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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.

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Latecomers
by Rich Marcello
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC


"When its members are in harmony, there is nothing in the world they can’t do together."

This is a wondrous story that encompasses the here and now with the time-honored connection of mystery and spirituality. We learn about Maggie and Charlie who embody the boundaries of life with the expansion of the soul. In their journey through trials and tribulations, they share the depth of eternal love. Written in the first person by both protagonists, the story focuses on symbols and sacredness, their beloved friends in the moai, and includes the goddesses and the spirits that accompany them. When Charlie goes on retreat to a beloved center, the story offers a glimpse into the necessity of dealing with his restlessness, a restlessness that Maggie saw through her paintings of him. The journey into the mysticism of life regarding their findings from a secret book of symbols, as well as magical plants, leads the group of five on a path of helping others. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


"He called the desert the perfect place for him because so little moved. Just one big photograph, so it provided the illusion that his life was back to normal."

There is an exceptionally fine line between intense introspection and prolonged navel-gazing. That line is a tightrope author Bolick walks precariously in this tale of one man’s unyielding search for enlightenment. Bolick’s protagonist desperately wants to come to grips with personal answers to profound questions such as why are we here, what does consciousness really mean, and can we ever truly understand one another or, for that matter, ourselves. The author encases these soul-searching queries in a story that dispenses potential answers much like a time-release capsule—a few now, a bit later, and eventually perhaps enough to ward off congenital melancholia. However, these intermittent answers raise additional questions. Does the patient stand a chance of actually being cured or merely treated? Should his doctor heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”? ... (read more)

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No Average Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Defending Guns
by Steven Prevosto
World Castle Publishing, LLC


"The wind rushing wildly through the trees and over the land is like the spirit of man driving him to feel fulfilled in his pursuits."

In 1878, bad guys are hired by Douglas Pitt, whose goal is to take land surrounding Kansas City for a large cattle ranch. The hirelings include the town’s sheriff and deputy, who obey Pitt’s orders at whatever cost. Most of the other hirelings are already on wanted posters. The main good guy is Anthony Augustus Peters, a traveling actor from New York and quick-shot gun aficionado. He meets Fox Cloud, a Lakota Sioux and former child captive who knows English. They pose as bounty hunters wearing clever disguises from Anthony’s makeup kit. Another important yet unseen character is Anthony’s deceased wife, Mary, who inspires his death wish. Dressed in black for the final scene, will Anthony get his death wish as in Hamlet’s tragedy? Can this adventure end well? ... (read more)

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Musings & Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Childhood is a spaceship full of friends
that rockets into the future.
I will be there when it lands
like a kitten on its feet"

In her second book of collected poetry, the author has organized her musings and insights into six categories. Each chapter follows the themes of home, animals, places, riddles, caffeine and wine, and family respectively. The home chapter is the most explored, following memories of homemaking and raising children with all the energy and chaos they can bring. The chapter on animals considers the impact of family pets and wonders what life would be like in animal form. The chapter on places recalls old residences and other colorful memories of location. When writing on the theme of riddles, the poet considers things that are somewhat contradictory or mysterious about life. Not surprisingly, the chapter on caffeine and wine is a treat for the sense of taste, using language to express flavor. Finally, when exploring the topic of family, Goka revisits the endless tasks of homemaking, as well as considering her dual role as both mother and child. ... (read more)

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Oneness with Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction
by Dr. Ian Prattis
Manor House Publishing Inc.


"Yet there is always a glimpse, a possibility of stepping through the darkness and touching a warm knowing light that spurs us on."

Educator, prolific writer, spiritualist, and environmentalist, Prattis delivers an SOS to the world to save the earth and its inhabitants from destruction. The work draws upon written accounts from scientists, philosophers, social activists, and spiritual thinkers, including the wisdom of first nation tribes, all who make a convincing case for the need to take immediate action to rescue the planet. His futuristic scenarios are a wake-up call to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and the horrific physical, environmental and social consequences that civilizations will face should the earth fall further into demise. Prattis elucidates the dangers of corporate carbon emissions and their contributions to the destabilization of the earth. He emphasizes that the continuous search for wealth accumulation has come at the sacrifice of the planet. His compelling personal narratives take readers to the Canadian wilderness, the Hebrides in Scotland, and to an Ashram in India, where he writes of his near-death experience. ... (read more)

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Beloved Pet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Toby
by Phyllis M. Cutler
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"When grandma takes me for a walk she is very proud to walk with me. People stop and say how cute I am."

Toby, a golden labrador with a loving family, tells his story in this “autobiography” of the everyday life of a family dog. Always on the hunt for food scraps and looking forward to visits from grandma or the kids getting home from school, Toby is a lively, energetic dog with a twinkle in his eyes. Despite some necessary leg surgeries and even being afflicted with seizures, Toby doesn’t get slowed down by much thanks to his disposition and the love of his family. From stories of neighborhood walks to the joy of opening presents at Christmas time, Toby recalls all of the special memories and moments of his life shared with his beloved family. Though his energy sometimes gets him into trouble, Toby is always interested in being a “good boy” in the eyes of the people who take care of him and love him. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Nexus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooperative Lives
by Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing


"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"

Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision. ... (read more)

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Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lord Chamberlain’s Daughter
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"That was the story people told about me. I’m glad, of course, it wasn’t true."

Lord Chamberlain’s daughter, better known as Ophelia, has a new story to tell. In this satisfying remake, Ophelia’s fate is markedly different from the one Shakespeare assigned her. In this story, she is alive and well and ready to talk about her childhood friendship with Hamlet and Horatio, palace intrigue, and the warmongering of men in power. Shakespeare’s setting remains, and the time and place of the original play are intact, but the plot has gone astray, reimagined and rebranded with a powerful female protagonist driving the action of the familiar story’s milestones: the murders and resulting power shifts. The story is structured as a confessional of sorts by Ophelia to Fortinbras, who visits her after he learns that she is alive and living in the countryside. Ophelia begins her story by filling in the details of her adolescence at Elsinore castle, roaming freely with her brother Laertes and pals Hamlet and Horatio, while her father, Polonius, advises Hamlet’s father and strategizes a war with Norway. She continues through her own awakening to the suffering of the common people in the war effort, the corruption of the castle, and her own heart’s desire. With her motives revealed and her secrets shared, Shakespeare’s heartsick, mad Ophelia is transformed into a savvy woman of power and rebellion. ... (read more)

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Modern Christians Should

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Necessary for Jesus: 70 Prophecies 70 Rewards
by Stephen R. Kirkendall
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.


"If you start giving, you will begin to trust more in the Lord. If you don’t give, you’re saying that you don’t trust the Lord."

