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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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Fire and Ice
by B.T. Polcari
The Wild Rose Press


"Only Sara Donovan can come up with someone going to great lengths, including digging a tunnel, to steal one of the world’s largest diamonds..."

Both young adult and adult readers will quickly be charmed by this standalone sequel to Against My Better Judgment, the first book in Polcari's award-winning A Mauzzy & Me Mystery Series. The determination and grit of university student Sara Donovan are once again put to the test when the amateur sleuth discovers irregularities while working as a museum archivist intern during her summer break. As the story opens, the Carlton Museum staff are scrambling to install a traveling exhibit of diamonds and rubies on the last stop of a two-year national tour. . ... (read more)

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Innovative

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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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Complex Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Walk a Thin Wire: A Novel
by Gordon N. McIntosh
iUniverse


"Yet saying no to Aguilar was a certain death sentence. If he was going to disappear, Matt wanted it on his terms, not as fish food."

Chicago is the main locale for this intricate foray into hidden agendas, double-dealing, desperate measures, and more. Corporate executives are doing their best to hide skullduggery from an investigative reporter bent on bringing the truth to light. A hit man is planning to silence more than his mark. One man stumbles into the middle of it all, and his life, plus that of his lover, are both in danger of being snuffed out. ... (read more)

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Truth & Lies

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The Hanford Plaintiffs: Voices from the Fight for Atomic Justice
by Trisha T. Pritkin
University Press of Kansas


"During the Manhattan Project and Cold War era, nuclear weapons production and testing by US government exposed many Americans to harmful levels of radioactive fallout."

A revealing book comes to the rescue when people are denied their opportunity to be heard in court, and people who were hurt finally get a chance to break the silence. Clearly, many American lives have been negatively impacted by the development of nuclear power, but their voices have not been heard until now. Here are the stories of twenty-four people who endured debilitating illnesses due to exposure to radiation, I-131, plutonium-239, and all the toxins related to creating nuclear bombs and energy. ... (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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Homestead Success

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Desert Almond Farmer: The Story of a California Homesteader and His Family
by Mary Kaye Godde Stamets
L&M Stamets


"After each day’s work, the night sky became my theater."

Agricultural science, history, biography, and memoir converge in this artfully constructed graphic text aimed at middle-grade children. The book provides an entertaining, educational experience that will also be enjoyed by adults interested in California's agricultural history and the personal reminisces of a family homesteading without running water or electricity in the Mojave Desert near today's Lancaster, California. A fun and quirky read, the love of family and the land shines through the voices of Frederick and Mary Godde and their children. The simple, natural living, hard work, and their love of the almond orchards and one another are readily apparent in the charming, carefully presented illustrations and photographs. In many ways, this book of interactive fun facts and compelling design makes studying history an enjoyable pursuit for readers of any age. ... (read more)

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Useful Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Indirect Work: A Regenerative Change Theory for Businesses, Communities, Institutions and Humans
by Carol Sanford
InterOctave


"The freedom of the warrior is a freedom for the tribe, not a freedom from restrictions."

In this slim but powerful volume, award-winning business educator Sanford builds upon her five previous books and over four decades of research into human consciousness via time-honored indigenous teachings, lineage teachings, and quantum cosmology. Her timely reflections on how change occurs demonstrate that groups, businesses, institutions, and even individuals can facilitate and nurture transformation. As a concrete example of her philosophy of indirect teaching in this book, Sanford often refers to Phil Jackson, who developed similar strategies in his coaching philosophy with the Chicago Bulls. His work brought the team from a long losing streak to remarkable success by guiding players, including the inimitable Michael Jordan, to "develop consciousness of the interdependence of individual and team," as Sanford describes it. Later, Jackson also employed his techniques with the Los Angeles Lakers and helped shape the careers of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and many others. ... (read more)

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A Vast Range

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If Only God and I Saw It…the Show Was Worth Staging: Act 1
by Tony Corcetto
Skywind Publishing


"The show goes on. Theater-in-the-round... in reverse."

Poet and graphic designer Corcetto combines the skills he has honed for years, presenting effervescent, photographic artworks in tandem with the alluring poetic form known as haiku—a style created by the Japanese and constructed of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables. Each pairing is arrayed over a two-page span of this large, meticulously produced volume. Corcetto allows the photo to convey deep feeling, which is then reflected in his words. The aggregation opens with the portrait of a goose gliding across a watery surface enhanced by the shadows of wavering trees, declaring, “An artistic goose, / abstract expressionism / rippling in its wake.” The final piece shows sunrise in the forest: “After the dark…dawn / a baby day bursts forth with / possibilities.” Most pairings depict and describe the natural world, but there is scope for humor as well as poignancy, as in a flock of pigeons gathered in the sand, with one bird perched atop a rubber beach ball and announcing, it seems, “Gang! We’ve got a gig. / There’s this director, hitchcock, / making a movie….” ... (read more)

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Emotional Ride

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This Distance We Call Love
by Carol Dines
Orison Books


"Maybe it’s human nature to measure our lives by what is missing."

Author Dines reveals deep, sometimes painfully unearthed experiences in this shimmering story collection. In the title tale, a man whose son was killed in a sudden, terrible accident tries to reconnect with his wife as they are both lost in a sea of loneliness and despair. She nurses the deep pain of believing her husband could have prevented the death. Meanwhile, he suffers tormenting guilt and the realization that having lost his son, he is now losing his wife. As in some other of Dines’ darkly glowing pieces, the central character will find a fragile will to survive while acknowledging that “grief carries you everywhere you don’t want to go.” ... (read more)

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The Unexpected

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The NPC
by Timothy David
Independent via Amazon KDP


"I am the Universe’s favorite plaything."

"The Big Bad'' threatens the balance of power in the post-Skycraft world of the Crown. While humans—called mages and imbued with magic after Skycraft—control the Crown with greed and ruthlessness, orcs gather forces at the outer reaches of the world for another deadly encroachment on human settlements. Deodin, "god-killer" and sheyaktu superhuman, is the only one who can save civilization from the Big Bad. But being as powerful as he is numbs Deodin. With very little risk of failure, his heroic deeds become a curse and a burden that alienate him. The Universe puts Deodin in contact with Pel and Garret, citizens with survival skills and diplomatic ties throughout the Crown. Their caring devotion to him and each other changes Deodin's outlook and the course of Crown history. ... (read more)

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Inspiration & Encouragement

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The Dream Primer: Turn Your Low-Def Ideas Into A Stunning Hi-Res Future You Must Pursue
by Jeff Meyer
Author Academy Elite


"Consider your dream pursuit a grand adventure in which you are a key character."

Dreams for one's life that arise from passions and needs are worthy pursuits because they give a life purpose and spring from the deepest desires of one's heart and mind. Pastor, consultant, and coach Meyer offers a framework for helping people clarify the dreams they have for their lives. He then teaches people how to pursue those dreams by providing practical strategies. Meyer has developed three habits that will help people bring their dreams into the world in all their vibrant glory. Habit One will help readers identify the dream they want to pursue and will offer ways to nourish that dream. Habit Two will offer exercises and wisdom about the things that stand in the way of going after what people really want in life. In this discussion, Meyer dives deep into the role fear plays in people’s lives. Finally, Habit Three offers ways to use the power of visualization to help people bring their dreams to fruition. ... (read more)

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Seriously Funny

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Revolution
by David Dorrough


"Immediately it occurred to him that he felt some affection toward most of the people currently gathered in his house, and had derived amusement from all of them."

