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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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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

1871: Rivers on Fire
by Paul Buchheit


"He was more than likely assisting homeless people up north, as I was doing here. But he would certainly get word to me. Somehow."

The main crises presented in this multi-dimensional work are the Great Chicago Fire and the significantly more destructive burn, the Peshtigo fire. The story, which is given credence as a historical novel not only for its dramatic and factual rendering of past events but also the inclusion of actual people such as a mentor, "Dr. Bain," centers on a couple named Liz and Robert. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Evolution

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seven Papers: A collection of investigative papers on the creation of the modern brain
by Dan M. Mrejeru
A Terrestrial Mind Publishing


"'...primitivism" may represent only a "blind spot" on the radiative map.'"

This collection of papers tries to scientifically and evolutionarily explain how humans biochemically became the intellectuals they are. Written for those interested in tying together multidisciplinary sciences, this compilation fills a niche that needs filling. ... (read more)

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A Good Life

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Johnny Boy
by John Califano
Verve House Books


"'And if I’ve learned one thing, it’s usually the kids are not the problem.' He paused and then turned, looking directly at me. 'It’s their parents.'"

Johnny, the youngest of the Caruso children, narrates this fictional story about his difficult upbringing in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 60s. Through vignettes of daily life, rich dialogue, and a strong cast of characters, Johnny captures coming of age at the hands of a violent father and a medicated, mentally ill mother. His boisterous Italian-American extended family looms in the background of this unfolding story, at times bringing celebration and at other times fuel to ignite fires of rage and resentment. His older brother and sister offer support as protectors, caregivers, and eventually role models for escaping by any means necessary. His siblings flee through the military and through marriage, while Johnny relies on education as a way to eventually leave his abusive home. ... (read more)

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Emotionally Charged

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mothers of Pine Way
by Corrine Ardoin
Black Rose Writing


"Protective of her newfound self, she savored the change, basking in a waking dream. Joy and opportunities were open to her since the discovery of her gifts."

Candelaria is one of many women in this story. She discovers her true self, and the power to thrive, after surviving multiple traumas: the loss of her family's home and parents when she was a child and, later, the loss of her husband as well as her feeling of responsibility for a difficult son. Ultimately, she rejoices in her Mexican and Native-American heritage and a rare ability to tell stories. Those epiphanies, as well as positive relationships with her daughter, Rosa, and a determined woman named Esther, Candelaria's good and bad memories of her past, a spiritual counselor, a connection to her mother that transcends death, and other major transitions help Candelaria to develop a life that is liberated from rage and fear, a life that becomes personally empowering. ... (read more)

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Faith

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Starlight in the Dawn: The poetic priestess who chose to fight
by Naveen Sridhar
KDP Amazon


"Fate and faith are like friends who fail. Yet Enheduanna remained faithful to her faith, her only friend."

Set on the banks of the Euphrates in 2286 BCE, Sridhar's narrative is driven by compelling worldbuilding and character development. While the novel revolves around Enheduanna, the high priestess of the Temple of Ur, each character has a well-developed backstory that is instrumental to bringing the intricate system of government, politics, and power (and often the abuses of each) to life. Through the narrative, audiences will gain exposure to age-old questions such as the constant clash between church and state. ... (read more)

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Unraveling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Entanglement: Quantum and Otherwise
by John K. Danenbarger
StormBlock Publishing


"But then the time shovel comes up behind us and cleans out our past where we once belonged, changing and erasing some of our identity."

Though the story takes place in 2044, it spans six decades, commencing with a unique encounter in Provincetown, Massachusetts, between Joe Tink and Beth Sturgess, a sixteen-year-old who has run away from home and makes a living as a prostitute. Progressing through time and the vantage point of multiple characters, Danenbarger's time-bending novel explores the depths of darkness in the human mind, taking readers through the backstories of the pertinent characters in an effort to help audiences understand the experiences and circumstances that create the litany of flawed characters. In the midst of all the darkness, however, is a beacon of hope, highlighted by a seemingly magical and timely note that comes to Joe: "We dream of the better times. If we did not believe this, life would be unbearable." ... (read more)

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Engagement

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Unwinding the Serpent
by Robert Paul Blumenstein
Atmosphere Press


"The Mass halted momentarily and hovered directly above the town."

This intricate and extraterrestrial tale begins for readers in 1793 in the small town of Johnnycake, Virginia. Strange lights in the skies alert the townspeople, and when a few men discover an even stranger disc-like object on a far ridge, an unworldly truth propels the townspeople into events they could never have imagined. Then, in 1973, a man named Richard submits to hypnosis, which leads him into various events related to those that happened in 1793. By the book's conclusion, readers have been transported to the year 3197, where a millennia-old secret the universe has been holding is unlocked. ... (read more)

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Role Reversal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Under the Divi Tree: True Love Needs No Reason
by Michael Solomon
Book Locker


"'We have come a long way,' she thought. 'It is hard to believe how far we have come. It has been a Cinderella story.'"

Love's ability to transcend the most difficult of circumstances and persist is best exemplified by this heartwarming story of Matthew and Carol Crane. While the story opens up with Matthew on a flight to Aruba, his sixteenth trip there, the entire story is narrated as a flashback to another passenger who happens to be a clinical psychologist. The Cranes' love story is decidedly central to the novel's progression. However, when Matthew falls into a seemingly unbreakable slumber, the exploration of the scientific and metaphysical is equally intriguing. ... (read more)

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Timeless

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Mr. Dalton's Christmas
by Robert A. Valle
Amazon


"...sometimes our gifts can be used for much more."

The author of this unique Christmas tale sets the stage nicely, painting Dalton as a hard-working assistant manager at Macy's with a routine life. Dalton is frozen in time after recovering from an accident that took his wife and ruined his physically demanding stage career almost a decade earlier. Through Valle's artful character development, readers are soon cheering for Dalton to come out of his shell and reinvent himself. He does. But, did he dream this inspiration, did it happen from his own depths of inner strength, or is it all divine intervention? Readers get to decide for themselves as Valle masterfully leaves it open-ended. ... (read more)

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Mormon Trials

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The Way to the Shining City: A Story of the Early Mormons in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"He said the time had come when men of high reputation in the sight of God could take extra wives..."

Gabriel Romain is a young doctor among the Mormons who began relocating to the city of "Far West," Missouri, taking refuge after the church's financial speculations in Kirtland, Ohio, had failed. By 1838 there were more than four thousand Mormons in Far West. This novel joins Gabe and his sister Marie, escaped slave Eb, his friend Nathaniel, and others as they re-orient themselves in this new place. Tension builds again between believers and other Missouri citizens, culminating in Governor Boggs's infamous "exterminating order" after mustering 2,500 militia troops to put down the "Mormon rebellion." Joseph and Hyrum Smith negotiated a surrender by October of 1838, and the body of believers once again forfeited their property and rights to gain safe passage to Illinois. Most of the novel concerns Gabriel's wedding to Bethia, who seems to suffer from depression, and his encounter with the rapidly changing circumstances of life in Nauvoo, Illinois. ... (read more)

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Transformation

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Book Reviews - US Review of Books
The Gothica
by Patrick C. DiCarlo
iUniverse


"So it was done. The great king was buried at the bottom of the river. Only a few were allowed to witness the burial. When the dam was released and the prisoners slain, Alaric had been laid to rest, and Athaulf led the march north."

In this epic novel of historical proportions, readers enter the often brutal world of the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Romans. Among these groups are a band of refugees. With their homes decimated, these refugees search across Europe for a new home, and some are even forced to fight in the ranks of the Roman army. Among the refugees is Alaric, a bold and defiant boy who will eventually rise to one of the greatest roles in history—the first king of the Visigoths. Readers also follow the tumultuous histories that ultimately shaped the modern world and are quickly lured into one of the most fascinating periods of history. As the rise of violence and the desire for peace and unification rise, they learn not only the intriguing tale of Alaric's rise to power but also the rarely heard stories from the everyday people who lived behind the scenes of those who ruled. .... (read more)

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Unforgettable Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eban and the Dolphins
by Carolyn Davis


"I think that he could be a leader—perhaps a liaison between us and humans."