Many aspects of the Bible have been “put up for debate” between scholars, translators, clergymen, and laypeople alike. After centuries of study and reinterpretation, different churches or communities believe that they have come across the correct way to understand the information presented in God’s Word. Using direct quotations from the New King James Version Bible, this text puts to rest the debate as to whether or not tithing still applies to modern Christianity. Answering questions about its relevance, the amount requested, and the correct way to tithe on a low income or no income, this book chooses not to interpret the words of the Bible but to present them literally in order to provide guidance. ... (read more)

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A New Heroine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Babylon Laid Waste: A Journey in the Twilight of the Idols
by Brigitte Goldstein
Pierredor Books


"My thoughts wandered back to the time, so long ago, it seemed, at Frau Maibach’s pension and my discovery of the writer Franz Kafka."

In 1946, Misia Safran, a highly talented, recognized writer and Jewish émigré, receives an alarming letter that claims her grandmother is still alive in a care facility in Berlin. Misia at first questions the reality of returning to a war-ravaged and ideologically divided Germany to save her grandmother, but despite her parents’ objections, she connects with a people-smuggling ring and acquires forged identity papers that launch her on a journey into the heart of the defeated Third Reich. However, Misia’s travels to Berlin are quickly interrupted. Just as her adventures using the false identity of Beate Hauser begin, Misia finds herself captured by the U.S. military and at the mercy of Major Emil Zweig in a camp for female Nazi war criminals. ... (read more)

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True Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

COMI: How To Consciously Overcome Mental Illness
by Nancy Lynne Harris, M.A.
URLink Print and Media


"As you begin to experiment with new thoughts, which you consciously add to your mind, you will begin to get results."

A spiritual healer who herself lived with debilitating depression after the death of her son, Harris is a strong proponent of using one's mind—and such practices as positive self-talk and self-praise—to overcome that which she argues any amount of prescribed pills or psychiatric treatment cannot: the ultimate healing of mental illness. Though we are taught from early on that we are human beings existing in a physical body in a material world, she argues we are more like individual soul lives that exist in a spiritual world. The attitudes we, as spirit beings, formulate—even down to the language we use and ways in which we regard our individual situations—shape our reality for us. In short, by thinking only positive thoughts, we can drive out the "demonic forces" which seek to wage battle over our lives if we are not spiritually vigilant. And this includes the world of mental illness. ... (read more)

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Mastery of Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Devil’s Bookkeepers, Book 1: The Noose
by Mark H Newhouse
Newhouse Creative Group


"How can we bring a child into a world like this?"

History textbooks often provide facts in lieu of telling stories. In Newhouse’s historical fiction, largely based on the Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944, these stories are brought to life, a conjuring of what those resilient souls must have endured daily. Through the lens of the main character, Benny Ostrowski, readers gain the opportunity to experience what it must have been like to live, love, and grow in such a terrifying time. As each chapter progresses, the narrative becomes simultaneously more mesmerizing and haunting. Sealed off from the world in the Lodz Ghetto, the Jewish community was stripped of its dignity—and most material possessions—with the ever-looming Nazi noose becoming increasingly tighter. ... (read more)

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Understanding the Ether

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Critical Investigation into Precognitive Dreams: Dreamscaping Without My Timekeeper
by Paul Kiritsis
Cambridge Scholars Publishing


"Quite simply, while passive observation of past and future events may, under certain circumstances, be possible, direct participation in them is impossible."

In this detailed and wide-ranging book, the author is primarily concerned with the phenomenon of precognitive dreams—that is, the study of dreams which contain a premonition or subconscious inkling of something which has yet to be but does, in fact, take place in the future. The future, as it were, may be less than 24 hours later, days or weeks later, and may even range into years. The closeness in resemblance between the event, object, person, etc. in the dream and its real-life waking counterpart can vary widely, from a vague symbolic resemblance to more extreme cases of actual equal identification. Additionally, sometimes dreams of precognition can be on a personal level (which is the more common type, such as one dreaming a relative will pass away and then precisely that happening in real life), or of a collective nature (such as precognitive dreams involving natural or man-made disasters, airplane crashes, and the like). ... (read more)

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Tenor of the Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Intrigues of Jennie Lee: A Novel
by Alex Rosenberg
Top Hat Books


"She needed to lament, to weep, to howl. It felt to her that, somehow, she had killed her lover, her partner, the person she cared for most in the world."

Exceptional storytelling is ever-present in this continuously involving tale of historical fiction. Filled with famous characters such as Lady Astor, Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Walter Reuther, and more, the novel sweeps readers into a world of hidden agendas, secret betrayals, public posturing, and private assignations that made up British politics in the late 1920s and early 1930s. ... (read more)

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Interesting First Half

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My First Fifty-Five
by Rosie M. Elder
Xulon Press


"I hold the belief that there is a uniting of man through Jesus."

In this lively autobiography, African American writer Elder depicts a life of travel, study, work, and dedicated church involvement. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1948 to a hardworking rural family, she remembers that she had both parents and stepparents and was treated the same by all, trained well in two houses. As a result, she often had two of the same toy and shared the extras with poorer children. She remembers many trips by car and bus to visit relatives near and far from an early age. The family “ate when they were hungry” with meals supplied through the home canning of fruits and vegetables from an extensive garden “with rows farther than the eye could see.” Both domestic birds like chickens and wild game like rabbits, squirrels, and deer—along with fish, both fresh and salted—were available, with trips to the grocery store mainly for staples like flour and sugar. Religion forms many of Elder’s early memories: she had a total immersion baptism in the local pond and joined the choir by age eleven. ... (read more)

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Life of Dance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Big Dance
by Shirlie Calabrese
LifeRich Publishing


"I refuse to let Jennifer down; she’s worked so hard so we could enter this contest."

Jennifer and Alex have known each other since seventh grade, and their shared passion for dance has made them the epitome of best friends. Their mutual care for each other is heartwarming as they start a journey to the East Coast Dance Contest, which, in many ways, represents their coming of age. Mrs. Land, their dance instructor throughout their middle school and high school years, is the archetypal character of the wise teacher who is there for her pupils unconditionally. ... (read more)

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Soul Voyager

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness. A Memoir of New Beginnings
by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing


"I forgot the essence of who I was—someone free, whole, adventurous, curious, and filled with immeasurable love for the world around me."

Right from the opening pages of the prologue, the audience is front and center in the middle of an intensely personal moment: a therapy session where Keri waffles between storming out of the therapist’s office or digging deeper into sharing her family experiences as a means to battle her anxiety. Aside from excellent writing and a creative yet authentic delivery of prose, what makes this book exceptional is the author’s penchant for being relatable. Complex philosophies like releasing anger, not drowning in shame and guilt, and not letting fear warp your mind are portrayed with grace and fluidity; the pages simply turn themselves. ... (read more)

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Theodora's Rise

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Far Away Bird
by Douglas A. Burton
Silent Music Press, LLC


"In the end, all battles are social battles, Theodora. We just need to win that crowd today."

