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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

Storm Surge
by Stephen Reger

"What happens to one of us… happens to all of us."

In 1618-1619, as a civil war between Protestants and Catholics comes to a head across Europe, two formidable sisters, Vanessa and Sarlatova, and their entourage head to Vienna to report atrocities against Catholics that they’ve witnessed. Ferdinand, the archduke and their father, is the leader of Stormsong, a Catholic group defending the throne, but with the emperor dying, Ferdinand assumes control. However, not everyone makes the same assumption about his succession of power. Protestants and others contesting Ferdinand for one reason or another band together, in some cases outnumbering the Catholic stronghold. As the sisters learn more about their father and the political situation during their journey, their goals change. Meanwhile, Ferdinand sends various parties in search of his daughters. But is it for good or ill? ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Real Growth

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Start Over As Your Real Self: And Balance Everything to be Happy
by David F. Marks, PhD


"The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose."

Marks’ book focuses on mental health and healthy life practices. The fifty-four short chapters include topics related to fostering creativity, coping with emotions, balancing life, the mind-body connection, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and self-care. Some of the ideas for healing include journaling, art and music, mindfulness, visualization, humor and laughter, participating in hobbies, being in solitude, meditation, being in nature, taming the inner critic, and deep breathing. The teaching utilizes a “Balance Theory” regarding human behavior and how to change this behavior, along with an examination of scientific findings containing an exploration of the “social nature” of humans. The work is a self-reflective guide with exercises to complete in each chapter, which adds to the focus of not just reading the book but being immersed in it. ... (read more)

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Myths & Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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The Best Memories

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Watch Out for the Elephants!
by C. Angela Todd and C. Ann Todd
Dorrance Publishing Company


"Dear reader, I am sure you realize our way of life was a most enriching experience, but it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to a country and friends."

The Todd sisters offer a shared autobiographical look at their unique childhood, spent mostly outside America as daughters of the eleventh black man to be inducted into the United States Foreign Service in 1945. James and his wife, Norma, enthusiastically accepted this remarkable opportunity, embarking for Egypt where Angela would be born. Later, they would be stationed in Israel, Ann’s birthplace. An early lesson in racial inequality occurred when Angela and her parents visited America on home leave. Her father warned her to speak only in Arabic when they went to a restaurant in the South. She recalls that instead of being ostracized by the locals for their skin color, they were welcomed heartily as “foreigners.” ... (read more)

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Bedlum

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Creager: The War Paint Killer Saga
by L. Hanson


"This is just the beginning; I can feel it in my bones."

Bedford Township has seen its share of ups and downs as a community, from prosperity to near desertion. In 2012, the announcement of the construction of a new dam has led to rejuvenation. However, a new problem has arisen with new arrivals as crime has begun to skyrocket. Detective Ben Creager and his partner, Ritch, are experiencing this phenomenon firsthand with each new crime scene to explore. The crimes are becoming more brazen, from daylight shootouts between thieves and security guards to the string of murders that appear almost ritualistic in nature. Creager’s skills are put to the test, as is his mental health, since he has never fully recovered from a near-fatal car crash in his youth. As the 911 calls keep coming in, Bedford Township’s future may be in doubt. ... (read more)

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Artful & Entertaining

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What Lies Buried
by Leslie Kain
Atmosphere Press


"Permission to feel. And now permission to be..."

Gavin DiMasi has a terrible childhood of being tormented by his twin brother and their father. But when his parents and brother die, DiMasi is the last man standing to deal with all of the family's dirty laundry. Not only were his father and brother cruel, but they also left a mob mess to mop up. DiMasi's wife tries to save him from his memories and the mob while simultaneously working to protect herself and their child from being sucked into his dark world. Readers learn from DiMasi and his wife's dialogues with their counselor, Dr. Pederson, and are reminded of the slow road to recovery. Pederson says, "If Gavin’s life were fiction, his behavior would self-correct after one explanation. But words can’t rewire the neurological damage from his lifetime of traumatic assaults." ... (read more)

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Evocative & Sensual

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tomorrow We Will Know: A Novel of Imperial Constantinople 1453
by Sandra Worth
Walter Books


"Seated together on the balcony, they delighted in the beauty of their ever-changing land, where black cypresses grew by round towers and giant plane-trees spread dappled shade..."

Lyrical prose, an expert grasp of historical detail, and deftly honed plausible imagination define award-winning author Worth’s passionate seventh novel. A historical romance set from 1448 to 1453 against the dramatic backdrop of the Eastern Roman Empire’s final days, this love story for the ages culminates in tragedy: the prophesied fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire and the demise of Emperor Constantine XI. By the time Constantine XI ascends his throne, the once great empire of eastern Christendom has been reduced to a mere blip on the map—a bit of land surrounding the city of Constantinople, the Queen of Cities. Although much has been written and recorded about the empire, emperor, and era, many facets of this history, including Constantine’s supposed secret third marriage, remain a mystery debated by scholars to this day. ... (read more)

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Masterful

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Men Who Walk in Dreams
by Marisa Labozzetta
Guernica Editions


"Dad smiled, a glimmer of hope tickling his mustache. He’s always wanted to believe there’s more between me and Marlene than a plate of cookies."