This character-driven comedic novel centers on middle-aged couple Yvonne and Bill Smede and a motley crew of their friends and family as they all navigate life in current-day Los Angeles. Yvonne and Bill have a mostly functional marriage and bond over their many loops around the neighborhood to increase their step count each day. Their neighbor Gary starts an intense marathon-training plan that takes him through mishaps around the country (and even outside of it). Yvonne’s friend and boss is phone-fixated Laura, whose husband is a con man turned EMT (and sometimes EMT turned con man). Her college friend Juice fixates on a Facebook profile that she is certain belongs to a woman who stole a necklace from her in high school. Another of Yvonne’s friends from work, Amy, goes on a complicated search for her biological parents while her husband watches the kids and searches for a mint-condition comic book. Her dear friend Francisco has everything: brains, money, looks, and style. Yet his love life is a disaster. ... (read more)

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A New Way to Relate

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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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Unforgettable Story

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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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Coming of Age

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A Portable Chaos
by E. M. Schorb
Hill House


"Rivers of rain, as when you look up through greenhouse glass on a rainy day, crossed his green eyes blotting out the blue dry sky overhead..."

Growing up in the 1950s, Jimmy Whistler demonstrates literary talent at a young age, resolving to dedicate his life to writing poetry. In Hawaii, he meets a girl named Leilani and falls in love. The two separate but later find themselves together in New York during a decade of social and cultural upheaval. Jimmy takes care of his aging mother and attempts to process the shock of his father's death. When he's offered a well-paying job writing copy for an ad agency, Jimmy is torn between financial security and the freedom to pursue his vocation unhindered. ... (read more)

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Christmas Tradition

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Life in the Neck Advent of Christmas
by Diane Davies


"The kids found an old wooden manger in Papa’s shop and placed it by the Advent wreath for the third Sunday."

This beautifully illustrated book tells the third story in the Life in the Neck series. Young readers discover the Advent story as well as a beautiful message about the meaning of family and tradition. They follow Elsie and Eli, two siblings who embrace the true meaning of not only Christmas but the entire Advent season. As Elsie and Eli prepare for their Advent celebration, they pose deep questions about the meaning and depth of God's love. Young people can experience the Christmas season in a new way as Elsie and Eli celebrate the season in a heartfelt manner that encourages readers to love and respect all of God's creations. Throughout the book, the audience also engages with scripture passages inherent to the Christmas season. ... (read more)

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A Spiritual Philosophy

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One Family: Indivisible: A Spiritual Memoir
by Steven Greenebaum
MSI Press


"Each of us can make a difference. And together, we can all make a difference."

Author Greenebaum's childhood was spent as a member of a respectable Jewish family in a safe, all-Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of about six, he heard grownups discussing the Holocaust, forging a deep, lasting impression. He realized, "I am Jewish," and some people, not just Hitler but Americans, even Christians, hated Jews. Greenebaum was sometimes bullied by other children because of his small frame, invoking yet another "life lesson" about the perils of mob consciousness. In the sixth grade, after some years of religious education, a voice, the first but not the last, spoke to him, saying, "They are killing each other in my name. Stop it." Looking back, he believes that message changed his life. As a thoughtful young person, he would grapple inwardly with such issues as pride. Should he be proud of his accomplishments or avoid any form of self-congratulation? ... (read more)

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Open Heart

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Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within
by Jocelyn Jones
Goodspeed Press


"I discovered that nature, beauty, and love were my measures for a life well-lived."

The author’s father, veteran character actor Henry Jones, asked her at seventeen, “If you could have anything in the world, barring all obstacles, what would it be?” Her answer at that time was “freedom.” Her artisan’s heart wasn’t invested in formal education, and she wanted to drop out of high school. That simple question and her answer became relevant as cornerstones of her future work and also of this visionary hybrid of a memoir and self-help book. ... (read more)

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Love, War & Survival

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Muir's Gambit: A Spy Game Novel (The Aiken Trilogy)
by Michael Frost Beckner
Montrose Station Press


"For each of us, our entire existence was wrapped up in secrets, stealing them, keeping them, selling them, living them, killing them."

In this prequel to the Brad Pitt espionage thriller Spy Game, Beckner transports audiences back into the universe of Nathan Muir, a multifaceted CIA legend whose discourse with Russell Aiken, legal counsel to the CIA, is nothing short of two juggernauts dueling in an epic game of high-stakes chess. From the first line, “Charlie March is dead,” the author establishes a “no holds barred” tone that only continues to build toward a fever pitch as the exposure of national secrets are on the line. ... (read more)

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Unique

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Turquoise Tail
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books


"You are special my friend, so please stay focused."

This children's book is a masterpiece. The words, the illustrations, the lessons, and even the paper quality are all spot on and exceptional in the genre of children's books. Aside from being gorgeous at first look, the book's messages are moving. Because the author is a teacher and obviously realizes that empathy can be taught, the main message is "Be nice." A caring person can walk children through the paces, and Bate does just that with Cielo the coyote and his forest cohorts. ... (read more)

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Time of Change

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Sitting on Top of the World
by Cheryl King
Purple Marble Press


"I finger my purple marble... and I vow that I will never let my sparkle die... "

Twelve-year-old June Baker lives with her mother, father, and older brother on the family farm near Maynardville, the biggest town in Union County, Tennessee. As the author’s debut novel opens, the Tennessee Valley takes the hard first blow of the Great Depression. When June walks to town to shop for her mom, she observes anxious customers lining up at the bank. Thus begins a years-long trial of survival. ... (read more)

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A New Cozy

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Dead Man's Pose
by Susan Rogers and John Roosen
G-EMS PTY LTD


"When Ninel saw Miroslav lying on the floor, he threw a quick punch towards Ric, who in turn kicked him in the left kneecap."

Elaina runs a yoga studio in Sydney, Australia. One morning, one of her regulars, Mario, rushes up to her before class and wants to speak with her. She tells him that they can have a coffee and speak after class. However, as class ends and everyone begins to rise from their last, restful pose, Mario doesn't move. Elaina guesses he has fallen asleep but begins to panic when she can't wake him. Another student, Ric, stays to help Elaina. Mario, however, is dead. Both Elaina and Ric feel that something is off. Elaina believes she owes it to Mario to get to the bottom of his death, and Ric happens to have the resources and connections in the city to help make that happen. ... (read more)

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Wonderful Storyteller

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Artifacts and Other Stories
by Ronna Wineberg
Serving House Books


"You wonder if what a person wants—if the wanting itself—ends up being his or her undoing."

This marvelous collection of fourteen stories explores human relations through the voices of complex and interesting characters seeking connection and fulfillment through different stages of life. The female protagonists found in most of these stories are navigating marriage, divorce, mid-life desire, or late-life love. Many are constructing new lives in the wake of loss and are adjusting to shifting priorities, new responsibilities, and startling revelations. The stories also explore caring for aging parents, facing illness, and dating during the later stages of life. ... (read more)

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Skillful Storyteller

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A Date to Die For
by Gaylene B. Corben
AIA Publishing


"The howling wind gave way to dark, grey clouds. The night came earlier than it should have, and the lengthening shadows moving across Paul’s face grew darker."

Set in contemporary Australia, this foray into the oft-examined world of serial killings manages to set itself apart from the majority of such thrillers. While there are plenty of dark and dreadful doings to satisfy the staunchest fans of the genre, there is also a complimentary and insightful exploration of those tasked with tracking down the human vermin who take innocent lives. In a bit of a twist from how these tales are usually told, the psychological underpinnings of the good guys are explored in as much, if not more, detail than that of the villain. ... (read more)

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A Moral Tale

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Safely to Shore: A Marriage Odyssey
by Armando N. Garza
Christian Faith Publishing


"The book itself has taken him to a port, a fair haven, in the storm of his life."