The Hippodrome is the center of activity in Constantinople. From chariot races to political debates to parties, it is a determiner of life or death. After Theodora’s father dies in a massive city-wide riot, she gets a chance to save her family from misfortune and take her own shot at success within the Hippodrome’s center. But how far will Theodora’s wings soar and take her? ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced Action & Suspense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dragon Head
by James Houston Turner
Regis Books


"Yes, Talanov was a walking dead man, while he, Wu Chee Ming, was about to become a ghost."

In the continuing saga of former KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov, the notorious gang leader Dexter Moran, better known as Dragon Head, seeks Talanov in order to obtain his vast fortune located in an off-shore account. Unbeknownst to both, the money has been stolen, and though all the people that Talanov cares for—his lover, daughter, and minions—are now in danger from Dragon Head, he must first find the missing money before he can save them. However, there are other variables at work as Talanov races the clock. Dragon Head has his own rivals who wish to possess this huge sum of money. The governments of the United States and China are involved, and Talanov’s old KGB partner, Sophia, whom he thought he had killed, is also back in the picture. Will anyone come out of the quagmire unscathed? ... (read more)

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Great Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ellie’s Journal
by M. E. Castanares
Writers Republic LLC


"'Druids and Elves were said to have a wealth of wisdom, and it was this wisdom they used to help those in need.'"

Emily Castle is a spirited young woman with a stubborn disposition and a big heart. Given the circumstances of her life, one might expect her to be forlorn. Her mother has recently gone missing and is presumed dead. Her father is unknown, and in his paternal place is Daniel Sangelos. Daniel is a man of means and mystery, but what many do not know about him is his true nature as a vampire. When a stranger named Evans contacts Daniel, the two learn of their shared link to Ellie, Emily’s mom, and Daniel’s partner. Evans has Ellie’s journal, which holds clues to her disappearance and opens the possibility to her still being alive somewhere. Along with Cy—tech expert, inventor, and Daniel’s confidant—the two men and Emily travel to England, the site of Ellie’s last known whereabouts. ... (read more)

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A Sleigh Ordeal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dasher and the Sleigh-Train
by E. Dorinda Shelley
Authors Press


"'Okay,' Santa said. 'Now, look out the window!' The elves were amazed to see the packed sleigh sitting atop the train locomotive."

With Christmas approaching and the deadline for Santa’s trip on the horizon, an unthinkable obstacle presents itself. Backlogged and overloaded with requests from children for presents, Santa learns from Dasher that the reindeer feels sick. This sends Santa into a larger panic, as Dasher’s strength is a crucial element to pulling the sleigh, especially one so jam-packed with gifts. While Dasher gets checked out by the head nurse at Santa’s Workshop, Santa draws inspiration from a toy train that he notices and gets to work on a backup plan for the big day. The helper elves immediately shoot the idea down as preposterous, but Santa holds steady, suggesting they have a little more faith in his plan before preparing some magic powder to help him handle the Christmas emergency. ... (read more)

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Cancer & Redemption

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alone in the Darkness: In Search of Hope
by Valerie Dziengiel
Mill City Press


"Each day is a new beginning, and the journey we take is intended to improve our life as a result of our experiences, both good and bad."

This journey begins with the author meeting her husband in an unusual way when both are still teenagers in 1966. They are separated before their marriage by his tours of duty in Vietnam, during which he is exposed to Agent Orange. After his return, they are happily married and raise a family. Their happiness is interrupted by his pancreatic cancer, during which the author cares for him. Throughout the book, the author relates some of her spiritual experiences: the first is a frightening one after playing with a Ouija board. "Not a toy," Dziengiel states unequivocally. During the experience, however, the planchette revealed the name of her as yet unknown husband and that she would have three children. Other incidents include visitations, perhaps by spirits, via smoke, and a comical and metaphysical view of an apparently independent spirit manifestation that, after several attempts, finds its way out of a funeral home. After her husband's passing, the author, her family, and a Monsignor who is helping to plan the funeral, observe lights flickering on and off and the interruption of cell phone service, which is thought to be her husband's spirit indicating that he has "made it" to the next world. ... (read more)

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Real Politics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wizard of Sacramento: Governor Jerry Brown
by William Smithers
Amazon, Smashwords


"While I'm in charge, let them breathe methane, drink benzene, eat arsenic and lead! After me comes the good stuff!"

This searing critique of Jerry Brown focuses on his latest two terms as California’s governor from 2011-2019. It posits that Brown maintained a positive public image in office despite his commitment to boost the economic interests of his state over environmental protections and concerns. Brown’s third term in office began in 2011 in the wake of the recovery efforts from the country’s 2008 financial crisis. Succumbing to economic pressures and priorities, environmental regulations are eased, and violations are overlooked under Brown’s leadership to allow for oil and gas companies to drill with greater intensity using unconventional methods like fracking. This proves devastating for working-class communities near the drilling and fracking sites as they experience health problems, drinking water contamination, and higher levels of pollution. ... (read more)

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Honesty Between Covers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fostering and Us
by Marie Coady
AuthorHouse UK


"...1991 brought us three very different children for three very different reasons."

This memoir is riveting. It describes the day-to-day life of a foster family in the United Kingdom. If you've ever been a foster parent or been curious about what life is like for one, this book is a must-read. Coady is a hero and a special kind of person. Not everyone has the seemingly endless patience and nurturing skills required to be her and become a good foster parent, but it is easy to admire someone with such an important calling. ... (read more)

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Classroom Calm

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Crisis to Tranquility: A Guide to Classroom: Management Organization and Discipline
by Sarah M. Robinson, M.Ed.
Xlibris


"It is extremely important that teachers have a one-hundred percent commitment to what they say. Too often we say things before determining the outcome of what a statement can create."

Robinson’s study is a helpful modern-day primer on the questions asked by each new generation of K-12 educators: What factors should be considered in constructing and maintaining an ideal classroom organization? What constitutes effective disciplinary measures? How can educators help students not only want to learn but to develop a sense of autonomy and personal responsibility? As Robinson addresses these questions, she calls upon such educational theorists as B. F. Skinner, Haim Ginott, and Lee and Marlene Canter to inform her answers. Regarding the topic of discipline, Robinson provides bullet points and discussion of key ideas from these professionals, including behavior modification, congruent communication, and assertive discipline. Given the unfortunate and steady increase in school-related mass shootings in the United States—in addition to suicide among even our youngest students—Robinson devotes a chapter to the topic of “Bullies and Troubled Kids,” in which she delineates the characteristics of both the bully and the bullied and provides a plan to help educators navigate these sometimes murky but always dangerous waters. ... (read more)

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Freedom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Caroline Severance
by Virginia Elwood-Akers
iUniverse


"Nervous at first, she conquered her fear and spoke with such honesty and feeling that the audience listened attentively for nearly two hours. (Cleveland Mercantile Library Association, 1853)"

Caroline Severance may be one of the most important women of the suffragette movement to whom most Americans have never been introduced. In this exhaustive biography taken from letters and journals of the woman herself—as well as friends, family, and associates of Severance—Elwood-Akers delivers a portrait of a woman who was attuned to the social problems of her times. Not only was she tuned in, she was a tireless worker in not only the woman’s fight to gain voting rights but also in the abolition of slavery and the right for women to become doctors. Severance was a socialist and a peace advocate who lived during the Civil War. She was also an adventurer who eventually moved with her husband from the East to California. Settling in Los Angeles, Severance continued her humanitarian work, and at the age of ninety-two became one of the first women to vote in a United States national election. ... (read more)

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A New Series Launches

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir
by Dr. Anay Ayarovu
Stazr LLC


"Circumstances called me and I went to meet them – that was what brought me indescribable delight!"