Through the medium of the short story, characters are introduced in moments when their candles are burning the brightest. The reader is served a cross-section of these fictional lives in a manageable fraction that packs the most flavor and impression into the smallest number of bites. One might not expect these defining scenes to include the quitting of one’s job to discover one’s true calling in authentic mozzarella cheese, or a frustrated series of phone calls between two people whose love never really got to reach its potential even after decades, but life often happens before it can be prepared for. This compilation of evocative stories and scenes thrusts readers into the unexpected, only to be dazzled and captivated by raw emotion, personal insight, and the occasional water buffalo. ... (read more)

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Passion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Resilience

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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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Lyrical & Vivid

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Introspective Observer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin
by Debbie Chein Morris
She Writes Press


"What I really wish is to have a memory of how we danced… hand in hand, and feet to feet."

Morris shares a poignant, sometimes painful memoir of the time spent with her twin sister, Judy. Born first, Judy was soon recognized to have cerebral palsy, probably a result of damage to her brain before she emerged from their mother’s womb. Yet the author’s early childhood memories indicate that the two shared a remarkably communicative relationship. Though incontinent and burdened with cognitive impairments, her twin was able to enjoy the special attention of those who loved her. A special memory for Morris was of dancing with her sister to the merriment of other family members. ... (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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Her Course

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Heroine’s Labyrinth: Archetypal Designs in Heroine-Led Fiction
by Douglas A. Burton
Silent Music Press


"Once I developed a working model for the heroine’s labyrinth, I realized just how many of our stories match the labyrinth model over the journey model."

Burton reveals the feminine perspective in this groundbreaking volume inspired by Joseph Campbell’s work on the hero’s journey and masculine archetypal themes in fiction. As Burton worked on Far Away Bird (2020), his historical novel about the Byzantine empress Theodora, he noted (along with a few other writers and academics) that the patterns, themes, and archetypal symbols in female-centered stories vary from the archetypal patterns proposed by Campbell’s hero’s journey. Burton initially worked to organize Theodora’s life into a compelling structure, turning to Campbell’s work for support. However, he found that the structure of Theodora’s life didn’t reflect the hero’s journey closely, so he sought the feminine archetypal equivalents by studying a plethora of critiques, blogs, articles, and books about women’s spiritual journeys. He soon found that very few enlightened him in the manner that Campbell’s work did about the steps of the narrative arc that appears universally in mythological tales about heroes who journey far from home to vanquish a villain or a threat. These steps resonate with people of widely different cultures because they are believed to be archetypes or archetypal symbols—primal models embedded in human consciousness. This is the reason these symbolic aspects ring true in diverse cultures. ... (read more)

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From Poverty & Orphanhood

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A Single Desperate Prayer
by Ludmila Ritz


"Orphanage life was good. I no longer missed street life, and my craving for cigarettes had finally passed. I was happy to be with my sister and to have good food to eat. Even better, I didn’t have to beg or do sexual favors to get it."

This is an engaging and often upsetting portrait of growing up in Ukraine in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Young Ludmila has no memory of her grandparents, who have already died when the story begins. Her mother—beautiful, fragile, and overburdened—copes with the stress of raising two girls by injecting heroin. Ludmila and her younger sister, Alyona, live in squalid conditions. Perpetually hungry, they’re forced to beg on the streets for food. At the age of nine, Ludmila learns that she can acquire large amounts of money by performing sexual favors for a local pervert. The bleakness of the children’s situation is only leavened by occasional visits with an aunt who lives in the suburbs. ... (read more)

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Intense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grass
by Mark McQuown
Authors Book Publishing


"...the rest was up to him - to show them the real thing -- Chachi unchained."

Cachi is a twelve-year-old with profound autism. Everyone wants to help him, but no one can see the world from Cachi's viewpoint. Like a person with dementia, the afflicted can't explain, and their reality is altered in such a way that sometimes they can't be reached. But what readers can do is empathize, and the narrative effectively pulls them into the protagonist’s life. By peering into Cachi's world, readers have the opportunity to learn how to be more helpful, less intrusive, and more compassionate, even if unable to truly "understand." ... (read more)

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Secrets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seventeen Parcels
by Mic Lowther
BookBaby


"After an hour of reading and signing a stack of legally binding agreements, Austin Somerfeld walked out the law office door with a parcel under his arm and a $30,000 check in his pocket."