Lost and adrift in the foster care system, Eban retreats to the ocean, where he is drawn to a pod of bottlenose dolphins that he discovers swimming near his coastal town. Initially, he connects to the patterns of sounds coming from the dolphins. As he spends more time with the pod, he begins to see these amazing animals as the family that has eluded him all his life. In a lovely twist on the coming-of-age tale, Eban joins the pod of dolphins and escapes into a world he chooses rather than remain to suffer in the human world that leaves him sad and disconnected. Growing up with the dolphins as his family, Eban becomes a beautiful bridge and healing force for animals and humans. With a deep knowledge of the oceans and the needs of dolphins, Eban is able to channel his experience into environmental activism, and his life becomes an inspirational call to action for all young people. ... (read more)

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Not Said

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It Happened in Silence
by Karla M. Jay
Book Circle Press


"'Our government has a love affair with its history of chains.'"

Willow Stewart's spirit is as fiery as her curtain of red hair. Hers is the hardscrabble existence of a lifelong Appalachian in the early 1920s. She can't speak and has never made a sound in her fifteen years. Her brother Briar was banished fifteen months ago. Then her newborn brother dies, her mother falls ill enough to do likewise, and she must summon a traveling preacher from town and send a message to Briar inviting him to return, considering the circumstances. ... (read more)

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Circular Paths

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Circle of Life: A Guide for Conscious Living in a World of Chaos
by Frank Natale
Morgan Road


"When we overcome the fear of having nothing, of truly letting go of everything, a trust in life itself manifests the peace we seek."

Published posthumously, Natale's work is a roadmap teaching readers to use love and compassion as armor against limitations like fear, conventional thinking, and numerous other vulnerabilities, ultimately stressing that knowledge on the mental, physical, and especially spiritual level is locked within us. True self-discovery is the best teacher. While the text is imbued with valuable lessons, it is the combination of the author's willful sharing of his own authentic experiences, such as growing up in Brooklyn and an innate ability to simplify complex topics (especially death, energy meditations, and the transformational rites of passage) that makes Natale's work both universally relatable and highly applicable. ... (read more)

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Dark & Sinister

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Insomniac: Short Stories for Long Nights
by Joe Kilgore
Encircle Publications


"The moon was round and pale as a communion wafer, but it had no absolution to offer."

In this dark, psychological collection, readers visit the fringes of terror and the darkest depths of the human psyche. Murdering husbands thrive on revenge regardless of the consequences. An anonymous voice possesses the power to brainwash a nation and forever transform the American landscape. A mysterious woman walks her cat in Paris and reveals a sinister secret to a questioning passerby. Readers also find stories of rogue assassins ready to turn their lives around, only to find that karma has different plans for them, and enter realms in which a person's preference in wines is a measure of their character. By the book's end, readers have traveled to the past, where the laws of the Wild West reign supreme, and independent men are tested not only by the harshness of nature but also the hostility that grows with the slightest provocation between fellow humans. ... (read more)

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The Unspoken

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Aftermath: 9/11 Through a Volunteer's Eyes
by Beth SK Morris
Poetica Publishing


"Subway destroyed, they fled east
on foot, heads covered with ash,
some wearing masks, some still
bleeding from the debris"

This cathartic, eye-opening account of the tragedy that 9/11 bestowed upon the United States transports readers to Ground Zero, where ash and debris fall, where loved ones disappear, and where for years to come, the day’s physical, emotional, and psychological scarrings refuse to disappear, let alone fade. In this haunting collection, the poem “By the Numbers, 6000” reduces humanity to “body parts recovered, sorted / into segments small enough / to fit in a test tube.” Readers find themselves face-to-face with a wife who “buries her face in her workbook, lowers her eyes” as she confesses the potential loss of her husband and the consequences his disappearance bestows upon her and her daughter’s future in the poem “The Lesson.” Meanwhile, toxic xenophobia permeates American society and shocks readers to their cores as they experience it for themselves in the poem “The Physics of Ripples.” ... (read more)

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Wisdom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Harnessing the Power of Grief
by Julie Potter, MSW, LCSW
MSI Press


"Exploring the many ways grief may manifest helps you to accept what you are experiencing as normal and to accept the experience of others."

With her background in coordinating hospital-based bereavement programs, author Potter presents a depth of information for anyone in the midst of grief, anticipating grieving circumstances, or looking back on the intensity of loss and reacting to that memory. She examines the way different cultures, past and present, accept and incorporate grief. She presents four "tasks" for the grieving person to follow: accepting the reality of loss, experiencing the pain, adjusting to the world without a loved one, and embarking on a new life that will include rituals and reminders of the departed. Variables include whether the death is sudden or expected, whether the grief begins with a gradual loss (as in the case of a partner with Alzheimer's), how the death changes our routines of life, and factors impacted by our particular psychological make-up. Potter also provides suggestions for friends of the bereaved and reminds readers that though a grieving person often feels isolated, "we are all in this together alone." ... (read more)

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Social Scene

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cromby's Axiom
by Gary J. Kirchner
FriesenPress


"He was an outsider, looking at the world dully, as if through bad optics, as if it were black and white when it should have been brilliant colour."

Kirchner paints a bleak, highly controversial picture of humanity's future in his debut novel that is reminiscent of other dystopian masterpieces like The Matrix. Kirchner places the reader in the mind of its protagonist, Tommy (or "TeePee" as his raving fan base calls him), to ponder whether privacy and independence are more important than a constant connection with others on a level that is beyond words. Like The Matrix's Neo, Tommy is metaphorically "unplugged" from the technological world he has been rooted in and forced to make a difficult choice: join a band of independent thinkers, known as the Ketchen, who dream of a revolution that will free the minds of all, or re-integrate himself back into the Hive, to be embraced by the love and adoration of eight million people. ... (read more)

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Liberation From Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Art of Forgiveness: A Promise of Peace
by Carolyn CJ Jones
Gate Lady Publishing


"It’s as if someone was saying, because you don’t understand something, have a question, or need a hand, you’re defective for some reason."

Demonstrating the dichotomy between a life lived in two entirely different worlds, Jones holds nothing back in describing her own journey and providing a pathway for others to achieve the same level of peace. At its core, the narrative is an opportunity to experience authentic introspection and tackle heavy topics like anger and resentment head-on. ... (read more)

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The Christian Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who’s Controlling You? Encountering the Ultimate Connectedness
by Mardi Harjo
Christian Faith Publishing


"A person cannot be saved without first having realized he is lost."

Christian artist and musician Harjo has constructed a thorough, thoughtful treatise focusing on the ideal relationship between human beings and God. She begins with a basic view of that relationship, questioning the reader in clear, rational terms. Do we worship the stars or God who made them? Do we believe that worldly knowledge can save us, or must we look beyond, to an "authoritative Truth that cannot be compromised"? In what do we base our identity? What is our ultimate, utmost purpose? By this means, the author stretches the mind beyond its usual realms of spiritual examination. She is not eclectic but selective in her guidance towards leading a God-centered life. She decries some televangelism as a kind of religious "junk food" and suggests that certain sorts of worship emphasize apparent miracles and wonders rather than their source. She warns that one can be a "nominal" Christian who simply takes in a few spoonsful of religion on a regular basis with the appeal of elaborate rituals, a phenomenon she calls "churchianity." ... (read more)

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Command of Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Flower in the Dark: When the truth hides...
by Ewin Genghis


"Like me, over time you will get to know too much. That is the danger. People do not like it. It's an occupational hazard."

