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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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The Trailing Ghost
by Roberto de Haro
Gatekeeper Press

"His skills as a trained assassin, bodyguard, investigator, and counterterrorist were impressive."

James Bond and Jack Ryan have nothing on Dale Lipinski, law school grad, special ops/black ops soldier, and former LASD detective. Suave, cool, and tech-savvy, the ladies' man glibly captures his female colleague's hearts while frequenting intel circles as a specialist for U.S. and Israeli intelligence operations and as a freelance crime-busting vigilante. When a sinister international syndicate steps on too many toes while engaging in the sale of street drugs, weapons, human trafficking, and partnering with corrupt criminal dictatorships, Lipinski circles the globe, visiting major international cities to bring down their operatives. In the process, he is advised by experts in intelligence gathering, hacking, and cybercrime. As the story comes to a deadly conclusion, the backdrop morphs into the familiar territory of a serious new virus emerging from China that threatens to engulf the world in a deadly pandemic. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Learning to Read

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Book Reviews - US Review of Books

This May Be Difficult to Read: But You Really Should (For Your Child’s Sake)
by Claire N. Rubman, PhD
Education & Parenting Matters


"Children construct knowledge from the world around them. If we provide the ideal tools, we need only leave the construction up to our children."

Author, educator, and parent Rubman has gathered a bounty of research and personal experience focused on helping children learn to read. In doing so, she explores and puts to rest many “myths” regarding this process, with the purpose of guiding her audience to the best, most potent methods available. The concern that prompted her to bring these issues to light is simple, straightforward, and undeniably disturbing: statistically, as many as 67% of American eighth graders can’t read as well as required, and a surprising number of college students must enroll in remedial reading classes in their freshman year. It is notable, too, that nearly half of those included in the collected data come from middle- and upper-class home environments. ... (read more)

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Revolutionary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Auction
by Elci North


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

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

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Brilliant Struggles

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The Last Lumenian
by S. G. Blaise
Lilac Grove Entertainment


"We are made of light, and we will return to Lume at the end of our time. We are made of light…"

The author tells an engaging story about a headstrong nineteen-year-old heroine—Lilla, a princess and rebel of the Seven Galaxies—who chooses to go against her royal father's wishes and fight with the rebels seeking justice. Lilla's epic journey includes battling the dark gods while also struggling against her own inner demons. In this gripping novel, family loyalties are tested, and betrayal and bravery are two dominant themes. In a work that is part science fiction, part fantasy, and part romance, By expertly weaving together these genres into one storyline, Blaise succeeds in keeping the reader's interest piqued throughout the book. ... (read more)

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Historical Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Human Warriors

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The Afterlife Experience - How Our Association with Nature’s Elements Shapes the Outcome
Bud Megargee
KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)


"I believe the key to human curiosity is having the ability to silently pause and think about the secrets that torment us."

Author Megargee, a seeker of metaphysical, spiritual, and simple human truths, has devised a means of conveying his quest that is largely told through the format of conversation. In much of this far-reaching narrative, the reader follows talks between the author, or “B,” and a character named Laz, or “L,” whom he introduces as his “personal soul guide.” Laz’s revelations slowly evoke the author’s understanding of the human connection to the four elements—water, fire, air, and earth—and are balanced and enhanced by observations from a Buddhist source, Khenchen. While Laz offers didactic reasoning, Khenchen takes a mystical approach. This combination will stimulate Megargee to fashion ideas that relate to his individual experience and help him to face life more fearlessly and with greater compassion. ... (read more)

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Innovative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Action & Suspense

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A Town Called Why
by Rick Lenz
Chromodroid Press


"Most people, even those who can bear almost everything else, have very little tolerance for humiliation. Humiliation is across-the-board rejection."

In this contemporary thriller, all sorts of strange things are happening to the inhabitants of a small Arizona town. There’s mayhem, murder, and mysticism galore, along with heavy doses of classical psychoanalysis sprinkled liberally with Native American lore. The result is a rip-roaring read for those who like slam-bang physical as well as insightfully intellectual literature. ... (read more)

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Graceful & Profound

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God is the Cure, Love is the Answer: A Memoir
by Aimee Cabo Nikolov
Kharis Publishing


"…I was born to a loving God. My nature is to see the good in people…"

Cuban-American author and radio talk show host of The Cure, Aimee Nikolov, examines the continual, decades-long abuse she suffered, lessons learned, and the almost insurmountable odds of recovering from it. As a survivor’s tale, this affecting memoir is both a revelation of the author’s life-long wounds and a testament to her steadfast faith in God and belief in love’s powerful healing. For some, this will be a difficult book to read. It will anger and move the reader, and Nikolov leaves nothing to the imagination in her portrayal of the malicious physical and mental exploitations thrust upon her. All that Nikolov endured deeply impacted and shaped her life, from childhood to adulthood, but ultimately it did not stop her from persevering through the molestation, suicidal ideations, drug addiction, poverty, and a near-death encounter. ... (read more)

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Rich Realism

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Abigail’s Exchange
by Kathryn Den Houter
Mission Point Press


"The Women’s Exchange was hailed as giving women the magic to turn tears into smiles and stones into bread."