Paul and Julie are married and have two children. They have weathered the first few years of marriage and parenthood together and are becoming comfortable in their suburban, middle-class life. When Paul is offered a promotion that includes more business travel along with better pay, they decide it will be good for the family. Paul has noticed that his wife seems to carry more baby weight than his friends' wives. He flirts with them at parties but considers it harmless. However, he begins to give in to these desires while away on business and has flings with other women. Julie believes Paul is just tired and focuses on the kids and her faith, which Paul doesn't share. Eventually, another woman breaks the news to Julie. This revelation leads to a divorce, along with all the damage and trouble that comes with it. Although Paul is now free to pursue whoever he wants, he realizes he is rudderless and misses his family. A friend gives him a book about the biblical journey of Paul and Luke as Paul was being taken to Rome to stand trial. Their ship is caught in a great storm, a storm to which the modern Paul can relate. ... (read more)

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Insightful Trip

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In Clouds of Fire: A Story of Community
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"In the end, both of them gave their names for baptism. The service took place that afternoon by the Ordwells’ creek, and even though the water was spring-fed, neither of them felt chilled."

In this book, readers discover a time in America’s history that is often forgotten. Religion, violence, love, and death collide in this story of the early American frontier. The author’s book depicts the early Mormons and their quest for peace and religious freedom. The protagonist is Nathaniel, a young Shaker. His story unfolds as he helps Hannah, a young woman heading from Ohio to Missouri, and his feelings toward her grow. Meanwhile, Nathaniel encounters a cast of characters that give him a new meaning to the word “frontier.” He faces not only the physical and mental challenges but also the emotional ones that the frontier offers. These difficulties force Nathaniel to reflect on his own pacifism as well as the ever-changing society and landscape surrounding him. ... (read more)

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Ambition

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Still, the Sky
by Tom Pearson
Ransom Poet Publishers


"In my imagination, in the night theater,
You have to dig deep. The key to what comes next
Has always been lost in your own hand,
My consort, clenching—"

This collection of poetry will satisfy the lover of Greek myth. Some poems explore King Asterion's relationship with his son Minos, but the times could also be today. The father-son relationship is examined in all its forms but especially focuses on the father's neglect and the son's desire to rebel. These aspects include being far from home, being betrayed, and witnessing the consequences of a father's infidelity on his children. Set first in Crete, then Venice, and then the open waters, all relate to the original labyrinth created by Daedalus. ... (read more)

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Zen Beauty

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Dances through Glass
by Polly Norman
Avant Circle Publishing


"I see the world differently."

This coffee table art book captures the passions of dancer, photographer, and award-winning painter Norman. It is a twenty-five-year retrospective of her work in visual vignettes. Norman opens with lyrical observations about her mood disorder, a gift that robs her life of joy while also giving it great depth and meaning. She says, “Gradually, I realized the gift in all this…. In experiencing life through this particular suffering, I made the choice to reveal my unique vision and share it with others through my art.” Norman’s primary inspirations are dancers, flora, and abstractions. She explores how her photography began with her love of movement and dance. After the introductory chapters come the artist’s forty-four images, thematically divided into three movements, three dances: “Chechetti,” “Tango,” and “Tarantella.” After a minimal introduction, the reader is blissfully left to explore the artwork, which bears only titles, medium, and artwork dimensions. ... (read more)

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Smart Sci-Fi

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The Quest of the Singular Keepers
by Cliff Ratza
Lightning Brain Press


"And then she leaped out. One officer from each squad did likewise and zapped her with Trasers. She went stiff before toppling to the pavement face-first."

Set in 2162, the Electra-Irani-Alisha trio, the three entities inhabiting the same physical body, are back in this third installment of Ratza's series. Aided and mentored by the advanced AI, or Singularity, known as Indira, the trio has decided to step down from their position as Secretary of Health and Housing Services. As they share this news with President Genesee Huston of the United States, they suggest Eve Cortez, one of their clone children, as a replacement. Continuing to monitor the global political and military machinations, the trio redirects focus to their research into various disciplines around the globe. In addition, the trio's main aim is to figure out who is behind the secretive Bigger Brother organization, which has agents in multiple countries and plans to shape the world's future on the terms they dictate. On top of this, the trio must keep their lightning brain, which gives them intellectual superiority, and the Singularity hidden while guiding their clone children and orphans they take in along the way. ... (read more)

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Poignant

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An American Soldier’s Awakening: Anthology of Poetry and Prose
by LTC Nina R. Petrarca, USA, Ret.
Christian Faith Publishing


"Do not allow life to steal the true essence of self and always seek joy."

A mixture of prose and poetry, this small volume touches on the joys and sorrows of life through the author’s personal trials and observations. Petrarca credits her faith in God as the one thing that has helped her discover peace and courage in her spiritual journey. Some of her poetry is tinged with the sorrow of losing a young daughter to brain cancer. “The years have passed, and I still see the twinkle in her eye / And when she closed her eyes to rest before she sought the sky / It’s no wonder the birds sing and the church bells ring on this eve of her departure.” In another piece, she describes the joys of simple things playfully: “Song and dance just soothes the soul / Enjoy and play some rock and roll / Got to go, for now it’s clear / I’m wasting time just sitting here.” Throughout the book runs the theme of belief in the healing power of God, nature, and oneself. ... (read more)

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Escalating Action

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Poisoned By God’s Flesh: A Peter Romero Mystery
by David E Knop


"Most people know the right thing to do, but the hero actually does it. Heroes keep the monster from the door. It is a matter of survival. For everyone."

Things start out bad and get decidedly worse in this contemporary thriller that takes place on the highways, hills, and plains of New Mexico. Romero, the fellow mentioned in the subtitle, is a reservation police officer who finds the body of a young woman that just happens to be the daughter of an old high-school flame. Her death is only the beginning of woeful events that will snowball one upon another as Romero is pulled, or perhaps chooses to be pulled, into more chaos, calamity, and death than one finds in most thrillers. In fact, conflicting opinions about what Romero is forced to do, versus what he takes it upon himself to do, are at the heart of this tough-as-nails tale. ... (read more)

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War Correspondence

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The Journalist: Life and Loss in America's Secret War
by Jerry A. Rose and Lucy Rose Fischer
SparkPress


"This can be a dangerous place for someone with an artist's soul."

In this biographical account, Fischer relates the life of her late brother, Jerry Rose, with profound honesty. He was a writer and journalist. He was dedicated and passionate and never let anybody prevent him from achieving his goals. He truly believed in his writing, and it paid off. He accepted a teaching job in Vietnam. After two years, he was offered the chance to become a journalist. He did not have any prospective employment in the United States, so he did not pass up this offer. Along the way, he immersed himself in the culture, made great friends, and met his future wife, Kay. Throughout this journey, he would expose the United States' involvement in joining forces with South Vietnam. ... (read more)

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Improved Passages

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Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job
by Darcy Eikenberg
Page Two


"Without further ado, let me introduce you to the super-human talent who’ll make the most difference in your successful long-term life at work."

Who would have thought that receiving a call in a McDonald’s parking lot could be life-defining? As the author will prove time and time again, that is exactly what happened to her. In fact, everyone will receive their life-changing, or “Red Cape,” moment, as Eikenberg so aptly puts it. From her incredible relatability to simply having a knack for empowering her audiences, Eikenberg has created a monumental guide to address the doldrums of one’s career and take control of the narrative being put into the universe. ... (read more)

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Brotherhood

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Inside the Grey
by Bobbi Groover
Satin Romance


"They were sensations he had never felt before, not even with Lavinia."

This captivating story follows the adventures of Brayden, who is searching for his best friend, Caleb. Union raiders took him because he was accused of hiding a rebel convict. They plan on hanging him. Brayden is ready to do anything possible to find his dear friend. Life has not been easy for him because he is still grieving the tragic death of his wife. At this point, it is essential for him not to lose another loved one. Brayden begins this journey with the help of his friends. Along the way, he crosses paths with Kawley, a mysterious lady with many talents. She is looking for her brother, who was also taken by the Union raiders. She is determined to find him. At first, Brayden and Kawley do not trust each other, but throughout this journey, they will come together to find their loved ones. ... (read more)

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Paranoia

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The Ridders
by Lisa Towles
Indies United Publishing House


"I had questions that needed answering, and every time I answered one, twenty more emerged."

