in the small city of Andersonville, Georgia, along with a shot at normalcy. Unfortunately, chaos soon re-enters Selena’s life, and bodies start to fall. Selena will need to figure out Victor’s next move before it's too late. ... (read more)

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The Creative Mind

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Artist’s Notes on Humans and the Universe
by V. Nova
Archway Publishing


"No real balance, exact equality, equity, identical copies of anything, repetitions, symmetry, conservation of energy, perfect reversal, or absolute isolation is ever possible under the colossal power of Flux."

This book is an exploration of different views regarding what is commonly referred to as “objectivity.” It is influenced by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, from whom the author has derived the concept of “flux” or constancy of change alone as “reality.” This is combined with a neo-Kantian or, by Nova’s own interesting account, the lesser-known logician George Berkeley, who introduced the concept of the “thing in itself,” for which both he and Kant asserted was impossible for humans to perceive or know. ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

EthosBot
by S. Sky
Kindle Direct Publishing


"“…we only speculated about what the EthosBot could do to the human psyche…. Every person became a new, different person with their customized embedded EthosBot."

Sage is the head of a group of intellectuals from various disciplines who developed artificial and crystal-powered bots that saved the earth from the ecological crisis humans created. It was a rogue and rebellious move that got her into trouble, but the end results worked. Not only have her bots helped heal the earth and remove most diseases, but their use has also led to the unexpected development of psychic abilities in some people and animals. Now, her teenage twins, Cali and Kalen, along with their friends, are embracing their rebel sides as they set out to expose the dangers of their mother’s institute's newest work. The EthosBot is attempting to heal mental health issues. However, there are individual side effects and area-wide occurrences which pose a real threat. While navigating this new danger, the teens also deal with first loves, betrayal, and terrorists. ... (read more)

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Living Women's History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Warrior, Queen, Scientist, Activist: Gritty Women Who Bent the Arc of History
by Jan-Benedict Steenkamp
Xlibris


"We can learn from—and be inspired by—their lives and their grit and their mistakes."

In Steenkamp’s latest nonfiction work, the author looks at twenty-five women who changed the world by taking risks. The book is divided into three parts. The first part looks at women in war, such as popular figures like Joan of Arc in the Hundred Years’ War, Clara Barton tending the wounded in the American Civil War, and lesser-known figures such as World War II spy Virginia Hall and eighth-century African Queen Al-Kahina. The book's second part examines women who made great strides in politics, while the last part looks at women who were human rights activists. ... (read more)

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Color & Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dogs Have Fish Tales Too!
by Carol Ford
Xlibris


"I learned that day, no matter what your pedigree is, we all need and can help each other."

Ford’s work holds true to the spirit of children’s books, personifying animals and imbuing them with human qualities and emotions. In this story, the main character, an unnamed pup, and Todley, his German shepherd best friend, have planned an epic fishing outing. The surreal autumn weather, as depicted poignantly in the illustrations, certainly is a harbinger of a successful afternoon and a bonding time. However, the story takes a turn when Tiger, the tomcat, and Thumpee, the elephant, join the party, leaving the main character in a sour mood, yearning to have alone time with his best friend. ... (read more)

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A Modern Look

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Giant Lessons from David: Managing the Journey of Success
by Claybon Lea Jr., DMin, Ph.D
WestBow Press


"It would be tragic to reach the end of your life on this earth, and everyone has something good to say about you except God."

An inspiration to believers and nonbelievers alike, the biblical story of David is central to trekking the pathway to success while navigating life’s highs and lows. As Lea makes clear, this work does not claim to be a self-help guide. On the contrary, it shows how David is an archetype of the successful individual and how there are many elements that resonate with society in their journey. ... (read more)

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Authentic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crucible: Refining Gold: What I learned while Healing from Childhood Trauma
by Julie Cannata
WestBow Press


"My search for… “True Me” began in earnest once the stripping away of layer upon layer of my ‘seedy’ past surfaced, was accepted, and processed."