Abigail is living a contented (though imperfect) life in Baltimore in the 1880s with her parents and sisters. She helps her father with his candy store and contends with a burgeoning independence that puts her at odds with her impending marriage to Avery, a strong-willed man prone to violent outbursts. Once married, she must make difficult decisions to maintain peace at home with her husband. When tragedy strikes, her financial life is left in ruin, and she turns to the Women's Exchange for support. Here, buoyed by enterprise and opportunity, she rediscovers her lost independence and regains her financial footing. The Women's Exchange, a philanthropic endeavor, has established a way for women to sell their sewing and embroidery and earn a living outside the home. Women who have so little autonomy apart from their fathers and husbands can support themselves through the organization when life takes unexpected turns. Abigail benefits from the second chance she finds through this community of women. With vivid historical detail, the post-Civil War era comes to life through Abigail's story. ... (read more)

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The Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Godly Choices

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Holy Spirit of Fire
by Tim Henry
Author’s Tranquility Press


"We need to constantly seek Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the baptism of the fire of the Holy Spirit."

Writer and pastor Henry has composed this lengthy treatise to share with others the truths he has gained in a life of Christian exploration. His title references the great blessing left to all humanity after the earthly death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus—the gift and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Henry makes numerous points through his conveyance of passages from the Holy Bible, such as using scripture to demonstrate that this gift existed even before "man or even the earth had form." ... (read more)

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Intelligent, Engaging History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

King Solomon’s Empire: The Rise, Fall, and Modern-Day Influence of an Iron-Age Ruler
by Archie W. N. Roy, PhD and Margaret P. Roy
Ambassador International


"Solomon’s ambitions destroyed the domestic cohesiveness between the twelve tribes which David’s statesmanship and openness to God had achieved."

In this well-researched, informative book, readers gain a deeper understanding behind not only an empire that shaped a significant part of the Middle Eastern region but also King Solomon, the man responsible for an empire’s rise and dissolution. The book details Solomon’s family origins. It also gives information on significant historical events like the end of King David’s powerful reign, Solomon’s consolidation of power, and even Solomon’s focus on the arts and sciences. As the book concludes, readers gain advice about balancing worship and faith in the current era’s demands for worldliness, understanding how real life merges with the end times, and how to live a life in balance with the needs of others. ... (read more)

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Sound Advice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Complex Structures

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Viral War: A Fairytale of Perfect Women
by Josephine deBois
AuthorHouse


"Samuel tidies his desk, checks the time, and with only an hour to go before meeting Sine, swiftly walks out of the office..."

Spanning Korea, Italy, London, and New York, this book takes readers on a Gattica-like adventure. Samuel is a New York traffic cop assigned to what should have been an easy case. However, after the brutally violent death of Sine, a woman in Samuel’s custody, Samuel’s law enforcement career takes a sharp and drastic turn. Samuel finds himself in a world of murder plus biological and scientific manipulations leading to mass extinction, with only those of a certain kind protected from the impending doom and disaster. Meanwhile, Samuel is tested personally and professionally, and along his journey, readers meet an alluring cast of characters that will forever reshape the remaining days of the protagonist’s life. ... (read more)

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Good Pets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Nicky, A Boy’s Furry Companion
by Bonnie Lou Schreiner
Bonnie Lou Schreiner Publications


"Boy and dog are inseparable companions."

In this colorful children’s book, young readers meet ten-year-old Stevie. As Stevie walks towards the library, he hears whimpering and whining from some nearby bushes. After a library assistant and animal control help Stevie rescue the little dog, Stevie’s life changes after he and his mother visit the local animal shelter where animal control takes the canine. Young readers accompany Stevie as he and his mom adopt the dog, which they name Nicky. Young readers also learn how pet adoption is a commitment and the processes shelters use to make sure animals find good homes. As they follow Stevie and Nicky’s journey to becoming best friends, children embark on their own journey to becoming responsible pet owners. ... (read more)

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Fear Not

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Blood of Words
by Shane Stone
Primix Publishing


"And as I walk down this road of emptiness, I pause to consider my purpose in this haunted kingdom of ghosts and dead angels."

Literally and figuratively, Stone's poetry pushes the boundary of thought to unveil darkness's raw and vulnerable underbelly. Sin manifests itself in many forms, but the most well-known is the fall of Satan. Using the namesake poem to set the tone for the rest of the collection, Stone uses all the tools in his arsenal, from vivid imagery to scintillating metaphors, to create a surreal, Dalian-type reality that studies the roots of evil from a mixture of philosophical, metaphysical, biblical, and material entanglement angles. ... (read more)

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Better Back

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fix Your Back Like an Architect: Gravity Therapy of the Spine and Motor Organs
by Marian Jodlowski


"The aim of this book is to identify the causes of problems in the functioning of the spine, movement organs, joints and deformities of the body..."