Xander Moorhouse spent a lifetime building wealth. In fact, his relationship with his three children suffered due to his dedication to business pursuits. No one knew his net worth, which is how he liked it. After his wife passed and he slowed into retirement, he moved his wealth offshore and came up with a plan to deliver his children a final message and tell his story before they would get any of his money. Part of this plan was to have his lawyer hire a driver to hide seventeen packages around the United States. Austin, famed for his delivery skills, was interviewed for the task. The job presented to him by the lawyer was odd and interesting and paid well, so he said yes. A little less than two years later, the task was done. Meanwhile, Xander and his children developed a renewed relationship through travel, and they all worked together to open an ice cream parlor. When he passed, his lawyer told them about the seventeen parcels and the rules to collect them. The children decided to hire Austin to help them retrieve the packages. ... (read more)

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Presence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Men Who Walk in Dreams
by Marisa Labozzetta
Guernica Editions


"Dad smiled, a glimmer of hope tickling his mustache. He’s always wanted to believe there’s more between me and Marlene than a plate of cookies."

Through the medium of the short story, characters are introduced in moments when their candles are burning the brightest. The reader is served a cross-section of these fictional lives in a manageable fraction that packs the most flavor and impression into the smallest number of bites. One might not expect these defining scenes to include the quitting of one’s job to discover one’s true calling in authentic mozzarella cheese, or a frustrated series of phone calls between two people whose love never really got to reach its potential even after decades, but life often happens before it can be prepared for. This compilation of evocative stories and scenes thrusts readers into the unexpected, only to be dazzled and captivated by raw emotion, personal insight, and the occasional water buffalo. ... (read more)

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Challenges Overcome

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Still Rambling Down Life’s Road… with a Brain Injury
by Kevin Pettit
Authors' Tranquility Press


"My experiences recovering from a severe injury recounted in this book has led me to a more placid understanding of myself and the world."

Author Pettit has remarkably derived solace, understanding, and philosophical structure as a result of a terrifying car accident. Resolving to share with others his trepidations and triumphs, he began his chronicle in 1999, a few months after his near-death experience, by keeping a journal. Torn from a career as a professor of physics at the Carleton College and from the blessings and accomplishments of that status, he found himself so diminished from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) that, for a frustrating period, he could not perform the simplest physical or mental tasks. His journal writing revealed the morass of confusion that sometimes plagued him. Though it was a daunting and lengthy process, Pettit garnered encouragement from family and friends, including his wife Karen, who was also injured but less seriously in the wreck, and by the companionship of his toddler son, Andrew, who was in the car with his parents but was thankfully unhurt. ... (read more)

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Events & Aspirations

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The Secret Emissary
by Roberto de Haro
Gatekeeper Press


"A sinister evil in the form of Fascism is spreading through Italy and elsewhere in Europe. I want to engage you in a covert process to challenge this evil."

Born into a wealthy Mexican family around 1900, Luis Valderano admires and has learned much from his older brother, Ruben. The two enjoy life on their family’s large ranch, although it does come with complications from their older stepbrother, Elpidio, who is heir to the estate and more connected to his deceased mother’s family than their own. Ruben eventually moves to Spain near his mother’s family for schooling and begins taking an interest in military service. After showing an interest in Catholicism, Luis is put under the guidance of Brother Tracy. This begins a period of intense educational and religious training, which will lead Luis to dedicate his life to the priesthood. His intellect and devotion, as well as the influence his family’s wealth brings, opens many doors for Luis. Both Ruben and Luis serve in their respective disciplines with distinction, growing in reputation and responsibility. The coming of WWII finds the brothers with ties to wealthy and influential men on both sides of the Atlantic, and they each battle the Axis powers. Although the Vatican officially stays neutral, Luis secretly works with many underground groups to help refugees, resistance fighters, and secret agents. ... (read more)

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Bright & Descriptive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lonely Dragon
by James C. Lyon
Archway Publishing


"But alas, as much as this dragon loved and admired his beautiful piles of gold and jewelry, he often felt very sad because he had no one to share their beauty with."

There once was a fearsome dragon living in a mountain cave with a huge pile of gold and riches. He used to get tons of pleasure out of admiring the beauty of his treasures, but lately, he had been feeling sad and alone. In the valley at the foot of the mountain, there was a small village. Its inhabitants lived in poverty and were always hungry. Years ago, the dragon had stolen all their gold and riches, leaving them without the means to buy food and provisions from the king. Olyn, a young boy who lived in the village, decided that someone needed to do something about the town’s situation. It was a long hike, and Olyn was weak and hungry, but his determination carried him to the dragon’s cave. The dragon terrified Olyn, but he overcame his fear and showed great insight, asking the dragon if he ever felt lonely. This conversation led to the dragon accompanying the boy to the village, where he was treated warmly and hugged by Olyn. The dragon enjoyed the feeling of community and decided to share his treasure, which allowed the villagers to purchase goods again from the king. ... (read more)

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Loss & Grief

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Codex
by Lisa Towles
Indies United Publishing House


"I was sustaining myself while the stages of grief and loss bit thick chunks out of my soul."