Probing into the deepest recesses of the mind uncovers the utter monstrosities that are in an ever-present tug of war with human goodness, virtue, and morality. This madness is on full display through the lens of protagonist Alyssa Brown, a newly minted psychologist. Genghis uses the trio of philosophy, religion, and psychology to explore the depths of the human mind. What ensues is a thrilling and thought-provoking masterpiece, a commentary on what it means to know the dark side of humanity and still live with hope. ... (read more)

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Evocative Prose

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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Ancient Beliefs in Modern Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wheel of Time: Origin of the Holy Days
by D. W. Kreger
Windham Everitt Publishing


"The whole notion that time is like a wheel was a near universal concept among pre-history people on opposite sides of the planet."

Using what he has learned in his thirty years of travel in the study of archaeological sites around the world, Kreger offers a comprehensive work that traces the origin of many of our holiday traditions to Neolithic beliefs. The author constructs a "Wheel of Time"—"a complete and concise model of all the special days of the year observed by our ancestors and what they might have meant to them." He discusses ancient sites across the world erected to mark the changing of seasons by following the movements of the sun and moon. Such sites as Stonehenge, Kokino Observatory, and Machu Picchu are discussed, as are places in North America. Many illustrations of the wheel which emphasize and explain his premise are included. Kreger also refers to literature, such as the writings of Julius Caesar, the Venerable Bede, and the various legends of King Arthur to further expound upon his conclusions. ... (read more)

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Box Turtle Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Santa Fe Tom
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books


"At the end of the song there was a standing ovation. His humble heart was full of successful gratification."

A bashful and humble turtle overcomes the powerful temptation to retreat into his shell and shares a gift he did not know he was capable of giving in this new book by children's author Bate. Santa Fe Tom, a Desert Box Turtle, wakes up one morning in sunny New Mexico, ready to arise from hibernation. He becomes alert quickly as he hears a summons from other desert dwellers Ray Roadrunner, Quincy Quail, Molly Mockingbird, and Paul Prairie dog. It's time for them to get moving, as they are preparing a big birthday surprise for someone who lives in Critter Town. ... (read more)

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Top of His Game

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

And Throw Away the Skins
by Scott Archer Jones
Fomite


"All things on earth, both good and bad, last only a little while."

Good books have advantages over good friends. Like friends, they can provide diversion, comfort, and the sharing of a plethora of emotions; but unlike friends, you don’t need to take their feelings, needs, or desires into account. You can gobble them up in massive chunks or simply nibble at them now and then, returning only when you decide to do so. Good books never feel slighted, nor do they ever take offense. Yes, good books have their advantages, and Scott Archer Jones writes good books. This is one of them. ... (read more)

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Lovely Nightmare

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rude Baby
by James W. Morris
First Edition Design Publishing


"Do you think – maybe, just maybe – it’s a funny thing to be selling babies in a supermarket?"

Seventy-year-old Lucinda finds herself shopping for prunes in a vast but strangely unpeopled supermarket. Asking for help from a saleswoman, she is told that babies are for sale there and is urged to buy one. These special infants can already talk, having been "preloaded" with random knowledge from an information website that saves potential buyers from having to teach them some of the usual basics. Lucinda blurts out a confession: years ago, she lost a baby boy named Stevie in a supermarket. Just by coincidence, the saleslady says, they have a baby in stock with the same name. Feeling increasingly pressured as little Stevie II, though huge for his age, is reaching for her and even crying when rejected, Lucinda agrees to buy him for ten dollars, knowing that there is a no-return policy. But she soon questions her purchase when Stevie II shows what a brat he can be—highly articulate, argumentative, and uncooperative. And then, to her horror, her new baby disappears. ... (read more)

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Epic Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Chasing the Darkness
by Cassie Sanchez
Morgan James Publishing


"As Watch Guard soldiers, you are the only ones who can protect the Naturals—capture or restrain, or exterminate. That is your job, your mission."

In this novel of fantastic proportions, readers follow the mysterious Azrael, also known as the Angel of Death. As Azrael learns about his true identity and reckons with his teacher, Drexus, readers join him in a divided world, where all who possess unique gifts must decide whether or not they use their gifts for good or evil. Azrael makes a life-changing and identity-altering decision: he undergoes a procedure that gives him magic. Soon, he finds that the original group who accepted him, the Hunters and the Watch Guard, are now against him. Readers see Azrael develop into something he never imagined he could be—a being with a conscience. Azrael goes on his journey of the self, where the people he once vowed to kill are now his closest friends. ... (read more)

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Steeped in Realism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Rising Tide of People Swept Away
by Scott Archer Jones
Fomite


"The room was hot, just the way she liked it, hot enough that she sweated in penance. In the kitchen the preacher echoed forth from the radio, his phrasing taut, compelling, and rhythmic as a hymn."

A book cover with all the words of the title written in lower case—a hint, perhaps, that some lives are afforded less respect than others. Then a dedication to the working poor—further evidence that what you are about to read has nothing to do with the public’s seeming obsession with wealth, celebrity, and the glitterati. Lastly, the novel itself—far from a screed or polemic, more an homage to humanity with the realization that the effort is the truly important part, regardless of the outcome. ... (read more)

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Sweet Dedication

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Differently Abled
by Sandra Lee Reynolds
Writers Republic


"The more Sierra speaks up, the more people will listen. Then, they can embrace her differences. Acceptance is the key."

It was the first day of a brand new school year, but Sierra wasn't too thrilled. This year would only be like every year. She thought to herself, "They always call me disabled, and never let me play." As her Mom drove her to school, it was a beautiful sunny morning, but Sierra was dreading the day. When they arrived, she saw two girls her age playing hopscotch, and she really wanted to join them. Despite hearing mean words regarding her disability from one of the girls, Sierra was determined to show them she could play, too. ... (read more)

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Happiness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lady Meets Daisy
by Teagan Harman-Pyers
Xlibris


"There once was a lady who everyone knew. She was seldom caught feeling, sad, down, or blue."

This story regarding a wealthy young woman reveals that riches are not the most important things. It shows the woman's love for the good things money can bring her—a car, clothes, shoes, and other material goods. But she finds that even with all of these goods, something is missing in her life. ... (read more)

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Hope & Empowerment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Gear That Just Won’t Turn: What ADHD Is Like For Me
by William Atkinson
AuthorHouse


"Let me move—keeping in all that ‘needing to move’ is so hard, and trying not to get into trouble for it can give me anxiety."

To explain ADHD to someone who hasn't experienced it can sometimes be a lesson in futility. At the ripe old age of nine, Atkinson has done a remarkable job of explaining it both simply and informatively. Using words and pinpoint illustrations that speak volumes, he unpacks the different ADHD catalysts and how they may play out in reality and be perceived by others. ... (read more)

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Supernatural Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Spark of Death
by Christopher Bates
Great Writers Media


"Sparks quickly pulled his sword from William's chin, causing a cut. He then sliced the beast at his right knee."

Due to his amazing physical attributes, combat expertise, and quick thinking, Sparks is recruited by a secret group of elite warriors called the Agency. They are tasked with high-risk missions designed to stop a terrorist organization known as Zion. It doesn't take long before Sparks realizes he is in a much bigger battle with bigger players. The struggle he is in introduces him to gods and demons, angels and werewolves. Sparks must navigate this world of supernatural warriors and espionage, and he even questions the side for which he is fighting. After dying, he is shown just how big the war really is and learns that he still has a mission to accomplish. Training with angels, he is soon thrust back into the fight. ... (read more)

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Captivating

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Predator / Nomad: A Novel
by Daniel Micko
770 Publishing


"Murders are what happens to human beings. Clones don't matter, but I want you to think of something. Why do they need me?"

Dr. Jordan Roberts is an extraordinarily gifted bioengineer who is highly sought by corporations, crime syndicates, and governments alike. Her exclusive methods can be employed to heal thousands of sick people or to produce obedient clone armies. She is personally only interested in gaining wealth and power while developing her science. One of her first clients is the Saudi royal family. A short-lived love affair with Saleh, the princess, is the catalyst for a decade-long, worldwide chase. ... (read more)

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A Diverse Collection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Before Our House Fell into the Ocean: Stories of Love and Death
by William J. Cook


"You never recover from grief, you make an uneasy truce with it. You find a shelf to put it on so it doesn’t bleed into every thought or conversation."