A Polish architectural engineer brings his professional expertise and experiences with a “bad back” to bear in this medical handbook exploring the human musculoskeletal system. The book is suitable “not only for medicine, rehabilitation or sports professionals, but also for ordinary people looking for tips on how to stay healthy and fit for many years.” At fifty-five, the author experienced a herniated disc that caused sciatica, shooting pains in the lumbar region of his back. He soon found that the main treatment consisted of prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants. While he pursued the prescribed therapy, he scoured the Internet for more information, finding that modern medicine mostly lacked non-surgical interventions for his condition. Jodlowski found a therapist who treated spinal and motor organ issues with therapeutic exercises that border upon kinesiotherapy. ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced, Quirky

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Message in a Bullet: A Raymond Mackey Mystery (Book 1)
by Owen Thomas
OTF Literary


"So which one of you is thirsty tonight: the sad ex-cop or the broken widower or the disillusioned writer?"

Since tragically losing his wife and then his job as a homicide detective, Raymond “Mack” Mackey has retreated into a life of seclusion that he mostly shares with his cat, Philippa, or Phil for short. His law-enforcement career ended after internal affairs wrongly accused him of secretly working for a local crime boss. Now, he spends his days attempting to write crime fiction based on his past cases—unsuccessfully so far. Mack also struggles with an unusual psychological disorder that gives him the ability to observe himself as if he is a separate person. It makes picking up the pieces of his shattered life even more difficult. However, life isn’t done punishing him. When an investigator from Mack’s former department shows up at his front door with new questions and accusations, the former homicide detective has had enough. He launches his own investigation in order to clear his name. ... (read more)

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Mack Continues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Russian Doll: A Raymond Mackey Mystery (Book 2)
by Owen Thomas
OTF Literary


"Take death. Inevitable. Everybody dies. I don’t worry about death. It’s getting killed that concerns me."

The second book of the Raymond “Mack” Mackey mystery series does not disappoint. Mack, a former homicide detective, is back at work with the Internal Affairs Division of the Chandler Police Department near Chicago. He is still mourning the loss of his wife and, when he is not at work, still leads a mostly solitary life. He has his cat Philippa and Old Forrester bourbon for company. His unique psychological condition is also still with him. It allows him to observe himself from a distance as if he is a separate person. His condition does not take away from his investigative skills. Nor does it lessen his ability to get into hot water. Although he is on the search for bad cops as an IAD investigator, Mack decides to help a beautiful woman search for a Russian nesting doll, which lands him in the middle of two murder investigations. ... (read more)

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Pull Up a Chair

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God’s Home, My Heart: And Tribute to Our Vietnam Veterans
by Walter A. Wheat, M.A.
Liferich Pub


"The news today brings me little glee, but
There is something I would like to see
In big, bold letters, several picas high
Would be an editorial about Jesus coming down from the sky"

Dedicated to his seven grandchildren, this hefty collection of more than 580 pages of poetry reflects on faith in the Christian tradition, the words and meaning of the Bible, blessings to be found in everyday life, lessons on how one should treat fellow human beings, and also pays special tribute to fellow Vietnam veterans. Wheat has filled the pages of this monumental collection of poetry with remembrances, spiritual meditations, personal anecdotes, and fierce devotion to God in such a way as to inspire any Christian who, upon soaking in these hundreds of individual pieces of rhymed verse, seeks to understand better the meaning of living a life dedicated to faith in Jesus. The author seems to pour his absolute heart into the writing of the poems with these pages, and his love of life, Christ, his fellow man, and much more comes across as vivid and true as any reader could imagine. ... (read more)

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Deep Legacy

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Replacement Cell
by Forrest Glenn
Page Publishing


"He heard a hissing sound and turned his head. His eyes fell upon the end of his life. A huge caiman was finishing its final advance, mouth wide-open…"

Clarence Dalen is raised on his grandfather’s Norwegian tales of their ancestry. Admittedly, he isn’t particularly interested in them as a teen but does enjoy the outdoor adventures he and his grandfather go on together. His above-average intellect, athleticism, and good looks help him fit in well while studying at UCLA. When the draft takes him to Vietnam, it proves he has the abilities and instincts of a warrior, but it also makes him distrustful of power and those who hold it. ... (read more)

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Great Storytelling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Bag of Tricks: Short Stories and Poems
by Peter Leibert
Author’s Tranquility Press


"I could probably be considered a classic case of ADD."