Ratadat Lael’s day started out like any other ordinary day—going for a walk with no destination in mind. However, after an encounter with a shwine named Slap, Lael finds himself on a journey across the Stazr beams, his services as a storyteller in need according to a prophecy. Lael finds himself making new friends and acquaintances along the way as well as constantly running into danger, all of which are experiences that satisfy his curiosity until it is time to act on the prophecy. And while his dreams and nightmares have served as warnings, Lael is unprepared for the danger ahead. ... (read more)

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Skillful Weave

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God’s Domain
by Robert Gallant
PageTurner, Press and Media


"What’s dangerous about meeting a likable twenty-eight-year-old archaeologist in the Yucatan Peninsula?"

Fans of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft will thrill to the fourth adventure in Robert Gallant’s series starring clandestine agent Travis Weld and his graduate student protégé, Chesney Barrett. Weld bows out for a side role, and Barrett seizes the lead when she accepts a mission to rescue an archeologist from guerillas at a Mayan site in the Yucatan Peninsula. Though the task is speedily accomplished with hair-raising theatrics, Barrett is plunged into even greater danger when David Phillips reveals more about his dangerous interest in a Peruvian archaeological site sacred to the legendary deity Viracocha. Together, Phillips and Barrett face the manipulation of Phillips’ controlling, business-savvy father, their murderous double-dealing partner, and a ruthless military commander shadowing Phillips’ every move. Ultimately, the former are small obstacles compared to the world-threatening challenges dealt by the mysterious Incan deity and the servile ancient culture that revered it. ... (read more)

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Monsters Afoot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tempest Court: A Ghost and A Cop Series
by Jan Walters
Fulton Books


"Fear clawed at her throat. Her muscles refused to obey. Scream, fight! Her mind raged. Don’t just stand there!"

What would be abnormal by anyone else’s standards has become run-of-the-mill for Brett O’Shea. After partnering with the spirits of the deceased, including his own great-grandfather’s, and fighting against monsters, not much fazes him, though he remains vigilant (some might say paranoid) at all times. When an Egyptian art exhibit arrives in Des Moines, Brett is there with his love, Lisa, to support their friend who put it together. But part of this exhibit includes a mummy that is more than meets the eye, and this installation becomes a nemesis of Brett’s, one capable of wielding powerful magic and hell-bent on everlasting life. Dark priests, ancient spellbooks, and unexpected allies from a trip to Morocco are all crucial elements to unraveling this mummy mystery and keeping Brett and his partners safe from evil. ... (read more)

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Fast & Exotic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alpha and Omega
by Robert Gallant
PageTurner, Press and Media


"’The less you know, the more likely you are to walk into something much more complicated and dangerous than you expected. So plan for the worst. Try to find them before they know you are there looking for them.’"

Chesney Barrett, a Beretta-toting environmental grad student who occasionally cavorts with an organizer of clandestine operations that often save humanity, is the star of this thriller. A fast-paced plot features Chesney deciphering clues about a mysterious, unidentified body, as well as the tracks of mountain lions that have supposedly not existed in the region for approximately 200 years, that she discovered in the Louisiana swamps. The protagonist uses her superpower-like ability of clue-deciphering to navigate setups, swamps, forests, unlikely friends and colleagues, strange scientific and medical experiments on wildlife, and a presumed extinct species. Readers accompany Chesney as she confronts her personal demons in harrowing physical, mental, and emotional situations that leave her wondering who she can truly trust, asking a trusted source for help, and re-evaluating what her true life’s purpose is while also testing her means of survival. ... (read more)

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Billions Apart

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lost in Time: Trapped in a Prehistoric World
by Dan Arthur Busby
Xlibris


"His thoughts were interrupted by a humming sound, indicating the mechanism was in action.... He felt a strong wind at his back, followed by the collapse of the floor."

Dropped off in a prehistoric era when dinosaurs ruled the earth, time travel expert and wrongfully convicted murderer Jimmy Brooks’ fate could very well be sealed by the very same technology that he spent the last several years helping to develop. Living in the year 2040 when the state controls time travel, and all criminals sentenced to life are banished to the Cretaceous Period, Jimmy is dumped from the portal with only a gun and limited ammo to defend himself, surrounded by large beasts who want nothing more than to make him their next meal. Soon joined by two time-traveling companions, the three men embark on a remarkable journey, along the way encountering predators from all time periods, native tribes, and flying people, a situation which puts their lives in danger with every trip. ... (read more)

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Spirit Within

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Johnny: Catching Fire
by Aaron Allen
Xlibris


"The evil gaze that covered his face now seemed to be mixed with fear."

Johnny and his best friend, Danny, are being bullied by a classmate, Brock. In response to this bullying, Johnny prays to become like Sampson from the Bible. Samson’s destiny was changed when he ran across a mountain lion, for he somehow had superhuman powers. Meanwhile, Danny becomes interested in the occult, which results in him also having superpowers, and his focus on learning spells and causing mischief begins to alarm him. There is a classroom fight regarding other religions than Christianity, which was caused by the evil in Danny. Then Johnny somehow saves himself and his girlfriend from a lab explosion. Is it because of his question to God? Yet Danny is missing Johnny and keeps working through his “wizardly” sites and utilizing spells, and through the darkness, he becomes evil and attempts to harm others, with sad outcomes. Will goodness win in the end? ... (read more)

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Ants Rule

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Helen’s Ant Story: The Happy Ant Family Avoided the Kitchen, Until One Didn't!
by Virginia Paulsen
AuthorHouse


"The ant children looked at the morsels desperately wanting to taste and play with the food but knew their parents forbade them from going into the kitchen."

Paulsen’s picture book is the retelling of a story her mother told all six children, and those children would go on to tell their own children. It is a story passed down through generations, each changing it a little with their retellings. The story follows a family of brown ants who live “behind the baseboards and under the kitchen cabinets” of a human family. The ant family hopes the humans will drop food from their dinners they can scavenge, but primarily the ants get their food from outside, wary of going on the kitchen floor. Eventually, the ant children begin disobeying their parents and gathering treats from the kitchen. However, the disobedience catches up with one ant, and he is caught up by the broom, eventually put in the kitchen trash bin, then the outdoor garbage, and ends up in a landfill. It takes years to get home, and he must avoid many dangers on his journey. ... (read more)

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Sunshine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fuzzy Learns a Lesson of Love
by Patricia McLaughlin
Xlibris


"And why do you think you’re not pretty and bright?
Why, I think you are such a wonderful sight."