Over a year ago, Angus Mariner survived a car accident, but his wife did not. Because of that, he became an alcoholic. Now, he is trying to get his life back on track. One day, the police find a dead body near Angus' trailer on the beach. They question him, and he explains that he fled the scene when he heard the gunshots. A few days later, a stranger named Wendell Peters approaches Angus in a bar. Wendell offers to give him a helicopter, but Angus declines the offer. The next morning, Wendell is found dead. Detective Walt Dekker sees Angus as a potential suspect because he has been connected to two murders. The more Angus tries to find evidence to clear his name, the more he realizes that Wendell's death might be connected to his wife's death. ... (read more)

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Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lost & Found: Reflections on Travel, Career, Love and Family
by Dustin Grinnell
Peter Lang


"As a writer, I just want to tell stories. True stories, invented stories. Big ones, small ones, meaningful ones, absurd ones."

When inspiration strikes, it does so at times that can be either convenient or difficult to manage. It can be a gentle nudge toward gradual change or a compulsion so strong that it levels everything around it to the ground to be built up from scratch. This collection of essays, written by the author over the course of a decade, highlights his journey to leave behind a career as a copywriter, to travel the world in search of inspiration and new experiences, and to navigate the same modern human experiences as so many others. Through marathon races and reluctant therapy, self-actualization and reflection find their way to the forefront in many intended and unexpected ways in this volume of more than two dozen published essays. ... (read more)

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WeTeam

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sport: A Stage for Life
by Cristiana Pinciroli with Pedro Pinciroli Júnior
iUniverse


"Sport helps develop focus, determination, and responsibility while also stimulating creativity, risk-taking, and independence."

Writer Pinciroli, collaborating with her father, has constructed a thorough, thoughtful view of the ways that sports activities mirror other life situations. Trained and encouraged by her father, the author has been a successful Olympic athlete and trainer and has also attained success in the corporate realm. Her book opens as she rides at the age of six on her father’s shoulders far out into the ocean. Such experiences led to her becoming a highly regarded participant in water polo, an activity she describes in vivid detail. A stirring example of the author’s thesis is Natalie du Toit, a South African swimmer whose sports career seemed doomed when she lost a leg. Yet months later, she was back in competition, starting in the Paralympics and rising to regular Olympic competition. Pinciroli draws on family recollections, as well as interviews and accounts of sports greats like Benita Willis, Dotsie Bausch, and Kobe Bryant, illustrating the myriad ways that one can envision, practice, and create oneself as a top player within and beyond the arena. ... (read more)

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Gentle & Loving

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The Swing on Ginny's Porch
by Brenda M. Jenkins
Authors' Tranquility Press


"My Ginny says the years go by and people come and go. But we’ll always have the memories made while rocking to and fro."

This delightful children’s picture book pays sweet homage to a particular spot at the narrator’s grandmother’s house: the swing on the front porch. It is upon this swinging bench, with its big red cushion, that the child and his “Ginny” (pronounced like “Guinea”) have together spent so many wonderful times over the years. When he cried and cried as a baby, Ginny wrapped him in a cozy blanket and sang lullabies on that favorite porch swing. During hot summertime, the two would share icy popsicles side by side on the swing. Whenever the child was not feeling well, Ginny would hold him close and dry his tears, sitting with him on the bench swing until everything was better. ... (read more)

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Engaging Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Flossy the Raccoon
by Blacksheep Children’s Books
Author‛s Tranquility Press


"My name is Flossy. I am a raccoon. I have a good home over in a nice neighborhood with good food."

In this colorful children’s book, young readers meet Flossy the Racoon. He lives in a good neighborhood, but Flossy’s mom realizes he would probably be better off in the woods. However, Flossy does not let his mom’s realization deter him. He introduces children to his friends, the local cats. Flossy also shows readers the beautiful, natural landscape in which he can play. Children visit the river and see how the raccoon interacts with others as he meets a group of puppies who want to play. The dogs even help Flossy return home safely by giving him safety tips. Ultimately, Flossy realizes an important lesson after his adventures: there is no place as safe, fun, and warm as home. ... (read more)

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Westward

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Best Material for the Artist in the World
by Kenneth Chamlee
Stephen F. Austin State University Press


"I hear the hunters’ quick yips, dream / each groan and lunge of the beasts, / remember my grandmother’s prayer / but when I step out of the frame / the buffalo are gone and I am / still a Lakota in a painted show."