This collection, as the subtitle states, is constructed around love and death. Hemingway reminds us that "all stories, if continued far enough, eventually end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you." Author Cook is a "true-story teller," even though his tales are fiction, and death is not necessarily the end of his stories but the fulcrum on which they often turn. Cook's stories also remind us that while death can certainly wound love, it can never truly erase it. ... (read more)

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Freedom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Get Bail, Leave Jail: America’s Guide to Hiring a Bondsman, Navigating Bail Bonds, And Getting Out of Custody Before Trial
by S. J. Plotkin
Identity Publications


"Due process of law is one of the most important principles of our civilization."

In six chapters, five appendices, a foreword, preface, introduction, and conclusion, author Plotkin, founder of Angels Bail Bonds, a prominent southern California bail bonds service, shares many decades of experience in releasing tens of thousands of inmates from jail before trial. He succinctly explains how bail secures the appearance of the defendant in court and how commercial bail agents have become the primary source for pretrial release. ... (read more)

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Clear Writing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ekleipsis: the Abyss
by Tamel Wino


"My hands are on the controls. Jittery as a fleeing, inflamed dragonfly. We continue to drop. Five thousand feet. Not yet. Seven thousand. Tingling all over my body."

Wino's book is a collection of six short stories. The second part of the title is a great indication of the subject matter. Each story involves a character or characters who have fallen into a form of moral abyss. Some examples from the tales include a paranoid billionaire who will kill to find the right person to write his story, a hitchhiking musician who plays a mental game with a serial killer, and a self-absorbed pilot who realizes the only thrill left in life comes when life is at stake. What is interesting in Wino's collection is the focus on the individual and how each got to this point in their life. The characters all face life and death situations, but this isn't a thriller or horror collection that will scare or keep the reader awake. The focus is on how the people shape or are shaped by the situation. ... (read more)

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Hot Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Lands
by Christopher Pearce
AuthorHouse


"The men whooped and screamed as they charged across the paths that crisscrossed the salt marsh and headed towards the Antar, who were taking cover behind the sand dunes."

Pearce's novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where global warming has destroyed the earth, and the survivors have congregated at the poles. In the Arctic are the Narrs, a group that has given up technology and strives to live in harmony with the natural world. Antarctica is home to the Antar. They have built massive domes to live in to escape the poisonous air. The citizens are under the eyes of a strict government that executes as it sees fit. However, tremors threaten to shatter the Antar's domes, and they must find new lands for their people. These groups have been completely unaware of the other's existence. The search for habitable lands will lead to a clash of technology and ideology. In addition, there are individuals in each group whose self-interests are much more important to them than the good of the whole. ... (read more)

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True Roots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Illuminating Family
by Alberto P. Ràfols
Luminare Press


"Catalans living in Guantanamo fiercely protected their cultural identity and ancient heritage."

Not many can trace their family back to the late fourteenth century. The Ràfols-Insenser family will fascinate readers as they learn how the family moved from Catalunya, Spain, to Cuba and the United States. The whole family exemplifies talent, tenacity, and a dash of terrestrial restlessness.

The author considers studies on immigrant successes in general. He notes that audacity, a touch of insecurity, and patience are all components of immigrant success stories. This evokes interest about how this applies to all readers' immigrant relatives. Ràfols himself is an immigrant success story, as a world-class pianist with a doctorate in music. But the story gets even richer as he details his roots. ... (read more)

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Going All In

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Leadership Rites of Passage: The Journey of the Aspiring Leader and the Methods of the Mentor
by Rick Tirrell
iUniverse


"We must consider the fact that leadership is certainly one of the most complex of human endeavors. It does help if you know yourself."

Through Joe Miller's journey from struggling owner of KC Miller Conveyor to thriving business leader, Tirrell takes individuals through four quintessential missions to complete the evolution of one's leadership ability. In much the same way Dan Millman's Way of the Peaceful Warrior uses a fictional narrative to teach self-discovery, Tirrell's tale is alluring because of its ability to seamlessly integrate teaching principles like Maslow's Hierarchy, technical and adaptive leadership, and the Cone of Uncertainty with an incredibly compelling back and forth narrative between Miller and a seemingly Yoda-like mentor, Sagen Cruz. ... (read more)

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Metaphorical

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Purpose Driven: Applying Faith in This Complex World
by Kelly James Martin
URLink Print and Media


"Through the miracle of birth we were placed in this world, you and me, and given a free will."

The son of a father who served in the military in World War II and a mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany after surviving the war there, Martin learned to persevere and face all situations with grit and faith. Early on, he conceived a desire to become a pilot, even though accomplishing that goal with a four-year degree would present many barriers. He worked as a certified flight instructor for thirty-five years and describes in close, technical detail the places and situations his flying led him to, including a trip around the world. He married and had two sons, making gradual progress up the ladder of success in his profession, often having to work away from home. Personal problems slowly sapped his energies and led to a long, agonizing legal battle and bouts of deep depression. Through it all, he maintained a strong Christian faith, bolstered by family and church, concluding that helping others is a powerful means of saving ourselves. ... (read more)

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A Rich Storehouse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In My Dreams I Ride Wild Horses
by Jean A. Curran
Stratton Press


"There is almost always a deeper meaning in Roper’s paintings. His symbols set the mood of a piece, they remind the observer of poetic or scriptural passages, or nostalgic memories, and deliver sermons about life itself."

At age forty-two, Billy Roper, a carpenter in northern Georgia, decided to stop building cabinets and dedicate his life to art. Knowing deep in his heart that this was his life's calling, he decided to devote all his energies to painting, sculpting, and carving. Writing, too, would be part of his creative expression. Whether poetry or illuminating notes on the backside of his paintings, these efforts became well-known among buyers of his art. ... (read more)

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The Unexpected

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I’m Just a Girl
by D.S. England
Page Publishing


"And everyone believes that there will be a final conflict, and the girl that hears the voices will lead it, because I have predicted it!"

Alexandra Moody has lived with the voices inside her head for as long as she can remember. She has accepted the unpredictability of this gift and curse that leaves her stranded as an outsider at times in her life. But when the world is upended by a computer virus that causes "economic mayhem," Alex is thrust into the turmoil of the current events swirling around her. The voices in her head combined with a series of strange encounters begin to show her that she is no ordinary woman caught up like everyone else. She predicted the ruin of the world and may hold the key to save it. With the world on edge and the future uncertain, Alex must come to terms with her abilities and find a way to the truth. Once she untangles her memories and figures out friends from foes, she begins to find ways to alter the outcomes she sees in the future. Ultimately, she will face the powerful person behind the mayhem created by the computer virus and subsequent biochemical attacks on her city. ... (read more)

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Second Chances

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Floating Underwater
by Tracy Shawn
Turbulent Muse Publishing


"'Did you ever stop to think your visions serve a purpose?'"

Paloma has always dreamed of becoming the mom her mentally ill mother never was. Her traumatic third miscarriage ignites doubts that perhaps she's more like her mother than she cares to believe. Sharing the out-of-body experiences, visions, and dreams that accompany her miscarriage with mystics in her town of Sunflower Beach, Paloma finds the strength to consider these a gift and not a curse. Listening to her friends and her own intuition, she takes steps to learn the truth about her past and accept the present. ... (read more)

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True Goodness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Twelve Months of Spiritual Fruit Maturing
by Dr. Catherine Braswell
Xlibris


"Jesus calls Christians the branches. Telling us that if we do not stay connected with Him (the vine) we can do nothing."