This gripping and exciting thriller follows the story of BJ Janoff, a private investigator. One day, a man named Oleg Kokov approaches BJ and asks him to deliver an envelope to a luxury hotel reception desk in exchange for a million dollars. BJ accepts in a heartbeat, and Oleg even gives him the money first. Now it is up to BJ to keep his word and accomplish his task. He has three days to do it, or he will face some dire consequences. However, he faces a significant dilemma. He is so curious about the contents of the envelope, wondering what would be worth a million dollars. So, BJ seeks out the help of an old friend, Jay. They are about to unfold this mystery, but then Oleg has Jay killed. From there, BJ embarks on a journey to bring Oleg down and discover the envelope's content. ... (read more)

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Southern Gothic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tessa’s Heart: A Texas Story
by Jackie Lewis
Flying Horse on Fire Books


"At first, I thought it was my imagination but as I got closer to the mirror there seemed to be light coming from it."

This character-driven coming-of-age story set in 1950s Yoakum, Texas, centers around three generations of females living in the same house. The main character, Tessa Carter, lives with her beautiful, free-spirited mother, Virginia, and her maternal grandmother, Bernice—a spiteful woman with a fittingly vicious dog. "Grandma couldn't tolerate her arms to be empty, so she kept Queen Victoria, a small mop-headed dog, also with bulging eyes, on her right arm." The house's inhabitants are constant sources of irritation to each other, making for a volatile environment. Bernice despises her daughter's promiscuous lifestyle and never misses an opportunity to criticize her. Tessa, an unusual child who was late in beginning to talk, also finds herself on the receiving end of Bernice's biting verbiage. When Tessa uses body movements to help her concentrate on her speech, her grandmother criticizes her for not standing still. Tessa is also affected by the never-ending battles between her mother and grandmother. "When Grandma brought up Mom's being divorced, as she always did, it made me feel something was wrong with me. I didn't know any other children with divorced parents, and it was like there was a crack right down my middle and I was in two halves." ... (read more)

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A Winning Ruse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Thing With Feathers
by J. John Nordstrom
The Writing Collective


"Their gaze converged, leaving him feeling placed in front of a doorway through which Fate wanted them both to go."

Struggling writer, Jonah Q. Cincinnatuski, Jr. is depressed and suicidal. Having left the high-powered world of law, a profession he abhors after more than a decade in Washington, D.C., he is searching to find his voice—specifically, his muse. Jonah is a romantic soul, and at forty, he still holds on to the hope that he will one day find his soul mate. He is a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, with whom he shares both a birthday and physical characteristics. He also has a special connection with Emily Dickinson, as his first claim to fame as a poet came at the age of fourteen when he was inspired to write an ode to the poet after a school trip to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Unfortunately, his later efforts at writing only produce rejection slips. His tenant, Phyllida, an assistant at the Ithaca County Public Law Library, offers him a way to stay financially afloat while still having time and energy to write. But there is a catch: the law library superintendent and "Queen Bee" is a man-hating lesbian who, to maintain her control, only hires weak, submissive, compromised women and effeminate gay men. ... (read more)

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Academic Injustice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Easy Marks: Cracking a University’s Academic Integrity Con
by Catherine Wagner
Sunlight Works


"I felt hopeful... similarities did not imply cheating... correlation did not imply causation."

In an exposé worthy of the best investigative journalism—one that should rock the academic world (if it hasn’t already)—a top-notch double major in chemical and biomolecular engineering and Spanish language and literature shares her gut-wrenching experience of being falsely accused of cheating on a homework assignment. Her riveting memoir begins a month into Wagner’s sophomore year when a student grader flags one answer on a homework assignment as being “similar” to another student’s, a situation that could have been cleared easily with a modicum of science and common sense. Statistically speaking, it was highly likely that many more students had similar answers for the same question in the 189 homework papers submitted due to the STEM formatting and terminology issues inherent in the question and answer and because there were limited ways to answer the question. However, although the engineering department claimed early on that all these papers were checked against each other, Wagner’s calculations show it would take an extraordinary amount of hours to compare just this one answer in all 189 assignments. ... (read more)

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Masterful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dust That Danced
by A. Cavuto
New Degree Press


"CLOSE-UP: Alice’s eyes flick from me to the books, then back to me."

In the fall of 1992, Stella is happy to return to her prestigious university as a sophomore. With her first year now in the rearview mirror, there’s no need to make new friends and no reason to make all those phone calls back home. That freshman target on her back is also, mercifully, gone. Stella intends to focus on her schoolwork and bask in the sun of her sophomore status. But everything changes when Stella meets Alice Dayholt, a transfer student. Alice holds her cards close to her chest, but she seems she will fit in just fine with Stella and her friends. Plans go awry, however, and what follows is a gripping tale about superstitions, mythology, and friendship. ... (read more)

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Dead On Plot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dead Wrong: An Ecological Thriller
by G. Spencer Myers
AuthorHouse


"He walked to the gap in the bridge and looked down at the water, a dark deadly stew that only hours ago had been an aquatic paradise for Tampa Bay marine life."

Dr. Derk Ryan is just getting settled down into a quiet, comfortable retirement from his long career as an EPA investigator. He has been enjoying riding his Harley, teaching a few classes at the university, and finding a local place to become a regular. The Top End, a Passe-en-grille, is his place. This time, his perfect day of idleness is interrupted by a call from the EPA' director looking for his help. The last thing Derk wants is another case, but this one intrigues him. A garden supply van drove into the lake, causing a chemical spill, a toxic mess, and also resulted in a dead body as the van driver did not survive. However, Derk’s gut tells him there is much more to this “accident.” ... (read more)

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Buzzing with Suspence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Once Is Never Enough: Revenge Never Sleeps
by Monique Gliozzi
Tellwell Talent


"It’s not unusual for this sort of sociopathic behavior to have origins from a deep-rooted childhood trauma."

Dual tragedies in the life of Larissa La Roche, once as a child and later as an adult, generate a traumatic break that sends her on a sociopathic killing spree. Working as a flight attendant gives her access to traveling businessmen who are more than willing to be alone with her in a hotel room. Their fates are sealed when they meet the dangerous Larissa, whose trauma compels her to prey on men. She becomes the hunter until one FBI agent begins to see similarities in the suspicious deaths of men in various cities. Special agent Isabella Ashford leads a team in pursuit of Larissa before she strikes again. Both will be tested as Ashford sets a trap to catch her and eventually follows her trail to Europe. Will she slip through their clutches and get away free and clear? ... (read more)

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Intricate Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Payola: A Reverend Fountain Mystery
by Gary L. Kreigh
AIA Publishing


"What good is it to discover wrong but do nothing to make it right?"

The setting is New Orleans in the mid-1950s. Reverend Fountain has come to town to spend time with a friend and help at a local homeless shelter. However, the reverend's plans are interrupted when the friend's neighbor, Genny, begins to share a story of woe. She's a nightclub singer with a song that's getting radio play. Instead of making money, though, she's being forced to pay more and more to those who promised her fame and fortune. ... (read more)

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Killing Space

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Biofilms and Dead Zones: The Microbe-Environment Connection
by David M. Carlberg
Westwood Books


"Many aspects of our daily lives involve some interaction with invisible microorganisms like bacteria and fungi."