Readers discover charming stories and verses bearing a distinctive, observant voice in this book. Strong narratives and memorable characters carry readers through a variety of places. They also meet memorable animals like “The Cat,” with its quirky ideas about cats and what they contribute to their owners’ lives. Other poems like “Sugar Maple” wax nostalgic and bear a sense of longing. Stories like “Miss Covington” share a tender memory about the joys of missing too many dance classes. At its conclusion, readers meet the author, who gives a humorous, sentimental account of marriage and the word “devotion.” ... (read more)

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The Transition

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heaven Is Amazing
by Carolyn T. Linn
ReadersMagnet


"I believe marriage is forever, and I look forward to being reunited in heaven with my husband who is now whole and perfect."

After the death of her husband, Linn is certain that he is in heaven and wonders what it might be like. She believes deeply in Jesus Christ and that she, too, will go to heaven upon her death. In this heartfelt book, Linn hopes to share with others how she has prepared for her journey to heaven so that her readers can do the same. By beginning the ultimate journey while still on Earth, Linn believes that God will come to dwell within and thus make the encounter in heaven much more beautiful. ... (read more)

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Civil Discourse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Symphony of Logic from the “Basket of Deplorables”: Secularism, Racism, Money
by Cornelius Van Blyderveen
WestBow Press


"The conclusion of this prayer at Jerusalem was to educate myself on the issues and then wait patiently but actively on the Lord."

In this “critique of contemporary western society,” conservative Cornelius Van Blyderveen examines various issues from a biblical perspective and incorporates his own personal experiences that have shaped his political ideology. The author explores many important hot-button topics, including abortion, critical race theory, and the Trump presidency. He also wades into economic policy and globalism. Van Blyderveen is from Canada, so he spends some time analyzing the role of residential schools in the lives of First Nation Canadians and the official apology to the indigenous people from the Canadian government. The author’s intent is to generate dialogue, inspire critical thinking, and defend the social contract as a biblical covenant. ... (read more)

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Biblical Accounts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

He Is the Light the Lord the Love of My Life
by Arlene M. Wood
Author’s Tranquility Press


"Not God first, God only. He will be only or He won’t be any. Bow to him."

Writer Wood has composed a wide-ranging paean to the wonders and benefits of following God’s ways—wonders and benefits she has personally experienced and wishes for others to share. Her work is a combination of scripture, mainly taken from the New Testament of the Holy Bible, her lively narrative, and some meaningful short poems. One of her oft-repeated phrases is “My Daddy is so God,” referencing her heavenly father. Though she briefly recounts her childhood influence as her parents took her and her siblings to church, her reflections probe in greater depth into what she considers the most meaningful connection she has now with God. ... (read more)

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JadeAnne Continues

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Coyote: Terror and Pursuit Across the Border
by Ana Manwaring
Indies United Publishing House


"Your luck is running out, JadeAnne. They’ll get you and the brat, one way or the other."

JadeAnne Stone, an investigative journalist whose main interest is human trafficking, is being hunted by the devious Anibal and ruthless cartel members who wish to retrieve her and fifteen-year-old Lily after their escape. With the help of JadeAnne’s biological father, Quint, the two females are hiding out with an array of security. However, how can one know who to trust in a country where law enforcement is easily bought off, and even government agents may not be trustworthy? Though the two are American citizens, they find no help from the American Embassy and must find another way to return to the States safely. The handsome Dr. Dylan Porras and his family become involved as he and JadeAnne begin a budding romance. With the help of friends and colleagues, they eventually create a feasible but dangerous escape plan. However, the question remains: Who can they really trust? ... (read more)

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Better Late Than Never

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Things I Wish I’d Known at 13: or maybe even sooner: A Girls Guide to Girl Stuff
by Sonja Reynolds
Authors' Tranquility Press


"My belief is that young people truly want to be guided, even though they may act like they don’t and rebel and fight against it at times."

The issues facing young women today are vast and overwhelming. Many decisions made in adolescence have lifelong consequences, and many patterns developed when young are difficult to break. As teenage girls confront daily life issues, guidance and support can lead to paths of positivity and empowerment. This comprehensive guide for teenage girls specializes in helping young women by offering advice on a wide range of topics. Using anecdotes, personal experience, and hard-won wisdom, this guide aims to be the voice of hope and help on the challenging journey to womanhood. Reynolds serves as a stand-in older sister, aunt, or mother figure determined to lead teenage girls on a path of discovery and personal fulfillment. The topics cover some of the following: hygiene, grooming, body issues, relationships with others and with the self, finances, problem-solving, and effective communication. Some chapters are about shifting one’s mindset, while others are about developing skills. Every chapter includes questions and prompts for self-reflection. ... (read more)

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The Mission

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Later When the Tide Comes In
by David Lasswell
Author’s Tranquility Press


"I was amazed, the Parliament had been applauding and I had not yet opened my mouth."