Christian counselor Braswell has constructed a manual of study for Christians, designed for month-by-month contemplation and practice. The relevant biblical scripture, delivered by Jesus both to his devout followers and those who were still rejecting him, concerns the metaphor of the "true vine." From the true vine spring the many branches (followers). Each branch must produce fruit to be treated as a healthy vine or else be "taken away," as happens with fruit trees that fail to flourish. To be treated by the Lord as productive, a Christian must show devotion through good thoughts and generous deeds directed toward others. And as with all fruitful vines, there will be the necessity for occasional pruning to stimulate even more production. But as the author points out, such pruning, though painful, results in greater yields. A Christian may be in self-denial, rebellion, or worldliness and bearing no fruit but must strive to surrender to God's will and, walking by faith, be available to do God's work. ... (read more)

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Relevance & Authenticity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Still the Night Call
by Joshua Senter
Roubidoux Press


"You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You’ve lain twisted in your sheets, choking for air, arguing with the Night Call, begging it to get of your chest and out of your ear, to let you sleep."

In this chilling novel, readers follow Calem Dewayne Honeycutt, a young dairy farmer staring down his last day on his family's southern Missouri farm. As Calem's reflections document his family's hardships, his secrets unravel, and readers realize that he is more than the simple farm kid that most people think he is. Often alone with only his work for company, Calem begins thinking, challenging what he's been taught and what he knows, acknowledging the blurry lines between one's reality and their own fiction. Moreover, he begins questioning the system in which he's been raised, the ethics and moralities society imposes on him. As the last day's countdown winds onward around the clock, readers themselves begin to wonder just what the Night Call truly is and from where it actually hails. ... (read more)

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The Fast Track

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Scorpio
by Lara Giesbers
Westwood Books Publishing


"You have been restless over the years, enduring grief for the people of the Craft. Do you seek power at any cost?"

This sequel to Aries returns audiences to the dual worlds of Nereheim and North Agea, with a stronger emphasis on events in the latter. Giesbers' knack for moving the plotline forward with refreshing new content is unrivaled. The epitome of worldbuilding, the work is predicated upon faith—an unyielding belief in Yahweh—and fantasy, allowing readers to peer deep into the legends of the past through the lens of friends Michael Mauldon and Nathaniel Stone. Relationships will be put to the ultimate test. On the one hand, the God of Blood is determined to reel Nathaniel to the dark side, while on the other, Nafaria is expecting. ... (read more)

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Impeccable Pacing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Aries
by Lara Giesbers
Westwood Books Publishing


"Your daughter will be executed tomorrow morning as a lesson to all that we will not tolerate arcane knowledge of any kind!"

In Giesbers' tale, following the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostles bestowed gifts upon a select few who were imbued with heightened abilities to heal, greater wisdom (particularly in the understanding of arcane knowledge), and unparalleled intuition and awareness. Collectively, this group is known as those of the Craft, who have settled and built lives amongst the citizens throughout Nereheim and North Agea. Giesbers' work accomplishes the rare feat of weaving faith and fantasy into the narrative. Both are essential and irreplaceable parts of the universe she has created. More than anything else, it is the author's unique blend of character development, worldbuilding, and fluid plotlines that males for an exhilarating storytelling experience. ... (read more)

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Year to Forget

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

2020: The Lost Year Under King Trump
by Steve Gismondi
iUniverse


"Good luck. We gotta start somewhere though. It will only work with social distancing... I sure hope we can get our world back soon."

Gismondi's work is the text version of a time capsule, ideal for future generations to grasp the gravity of the events that unfolded in 2020 and will largely define life for decades to come. On the surface, the focus may seem like it is on politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, digging deeper, Gismondi has astutely chosen headlines from the Orlando Sentinel that, when woven together, forge an unforgettable tapestry of calamity and chaos. ... (read more)

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Engage Health

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Silent Epidemic: A Child Psychiatrist’s Journey beyond Death Row
by Susan D. Rich MD, MPH, DFAPA
Lulu Publishing Services


"Tragically, our indiscriminate use of alcohol during reproductive years has led to this costly yet silent epidemic through varying degrees of impairment in some exposed offspring."

In this book, readers learn startling facts that will make them rethink the role of alcohol in their lives. In the first pages of its opening, the book asserts that "Since alcohol disproportionately affects the developing brain during pregnancy, babies are often unknowingly exposed before a woman even knows she is pregnant." Then follows a sweeping overview of the symptoms associated with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. The text offers detailed research that discusses the immediate and future consequences on physical and mental health resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. By the book's conclusion, readers have encountered unique perspectives about the ethical and moral responsibilities alcohol companies owe the public. ... (read more)

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Contemporary Themes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Right as Rain
by Luellen Fletcher
Xlibris


"The North sea is getting darker
and darker without sun
and what little light
is left in me
seems also to go out."

This collection of verses is founded on personal experiences and social commentary. Readers take virtual walks, sit with men who wear Chester Bennington's shirts, and leave Edinburgh on an evening train where strangers' paths cross and chance meetings possess the power to change a person's perception forever. In other poems, readers "string fireflies together" and reflect on the role parents play in one's appreciation of life's often unnoticed gifts: "I owe them my love of water / Droplets, snowflakes, shore rings, fog." Readers "stretch and bob while floating" as they "Consider floaters from doomed ships / Lost to endless sway and sky" as isolation takes its toll. ... (read more)

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Social Commentary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Flying: A Book of Provocative Poetry
by Patricia Mortenson
Archway Publishing


"Radioactivity is cheap.
Suicide bombs are a sure thing;
Imagine bodies in a heap."

In this bold and defiant collection, readers travel through six cycles, where the generational and the political combine with the interpersonal and the insightful. Poems like "Spitfire" are not only a generational plea for two disparate generations to understand one another, but they are also an extended hand from one generation to another. Even the consumerist and materialistic culture that permeates American society finds a home in this book, specifically in poems such as "Born to Shop": "She's overcome by greed / and overspends on stuff / She doesn't even need." This critical eye continues in the poem "Lost Collection": "But what to do / When you grow old / And your beloved / Collection is sold?" In poems like "Terrorists of the Press," readers turn down political paths where they are asked to consider, "Just who are they writing for? / Who are they trying to impress?" ... (read more)

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Kid Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fun Poems for Your Child: Feeding Your Child's Imagination
by Jenny Carey
Xlibris


"Off to play games with my friends round their house
We’ve promised to be quiet, as quiet as a mouse
Found some cardboard boxes, we’ll pretend one’s a boat
The other is a castle, around it the moat"

In this colorfully illustrated collection of poems, young readers enter a world of imagination, where cardboard boxes become boats, glove puppets keep hands warm, and birthdays grant an overabundance of feet. Energetic kids fly brightly colored kites with "a tail with lots of bows on the string / Flying like a bird soaring high on a wing." Pirates even join the crowd, taking them to "Seas of blue and beaches with gold sand." Children also play in parks, "Running to the round-a-bout, it stops and on I get. / Whirling, round and round it goes / Feeling rather dizzy now—oh no!" In other poems, young readers learn the magic of playing with others: "We all are having such fun with this box of toys. / In high spirits making lots of noise." ... (read more)

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Well-Balanced Mystery Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Point Option: A Time-Travel Military Thriller
by Ian A. O’Connor
Pegasus Publishing & Entertainment Group


"He felt the hairs on his neck rise. He grabbed the phone."

Dave Fleming is a pilot with the United States Air Force. He is given the opportunity of a lifetime when he becomes a fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy attack squadron aircraft carrier. He loves his newest assignment, but it doesn't take long for things to start taking a strange turn. Odd occurrences begin to happen, which no one seems to be able to explain. Is time travel real, or is it all in these pilots' heads? Within just a six-day time period, Major Fleming finds himself on a whirlwind ride that even the most experienced pilot wouldn't be prepared for. ... (read more)

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Understanding Bias

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bias Is All Around You: A Handbook for Inspecting Social Media & News Stories
by Erik Bean, Ed.D.
Healthy Mind Express


"Following information with little or no critical thinking can lead to hostile discussions and perpetuate conspiracy theories. But none of these potentially debilitating results need occur!"