Carlberg, a retired microbiologist and chemist, has written primarily for a lay audience of environmental activists and anyone else interested in microbes and the environment. He updates his narrative with a new chapter and updated data in this second edition, exploring how microorganisms affect the quality of people's daily lives. The author has held many positions in academia and industry and is also a multi-faceted writer of both nonfiction and fiction. His ability to present nonfiction in a creative context is apparent throughout this text, and readers will find even the most technical aspects of the material interesting and easy to follow. ... (read more)

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Caring About the World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lessons After the Bell — Expanded Edition
by Barney Martlew


"Perhaps humility is a better virtue than pride. Let others acknowledge our accomplishments if there are accomplishments to be acknowledged."

In this wide-ranging collection of essays, Martlew considers such topics as types of learning, facing adversity, grace and forgiveness, integrity, friendships, humility, wisdom, trust, and self-control. He also shares thoughts on hot-button political issues of the day, such as global climate change, and ends this expanded compendium of personal essays and narrative with an impassioned plea for readers to establish a personal relationship with God. In fact, a significant portion of the book is dedicated to those final two issues—namely, arguing that climate change and global warming are not, as many contend, due to human-made activity, as well as offering encouragement for spiritual and religious growth through living a Christian life. Significantly, however, there is included in this hefty and well-penned collection a diversity of other areas explored, which stand alone and strong as intriguing tidbits of additional food for thought, relayed to the reading audience in various formats such as personal anecdotes, biographical events, original poems, and an entire section devoted to “axioms and other thoughts.” ... (read more)

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Gripping Account

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Risky Romance in Turkey
by Karen Carlson
Bookside Press


"To think I had believed I had a 'bad' relationship before."

Carlson recounts her adventures in Turkey in the seventies in this captivating memoir. The author was married to Dick, but she realized that he was not as fun as she was. She left him and met Cap, someone she thought was her perfect match. They decided to travel the world together and went to Greece and Turkey. However, as they embarked on this journey, Carlson saw Cap's true colors. He was rude, disrespectful, and childish. One time, he even verbally abused the hotel owner of the hotel where they were staying. All of this was too much for Carlson, but she also came to the realization that she did not want to go back to the United States just yet. So, she was stuck with Cap. ... (read more)

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Valiant Effort

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beloved
by Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
Mulberry Hill Press


"Now, even in the midst of this suffocating grief,
it would seem most ungracious and greedy
to have asked for
more."

Spanning from when the poet was a mere sixteen years old to her early nineties, Hjelmstad’s compilation is unquestionably heartfelt and authentic. It is a work that honors not only her late husband, Les, but also the countless love stories that inevitably get interrupted due to time. From hope and fear to gratitude amidst the threat of fleeting time, Hjelmstad’s poetry stirs the soul. ... (read more)

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Seeking Justice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adventures of a Lifetime
by M. Lawrence Moore
Blueprint Press


"The stories were powerful, however, and he did not think it wise to break the silence and the mood that surrounded them."

Story after story in this riveting collection surprises and thrills with myriad characters and conflict. Many of the stories are centered around courtroom dramas or domestic entanglements that illuminate the struggles of everyday people seeking truth and consequences in their complex lives. Authority figures abound within the structures of each story. Parents, grandparents, judges, detectives, and teachers serve as the axis around which the action moves. The result is a diverse collection that explores a variety of relationships and a maelstrom of adventures. Every story is a whirlwind of wonder and wisdom. ... (read more)

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Manifesto

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Golden Kettle Produces Gold
by Goldberg Ekwelle
PageTurner Press and Media


"We are one Earth, and in the trend of migration, travel, and innovations, we have become more or less, one nation."

Pastor, teacher, and writer Ekwelle offers hope at a time when humanity needs it most. With an eclectic, global perspective, Ekwelle demonstrates how America is a microcosm of the Earth, serving as home to many species and cultures. With a positive outlook, he argues that America is a land of opportunity for immigrants and natives alike. ... (read more)

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Engaging Facts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Echoes from the Old Testament: Wisdom for Teens
by Quinn Morris
PageTurner Press and Media


"As a reader, you will have the opportunity to learn about their lives and the times in which they lived."

Therapist and educator Morris brings new life to the experiences of fourteen Old Testament women, combining biblical facts and engaging speculation as contemporary teens direct questions to each character. Some of these fascinating figures are well known both outside and within the Judeo-Christian framework, while others are more obscure. Eve was the first woman, wife, and sinner, yielding to the temptation to disobey God and then convincing her husband Adam to do likewise. After Eve recounts her story, six teens—Kent, Kellie, Maria, Alice, John, and Irene—question her, asking how she felt at various junctures and receiving her advice, such as, “Girls, be careful of boys with flattering words.” Morris utilizes a similar format for each biblical female, endowing her questioners with credible curiosity and allowing even the more negatively framed females such as Jezebel and Delilah a frank, rational forum. Pregnancy, seduction, rape, power, and the general status of women are examined, underscoring situations for young women that might arise today. ... (read more)

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Unraveling Thought

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mystery of Stereotypes: A Guide to Self-Understanding and Empathy
by Dr. Tsahai H. London
Pen Culture Solutions


"We create stereotypes to forge a yawning chasm between our group and other groups."

The author’s book begins by telling the story of stereotypes in first-person dialogue. It examines them as labels and gives numerous examples of the types of stereotypes, seeing the reason for their existence as stemming from “noble intentions” as a way for survival regarding the “in” group, but recognizing how such generalizing classifications lead to numerous problems as well. The text looks at negative and positive stereotypes, their potential for damage, and how they reinforce themselves. Some lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, both positive and negative. They cause people to jump to conclusions, assign blame, and engage in selective thinking. The book then focuses on minorities, the issue of cultural constructs, the problems of ethnocentrism, and a divide and conquer mentality. Finally, it explores stereotypes revolving around physical attractiveness, intelligence, and issues at work and school. ... (read more)

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Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Clouds: Love Poems from above the Fray
by Jon Meyer
Joshua Tree Interactive


"The seeker asks
To open the
Door, but the
Lover knows the
Door was never shut."

Meyer's work is a call for awakening the individual's inner spirit, a rallying cry in the form of mind-numbing photographs and poetry that will aid in self-discovery. Though the panoramic series of meticulously crafted photos are in black and white, they burst from the seams with color and energy. As poet, photographer, and, of course, storyteller, Meyer takes readers on a journey across the globe, pausing momentarily to let audiences feel nature's awe in its every creation. ... (read more)

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Charming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eleven Sundry Flowers
by Frank Mundo
Antrim House


"For days my blossom never does appear. I yank out hunks of hair hand over fist."

The poems in this exceptional volume inspire romantic love. The poet expresses joy and struggle in equal doses. A humble man reveals his heart to his beloved Nancy, provoking a reader to notice a butterfly finding a flower in a crack of the pavement. Vivid details adorn these verses. Flowers mesmerize the poet, inviting readers to encounter a generous flow of imagination and whimsy. Each poem hints at a mystery revealed at the end. Eleven poems may not be epic in length, and eleven days are short in a long lifetime. However, these poems can be read over and over again to reveal a new angle or sentiment. Mundo's collection also honors the bardic tradition by comparing a lover to flowers. ... (read more)

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Lone Wolf

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Detour In Oregon
by Donald Averill
Ink Start Media


"Dan said, ‘Someone’s shooting at us. We’re going down.’"

Dan Newcomb is shot in the leg while serving in Iraq. Returning to America, he decides to hitchhike across the states to the Northwest, where he intends to return to his home state of Alaska. Dan has a plan to get his pilot’s license and eventually become a bush pilot like his missing and presumed-dead father. On his way to Portland, Dan finds a part-time job house-sitting a cabin in the mountains for a few months. He can take flight lessons with a local pilot. This is a great chance for Dan to start saving money to eventually buy a small plane. However, he doesn’t expect to encounter an armed band of fugitives in the woods. Still, growing up in Alaska and being a combat veteran has Dan completely prepared for these men and the adventures to come. ... (read more)

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Father Talks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All Glory to God: Intuitions of a Priest
by Jose F. Lucero
Pen Culture Solutions


"God speaks to us through others, through our dreams, through lucid moments and is trying to get our attention to communicate with us."