Trauma is often a catalyst for finding one’s way to faith and the Lord. However, in Cannata’s work, the abuse she experienced as a child is so deeply repressed that it creates a disconnect between the mind and body, creating an identity dissonance that can leave an individual feeling lost as they meander through life. In this work, the author’s trials and tribulations are brought to the forefront. More specifically, Cannata makes astute observations regarding the difference between a visible physical injury and invisible, mental scarring. Just because one can’t see pain does not mean it doesn’t exist. As she works through this convoluted web of conformity to carve her path toward thriving in God’s Kingdom, audiences learn about therapies like EDMR and concepts like brainspotting, where the visual field is instrumental in processing trauma. ... (read more)

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God's Creation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Choices, Changes, Chapter and Verse
by Kathryn Grant
Xlibris


"I choose encouraging words and activities that inspire positive change and happiness in all areas of my life."

To heal is a process that ranges from the spectrum of one’s own choices to prayer itself. In an effort to provide a platform to better understand the self, Grant creates a three-pronged approach to her work: a section on choices goes deeply into personal introspection, which segues into a segment on changes, followed subsequently by a portion on verse. This unique structure represents the cycle of healing, of change agents that can take a mere ripple and transform it into a full-fledged tsunami of change through scripture. From letting go of one’s ego to creating change brick by brick, the focus of the work is on the simplification of life to create an internal homeostasis that is focused on self-evaluation and humility. Each idea that Grant dissects in this work ultimately serves to derive a sense of appreciation and provide the tools to build a strong foundation. ... (read more)

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Better Health

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Head First: The Complete Guide to Healing and Optimizing Your Brain with Nootropic Supplements (2nd Edition)
by David Tomen
Balboa Press


"Your quality of life is tied to how well your brain functions."

Tomen reviews 102 of the most common nootropic supplements that naturally treat ADHD, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and many other mental and emotional disorders, along with those that boost learning and memory retention. The author struggled with remaining focused on the job and was subsequently diagnosed with adult ADD/ADHD and PTSD. Originally prescribed Ritalin, he found that eventually, the drug didn’t work as well over time. He researched the matter and found that L-tyrosine and two other supplements boosted dopamine levels in his brain, an essential component of mood maintenance and focus. As a result, his Ritalin began to work again. Eventually, Tomen reached another plateau when he became ill with brain fog and fatigue, the symptoms of hypothyroidism. ... (read more)

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Nature Connection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Little Dandelion Seed That Hung On
by Karyn Gwin
Archway Publishing


"The little fuzzy seed finally lets go."

A tiny dandelion seed attaches itself to the sleeve of a little girl. The child, out walking with her beloved grandmother, observes, "A gentle wind blows and dances with the crows," personifying the breeze poetically. The seed, clinging to her sleeve, even seems to tell a story—that of grit and a rolling stone all in one. The love between the main character and her grandmother as they share a hug on a park bench is a perfect children's scene, complete with a bit of rhyme: "They share a big hug beside a ladybug...." The grandmother-granddaughter outing is heartwarming and a wonderful example, without lecturing or pedantic lessons, about how one should feel about their elders. ... (read more)

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Precise Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What’s Really Going On?
by Peter Durbin
Xlibris


"We must understand that life is not about us. The here and now may seem important, but it is less important than what lies ahead."

The Bible describes in great detail the collapse of powerful empires that strayed from God’s commandments and blessings, establishing a pattern that can be measured and observed. Using this tendency, the same events can be applied to modern global superpowers, namely the United States. The author of this book lays out the timelines of Israel’s fall in biblical times and compares it to recent American history to ask the question of whether current events are meant as a warning to be heeded before the time of the Tribulation draws nearer and becomes unavoidable. Informed by the book's use of scripture, visual aids, and recent headlines as data points, it falls to the reader of this observation to decide for themselves if this is a mere coincidence or a sign of things to come in the following years. ... (read more)

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