Across the political spectrum, one of the most common ways to discredit a media outlet or individual is to accuse them of bias. However, as author Bean shows, bias is not just a failing of the other side. Instead, the current media and political landscape is chock-full of it. His book explains the forms bias takes, its prevalence across social media, and the stakes involved for individuals and societies. Most importantly, Bean offers tools for spotting and countering bias. The book starts by clearly defining bias and the critical thinking that can counter it. Next, it details various strategies for detecting and evaluating bias, including examining the credibility of sources, rhetoric, writing style, and journalistic ethics. Later chapters summarize the damaging effects of social media algorithms and the various logical fallacies that can distort thinking. The book ends by relating its topic to modern events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and the war in Afghanistan. ... (read more)

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After the Brink

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

End-Time Living: Despite Conflict and Hardship, All Is Well
by David S. Heeren
URLink Print and Media


"Now that we appear to be within the end-time period, it is important for us also to be watchful."

Focusing on biblical prophecy as parsed through current world events, author Heeren expresses his conviction that we live in an apocalyptic era to be followed by Jesus' return. This will require heightened vigilance, observing signs such as the appearance of a giant comet and other "celestial fireworks." Biblical predictions from the words of Jesus and other, earlier prophetic voices indicate that two-thirds of the world will be destroyed, and the remaining one-third will be saved. But at this point, Christianity is shrinking in the U.S. and elsewhere under the sway of ill-intentioned leftist influences, making it now incumbent on the small number of truly devout followers of Jesus to watch, pray, and encourage conversion. These religious few must also repent of their sins, which may have roots in concepts as seemingly benign as "self-reliance." Ignoring mainstream media and more studious concentration on scripture will underpin this vital exercise.... (read more)

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Paranormal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Spooky Summer: The Abandoned Mansion
by Rosa Pappas Davis
Westwood Books Publishing


"Lexie was not my best partner if I wanted to stay out of trouble."

Abandonment of a piece of property does not make it open to any curious gawker who wanders onto it on a whim. Fifteen-year-old Maury and her cousin, Lexie (of the same age), are old enough to know this but too young to care. After all, the forbidden is always intriguing. The old Harwell place belonged to a Texas oil baron and his family, although they moved out thirty years ago after the tycoon mysteriously disappeared during a trip to Africa. They left behind aging servants who gradually died and left the grand house to fall into disrepair. Sensitive, nostalgic Maury swears she sees ghostly lights glowing through otherwise empty windows. But she is too shy to explore the property alone. Cousin Lexie, inquisitive and dauntless, must help. ... (read more)

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Intimate Connections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Israela
by Batya Casper
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"What we need, is hands-on reality. People who can stop the very real blood from flowing. Not dreams. Not make-believe."

On the surface, Casper's narrative is a hauntingly beautiful tale of war's toll on a land stained with the blood of its children and sown in division and hate. Probing deeper, however, the narrative explores the ferocity with which the main characters pursue peace and love, even in the face of unimaginable darkness. From heart-wrenching sacrifices to uncovering family secrets, the story takes the reader on a journey through a search for one's identity that is inextricably tied to Israel's valiant attempts at redemption despite the ceaseless bombardment and bloodshed on its soil. ... (read more)

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Artfull Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Accepting Unconditional Love
by Ruth Cherry, PhD
Balboa Press


"Part of this process is knowing a truth which isn't visible or reasonable. Knowing isn't believing or hoping."

Many people's current ways of life—the busyness, the frantic activity—only serve to distract them from the physical warning signs of unwellness. They also block the ability to center on one's own healing power and the Source. Cherry explains that healing is a choice. However, it is a difficult one, requiring diligence and work. She is proof it can be accomplished. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her doctors painted a grim picture of her future. After the initial shock and anger subsided, she committed to utilizing the knowledge and tools from her clinical psychological practice to heal herself. She vowed to walk again. ... (read more)

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Self-Acceptance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Transformation Workbook
by Ruth Cherry, PhD


"Searching for your own path, you move more deeply inside yourself than you have ever traveled. Paying attention to your inner world makes the seconds of your life sacred."

The pages of this psychological and spiritual workbook, writes author Cherry, are meant to "welcome your soul home." Explaining that all people naturally seek to live "authentically and meaningfully," with passion, joy, and self-expression, these truths "are our birthright," Cherry says. But sometimes, we all are prone to losing our way in the world. And so, this book provides an opportunity for transformation—defined as the process in which we "recognize that we are both human and divine" and that it is our divinity that is capable of healing and guiding us. ... (read more)

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Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Open Your Heart
by Ruth Cherry, PhD


"I am afraid of my depth and my complexity and my own intensity. I am afraid of losing myself in the rushing torment of my emotions."

Anne is a self-made forty-five-year-old professional. Goal-oriented from a young age, she put herself through school and earned advanced degrees. She started and runs her own psychotherapy practice and has bought her own home. To all appearances, she is a strong, smart, and successful woman. However, she is frustrated and unfulfilled. After a particularly annoying day, she returns home to find an older, frazzled woman sitting and smoking at her kitchen table. Hannah, as the woman calls herself, tells Anne that she has come as the answer to her prayers. She claims Anne called her there. As startling as the discovery is, Anne finds herself listening to the woman. She admits that something needs to change in her life, and maybe this woman can help her make that change. Throughout the course of the book, several more characters appear to Anne and attempt to guide her to the change she wishes to make. ... (read more)

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The Practice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment
by Ruth Cherry, PhD


"Meditation does not create zombies…. Meditation allows us the berth to experience strong feelings and not lose our centers."

For those in midlife or older, Cherry has a special message: the closer one gets to death and old age, the more one appreciates life and can let go and embrace what she calls "Source." By weaving her personal journey with metaphysical and intellectual knowledge, she tells readers how to surrender to this flow of life.

Cherry is a practicing clinical psychologist whose specialty, not surprisingly, is the merging of psychological and spiritual dynamics, much as the pioneers of integration, Roberto Assagioli and C.G. Jung, advocated. In "Part One," journal excerpts reveal her painful struggle to tap the power of the unconscious through meditation and vibrational alignment to self-heal multiple sclerosis and emotional traumas. "Part Two" buttresses soft metaphysical practices with hard psychological concepts to construct a firm platform for mental and spiritual health, including a brilliantly practical and understandable explanation of how to meditate. ... (read more)

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Cogent Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Common Thoughts for an Uncommon Feast
by Janice V. Bailey
Xulon Press


"When we come together around this table in participation of the communion meal, we do it because Jesus told us to."

Author Bailey shares her understanding of the communion meal as a means of living in the moment and embracing the life one is blessed with. She begins by reminding the reader that along with the physical heart ("the most important muscle in our bodies") one also has a spiritual heart that needs to be aligned with the will of God. Sitting around a table as Jesus and his disciples did at the Last Supper can provide a continual reminder of that alignment. Small life situations may arise to help sustain that spiritual relationship—reading a book, cleaning house, or drinking a morning coffee. Special days in the year, such as Independence Day, Christmas, and New Year's Day, can also serve as faith reminders. Turning off distracting devices occasionally can help one focus. Just as calendars are used to track one's schedule, one needs the habit of communing each week to maintain a steadfast connection with Christ and his teachings. ... (read more)

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The Whole Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Bible Is a Single Book
by H. Doyle Smith
Stratton Press


"The Bible is a well-organized book with a central plot that tells us about how we can cooperate with God."

Author Smith believes that the Bible, generally regarded as a collection of sixty-six separate books, should be seen instead as a single work with a central message. Smith takes readers through an examination of the Bible in the order in which it is given, beginning with Genesis. ... (read more)

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Go-Mode

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Marshall Jones
by J.W. Delorie
Westwood Books Publishing


"Actually brother it is wise to preserve the culture of one’s own past, just like your culture from Essara."