Silas Fox was an intelligent and hard-working young man who graduated from the University of Idaho. After a year of working for a nationally recognized company, he talked to his father about what he should do with his life. His father suggested the military. Silas joined the Marines and served for six years, saving a good deal of money during this time. He decided to relax for a few months after his discharge and spent that time in Seabeck, Washington. After sending money to an organization named Providers, their human resource director, Blake Tate, invited him to a ten-day seminar, all expenses paid, in Florida. Silas accepted and was soon enthralled by the company. Through professional diplomacy and education, the company was working to combat poverty around the globe. Due to his great academic record, public-speaking background, and Marine training, Silas was offered a job with a nice salary. Several others attended the seminar and were also offered jobs after showing themselves to be exemplary. ... (read more)

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Peaks & Valleys

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Every Story Is a Miracle: Revised Edition of This Is Me
by Gary Wilson
Authors' Tranquility Press


"GO FOR IT. But, if you do not reach it, do not get upset. You still have to live with yourself and others."

In a comprehensive biographical rendition, Wilson delivers one coherent message: pour as much energy into life as you can because the show must go on. From the outset, there is a strong understanding that it's not so much about what happens to us as it is how we respond to life events. More specifically, the author emphasizes that everyone has a story that is a byproduct of literally every single decision made from the time they're on the clock (birth). The sheer existence of man is a miracle in itself. This mantra carries over throughout the narrative as audiences follow Wilson's life and excursions, covering everything from childhood to career and, of course, love. ... (read more)

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Not Like Before

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Death of Wisdom The Rise of Folly: Why We Must Care
by Dr. Arnold O. Thompson
Christian Faith Publishing


"If wisdom is anything, it is the pursuit for truth."

The clever literary conceit that wisdom is a passenger on the “train of time on a collision course with destiny” ignites this journey through a biblical landscape that earnestly exhorts travelers to keep wisdom alive “before we are all lost in our own folly.” Thompson, a long-time pastor and theological writer, tackles the spiritual problems of today with the metaphor of a runaway train hurtling through modern life, where wisdom takes a back seat. ... (read more)

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Tenderness & Affection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Café Rendezvous: And Other Muses
by Gerry Fraser Bryant
iUniverse


"Some fall upon beautiful prose while stumbling in the dark,
While others find it carefully, with explicit memory,"

This collection contains several short prose pieces and numerous poems. It covers a variety of topics, including early rock and roll, the 9/11 bombing, roadside bombs, and the experience of visiting nightclubs. However, most of this work is romantic. Many of the pieces cover love or romantic longing, while a few focus on heartache and loss. The longest selection, from which the book’s title is derived, deals with the beginnings of a relationship. The two main characters share witty dialogue as they quickly fall for each other. It is one of the most interesting pieces, yet it ends abruptly as the relationship is just beginning. The close of the book offers a few excerpts from well-known writers, often with the author’s comments interspersed. Much of Bryant’s writing is in rhymed verse. ... (read more)

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A Testament

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Journey to America
by Aj Rasih
URLink Print and Media


"The institute promotes civic education and government to new Asian Immigrants for successful citizenship throughout the states of Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas."

In this biographical narrative, Rasih, the youngest of four children, details his journey from growing up in Laos and studying engineering in Thailand to becoming a naturalized US citizen and then an ordained Christian minister. With proficiency in French, Laotian, and English, among others, Rasih is multilingual to his core. As a recipient of the Asian Heritage Award in Literature, Art, and Philosophy, the author’s experiences and accolades are a clear testament to the resolve he had in escaping to Thailand following the fall of the Royal Lao government and ultimately making his way to the United States. ... (read more)

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Sweet Love Song

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Play Nancy Spain
by Tony Cassidy
AuthorHouse UK


"I did not want to see her marry someone else when I still loved her.… Had I missed an opportunity or had there never really been one?"

Set in the 1980s in Northern Ireland, this is the story of a recently divorced single father working to rebuild his life. Tom’s marriage and his job have both ended. Faced with the daunting task of starting over, his interest in education motivates him to enroll at Ulster University as a mature student studying psychology. Suddenly, he is trying to juggle his busy academic life, which crosses into his personal life, with his desire to spend as much time with his young daughter as possible. ... (read more)

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Common Sense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Human Paradox: It's Time to Think and Act as a Species
by Gilbert E. Mulley
Xlibris


"Your lifetime assignment includes knowing where you are in each world at any moment, being aware that overlaps exist among these worlds...""

This wonderful work describes and reflects the actions—and realizations to motivate the actions—that humans must accept and take to survive as a species and begin to heal the Earth. Mulley repeatedly states that people are unique in themselves, the same as every other human. That's the paradox. If humans expect to survive as a species, they must care about themselves and others. People must think and act cooperatively, collectively, and honestly while conserving the resources they need by recycling materials and investing in environmentally sound energy and lifestyles. The author states that humans live in three worlds: "The ethereal world, the 'human-made' world, and the 'me' world." ... (read more)

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A Good Witness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Win Your Case: A Psychiatrist Uses Famous Cases as Examples of How to Succeed in Litigation
by Thomas Curtis MD
Xlibris


"Like in your deposition, the facts you provide are the most important. However, your demeanor on the stand comes a close second."