In this poetic reimagining of Albert Bierstadt’s life, readers discover America’s true and untamed "Wild West." They also enter into the artistic realm of a German-American painter whose work transformed how people across America and even the globe viewed the American wilderness. The hardships of emigrating westward into unknown, unexplored expanses unfold. The poems capture an artist’s personal and professional difficulties, including harsh criticism from reviewers and patrons, the fiery destruction of Bierstadt’s mansion, and Bierstadt’s wife’s struggle with chronic illness. These poems solidify, too, Bierstadt’s legacy as an artist who reimagined the West in a way so few could during his time. Poems like “Chief Rocky Bear Views The Last of the Buffalo in Paris, 1889” portray “the stillness of the great picture” and the respectful way in which Bierstadt painted and preserved the dignity and cultures of the Sioux and Shoshone peoples. ... (read more)

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Exciting Introduction

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Funky Donkey Tells His Story about His First Ski Lesson on Safety
by Herbert K. Naito
iUniverse


"Your other good friend, Grumpy Bear, is waiting for you at the bottom of the other hill and is anxious to hear from you."

In this fun children’s book, young readers meet Funky Donkey on a bright sunny day. Funky Donkey likes to ski fast. He zooms and falls and crashes, taking young readers with him. Eventually, Funky Donkey meets Robo the Robot, who suggests that Funky Donkey take some ski lessons. Despite his resistance, Funky Donkey eventually meets his ski instructor, Pineapple Herb. Pineapple Herb reinforces the necessity for safety and ski lessons to Funky Donkey, and young readers receive many important safety lessons that will teach them to be mindful of their own skiing practices. For example, they learn why they should always wear a helmet, and they learn important techniques that will help them maintain balance on the slopes. They also learn the important turns, like the J-Turn, that will improve their technique. ... (read more)

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Real World Christmas

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Taryn's Tropical Christmas: A Taryn and Kevin Story
by Terry Boucher
PageTurner Press and Media


"She was going to spend Christmas here in tropical Jabalia where it was nice and warm."

Part of a series of children’s books, this particular story follows Princess Taryn and Prince Kevin from the kingdom of Athanasia. They visit Jabalia in the tropics to attend the wedding of their friend Princess Jameela to Zuberi, the son of a prime minister. While commemorating the sweet occasion, they enjoy the special ways the inhabitants of Jabalia celebrate their Christmas festivities as compared to those in Athanasia. Meanwhile, they also strengthen their ties with their friends from the far more secretive country of New Atlantis. Princess Taryn’s younger brother, James, even forms a bond with Tabitha, who comes from New Atlantis and uses their advanced technology to fight against pirates. When James and Tabitha spend time together at a waterfall, things take a tragic turn when Tabitha falls and hurts herself. It takes James and their friends to rescue her. Meanwhile, Princess Taryn has been experiencing dizzy spells, which are alarming but lead to a sweet reveal. ... (read more)

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Peace Seeking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Princess Liliokalani Does Not Believe in Racism and Hate Crimes Because She Is Colorblind
by Herbert K. Naito
Proisle Publishing Services


"Why is it so difficult to live peacefully together in harmony?"

Author Naito has composed a vibrant treatise centered on issues of race and skin color and their potential effects on social behaviors, feelings, and legal issues. The setting for his artfully constructed work is Hawaii, where Naito was raised, noting that it is a state with a low number of hate crimes, providing a melting pot where people of all heritages live “in peace and harmony.” The spokesperson for his salient points is the title’s Princess Liliokalani, who initiates the book’s themes by asking, “What does racism mean to you?” Is it, she questions, based on skin color (a thin layer that some people try to darken for greater beauty), dress styles, languages, foods, or other superficial elements? ... (read more)

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Poignant

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shh...Mommy Has a Migraine
by Penny Teague
Pen Culture Solutions


"You didn't do it she says migraines just come on and get her."

One morning, a mother woke up feeling positive and planned to go out with her daughter. Suddenly, she was hit with a severe migraine and could no longer go out with her child. The mother lay in bed in her bedroom, feeling unwell. Her daughter was sad to see her mother suffer, so she tried to help her by bringing her an ice pack and a cold drink. The father came home and realized that his wife was not feeling well. His daughter felt responsible for her mother's migraine, but her dad reassured her that it was not her fault. Later, the daughter saw that the lights in her parents' bedroom were on and guessed that her mother was feeling better. Her mother came out of the bedroom looking happier than ever. ... (read more)

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Bold Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Refuge
by Bill VanPatten


"You can thank me by having a good life. That's the best present for someone like me."