Conjure the image of simultaneously losing your child and the love of your life and being subsequently blamed for their deaths. Such is the excruciating fate of Marshall Rox as he awaits his fate, appearing before the Sky Marshall Thos as only a number: Prisoner 467373. That the deceased were Thos' daughter and granddaughter certainly doesn't help Rox's case. From the opening scene, Delorie reels the audience in with a captivating premise of an unyielding protagonist in a complete state of flux, living a nightmare and thirsty for vengeance. Staying true to traditional science fiction, Delorie captures Rox's journey to redemption with the lens of a world he has created that is bursting with frenetic energy and action. With the Galactic Union as a whole becoming the setting of the novel, audiences have the opportunity to suspend disbelief and immerse themselves in a futuristic, technologically advanced world that bears witness to Rox's mission to prove his innocence. ... (read more)

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An Extensive Reference

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

English-Khmer Phrases Medical Dictionary
by Bunleang Kors
AuthorHouse


"I want to be a small part of helping translate [the] American language to Cambodian..."

This extensive resource is designed to help speakers of the Khmer language translate English words connected specifically to the medical field. The book offers a user-friendly format, but it is not a pocket dictionary that can be used for on-the-go reference. Rather, this is best used as a desk copy for ready reference of the core vocabulary associated with all things medical. With its alphabetical entries, this work provides comprehensive coverage of commonly used medical terms translated from English to Khmer. ... (read more)

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Flying Suspence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Alb: a Novel
by Luis Rousset
AuthorHouse


"The bringer of light, in Latin, lux fer, corrupted to the present name Lucifer."

Alan Leary is a detective hired by a strange-looking man intent on finding his former boss, Mr. John Engelhard. Anton Deville is willing to pay Leary very handsomely to find Engelhard, now a suspect in the savage murder of six people in the Peruvian location of Colca Canyon, deep in the Andes mountains. An ancient Incan tomb filled with gold artifacts and an equally ancient white tunic called the Alb of Viracocha were found there. Tradition says the tunic protects the wearer from Supay, the Incan god of death. Leary, accompanied by his young and beautiful wife, Olivia, travels to Peru to begin his investigation. Landing in Lima, Leary and company travel first to Arequipa, then the Colca campsite where the murders took place, then Cusco, Porto Velho, and finally Manaus. This is the path the assassin takes in his flight from Peru into Brazil with the gold items and tunic. ... (read more)

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Thought-Provoking

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let’s Imagine an Adventure to… the Beach
by E. Sissy Crawford
AuthorHouse


"What do you think you might see at the beach? Smell? Hear? Feel?"

Based on asking questions, this children's book takes the reader through a day at the beach. Beginning by utilizing the senses of sight, smell, hearing, and feelings, it explores the sand and the ocean while asking further questions of the reader regarding what else could be seen. It continues in this vein—feeling the warmth, hearing the wind and birds, and exploring the various colors. Other questions continue, such as whether it is rainy or windy, what to wear, and what to find at the beach, such as seashells, towels, and rocks. The book also explains lighthouses, then returns to more questions about the senses and one's observations and imagination. Simple drawings enhance the narrative. ... (read more)

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Contemporary Philosophies

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Different Essays (They’re Certainly Different)
by Charles Pinwill
Balboa Press


"We are no longer a community of artisans. We produce many consumer products with machines that were built by machines that were previously built by other machines."

When readers enter this series of essays, they enter a carefully curated mosaic, with each piece of the mosaic chosen and placed deliberately. The mosaic begins in an Animal Farm-like manner, where "The animals make a valiant attempt to educate man." In this section, calls for direct democracy rise, and then they echo in the following ones. The mosaic wouldn't be complete without well-researched discussions pertaining to basic incomes provided through national dividends, environmentalism, and the role of social credit in everyday life. Brief and poignant, dry-humored and realistic, these thought-provoking essays challenge readers to think beyond the economics and environments they know and in which they thrive. ... (read more)

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An Allegory

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Immortal Tree
by Scott Devon
Booktrail Publishing


"He was a fantastical creature. A hybrid species with a beautifully proportioned human face but with the body of a majestic giant dragon…"

Devon introduces readers to a tree with vines growing in four directions, each at least a thousand yards long. The tree produces fruit to heal the sick and enhance knowledge. The Dragon King senses the sounds and colors of the tree's roots because he has synesthesia. The tree communicates with other trees underground through its root systems which the Dragon King can hear and understand. The tree keeps the animal species from dominating and killing each other, and without it, all the species would be mortal. This is why the Dragon King guards it. ... (read more)

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Searching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Crystalline Planet
by S. B. Andresen
Balboa Press


"'What were you looking for? Why did they take you?' asked Sam."

Traveling across the galaxy and chasing after his best friend was not the plan. Sam was meant to stay on the Earthen Moon Colony, cementing his seat at the Assembly as a prefect. His open, empathetic nature makes him an effective diplomat. That career path will have to wait. Now, he is on the planet Iloora, searching for Chris. ... (read more)

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A Careful Balance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Book of True Life Poems
by Dave Courtney-Shore
Authors Press


"And whilst I am a Survivor
They are Warriors"

This poetry collection ebbs and flows between life's cycles and experience's lessons. Readers travel through four sections: "The Journey of Life," "Life's Pitfalls," "Disasters," and "Life's Hopes." In each section, readers encounter familiar and unfamiliar paths that lead through childhood's fun times, adolescence's struggles, and adult life's labyrinth of complexities. While the poems primarily focus on life's ups and downs, poems discussing other issues challenging the world, such as inequality and climate change, receive a bit of the versified spotlight. ... (read more)

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Inescapable Fate

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cari Moses
by Judith Tyler Hills
AuthorHouse


"He was going to kill her, she felt certain of that. Her only hope now was that it would all be over soon."

Multiple lives intertwine engagingly in this ambitious novel. Part psychological study, part crime thriller, and part sociological examination of a deteriorating society, this chronicle of individuals forever changed by circumstance and decision-making is a long walk through the corridors of despair, occasionally brightened by moments of promise, yet inexorably marching toward inescapable fate. ... (read more)

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The Past Informs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Threats & Challenges: Fresh Strategy for a Conflicted America
by Edward Corcoran
iUniverse


"America cannot promote global democracy if it cannot demonstrate it domestically."

In this book, readers find a mosaic of political and economic essays, primarily focusing on domestic and global policy for America, "the indispensable nation." The book opens with discussions regarding the natural threats not only faced by America but the entire world. However, as the leader of the free world, America is at the forefront technologically and militarily to promote actions that will protect individuals everywhere. The book also tackles complex, heated issues such as the free press, guns, religious liberties, and the role of each in American society. As readers progress through the book, they also encounter discussions regarding military espionage and the ever-evolving malicious manipulation of the internet. More relevantly, the book also discusses the significant roles of Russia, China, and the COVID-19 pandemic and what America's priorities should be regarding each. ... (read more)

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Manaen Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cross Purposes: Manaen the Palace Peasant
by Lucille L. Turfrey
Xlibris


"Jesus came to us, he sat with us! The conversation flowed quite flawlessly! At times, Jesus would question us. At times, our questions were for him!"

This heartfelt historical novel documents the life of Manaen, a "palace peasant," who, according to Acts 13:1, grew up with Herod. The reader receives Manaen's story firsthand. It begins outside Bethlehem, and it continues through Manaen's adulthood. As readers journey into adulthood with Manaen, they watch him develop a friendship with Jesus. They see him marry Maryam and watch as he witnesses Jesus' miracles. The narrative also shows Christ's crucifixion through Manaen's eyes, and by the book's conclusion, one feels the impact left on a single person from the masses that Jesus touched. As the protagonist puts it, "Yes! The Nazarene had made a difference in our lives." Readers also come to understand that life for Christ's followers, as they chose "The Cross-bound Way," took a dramatic turn after his death and resurrection: "We were now to travel a new road. A new adventure awaited us, out there in the future." ... (read more)

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Rethinking Food

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Basic Food: A Theory of Nutrition
by Harold Kalve
Xlibris


"Modern humans must learn what is natural for them and learn to choose wisely."