In connecting his cognitive and behavioral perspectives centered around a career in psychiatry, Curtis provides a nuanced and insightful understanding of the dos and don’ts to succeed in court. However, what separates his work from countless other technically dense literature is his ability to weave the plethora of case studies within a storytelling concept. There’s just the right amount of humor and personality to keep the book from turning into a “Who’s Who” of criminal law. ... (read more)

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Paradise?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pacifica
by Richard C. Deason
AuthorHouse


"A dream firmly rooted is a strong seedling indeed."

This lengthy thriller combines visionary and dystopian science fiction set in the near future and told in an articulate, philosophically driven narrative. After the United States has splintered into politically distinct commonwealths and republics, a radically new nation arises in the western Pacific with the prime agenda of personal freedom based on the American republic's former constitutional ideals. It is headed by corporate CEO and chief political executive David Ryan, who is publicly deemed a terrorist threat by the powerful Commonwealth of East America. ... (read more)

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Faith-Based

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Inspirational Devotions of Hope During America's-COVID Pandemic
by Leda Rafter
Authors' Tranquility Press


"He who dwells in the shelter of the Highest will rest in the shadow of the almighty."

In Rafter’s inspirational devotions, themes of loss, grief, faith, and unyielding determination are intricately intertwined with the boundless love of the Lord in order to help the modern era of mankind understand that even through the darkest times, God and the Word light the way. To thoroughly examine the devastating effect of the pandemic on morale and mental health, the author shifts the paradigm by referencing biblical stories that arguably rivaled and exceeded the devastation of Covid-19. Each devotion sheds light on what it means to be human and how to battle through adversity, yet Rafter’s own experience with loss spearheads the empathetic quality of her work. ... (read more)

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Motivations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Johnson Place: A Rappahannock County Story
by James Willis
Authors' Tranquility Press


"If land could speak, it might tell us its story. Since it can’t, its story must depend on man, and man’s memory is poor."

Based on an actual case, the narrative covers two centuries of history highlighting Rappahannock County, Virginia, and the coveted Johnson farm boasting over 300 acres. Capturing the progression of the Johnson family, including James Johnson’s personal ambitions, the work sheds light on the life and times of the era through the depiction of one individual’s story. Featuring an abundance of family secrets and moral dilemmas, the plot unravels at breakneck speed, delivering constant action mixed in with a steady dose of character development, particularly in the morality department. ... (read more)

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Steady Measures

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Through the Dark Looking Glass
by Garret Godwin
Authors' Tranquility Press


"Ira could read between the lines – here coercion meant torture. This was a legal system for a dictatorship, not a democracy."

Ira Ellingsworth has just lost his bid for district attorney and his wife. Now, he must work for Fred Rollins, the man who defeated him. Fred is an evangelical conservative with visions of political greatness. He will do anything to further his career and standing with the far right. Ira knows the only way to keep his job is to follow Fred’s lead and share his opinions. Ira even visits with and occasionally attends the mega-church Fred promotes. When three war protesters are arrested outside a federal building, Fred sees this as an opportunity to make a name for himself. He instructs Ira to take the case and throw the book at the accused. After some digging by the FBI, the legal team learns they can press for felony charges. However, their exuberance catches the interest of Homeland Security, and they take the case from Fred and Ira. One suspect in particular, Luke Peter, is being accused of multiple charges related to helping terrorists. Ira begins to see how the man is being unfairly prosecuted and, from the ACLU, finds ways to aid Luke’s defense team. This eventually gets him fired, but the people at the ACLU like his work and hire him. As a result of his involvement in this government case, Ira begins to be under surveillance. He will continue to take cases counter to the US government and fight against the infringement on personal freedoms. ... (read more)

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Searing Images

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Walk
by Gordon Bostic
Authors Press


"They weren’t allowed to pause nor pray
For those who now were dead.
Their only focus was the Walk
And pushing on ahead."

In an example of narrative poetry at its finest, this collection is essentially an epic poem where all the individual pieces flow into each other, telling one cohesive and spellbinding story of the Walk. Interestingly enough, in many ways, the vision of the work combines the atrocities of Stalin’s gulags with the competitive, man-eat-man-type phenomena of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. The one common theme that permeates both is the spirit of the human will, an unyielding quest for survival as darkness descends in its many heinous forms. ... (read more)

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Quick Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Guilty of Nothing
by Kevin King
Great Writers Media


"Fear was gripping the city. The police still had no clues who this serial killer was. Women were frightened to be alone. Television warned women to be with two or three other people if at all possible."