According to Lucero in his slim but keen and touching book, the presence of God is felt through dreams and supernatural experiences. Once able to find the courage to write, the author traverses fond memories amid the painful grief of his brother, Luis, and sister, Lisa, with their untimely departures two years apart. The afflictions of cancer inevitably take their lives, ushering in a profound loss for Lucero and his family. But through writing this book, the author searches for and finds comfort while wondering about the afterlife and the unusual occurrences where he feels the company of his siblings beyond death. In addition, Lucero also remembers the losses of his aunt, uncle, and cousins. ... (read more)

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Imaginings

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

If Only God and I Saw It…the Show Was Worth Staging: Act 1
by Tony Corcetto
Skywind Publishing


"The show goes on. Theater-in-the-round... in reverse."

Poet and graphic designer Corcetto combines the skills he has honed for years, presenting effervescent, photographic artworks in tandem with the alluring poetic form known as haiku—a style created by the Japanese and constructed of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables. Each pairing is arrayed over a two-page span of this large, meticulously produced volume. Corcetto allows the photo to convey deep feeling, which is then reflected in his words. The aggregation opens with the portrait of a goose gliding across a watery surface enhanced by the shadows of wavering trees, declaring, “An artistic goose, / abstract expressionism / rippling in its wake.” The final piece shows sunrise in the forest: “After the dark…dawn / a baby day bursts forth with / possibilities.” Most pairings depict and describe the natural world, but there is scope for humor as well as poignancy, as in a flock of pigeons gathered in the sand, with one bird perched atop a rubber beach ball and announcing, it seems, “Gang! We’ve got a gig. / There’s this director, hitchcock, / making a movie….” ... (read more)

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Selfish

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sons of the People
by Janet Pesicka Watson
CHB Media


"Sometimes there are bad days.Those are the rocks. Other days are good... the feathers."

Clues from some 7000-year-old human remains found in Florida inspire this spectacular piece of prehistoric fiction. The book is an artfully constructed story about early clan communities. Action, suspense, climax, resolution, and skillful character development make this book absolutely engrossing and a superb read. ... (read more)

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Prime Suspect

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prison Shadows: A Novel
by Kathryn Den Houter
Mission Point Press


"These lost souls haunt the hallways and evil predators at the top of the food chain cannibalize the weak."

Kathryn den Houter’s creation of Clifford Ratz’s character is incredibly instrumental in revealing that even in the prison system, nothing is black and white, good or evil. In fact, the darkness that permeates the prison systems in the form of corruption, greed, etc., is often perpetrated by those tasked to monitor and run the facilities, prompting the question, who is the real monster? ... (read more)

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Charming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Molly the Mallard Duck
by Karen J. Tapp
Trafford Publishing


"One day, Kathy was weeding around the bushes. To her surprise, the bushes started to move!"

This adorable children’s book is a true story about a woman named Kathy who discovers a mallard duck nesting outside her home. After naming the duck Molly, Kathy takes on the task of protecting and caring for her new friend. Kathy learns about mallard ducks through trial, error, and the assistance of wildlife rescuers who set her on the right path for helping the bird. One fateful night, after Molly’s ducklings hatch, a cat attacks the nest, and Kathy runs to the ducks’ aid. Though Molly’s fierce quacks drive off the cat, the ducklings fall into a sewer grate on the way back to their nest. Fortunately, as always, Kathy is there to help. With the assistance of the police and the fire department, two of Molly’s three ducklings return to their mother, but the third one is harder to rescue. By the time a police officer frees the last duckling, Molly has already taken her two others away to safety and cannot be found. Kathy spends a night caring for the little fowl and sets out the next day to find Molly and return the duckling. ... (read more)

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Engaging

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Opossum and the Cats
by Marilyn B. Wassmann
Writers Branding


"They chased one another around the edge and unfortunately went beyond
the side of the pond and all of them suddenly fell into the water—"

A mother cat is desperate for a place to birth her kittens. Running out of time, she enters an opossum’s den. Too tired to move, she pleads with the opossum to let her be as she has her litter. The opossum doesn’t stir much as he sleeps during the day because of his nocturnal scavenging. As time goes on, the opossum finds the kittens and their interest in its tail amusing. However, the opossum generally keeps to itself and its nocturnal lifestyle. One day, after several kittens fall in the pond, a frantic sibling rushes to the den to find its mother. She isn’t there, but the kitten’s noise rouses the opossum. Thinking quickly, the opossum flings his tail into the pond to rescue the kittens. When the mother cat returns, she thanks the opossum. The opossum is also thankful because it still has time to sleep. ... (read more)

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Storytelling Heights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Double Indemnity
by Richard Zappa
AIA Publishing


"Crowder had her doubts too, and she spoke before he could say more. 'Alex, it's not what happened last night that should concern us, it's what is going to happen tomorrow that should.'"

Jo Crowder, an attractive thirty-six-year-old, works in the homicide division and isn't afraid of her job. She has a long list of kill numbers, and more than once, she has been accused of using lethal force and sent to the board to defend herself. Crowder suspects that Heartland Insurance, which buys life insurance policies and collects the proceeds after their clients' deaths, is covering up something sinister. After discovering that Heartland has a suspicious number of clients, all suddenly deceased, Crowder and FBI Special agent Alex Hill uncover the insurance company's evil connections with a research lab testing their experimental serum on animals. However, to prove they are right, Crowder and Hill must put themselves in grave danger and break a few laws along the way. ... (read more)

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Thorough

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Making Healthy Choices for Senior Living: A Guide for an Enriched Retirement
by Kenneth D. Barringer, PhD
Writers' Branding


"I have seen so many friends who looked forward to retirement and did not take time for the richness of life before they became seriously ill or died."

Packed with information that every senior should know, this is a helpful guidebook about preparing for life in the retirement years. Achieving a successful retirement requires careful planning, and Barringer offers a host of positive suggestions for how to do just that. Retiring comfortably doesn't happen by chance. It must be thoroughly planned and researched. Understanding the many choices that are offered to senior citizens is an essential step in planning for retirement. Barringer provides both practical and hopeful solutions that all senior citizens can benefit from. ... (read more)

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Light in Darkness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seeing the Forest through the Trees
by Cassandra Postek


"As I look at things now, I see that I have the power to undo all that has been done to me. It's extremely empowering to know that this strange being called 'me' has been formed from all that has passed... good and bad."

Memoirs and autobiographies may follow one person's life, taking the reader along on a timeline of particular ups and downs in life, woes, and triumphs. However, like this one, some of them seem to serve as more than just a personal chronicle. Even though these memoirs may be specific to one person's story, the best of them have universal threads that make them relevant even to someone living a different life with different problems. And if not that, at the least, they provide exposure, encouraging readers to put themselves in the writer's shoes. The author's memoir hits all of these benchmarks, embracing a life full of endless struggles and, in doing so, defining the human experience as a life filled with hope, love, and loss. ... (read more)

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Memory

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cotton Teeth: A Memoir
by Glenn Rockowitz
Harper & Case


"Tomorrow may not be better, but it will be different."