In this delightful little children's picture book, a caterpillar named Fuzzy learns one of the most important lessons any young boy or girl can learn—that of self-acceptance. One day while Tori, a young girl, is dancing outside enjoying the beautiful day, a clumsy insect bumps into her head and then crashes to the ground. Upon examination, Tori learns it is a caterpillar named Fuzzy. Fuzzy apologizes not only for bumping into her head but also for his perception that he is not as amazing or wonderful as the other creatures around, especially the motley colored butterflies which flutter overhead, reflecting their brightness in the glistening sunshine. ... (read more)

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Bully Cope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Phoebe Bee
by Arlene Rita Borromeo
Xlibris


"She couldn’t understand why the older bees were always in a hurry."

Phoebe Bee, who lived in the garden of the gray house, was a tiny bee. But even though she was the smallest, she was also the sweetest, although that didn’t seem to matter to the other bees. While they liked to play together in the flowers—lilies, white cosmos, marigolds, and hydrangeas—the most fun was playing hide-and-seek and then napping after an exhausting game. But her favorite thing to do was to leisurely soak up the smells from the various flowers. Some of the older bees wanted her to do this job at a faster pace, and when she did, disaster would happen. Then the other bees would make fun of her. So, she talked to her friend Beatrice Bumble who gave her wise advice. With this advice, Phoebe Bee learned some valuable lessons. ... (read more)

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Routine Joy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Owen's Day
by Vanessa Lyman Withers
Xlibris


"Wake up, wake up, you sleepyhead.
Owen, get up; get out of bed."

Designed for children who are or will be entering school, this book offers insight into what needs to happen for Owen to get ready for his day. This includes not only what his day is like at school, but what his afternoon and evening are about as well. Through a fun rhyming story, Owen learns to do things like getting a good night’s sleep, what types of clothes to wear for the day, eating a healthy breakfast, brushing his teeth, and taking a bath. The author further describes Owen’s day regarding getting on the school bus, learning his lessons at school, playing with friends, and enjoying basketball (his favorite game). The book then discusses his day with his family, including eating a good dinner and then getting ready for bed. ... (read more)

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Religion on Demand

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

S413
by Saniyah Chisti
Xlibris


"Was I meant to break up with Leo only for him to provoke me into my destiny?"

Elizabeth Lawrence has an eye for beauty products and fashion accessories. Her boyfriend Leo has an eye for other women. He likes them slim, big-breasted, and famous. He suddenly dumps Elizabeth for such a woman—an Instagram model and social media influencer. Elizabeth is the plus-size offspring of biracial parents. She eventually stops moping and decides that these sources of her insecurity are actually her greatest assets. She, too, becomes a social media influencer. Her YouTube channel about beauty tips and healthy eating garners thousands of likes on its first night and soon attracts the attention of S413, a multimillion-dollar cosmetics company, and the irresistible Shaun Presley. As she establishes herself in her new reality, she discovers that makeup is not the only tool S413's owners use to create illusions. Can Elizabeth's newfound Islamic faith sustain her as her dream world collapses? ... (read more)

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Ethical Dilemmas

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Midway Through the Journey of Our Life
by James Lawson
iUniverse


"Everybody I know might be plotting something and dangerous, including you."

At the center of Lawson’s twisting tale is Karin, a woman turning fifty and still learning hard lessons. She is by no means old as she celebrates the milestone birthday. Her mother, Effie, is still youthful at seventy-five, while her ailing father, Magnus, remains sharp at ninety. Intelligent and beautiful, Karin is a former dancer with a now successful career in medicine. Her husband, Theo, is a respected professor of history at Columbia College. ... (read more)

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Overcoming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Book of David: God, Life, and Recovery
by David O'Meara
Xlibris


"I must find a way to escape
But this is hard because you are the way I escape"

Poet O’Meara has composed more than two hundred pieces depicting his life before, during, and after his lengthy drug and alcohol addictions. He began drinking at age eleven, and those problems escalated through the years. His poems describe the inner horrors he experienced, from troubling “Dreams” of murder (“I pulled out a knife and stabbed him over and over again”) to a sensation of “Falling Deep” into emptiness. Recollections of his time in military service also haunt him. His despair reaches universal proportions as he surveys the “Messed Up World,” seeing himself as one of “The Disabled.” But gradually, he seeks help, finding purpose in a determination to “change into the person Jesus wants me to be,” as chronicled in “Take Control.” ... (read more)

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Courageous & Honest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shadows Over Texas
by Kat Kelly
Xlibris


"For the first time in my life, I realized that there was another life besides abject poverty."

As a female growing up in Texas during the Great Depression, Sonya not only struggles with the strain of hunger and loss, but she also endures a cyclical pattern of abuse. Beginning with the cruel treatment the main character receives from her stepfather, this fictional memoir depicts the resiliency of a young woman coming of age in a dark and evolving world. Though the odds are stacked against her, Sonya possesses the resiliency to vacate these storm cloud situations in search of healthier relationships, a better life, and a more realized self. With the persistent choice to move forward, she discovers personal freedom, strength, and self-worth through education and religion. As rays of sunlight begin to peak through the shadows of her experiences, and as she learns to help herself, she gains the ability to begin assisting others as well. ... (read more)

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Positions of Power

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

To Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth: Upon the Further Shore
by Hugh Cameron
Xlibris


"I will not tolerate this bestial behavior in the streets of America. We will live free or die. We will walk our streets in peace."

As chronicled in the first book in Cameron’s novel of Earth’s possible future, small colonies have been established on the moon and Mars by the Prometheus group led by the once heavyweight boxing champion, Munro. Much more than a fighter, Munro sees the chaos that has been ensnaring the world and knows it is only a matter of time before wars on Earth will destroy it. He begins a school recruiting highly intelligent children from all over the world. They are trained in languages, firearms, math, science, and politics. He, along with the extraordinary group of individuals working with him, begin gaining positions of power and influence around an increasingly violent and lawless world. The children, predominantly females, become powerful in the worlds of science and politics helped by Munro’s wife, the U.S. President, and his various other loves in foreign countries. ... (read more)

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Blurred Lines

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Audience with the Sleeping Dragon: The Spear of Longinus
by G L Abrar
AuthorHouse


"'For those willing to follow my Master I offer his promise, his covenant, his oath and his gifts.'"

Ra’el finds herself imprisoned by an all-powerful dragon who threatens to eat her immediately, but the young protagonist manages to stall for time through her gift of storytelling. As she relates various myths, histories, and fables from around the globe, the dragon begins to relish her company, and the two form an unlikely bond. Yet there is a secret that does not pass between them easily concerning Ra’el’s quest for holy relics and Roaring Flamebringer’s possession of at least one of them: the sword Excalibur. As the two feel out their sudden alliance, Ra’el shares the story of Mary Magdalan, spreading the Christian gospel throughout Europe after her time with Christ. Spanning multiple nations and notable figures, Mary’s journeys parallel the quest that drives Ra’el. ... (read more)

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Secrets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Reason For Being
by Libby Andrews
AuthorHouse


"What will killing him achieve? It won’t bring back the dead. Would it make me feel better? I don’t know."