This novella-length story follows Bill Eck, who is accused of a string of murders he did not commit. Once a college baseball player, Bill’s life settles into the ordinary after he injures his arm, stops his baseball career to focus on college, and meets the woman he ends up marrying. But the mundanity of his life changes when, at a horse racetrack where he frequently wins bets, killings begin happening. Unbeknownst to him, his reputation for winning may have gotten him on the radar of a serial killer, one who decides to plant evidence on him for revenge. ... (read more)

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Supernatural Intrigue

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8 Frog Street
by Rezaul Khan
PageTurner Press and Media


"The Philippines has a mythological culture: many people believe in supernatural and mythical things."

This fictional work, inspired by the author's experiences while living in the Philippines, tells of the life of Chinese immigrant Lee Chan through the eyes of his neighbor Richie King. King rents a house from the ultra-rich Chan and is faced with the prospect that the house at 8 Frog Street is haunted. As King begins to unravel the house's mysteries, he learns of the fascinating life of Chan, who started his life in the Philippines as a poor boy of ten and rose to the heights of a wealthy businessman. However, was his rise to riches helped along by a ghost? ... (read more)

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Darkness & Light

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Loving a Beautiful Mind: Schizophrenia and an Amazing God
by Carolyn T. Linn
ReadersMagnet


"My life is richer than if I hadn’t had the struggle of a journey far different from my expectations. God is always leading me in triumph."

Part memoir, part devotional, this book candidly covers thirty years of the author’s life, mostly told through selected entries from her journals. Linn describes how she and her husband, Maynard, anticipated the perfect life ahead of them when they married in the 1960s. Linn worked as a schoolteacher until the birth of their children, while Maynard went to graduate school to become a preeminent professor of philosophy. All of their plans went awry when Maynard started exhibiting disturbing behaviors. The young family struggled for more than a decade with getting Maynard diagnosed and treated for what they would discover was paranoid schizophrenia. ... (read more)

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Farm Cat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Angel: A Kitten’s Story
by Ross Alan Hahn
Archway Publishing


"When you were born, Angel, we knew you were going to be very special. I’m so proud of you."

In this book for middle-grade readers, a farmer and his wife return from a winter vacation in the spring to find that their cat, Mamakitty, has given birth. Her kitten, Angel, is snow white with blue eyes. While the farmer and his wife usually find new homes for Mamakitty’s offspring, Angel is so beautiful and sweet that they decide to keep her. Over the course of the year, Angel learns about the world and gets into many adventures along the way. She meets and plays with the farm’s barn cats, rides in the car, and in true kitten form, sticks her nose and tail anywhere she can. ... (read more)

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Ha-Ha's

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mr. Bob’s Corny Jokes
by Cynthia Dewindt
Xlibris


"Ms. Carol’s eyes looked toward the ceiling as she mumbled, ‘Oh boy. Here we go!’"

What did the tube of toothpaste say to the other tube of toothpaste? “There’s always something brushing up against me.” What did one clock say to another clock? “It’s about time!” Or, how about this: What did one book say to another book? “You need to stop telling stories.” These silly—and quite corny—jokes are just some of the hackneyed one-liners a most eccentric, enthusiastic Mr. Bob thoroughly enjoys asking his wife, Ms. Carol, and their son, BJ. In fact, Ms. Carol is quick to recognize “that special look in Mr. Bob’s eyes” which always tells her he is in his “funny bone mood,” and their house will be anything but quiet. After these frequent one-liners, all Bob can do is grab his belly and laugh and laugh at his own witticisms. However, Ms. Carol appreciates being married to a man who works “so hard to make her laugh,” and she simply would not have it any other way. ... (read more)

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Brighter Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When Love Abides Broken: A Memoir of Family Tumult and Emotional Deprivation, Betrayal, and Divorce
by Aidan Brezovar
Archway Publishing


"I felt convinced God wanted me at the ranch."

When the author, a Catholic priest, leaves his home parish to spend some time with his mother after her recent health crisis, he reckons to stay at Lavaro Ranch for a short while. But that brief visit, meant to offer practical aid and familial comfort, will turn into long years fraught with a stream of familial predicaments. Zoe, a charming, responsible, and honest woman, speaks freely with her son, confiding fears and despair over her marriage to the author’s stepfather, Al—an acerbic, manipulating character apparently determined to run her life and ruin her relationships with all but him. As Zoe confides more openly with Brezovar, they become convinced that a divorce is the best path to the peacefulness she has earned over the years. The tangled threads of that decision, mixed with the author’s attempts to maintain contacts within the officialdom of his religion and the wish to somehow reconcile with an estranged brother, will occupy the coming years, as the author and his mother still pray together for mutual healing. ... (read more)

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Confessional

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inside My Ugly Mind
by Jacob Gallegos
iUniverse


"Around me fly empty bags
Like ghosts in the streets’"

In this unique, artistic poetry collection, readers discover the fine line where the everyday world collides with pain, depression, and solitude. In these raw verses, readers encounter walls placed in deserts, a speaker fully aware of their brokenness, and empty days where one’s loneliness resounds loudly. Poems like “Iron Butterfly” remind one that life is a strange mixture of pain, pleasure, and happiness. “Antidote” is a gentle reminder that everyone carries their own secrets. Other poems like “Etched” serve as a testimony to those people who briefly enter one’s life but leave a lasting impression. Accompanying the poems are blank pages that are the perfect space for readers to experiment with their own writing and drawing. ... (read more)

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Compelling Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Name I Choose
by Holly Brough
Xlibris


"It is not our name that defines us but how we conduct ourselves in the moment. You are so much more than a name."