Jesse Pérez is a middle-aged widower who lives in California with his ten-year-old son Matthew. Matthew has some mild autism and is highly intelligent. Jesse's husband, David, passed away from cancer six months prior to the story's beginning. One night, Jesse's fifteen-year-old niece, Gloria, knocks on his door unexpectedly. She has run away from her home in Lubbock, Texas, because she is pregnant and seeking an abortion in California. Jesse allows her to stay with him and have the procedure but insists, as she manifests terror, that she inform her parents where she is. ... (read more)

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Inside Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Hidden Secrets and Treasures of Having Fun on and Around the Ski Resorts
by Herbert K. Naito
Proisle Publishing Services


"Don’t forget to rent a helmet to protect your noodle!"

Everyone knows that skiing can be fun. After all, it is a whole sports industry. But as the book illustrates, there is more for the asking at most ski areas. The theme here is to expand and explore adventure horizons. From activities as crazy and cold as ice yachting to more mellow and introspective alternatives like bird watching or yoga, Naito helps readers see the possibilities for a life well lived. ... (read more)

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Thought-Provoking

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Why Does Racism Still Exist in America with Asian Americans?
by Herbert K. Naito
Proisle Publishing Services


"The hate crimes and racism must stop in America – now!"

Author Naito propounds a significant view of racism, hate crimes, and discrimination at all levels as they manifest in America. He sets Hawaii as a positive exemplar for its statistically based multiculturism and proposes an effort, led by the University of Hawaii, to identify causes of, and solutions for, hate crime and racism wherever found. He devotes chapters to various immigrant groups in the US, beginning with the Chinese. Their arrival in the 1800s was based on economic factors. Those who came were hardworking men who were treated as slaves, engendering bias against them that still lingers. The Japanese migrated seeking better circumstances, with families settling, often as farmers, until World War II brought about their US internment in subhuman quarters. Still, these cultures, including Koreans who arrived later, maintain strong, respect-based standards for familial and social behaviors. ... (read more)

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Generational Trauma

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Little Boy, I Know Your Name
by Mitchell Raff
River Grove Books


"If I and many others like me are children of the Holocaust, the Holocaust is a weirdly absent parent. We feel its presence but never enough to truly know it."

After marrying in Israel, the author’s parents moved to Los Angeles shortly before he was born. His father was a survivor of the concentration camp known as Dachau, and his mother survived by being hidden in a barn where she watched her own mother die and was in constant fear of being turned into the Nazis by the abusive family who owned the property. When his parents split, his aunt and uncle took him in. They, too, survived the war and kept their scars hidden. However, they worked extremely hard to provide for Raff and loved him very much. Later, Raff’s mother took him back, luring him away with the promise of the sister he didn’t know he had. ... (read more)

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Abundant Passion

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Live To Bounce Back And Be Reborn
by Craig G. Acheson
PageTurnerPress and Media


"In the next few pages of poetry you will see my gradual decent into anger, depression, and then I find a glimmer of hope for the future."

Writing that he is “passionate about helping people find their life path by helping them understand and use their own soul guidance,” Acheson’s self-help guide seeks to align the reader with both God’s will and one’s own instinct to overcome life traumas and reach the greatest natural potential possible. Through sharing selections of his own intimate poetry, the author explains it is his hope that sharing his personal pain in life will help readers realize that change and spiritual progress are always possible. Examination of one’s many habit-based perceptions and the power of choice and intention serve as fodder for the ultimate goal of “metanoia,” defined as “the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.” Finding one’s center and purpose is a process that takes time, Acheson contends. But with the right tools and perspective, it can absolutely happen. ... (read more)

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Best Course

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How to Prepare for Your Child's First Ski Lesson
by Herbert K. Naito
Proisle Publishing Services


"No stone will be left unturned; you will be fully prepared for your child's first ski lesson."

The author’s unique offering is a comprehensive guide to preparing anyone from age three to eighteen to ski. In addition to the standard areas of preparation such as outfits, appropriate ski poles (adjustable ones are more expensive but may be more beneficial to a very young skier), instruction on positions regarding the skier's body and posture, and finding the right coach for the young person, Naito briefly describes the perspective of each age group, the importance of proper nutrition and hydration, and additional aspects of preparation that usually are not covered in traditional lessons. One example is the importance of the ski student going to the bathroom prior to the lesson. ... (read more)

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Growth Potential

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Scaling the Math Achievement Ladder: Teachers Leading the Way to the Top
by Brenda Bayly Buckley
Pen Culture Solutions


"It is the goal of this book to inspire teachers to provide the leadership necessary to demonstrate that THEY are the professionals in education; educators, not politicians."