Sora Sakurai’s life seems to be hanging on by a thread. Prone to dark thoughts, destructive tendencies, and living on the fringe of society, she is haunted by the trauma of the Okami attacks that killed her entire family. Working as a Keeper, Sora patrols the outer edges of Sector Five to protect the people from wolves—people who can also morph into a wolf form. The secret she’s keeping from absolutely everyone is that she is a wolf herself. When the ghosts of her past spring forward and task her with establishing peace to fulfill a prophecy, Sora has to shed her lone wolf lifestyle and start her own pack. The fate of the world relies on Sora bringing in runaways, people she thought long dead, and even some human friends that she must sway to her identity and cause. ... (read more)

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Mesmerizing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wishflower Princess
by Kathie Kalafatis
Xlibris


"She’s Mother Nature’s child with the world in her care, pollinating life with the bees from her hair."

Mother Nature’s daughter is a princess who is responsible for granting the wishes that float to her on the gentle seeds of the wishflower. One day, she loses the ability to do her job, as the seeds cause her to sneeze from allergies whenever they land on her nose. With no more wishes being granted, the people begin to lose hope, leading a brave knight to try and come up with a solution. Meeting the Lady Kayla, Sir Chris discovers that her mother turned to a sorcerer when her wishes to bring her missing husband home went unanswered. Now he must find a way to reverse the evil spell that cursed Princess Alexa and restore hope to the land by allowing their wishes to be heard and granted once more. ... (read more)

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An Aleternate World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Escape by Magic: Book One
by Abbygail DeCoursey
AuthorHouse


"We were close enough to see a swirling blue portal right where we thought it would be…"

Sammy and Kris spend their time playing in imaginary worlds that they create for themselves. They transform their yard into a land of possibility and imagine they are spies on an uncertain mission that they make up as they go along. They are friends bonded together in their mutual, imaginative fun. Then suddenly, they are transported into the world they have imagined, and a magical and dangerous adventure begins. This strong and capable female duo become secret agents with a mission that mysteriously unfolds as they are chased by villainous agents intent on capturing them or possibly even killing them. In this parallel world, Sammy and Kris’s shapeshifting powers and telepathic abilities allow them to escape the clutches of the evil, scheming agents. But every encounter brings them closer to danger and also to the final objective of their mission. Along the way, they will learn valuable lessons about friendship, trust, and sacrifice. ... (read more)

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Love & Survival

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Communing Tree
by Theresa Verboort
iUniverse


"She had pointed out to me that death is simply a transformation of the living."

When Judith’s father returns from Vietnam in 1967 with a debilitating case of PTSD, he finds refuge in a small church of like-minded souls. Led by a charismatic pastor who advocates preparing for the “end times,” many in his flock abandon their livelihoods. By the time Judith is sixteen in 1979, her family has spent eight happy years hidden deep in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in southwestern Oregon. While camping away from their cabin to tend their father’s illegal marijuana grow, Judith and her little sister Kali witness the murder of their parents and older brother. The girls escape back to the safety of their cabin and the arms of their maternal grandmother, a capable elder who had a full-blooded Klamath-Modoc mother. The girls’ fragile world is soon shattered again when Gramma suddenly passes away, and Judith must decide whether to care for her mute sister alone or return to the outside world. Two small comforts during their ordeal are the “communing tree” that shelters their grandmother’s grave, and the gifts of wild game left by a mysterious visitor. ... (read more)

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Ask

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Three Vital Questions for Today: Why Are Prayers Not Answered? How Does God Guide Today? Can a Christian Be Gay?
by Geoffrey E. L. Bennett
AuthorHouse


"Perhaps fundamentalist, evangelical and hyper orthodox Christians would be more Christ like were they to accept those Gay Christians who seek to serve Christ and live in sacrificial, loving and loyal relationships."

This Christian-thought book revolves around three pertinent questions: Can a Christian be gay, how does God guide, and why does God not answer prayer? Within these three questions, it provides answers based on science, religious doctrine, philosophy, and the author’s interpretations. The Bible is sometimes seen as a “library,” one which offers much in the way of teachings, including parables, drama, metaphors, poems, histories, and laws which are often subject to interpretation. The book also focuses on God’s will as that of serving God and humanity through Christian love. This love includes those who are “homosexual,” and the work refutes common fundamentalist thought that says gays are not worthy of such acceptance. The book continues by looking at God’s guidance, our own inner wisdom, and prayer, including when one’s prayers don’t seem to be answered, how to pray, and what is “true” prayer. ... (read more)

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Tales in Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Golden Mile: A Book of Poems
by Brian Ward
Xlibris


"The history of the name Ward suggests that the Ward clan were the poets in the court of the ancient O’Brien kings."

A walkthrough or mini-memoir, this 220-page book will resonate with many types of poetry readers, including sons, fathers, parents, lovers, travelers, and senior citizens. “The Golden Mile” is the polished gem set atop Ward’s collection. This four-stanza, rhymed poem sparkles as it reveals the poignancy of a father and son sharing a delayed moment in a war-shortened life. Other examples of Ward’s poetry record tender times with his wife and playful memories of his young children and grandchildren. A glossary of names makes it easy for the reader to keep track. “Beads Up Your Nose” will bring back the drama of some childhood moments which are best (but not easily) forgotten. “The Olden Days” answers the sort of questions every kid delights in asking an older parent. Fantasy, Australian, and Italian poems offer something for every poetry devotee, young or old. ... (read more)

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Failure Mandates

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Listening to Our Students and Transcending K-12 to Save Our Nation
by Alec Ostrom, Brian Hack, and Don Prentice
Xlibris


"It is impossible to design an entirely new K-12 education model by using the thinking that drives the older, existing K-12 school systems."

Education reformers often look for ways to innovate within traditional educational structures, but these authors seek something bolder. They have developed a whole new system of learning that meets the demands of the digital age and, more importantly, the needs of an entire generation of learners trapped in the traditional model of education. Rooted in research and experience, this new model seeks significant systemic changes and a mindset shift that empowers students and teachers on the journey to lifelong learning. The authors outline their design strategy and their guiding principles while also critiquing the current shortcomings of education. Their trademarked Digital Age Learning System (DALS) is offered as a private business franchise that will operate in communities. The authors also provide extensive explanation and description of their teaching practices that are founded on developing an effective classroom environment where learners are valued and supported, and the learning is relevant and authentic. ... (read more)

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Battle of the Sexes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Millennium Women War on Men: Bully Tactics is Why Their Independence is Failing Them in Their Relationships and How to be Empowered
by K.B. Lewis
AuthorHouse


"If you give a woman the princess treatment – then expect her to behave like a princess."