Set in nineteenth-century Spain, this novel depicts a young woman’s struggles to make her own destiny in a male-dominated society. As a teenager, Amalia learns that her parents have sold her into service to work for a wealthy family. Her employer is alarmingly forward with her and makes mysterious references to her family’s past. As his behavior escalates, Amalia begins to fear for her safety. She spends as much time as she can away from the estate and falls in love with a young nobleman. Amalia’s tryst turns sour as her lover abandons her, and she discovers she is pregnant. ... (read more)

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Experiences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Along Came Hell, or So I Thought
by Lois Young
Xlibris


"I needed to make room for a new me, whoever that was, by growing."

Author Young created this chronicle after what could certainly be called hell on earth, yet through her experiences, she found a closer bond with God. It began one quiet evening when her grown, married daughters accused her husband of having molested both them and then his granddaughters. His admission was the beginning of a long, harrowing journey for the author. After resigning from his prominent church leadership, her husband turned himself in, was given lie detector tests, and was put in jail to await trial for child rape. Despite some rational support from his children and others, he was sentenced to prison—ten years to life. ... (read more)

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Inspirational Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All I Want For Christmas Is...A Family
by L.P. Randolph
Christian Faith Publishing


"The star said, ‘Yes! My glow is dim,
My face may look grim.
All that’s wrong.
I haven’t a family to belong."

Young readers meet Shirley James, a young girl who always prays by her Christmas tree. One evening, as Shirley prays, the star on the Christmas tree speaks to her. The star’s presence confuses Shirley, and she quickly escapes to her bed. Young readers will be enchanted as they follow the story of the Christmas star, who reveals to Shirley’s mother that it wants a family to call its own. The star grows sadder and sadder, and Shirley’s mother wonders if she will have to discard it. However, an accident causes the tree to collapse and changes Christmas for everyone. ... (read more)

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Rhyme & Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fingerprints of God
by Melanie Burgess
WestBow Press


"If God had fingerprints where would they be?"

This religious children’s book explores how God’s fingerprints are a creative force in the world. This is shown through the words and the detailed drawings throughout the story. In the telling of the story, the question quoted above examines the fingerprints in the stars and the moonlit sea, a sunset, bear cubs playing, wild horses in a poppy field, in the mountains, on the wings of eagles, within a starfish or an owl in a tree, in a rainbow, a monkey or a Jesus lizard, or in a coral reef. An additional question asks the reader if they could see “God’s fingerprints in a mirror of you and me?” God is everywhere, and this question engages the reader in seeing themselves as part of creation, for everything is seen as creation. ... (read more)

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Engaging Souls

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Women of the Word: Vol. 1
by Melissa Joy Parcels
iUniverse


"If we could fathom the depth of God’s love for is, we would stand in amazement."

Author Parcels explores spiritual truths as embodied in the lives and experiences of women written about in the Holy Bible. Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Abraham and Sarah, provides the first story for contemplation. Wishing impatiently for offspring, Sarah offered Hagar to Abraham as a surrogate mother for his child, without waiting on God’s intervention, which would come later. Parcels shows how both women sinned and both, in time, atoned as God uses their actions for a higher purpose. A similar story of frustrations regarding childbirth is that of Hannah, who would, with God’s blessing, give birth to the great leader Samuel. A missionary named Claudia is cited by Paul in a letter from prison, the only woman to be so honored. In contrast to these righteous women, Jezebel “had a strong hatred for righteous people” and suffered the consequences of her evil behaviors. ... (read more)

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Evil Afoot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Strange Stories: Tales of the Paranormal
by Sarala Kunhambu
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"Many of these stories, show clearly, the insidious manner, in which Evil creeps in, and how humankind seriously attempts to thwart and defeat this Evil."

In this book of fifteen tales, each story examines an aspect of the paranormal. The stories have different plot lines, but they all deal with darkness and evil and how this darkness creeps into everyday life. From a knife chopping off a man’s head to people being possessed, the offerings include haunted houses, murders and suicide by tortured souls, the devil, an exorcism, a woman being killed for trying to interfere with an evil spirit, a child spirit who plays with a real-life girl, and other haunted and haunting encounters. The stories reveal the horrors of dark paranormal activities in vivid and scary detail. Sometimes there is healing through the work of shamans, priests, one’s own focus on the power of goodness and God, the power of prayer, or chanting a mantra while focusing on faith. Each story ends with a short note from the author about the tale. ... (read more)

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