In this short work, the author discusses the problem of obesity by examining its roots. A historical look at the evolution of mankind provides a basis for his theory. In the preface, Kalve discusses the modern way of treating obesity and its failure. In the rest of the work, he builds his case methodically by first looking at the lifestyle and food supply of the earliest man. Next, he delves into the historical changes that lead to introducing new foods such as potatoes and dairy into man's diet. The author asserts that these rapid changes in how humanity lives and produces food have not allowed humans to adapt to their new way of eating. This, coupled with a readily available, plentiful, and genetically modified food supply, makes it unnecessary to gather and hunt for substance. Thus, he concludes, the answer to obesity lies in a return to natural foods. ... (read more)

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Fearless

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

On Call: A Rural Surgeon's Story
by J. Lottmann, MD
iUniverse


"In reflecting on my career as a rural surgeon, all of these skills and talents match the requirements to do well in that setting."

In this richly detailed and candid memoir, Lottmann reflects upon her career as a rural surgeon. How she got there and her accomplishments during this time are recounted here, where Lottmann examines the complexities and rewards that come with this profession and what it means to be not just a rural surgeon but a female one. Raised on a Minnesota dairy farm, small-town life is already familiar and comfortable for Lottmann when she escapes the busy Chicago city life to Sparta, Wisconsin, following the completion of her medical training. In Sparta, she establishes and devotes herself fully to her chosen vocation from 1981 until her retirement in 2011. Throughout these years, she highlights her love for and dedication to small-town medicine. Specifically, she aims to portray the uniqueness of rural surgery practice from that of urban practices. ... (read more)

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Courage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sammy the Flying Squirrel: Who was Afraid to Fly
by Zivile Cecilia Brubeck
Archway Publishing


"’Hi, my name is Sammy. Who are you, and why are you digging?’"

Sammy, a little flying squirrel, lives with his family in an oak tree. He loves to play in the trees and jump from branch to branch. One day he meets Sarah, a little red squirrel who is digging in the ground for her hidden acorns. She invites him to help, and they find they like playing together. They play daily, but Sammy's mother keeps asking him to do his flying lessons. He keeps refusing to do so by indicating he's too busy. But in truth, Sammy is scared to glide. One day, Sarah falls off the tree, and Thomas the Terrible Tomcat, who is jealous of the squirrels' friendship, finds her on the ground. As Thomas is getting ready to attack, Sammy flies down from the tree and rescues Sarah. ... (read more)

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Bilingual Mission

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Secret Agent, On A Secret Mission: An English/Spanish Story for Children
by John W. Coburn
AuthorHouse


"One day you could be a secret agent for the government, do many heroic things as you travel, and accomplish the missions that are given to you."

In a dream sequence, young Juan imagines he is a secret agent on a mission to save another agent who has been captured. His mission leads him to travel far and wide to track down the kidnappers. Using a car, a train, a helicopter, and even a horse, Juan stops at nothing to get to where he needs to go. He must use all his skills, tools, and resources to find Sara before it is too late. Narrated in English on one page and Spanish on the facing page, this book is an excellent resource for children learning a second language. An index of word usage is also included in English and Spanish. Black and white illustrations accompany the action and provide an entertaining visual story to support the action-packed thrills of secret agent Juan. ... (read more)

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Absorbing Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Westbound Sun: Short Stories, Memoirs and Poems
by Jim Hurley
Xlibris


"At eighty years, I have no falcon’s sight.
But I see all your love so vast and bright,
So vivid, so intensified; airtight.
On rivers of the air, we’ve flown tonight."

Hurley's gorgeously bound book of poetry includes two short stories and three autobiographical essays, which recall significant moments of the author's storied life. The award-winning writer confesses poetry "grounded" his writing passion after a notable conversation with his mentor, Father Raymond Roseliep. He even met the greatly admired poet Robert Frost at the 1959 University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, impressing on Hurley a lifelong fondness for poetry. This experience is recounted in the poem "Offered Hand" and the essay "A Personal Rebuke from Robert Frost," originally published in the Robert Frost Review. ... (read more)

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Lively & Imaginative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cyrus the Virus
by D. J. Chakraborty
Xlibris


"Modern viruses like COVID-19 find origins from causative organisms which have existed on Earth for millennia."

At once entertaining, educational, and artistic, this book takes readers from nine to ninety on a reflective journey to understand COVID-19 and how to create a happier, healthier world for all beings on the planet. The eight parts of the slim volume range from clever pandemic limericks to definitions of common terms used in discussions of the science of the novel coronavirus and other microbiological organisms as well as an exploration of the origins of the pandemic. The book even includes discussions and lists of what people can do in America and worldwide to increase their physical and mental health and happiness. Several blank diary pages are also included for readers to record their thoughts, ideas, and lists. ... (read more)

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Confessional

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Don't Let Me Catch You
by Silvio Caputo
Xlibris


"Trouble seemed to follow us like an old hound dog behind a meat wagon."

Three friends in Trinidad, Colorado, grew up hearing the stories and legends of friends and family who gained notoriety in town. When Ben, Bill, and the protagonist reach that age of teenage adolescence, the three of them attempt to establish their own notoriety so that they can become the next generation of legends in town. From mostly harmless school pranks to slightly more risky misdemeanors, the three boys continue to concoct schemes, trying to live up to the motto of never getting caught. ... (read more)

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Depature Understood

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stairway to Heaven: Grandma has Gone Home
by Stella Baeza
AuthorHouse


"I found myself asking questions I had no answers for, like 'How is it that Grandma is no longer here? Is she really gone? Why did she have to leave?'"

This story for older children and pre-teens addresses death through a girl's experience of her grandma's passing. The story begins with Molly looking out the window and reminiscing about the fun summer she, her brother Jason, and her friends experienced. As the weather turns colder, she realizes that she hates winter, and even more so since her grandmother died. She is told that her grandma went to a faraway place to live, but she doesn't understand what this means. Molly begins to focus on prayer and meditation and envisions her grandmother in a beautiful place. She imagines a stairway to heaven with angels and fairies guiding her grandmother and is soothed by the beauty of this. Molly reminisces about the fun time they all had with their grandmother, but she deeply misses her. The children's mother helps them to process the grief in examining heaven. ... (read more)

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Sex & Emotion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wanda's Tower
by Robert Beatty
AuthorHouse


"I feel like the world is there for me but doesn't have a hold on me."

Wanda is a free-spirited woman. She is an on-the-road repair and installation technician for a major phone company by day, and a sexual huntress by night, picking up men in bars for intense one-night stands. Ever since Wanda's awakening in her teenage years overhearing two individuals in the throes of passion, Wanda has sought out that same passion and thrill, tied to no name, no identity, and no man. The elusive horizon on the road is Wanda's true love. ... (read more)

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Real Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mary Bell: Love and Tragedy
by Musa Shihadeh
URLink Print and Media


"At eighteen years old, she was the abused daughter of an alcoholic Kentucky preacher and a coal miner. He was the sophisticated international entrepreneur, a chemical engineer."

Love at first sight is a universal fantasy that seldom produces a happy ending. That's the core message of Shihadeh's book, a hard-punching memoir that provides no escape from this biting truth. The narrative is set in the early 1960s. The story chronicles the life of Mary Bell, a young woman who's been abused by her father in the days before she meets the author in a Detroit diner. Shihadeh is a successful businessman in a dead-end marriage. When the two meet, sparks fly. He thinks he's just found his princess, while she believes he's the knight that's come to rescue her from the past. These first happy days culminate in a marriage with children. But that's where the fantasy circles back to reality, and Mary Bell's demons return to devour their relationship. ... (read more)

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