"Cumulative Reinforcement of Concepts and Skills [CRCS]" is an instructional strategy that was introduced in the late 1990s and intended for high school students. Its efficacy was noted, and teachers of fourth and fifth grades were eager to implement it in their classes, as was a teacher of the seventh and eighth grades in Florida. The results were dramatic. ... (read more)

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Godly Adoption

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Quiana's New Family: Dealing with Adoption
by Jules Bloom
Tri-Production Publishing


"Quinana loved her room because it was what she dreamed about…. She remembered nights when she would pray to God and ask Him to give her a lovely room."

Mr. and Mrs. Jones have two children and feel they have a happy family. However, the couple has been thinking of adopting a third child. After going through the process and the paperwork, the Jones family is introduced to Quiana. They gather her things and take her home, introducing her to her new surroundings. Quiana likes Mr. and Mrs. Jones as well as their two children. The family is nice and takes good care of her. She has her own room, and she enjoys going to school and church. However, as she has been bouncing around foster homes for the past three years, she has decided not to get disappointed again. She is going to tell the Jones family that she doesn’t want to stay with them any longer. ... (read more)

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Reconciling

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The Emerald Necklace
by Linda Rosen
Black Rose Writing


"Her Mother had always told Rosalee to pursue her dream, not to let a man hold her back."

Rosalee Linoff is adjusting to a new life at sixty-three years old. Her husband, Arnold, has recently passed away, and Rosalee’s grief has left her stagnant. As a new year has dawned, Rosalee knows she must get back into normalcy and stay active. She longs to get back into her sculpting. Her attempts at self-rejuvenation are tested when she meets her new neighbor, Fran Barish. Despite Fran’s ingratiating manner, Rosalee keeps her at arm’s length. Fran infiltrates Rosalee’s social circle and befriends Rosalee’s granddaughter Jill. The barely concealed animosity between Rosalee and Fran is revealed to revolve around Rosalee’s late husband, Arnold, and a previous relationship with Fran. In spite of the turmoil with Fran, Rosalee is determined to put her best foot forward in sculpting and in life. ... (read more)

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Engaging

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Raise Your Hand
by Patti Nemeth
Xlibris


"The teacher arranged our chairs in a half-circle and read The Grasshopper and The Ant aloud to us. It was all so new! Without books at our house, no one ever read out loud to us."

In this honest, heartfelt memoir, Nemeth begins as she and her brother—ages one and two—arrive in Phoenix with their mother after leaving their father. Searching for a new life, they have few possessions. Nemeth’s mother waitresses at a diner and eventually marries a local car salesman. Although naturally filled with a curious imagination and a thirst for learning, Nemeth is discouraged from reading and intellectual growth. Her unschooled parents, unable to nurture her, view the author’s role as one of simply marrying and bearing children. Nemeth instead finds meaning in competing academically. As her parents disavow her, she works her way through college, earns a doctorate in anatomy, travels the world engaged in academic fieldwork, and later teaches at Washington University School of Medicine. She eventually discovers her true life’s calling as a physician. Successful in practicing medicine (and finding her true love, Jim), she nonetheless encounters instances throughout her career of misogyny and sexism. ... (read more)

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Appropriation

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Ian
by Donald MacCleod
Xlibris


"A man makes a heaven or hell for himself by the way he lives his life."

Just as Ian sees many changes in his life between his initial sea voyage from Scotland to Canada in the 1720s and his settling on a farm in the 1730s, his adopted country also undergoes many changes during his time there. The book charts Ian’s travels with his mentor and friend, Father Henri, through Native settlements and budding towns. Between trips, he works as a barrel maker and with voyageurs in a fur trading outfit. Then, he marries Sarah and devotes his life to the family farm. As the farm and Ian’s family grow, tension between the French and British over the new territory mounts. ... (read more)

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Loyalty

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The Saga of The Light Striper: The Reframing of a New World
by Rick Stuempfle
iUniverse


"'I wanta live to tell me kids the story."

Stuempfle spins a fantasy tale about the collapse and restructure of a civilization as the Haafian await an attack by the enemy Kyykki. The story develops through the conversations between the many characters and the situations that arise. The dialogue evinces the relationships of the characters on a micro level, as well as develops the tension of beings anticipating the chaos of a collapsing civilization. The story is filled with the drama of battle, although not as much as a good versus evil tale but of ambiguity versus more ambiguity. An intriguing question emerges from the narrative: how do beings develop a society and, subsequently, cope with the preparations for its defense or restructure? ... (read more)

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Sustaining

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He Went a Little Farther
by Steve Campbell
WestBow Press


"Our motto had long been, ‘Pray as you go, and go as you pray."

Author Campbell recounts the many remarkable incidents and notable characters that he and his wife, Wanda, have encountered in their dedicated work in street ministry. Located in Columbus, Ohio, their charitable mission, the Dream Center, has assisted many persons in desperate physical and spiritual need. ... (read more)

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Poignant

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The Calling
by George Patton Bargas
AuthorHouse


"I knew of God but didn't really know God."