When Rockowitz was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live, he was twenty-six, and his wife was eight and a half months pregnant with their first child. One week later, his father was also diagnosed with cancer. The author writes about his and his father's struggles with the disease in the context of their close relationship. He also reveals a horrific event from his childhood in which he was abused while spending several weeks at a summer camp. With such dark subject matter, one would think this would be a depressing book. However, that is far from the case. As a comedian, Rockowitz uses his quirky sense of humor throughout to break up the gravity of his narrative. He reaches into the darkness of child abuse and cancer and somehow manages to take those horrific topics and create a beautifully written commentary on life, death, and survival. ... (read more)

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Otherworldly

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Cabala of the Cushite, Zephaniah
by Beverly C. Prince
BookSide Press


"A genetic-like information, culture can be quite rigid in confining behavior and making certain the past is not escaped."

Deep beneath the surface of the Earth, history is threatening to repeat itself after a cataclysmically dangerous set of circumstances has forced many people underground. Divided by technology, culture, morals, and skin color, their worlds are bridged by the unplanned arrival of a surface dweller to the caves below. At first, it is an opportunity for the two groups to learn from each other and celebrate their differences and the humanity that combines them. But soon, just as they had before, assimilation and conquest prove themselves inevitabilities of human nature that lead only to more suffering and conflict. Thrust amidst the key players of this unfolding tragedy is Zephaniah, a strange man who projects an inner calmness that makes him stand out from his peers. ... (read more)

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Action-Packed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Empty Promises
by Nick Shepherd
Dorrance Publishing


"The continued improvement of his health was easy; adjusting to his new name was not."

Miguel Perez is a tennis pro at a country club who devises a plan to fuel his cocaine habit by dealing the drug to the mothers of his students. He meets Harry Edison one night when delivering Edison's son, Steve, home after he becomes too drunk to drive. The elder Edison—rich, powerful, and forceful—tells Miguel on this fateful night, "I am your future." When the head of a local drug smuggling ring, Dr. Mortello, hears of Miguel's side business selling cocaine, he sends a couple of his henchmen to attack him and deliver a warning: stop or face worse consequences. Miguel has connections of his own and calls on his brother, Eduardo, who is himself a member of a Mexican cartel, to help him deal with the situation. However, Eduardo gravely underestimates the reach of Mortello. Steve is killed, and Miguel is badly injured outside the gates of the Edison mansion. It is evident that Mortello will continue coming after Miguel as long as he lives. Thus begins Miguel's new life as the privileged Tony Martinelli, surrogate son of Harry Edison and newest employee of Edison's company, Madison Investments. ... (read more)

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Healing Roadmap

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Help for the Hurting Child: Christian Approaches to Therapeutic Parenting
by Larry E. Banta, MD


"During various stages of development, there are special times when the child, or even the adult, is more vulnerable to the effects of trauma."

Well researched and comprehensive, Banta’s work is a fusion of his experiences and deeper probings as they pertain to paving a healthy and functional pathway for children who have been displaced from their original families for one reason or another. What gives the author’s work even greater credence and legitimacy is the firsthand accounts and interactions he has had with those working directly with the children, from foster parents to orphanages. Piecing together the three core topics of psychology, psychiatry, and religion, the work is a bona fide guide toward providing a holistic and therapeutic game plan to develop the child. ... (read more)

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RIch Color & Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Merged
by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Month9Books


"Then my advice as your Mentor is: go paint something that blows someone’s mind."

Imagine a future where individuals can defy mortality infinitely by merging with the consciousness of another. The greats in each of their fields could essentially become immortal, unbound from the rules of nature, free to traverse the innermost depths of their minds and passions to create and innovate without any hindrance. In the Kroepfl’s narrative, the Darwinians are a high-tech, discreet organization on the verge of creating such a reality. ... (read more)

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High Octane

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bishop’s Endgame: A Spy Game Novel
by Michael Frost Beckner
Montrose Station Press


"Why do we have to know anything? Learn the secrets that are set in war canoes upon the river to kill us?"

All things must eventually come to an end, even for those who seem like they will never taste mortality. Nathan Muir is such a person whose feats have become legendary, often to the chagrin of the Acting CIA Director Harker. Fast forwarding a decade from Spy Game, it has been a few days since Muir's murder, and his own son, Tom Bishop, is considered the prime suspect. To complicate matters, Russell Aiken, likely the only person with whom Bishop has a real connection, is finally given the opportunity to fulfill his dream as a CIA field agent, only to carry out the mission of terminating Bishop. It is here that the chess game resumes. The entire board can be wiped clean for the CIA if Aiken and Bishop take each other out. With Muir already gone, all three of their thorns will be removed in one fell swoop. ... (read more)

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Coming of Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When There is Trouble in the Air: God Whisper Shouts
by Sarah Smith Ducksworth
Writers' Branding


"If you remember where you come from, it is easier to know where you’re going, and it's clearer to see how to get there."

Lizzie and her husband Ray are embarking on a course towards a new life. It is 1965, and they have graduated from college, exchanged wedding vows, and are moving north to build their future. The world they were born into and are now vacating has evolved, but the shadow of Jim Crow repression will only abate once they cross the Mason-Dixon line. As a young lady, Lizzie witnessed the racism her parents and ancestors faced when a traffic stop by police resulted in her father being belittled and extorted. Lizzie was horrified, as were her sisters, at the sight of her father becoming subservient to the heavy hand of intolerant law enforcement. Lizzie's mother relates stories from her family's past, illustrating how they persevered despite slavery and the discrimination that continued after the Civil War. ... (read more)

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Excellent Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Leadership Quotient: Practice Meets Theory
by Tony Marolt
Westwood Books Publishing


"Great leaders, like great photographers, know when to apply the right lens to bring clarity and drive organizations in specific directions."

A person’s leadership quotient is comprised of four elements. Those elements are the person’s intelligence, emotional ability to engage others, decision-making capacity, and ability to take and follow up on action. The premise of this book is that these four elements work together and can be applied in the format of an equation to help measure the leadership quotient and identify areas for improvement. ... (read more)

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An Engaging Work

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Patchwork Culture
by Roy Mackpenfield
Westwood Books Publishing


"I hope that this story will help to secure a lifelong learning of the Maroon culture, especially to those children born outside of Jamaica."

Born and raised in Jamaica, where he lost sight in one eye at an early age, author Mackpenfield emigrated to Wales at nineteen, where he studied, developed professional skills, and for forty years thought of himself as grounded in the United Kingdom. But as older age overtook him, bringing with it near-total blindness, he conceived the ambition to revisit the country of his youth, aided by reuniting with an old friend, Copey, who had returned to Jamaica and offered to assist Mackpenfield in his journey. It turned out to be not only a trip back in time but an immersion in a culture that, while familiar in memory and in the history books he had read, was very different from what he had anticipated. He would need to revise his stereotypes of Caribbean society by fully experiencing the real place and the real people, sincerely seeking a secure legacy of information and memories for his children and grandchildren. ... (read more)

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A Connected World

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Buddy the Drone
by Ronald St. George-Smith
Westwood Books Publishing


"There was a gentle draught of wind which was allowing him to relish the flight, but Buddy recognised the seriousness of his mission.”"

From the first pages, the author establishes a cheerful and optimistic tone, both in his language and color palette. Ideal for students who are progressing from picture books to chapter books, the piece has been carefully crafted to give readers a unique experience while embedding myriad learning opportunities throughout the book. Above all else, young readers will be drawn to the relatability of the main character and the troubles she faces throughout her school day. ... (read more)

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Fidel in Town

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Knockout: Fidel Castro Visits the South Bronx
by Julio Pabón


"[W]e indeed scored a KNOCKOUT with Fidel’s visit to the South Bronx. Indeed, we made history."