According to the book, the goal of most women is to be in a relationship, preferably with a “bad boy” who adores her enough to change. Inspired by feminists, the independent woman settles for a weak man who caters to her, but whom she can’t respect. The ultimate feminist goal is to gain support for their agenda from 50% of all men. To do so, feminists advocate that women use distancing tactics, including the threat of abortion. Since their source of money to march and promote their cause comes from abortions, men are allowed little say. ... (read more)

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Publica Affairs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Urban Planning in Planet Earth's Tragedy of the Commons
by Richard S. Bolan
iUniverse


"Two fundamental causal trends... the forecasted global growth of urbanization and... the growing global power of the corporate world..."

This work deals with urban planning in a comprehensive form. A devastating anticipated population increase, an oligarchic economic structure, and the massive use of technology (as well as warfare) have caused climate crises to which some people and organizations have been alerted. Bolan cites other authors' hypotheses that increased migration and concurrent population increases in urban areas have been affecting the earth's physical environment for nearly 200 years. Likewise, the individual consumption of resources, such as automobiles and single-family homes, has had a similar effect over a shorter period. Like many environmentalists, earth scientists, and researchers, Bolan sees a huge problem in the overconsumption of each person. The author believes that the key to the possibilities of coping is education in a variety of sectors. He is an advocate for reaching the United Nations' seventeen sustainable goals for "People, Planet, and Prosperity." ... (read more)

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Multifaceted

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My First Time in Charge: Stop Worrying — Start Performing: Practical Guide for New Managers
by Daniele Matteucci
AuthorHouse


"Another common theme about goals is they should be SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and timely)."

The author of this useful primer on business management starts from the thesis that there are two equally important “sides” to managing efficiently and effectively: the rational and the emotional. Author Matteucci presents an array of tools—both rational and emotional in nature—to help the reader succeed in management. ... (read more)

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Enlightenment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Small Scroll: The Enlightenment of Jesus
by Christopher Miller
iUniverse


"I saw what I knew and did not know, and as I approached one of the circles of wise men... I felt I could learn..."

Did you ever wonder what Jesus himself thought about his birth, life, death, and resurrection? How did he feel on hearing Mary, his mother, relate details of two miraculous births in the family—cousin John’s birth and his own? Did he hope one day to marry or own a carpentry shop like his stepfather, Joseph? This historical novel begins with Jesus learning of his special path. At twelve on the verge of manhood, his parents brought him to Jerusalem. Jesus sought answers from ancient elders who met in groups at the temple. He wished to learn what his purpose on earth might be. Was it to single-mindedly follow God’s path for his life step-by-step? ... (read more)

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Spiritual Rejuventation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Searching... A Peek into the Invisible World of Energy and Healing
by Donna Linn and Suzan J. Wells
Balboa Press


"It is not possible to change others; however, by changing ourselves, the world around us changes."

Few books are as persistently tenacious and enchantingly informative as this one. Part travel guide and part almanac, the text immerses the reader in the ever-expanding world of spiritualism. After presenting brief summaries of the authors' own journeys, the book quickly showcases an impressive series of resources, terms, and methods related to the subject. The goal seems to be to create a single insightful volume on rejuvenating, rumination, energy, and homeopathic medicines, gifting the reader with the implements needed to receive and send positive energy. In turn, the teachings are designed to help readers prosperously utilize all the innovative modalities outlined, providing the tools the authors deem indispensable to heal a troubled world. Some concepts, such as channeling self-awareness, accessing the super consciousness, and reiki, could be seen as unconventional to a skeptical mind. But, the authors contend that there are many benefits from practicing these, as the book masterfully explains. ... (read more)

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Sisterhood

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Harding Sisters of Sterling City Road and Me
by Carol E. Plimpton
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"Winter was a wonderful time of year. As kids we were constantly outside sliding at the fairgrounds or skating on Hamburg Cove or Mill Pond."

With her colorful family history more than a century old and threatening to fade away like much of small-town history, the author of this book offers a brief biography for each of her aunts, her mother, her grandparents, and extended family in the form of vignettes and snapshots. Each of these stories details a moment in life either important or emblematic of a big family living in a rural part of Connecticut that remains sparsely populated to this day. Each of the Harding sisters has significant details of her life recorded here: marriages, children, dominant character traits, and a funny anecdote or two to complete the picture. All of this is told through the family’s primary hobby of gossip, personal recollection, or occasionally the inclusion of newspaper quotes both from the author’s childhood pen or from the official press. ... (read more)

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Most of Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Live Your Life: Welcome to the Awakening Party
by Anton Brown
Xlibris


"The truth of the matter is we are all infinite consciousness and one with the eternal Source Creation, irrespective of beliefs."

Author Brown has undertaken a personal exploration of system mentality, showing how we can liberate ourselves from the strictures of religion and other “boxes” and take charge of our lives. Born into a Catholic family in Trinidad and Tobago, Brown came to the United States for education and sports participation. He became immersed in an evangelical Christian viewpoint, but doubts began to surface. As he studied and wrote about the issue of grace, he realized that religions and other systems seek to control our actions through threats and promises. Yet we are all free, conscious beings connected by infinite energy, or Source Creation. To revivify our lives, pull our own strings, and find success, we must listen to our creative inner messages, grasp our distinctive personal powers, and attend our own “awakening party” in which we ascend “from possibility to actuality.” This independent decision can be based on Brown’s mantra: “Live life, love, learn, let live.” ... (read more)

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Bipolar Life and More

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

55 Reflections of a Searching SKEPTIC: Scanning the Depths of Spirituality and Mental Health
by Rich Melcher
AuthorHouse


"Diet, sleep, exercise, relationships, med compliance, etc. They all roll into a ball of mental health balance that is crucial to staying on the healthy side."

Part bipolar disorder diary, part reflections on God, part sampling of poetry, and part self-help memoir, Melcher’s wide-ranging and honest exploration provides a unique perspective into the life of a man who, it seems, was born to write. “This is a conversational, journal-style, reflection-oriented book,” writes the author. “It often reads more like a conversation… basically, it is meant to chronicle my spiritual walk of thought, prayer and personal experiences.” The reader comes to know well the inner thoughts and poetic ponderings of Melcher, who grew up the youngest of nine in a Catholic family. He is very open and forthcoming about having been diagnosed, at age 17, with bipolar disorder and provides numerous examples—at times humorous—of how the highs and lows have impacted his life through college, in the church, in relationships, with his family, and more. ... (read more)

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Trail of Faith

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Scriptural Trail from Eden
by Howard Bastian
AuthorHouse


"I seriously and dramatically questioned God to determine whether He was still alive."