Bargas’ book is divided into two parts. The first is “The Journey,” while the second is “The Calling.” The book tells the story of a young man who grows up in the Christian faith. He enlists and is sent to Vietnam to fight. The author ultimately engages in many battles in which he sees not only the members of the Viet Cong tortured and killed but also civilians and close friends, one of whom he feels strongly was an angel sent by God to protect him from harm. During the multiple horrors of battle, Bargas, plagued by nightmares, finds relief in killing, as well as in abusing drugs and alcohol. His destruction continues until he is declared mentally unfit and sent home. ... (read more)

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Pet Love

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Will You Be There When I Call to You
by Tootsie Barron
URLink Print and Media


"You filled my heart with joy and gladness and in the dark
times, you took away my sadness,
Will you be there when I call to you?"

The author has had many wonderful dogs in her life, including Boy Scout. Now that these dogs have passed away, she is missing them. She wonders if these animals will be waiting for her when she dies. She imagines them greeting her at Heaven’s gate, running to greet her and licking her face. She believes that if they remember her and greet her when she passes, she’ll see rainbows everywhere. She loved the days when these dogs would follow her like her own shadow and bring her joy when she was down. Although she misses the dogs now, she is looking forward to a time when her life is over and she can reunite with her beloved dogs. once again enjoying their company and unwavering friendship. ... (read more)

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Dreamy

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Arni’s Adventures
by Arnav Ashok
Xlibris


"Hey Mom! Look what I found!"

In this comic book-style collection, a young boy named Arni goes on a wide variety of extraordinary adventures. Whether he’s catching mischievous flies, hatching dinosaurs to become his pets, or dressing up as a bear to work at the zoo, there is no end of excitement around each bend in his life. Arni's world is truly a wild and wacky place. His mother is oftentimes busy with work elsewhere, but the people and things her son encounters might just surprise her on a regular basis as well. Then again, at one point she even helps Arni to try and catch a ghost, leading to the stunning realization that such activities are an average day in the lives of these characters. Almost anything has the chance of happening next. ... (read more)

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Afoot

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I Was Born To Run
by Angelina Charles
PageTurner Press and Media


"One day, Grandma said, “You’re unique. You’ll run faster with strong legs.” I started running daily with her encouragement."

Eight-year-old James has a big brother named John and a little sister named Shayla. Their mom takes great care of them, and their dad works fixing planes at the airport. Born with one leg shorter than the other, James is always told by doctors that he will never be able to run like his friends. This saddens James, who dreams of running. Other kids tease him for the way he walks. When the family moves, James finds his classmates to be kind, and they encourage him. Every weekend, he runs with his best friend, Daniel, and over time gains confidence. Though it’s difficult, James never gives up and with practice gets better and better. His gym teacher notices and suggests he join the school track team. On the day of the big race, James finishes second, and the entire family celebrates. ... (read more)

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Self-Examination

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Because I Made You That Way: The Remarkable Gift of Focus
by R. D. Koncerak
WestBow Press


"Every one of us is but a single decision away from altering the course of our lives."

Author Koncerak presents a treatise to assist his readers in focusing on and thereby improving their lives, opening the mind and spirit to the God-given concept of free will and its role in complex human experience. The book comprises three parts: “How You Were Born,” “What You Have,” and “What You Want,” each addressing four of Koncerak’s twelve contentions regarding human development. Koncerak avows he specifically addresses men since he is a man and believes that other males will readily identify with his ideas and appreciate his sometimes rowdy sense of humor. However, women, he states, can also grasp the book’s sturdy principles. ... (read more)

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Animals

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The Garden in the Wood
by Clair Campbell
Archway Publishing


"The garden is watered and fed By both a stream and a brook."

Author Campbell takes young readers with her on a walk in the woods while teaching observation and curiosity, sometimes humorously: "The great stag stands tall on the path just ahead. We count twelve points on his antlers. How does he go to bed?" It is refreshing to see everything growing in the woods as a garden. After all, gardens aren't just where carrots grow. Teaching young readers that moss and mushrooms are alive helps them see the magic on the forest floor. ... (read more)

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Honesty

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My Story...
by Natalie Peters
Balboa Press


"Scenarios constantly arose where I was challenged with how to react."

If you’ve ever imagined what would happen if you committed a significant crime and were sentenced to jail despite having previously lived an ordinary, law-abiding life, this is the memoir to read. Natalie Peters, a healthcare professional working in Queensland, Australia, turns her quiet, churchgoing life upside down with an unspecified, serious crime she committed under the influence of a mental health issue. Convicted and sentenced to jail time, the next four months of her life were spent grappling with the many stated and unstated social rules of incarceration that she had to swiftly learn in order to cope with the personality quirks of her fellow inmates and prison guards and staff. ... (read more)

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