An author’s search for true meaning through Christian tradition has led to this credible exploration of biblical history. Bastian began his search for truth as a young man when the evils he observed in the world evoked serious questioning about the religion in which he had been raised. As he studied the Bible, he began to see those questions answered, pointing to a redemptive process that began in the Garden of Eden. There, he notes, sin was born through the devil in the form of a snake who successfully tempted Eve, and through her, Adam. But their descendants would include many great leaders whom God would choose to guard and rescue His people. Throughout the Bible, there are predictions that God will send a savior. The miraculous confluence of events around the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus offers human beings a path to righteousness, and a means to thwart the devil’s wishes for domination. ... (read more)

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Mexican Joy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Landing in the Heart of Mexico: A Gringa's Story
by Collette Sommers
iUniverse


"I arrived at Mexico City International Airport, with my Pollyanna grin and an open mind, ready for whatever might be."

In this memoir, the author relates her adventures during her semester as a young college student in 1966 at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Having always had a fascination for both the language and people of Mexico, the opportunity to study abroad immersed in the culture she adored was profound. During her time there, she lived with four other young American women students in the home of sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Castillo, who arranged social outlets for the group as well as providing room and board. Not only does Sommers find her love for Mexico and its culture grow as she begins her studies, but she also meets and falls in love with a man who will show her aspects of his homeland that she will cherish her entire life. ... (read more)

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Still Believing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life Has You in Mind
by GodsGirl
Trafford Publishing


"Helping others is part of the life that God has planned for all of us."

For author GodsGirl, the trials of life began at birth, when her mother abandoned her in the hospital. Her great-grandmother and her aunt fortuitously took her in. It was a difficult childhood; GodsGirl was strong-willed and defiant. She started using drugs, and, by age nineteen, had three children to care for. After struggling financially and working for a while as a housekeeper for Lacy in a house of ill repute, GodsGirl took her boys to Los Angeles, where she studied cosmetology and began to succeed in that profession. Involvement with a generous but violent man forced another move, this time to New York. After her youngest son was hit by a car and needed extensive care, she returned to California, where one day, watching an evangelistic program on TV, she experienced an almost instant conversion to Christianity, leading to the fulfillment of a long-held dream to assist and counsel at-risk young women. ... (read more)

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Swift to Please

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reis Martin Undercover
by Joyce Marcotte
iUniverse


"He was going to have to be more on guard or he was going to blow the whole possibility of completing his mission here."

Reis is a protagonist that one doesn’t see every day. He’s a young adult with autism spectrum disorder. While he is physically fit and exceptionally intelligent, his social skills are sorely lacking. Realizing this, he wonders if he’s really the right person to leave his home in Alabama and go undercover in a Florida high school to root out a drug problem. Since the request comes from a lifelong friend who’s now the sheriff in that community, however, Reis accepts the challenge. What follows is an involving tale with a major thread and minor subplots. ... (read more)

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Playful Energy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

50/50 Chance of Monster Love!
by Rochelle Baxter
Xlibris


"I told you, ‘I wanted to be with you forever.’
You told me, ‘I will always be your little twinkle star.’"

Baxter’s poetry compilation encompasses the various shades of love, ranging from the intense and passionate flame of intimate love to the pangs of unrequited love, and from the unrivaled love of parenthood to the love of service through teaching. Though there is no concrete rhyme scheme within the poetry, the poet does an effective job of using repetition to emphasize a particular point. The example that jumps off the page is the final line of most poems, “The rest is history,” which creatively ties together the entire compilation as one collective voice and journey rather than a set of individual poems. ... (read more)

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Illuminating

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Second Harvest
by Don Agey
Xlibris


"The truth is out there, but it is becoming so hard to find."

Like American jazz, poetry is known for its unexpected nature and sharp movements. In this compelling book of poetry, that characterization is maintained. It is sweeping, quick, splendid, and topical. Addressing positive thinking, the quest for truth, and even retirement, this great poetic tapestry weaves together several of life's defining themes. However, the stark complexities that other poets might use are missing with this more earnest and light approach, making for a refreshing change and one that could invite more readers to this author in the future. ... (read more)

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Liftoff

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships: The History of High-Power Rocketry’s Ascent to the Edges of Outer Space
by Mark Canepa
Trafford Publishing


"As it turns out, curiosity may be the real fuel of high-power rocketry."

This robust account of hobby rocketry covers the history of the people and the amazing feats of progress that have pushed the field to new heights. Beginning his chronicle from 1981, Canepa presents a fascinating look inside the world of amateurs, enthusiasts, pioneers, and experts of high-powered rocketry. Canepa then sweeps through the years, touching down on the thrilling successes and teachable failures of rockets reaching dizzying heights and others crashing to earth never to be seen again. He divides the decades effectively into three sections based on advancements and revolutions in rocketry, most notably the breakthrough in reloadable rocket technology. The result is a sprawling timeline of progress with intimate details of the work of individuals and organizations intent on breaking altitude records with high-powered hobby rockets. ... (read more)

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Dream Again

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Re-Making the American Dream
by David Vaught
AuthorHouse


"This was not the American Dream. It was coercion and abuse of power."

Fifty years ago, David Vaught, a 1969 West Point graduate, embarked on a perilous legal journey to challenge the compulsory weekly chapel attendance at his famous alma mater. Up against such defiant figures as Colonel Alexander Haig, David and his friend Lucien Truscott stood atop the principles of religious freedom and the First Amendment to state their case. As dramatic a theme as this is for a nonfiction book (a fictionalized version of which Truscott wrote as the novel and miniseries Dress Gray), Vaught’s retelling is merely an early mile marker on a much grander literary journey—that of his own attempt to figure out what the American dream really means. To do that, he chose to combine his views on the West Point incident with such experiences as his time in Illinois politics, recollections of his family history, and his opinions on the values on which our nation was founded. ... (read more)

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Soul Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prayers from the Land of the Living
by Carol Handy
Christian Faith Publishing


"Men have before looked to heaven and cried out
'Why?'
But never a more bewildered youth than I!"

The New Testament is full of familiar stories that readers of the Bible have enjoyed through the Gospels and other books. However, the writing is often austere and reserved even during moments of great crisis. This collection of five lyric poems each focuses on a different moment of Jesus’s life from the perspective and often frustration of those it happened to. ... (read more)

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Inhumanity Turned

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Heart Divided: A Young Soldier’s Memoir
by Tye Po Bludd
PageTurner, Press and Media


"I was here fighting for a cause I deeply believed in, so wasn’t I really a true Southerner myself?"

Fourteen-year-old James Breckinridge (Jimmy) is a tough kid. When his father dies, Jimmy becomes head of his North Carolina plantation. Instead of staying there, however, he heeds a call of duty against the “Northern boys” in the Civil War and joins the Alabama Red Rifles. Accompanying him is Zebediah (Zeb), a slave and close friend. Their master-slave relationship is complex, with Jimmy steadily acknowledging their considerable differences on their journey. His keen observations of men and battle enable him to comprehend the “true cost of war.” He’s also crafty enough to work his way out of dicey situations. An “inhuman” and “wicked” incident ultimately shifts Jimmy’s loyalties, propelling him to join the Union and abandon his allegiance to the Confederacy. ... (read more)

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