In response to Mayor Giuliani’s 1995 revocation of an invitation to Fidel Castro for the fiftieth anniversary of the UN in New York, prominent Harlem citizens issued a press release welcoming Castro to their borough. The South Bronx decided to give a similar press release. With the backing of the National Puerto Rico Business Council and permission from a favorite local restaurant, Pabón—a long-time South Bronx resident, activist, and businessman—invited Castro to the South Bronx, home to a large Latino community “that indeed had the conditions for change.” Pabón never expected Castro to say yes. When he did, Pabón and compatriots had seventy-two hours to plan an event for him. ... (read more)

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Shared Tale

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One Last Bullet
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media


"I am an army deserter. I decided I’d rather die than do what I was told to do, but somehow I’ve lived for a long time. I’ve been heading for the Sea, but haven’t made very good time."

Fourteen-year-old Yvette Beaufort and her family live in France near its border with Germany, which is on the cusp of invading France as World War I heats up. Soon, German soldiers swarm across the Beaufort family estate and the surrounding countryside. Nineteen-year-old Ernest Feldmann is one of those soldiers, but after a traumatic experience, he has had enough of the war. He decides to leave, knowing he will be executed as a deserter if caught. Before disappearing into the French countryside, he discards all of his ammunition with the exception of one bullet. The bullet will be his self-inflicted escape if the German Army finds him. After several months of hiding, Ernest takes refuge in a small cave on the Beaufort estate, where young Yvette soon discovers him. ... (read more)

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Web Spinner

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Tales: Volume 2
by Trebbiano
Xlibris


"'He knows all this, and it motivated him to take the initiative to get it all done. The shipyard was almost calling him crazy.'"

This work is set in travel and its concurrent happenings. A couple marries on a ship, and professional as well as personal experiences unfold. On a practical level, journeying comprises the characters' work, while on other levels, it symbolizes everyone's movement through life. The book is crowded with life lessons told through anecdotes of marriages, friendships, love affairs, births, deaths, separations, encounters with customers, and coming into ports in real and symbolic ways. The interaction of the social, professional, sexual, procreational, spiritual, conscientious, and lewd behaviors during the trips symbolize human behavior on the journey through life and its many possible outcomes. Every main character has a "gray area"—usually not defined as "good" or "bad," but often morally ambiguous—that the author presents as practical or integral parts of their journey. ... (read more)

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Young Reader Treat

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Ample Apples Arrive for Anne
by Cheryl Bachand
Xlibris


"’The watering can is to hold the aqua, the ancient Latin word that means water,’ Uncle Allen said."

This story for young children focuses on the letter A/a throughout the tale. Anne is four-and-a-half and is with her aunt and uncle when they decide to eat freshly picked apples, which her aunt chose instead of pears. Anne and her uncle discuss the weather that aids in the apple tree growing and how they plant the apple seeds so they can grow their own apples. They use a shovel and a watering can in order to plant the seeds, and Anne’s uncle discusses how the seeds need to be planted in order to grow. The story continues regarding having to wait years for the seeds to grow into trees and produce apples. After these six years, Anne teases her uncle about whether apples are better than pears. ... (read more)

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A New Heroine

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Anonymouse and the Secret Wish
by Chuck Wiffle
AuthorHouse


"For as long as they could remember, he had always lived in that house, just him and his pet, a cute little mouse with bright eyes and a pink nose."

Katherine lives with her parents and her sister Joany. She has a friend named Jane with whom she attends school and who has a habit of dressing like Katherine without intending to. Katherine suspects she and Jane are kindred spirits because they have so much in common. Each morning on their way to school, they pass Mr. Wright, who has a pet mouse that sits on his shoulder and seems to wave at them. In flashback, the reader learns that shortly before Jane moved into the house down the street, Katherine received a note blown on the wind promising her that “all of your wishes will come true.” The message was signed “Anonymouse.” It’s hinted that Mr. Wright’s mouse wrote the note. ... (read more)

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Fascinating View

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Easier Than Fighting Rocky: How Horses Carried an Autistic Mind into the World of Emotion and Compassion
by Duke Cole, DVM
AuthorHouse


"The impact [horses] have had... in helping me understand emotions, body language, and social dynamics can’t be underestimated...."

When the author’s mom discovers a program pairing differently abled kids with horses, she sets in motion a life-changing adventure that inspires Cole to reach for a new dream—veterinary school. Rocky is the wrong horse for Cole, but his stubborn nature is a bonus that no one expected. As the young man and horse struggle for dominance on their trail rides in the desert around Palm Springs, Cole makes a revolutionary discovery: he begins to interpret and understand Rocky’s body language. This observation of Rocky’s emotional nature influences Cole’s life for the better, allowing improved communication and socialization with his fellow students and his instructors at community college. Though Cole must give Rocky up when he becomes too dangerous to ride, there is another horse in his future as he continues along the academic path to veterinary school, a discipline requiring great empathy and compassion. ... (read more)

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Devotion

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The Land of My Ancestors’ Sepulchers: And the World of a Teacher-Researcher
by Miranda P. Yeoh
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"I wasn’t afraid to be alone; it was time to reflect and pray."

In this book, readers discover a life of cultural balance, educational pursuit, and familial devotion. At its core is a careful examination of the author’s faith, which serves as the cornerstone of her life. Yeoh’s work also explores her unique ancestry. She is a descendant of the Peranakan, who, in the 1400s, sailed the seas and established themselves in places like Malaysia. ... (read more)

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Minimal Time

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Cousins of the Brachistochrone: The One Hundred Dash in Mathematics
by James W. Stoner, PhD
AuthorHouse


"Good luck normalizing this relationship and integrating the various functions to provide an alternate development of the Brachistochrone's solution (+1=6)."

Brachistochrone is Greek for "minimal time" and, in physics, is used to specify the function corresponding to the trajectory taken by a bead falling down a frictionless wire on a vertical plane influenced only by gravity from point A to point B, when B is not beneath A. This is not a straight line but a segment of a cycloid curve, the curve traced on a circle as it rolls along a straight line without slipping. This curve is one of a family of curves known as rolling curves. The cycloid curve's equations satisfy Euler's requirements for a minimal-time descent, but other proofs are low in number compared to, say, the Pythagorean theorem of the right triangle, with over 400 proofs. ... (read more)

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Magical Realism

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Conduits: The Ballad of Jinx Jenkins: A Storybook for Grownups
by J. Ryan Sommers
AuthorHouse


"Many in Green Valley believe that on the day Jinx Jenkins arrived in the valley, a great shockwave of calamity spread throughout the county."

This collection of interconnected stories takes place in the fictional county of Green Valley. A vagrant named Jinx Jenkins rides the SkyTram around the county, stopping by storefronts and eying passersby. Everyone who encounters Jinx has some catastrophic fate befall them soon after, and many of the tales in this book recount these fates. The subtitle indicates that this is “A Storybook for Grownups,” and the work delivers on this premise. ... (read more)

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Sincerity

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From the Heart: A Poetic Autobiography
by Bernadette Moss
Xlibris


"Come now, the ocean waits.
Your place is home, I’ll
be there. You are not alone."

Delivering commentary on a wide range of emotions from the perspective of life, faith, and prayer, Moss’ poetry compilation is both an ode to beautiful memories and a reflection on the fleeting nature of time. At the core of the poetry is evoking a feeling, whether that is the naive innocence of childhood as in the opening poem, “The Ways of the Child,” or the tenderness of embracing the limitlessness of the ocean in “A Glimpse of Heaven” as the body gives way. The poet leaves no stone unturned in allowing herself to be vulnerable. She is an open book to which readers can relate. ... (read more)

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Knowing

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The Human Mind: How to Live Intelligently in an Insane World
by F. Willard Brown
AuthorHouse


"Understanding Human Consciousness grew out of my desire to leave a book which is a compilation of the most important things I have learned in my very long life."

Brown’s book explores the importance of science and self-knowledge and includes subjects such as truth, free will, belief, diet and fasting, and intelligence. The author examines nationalism and the need for peace on the planet, recognizing society’s struggle with the truth, including the truth of the self. Education is touted, free will is seen as cause and effect, and evolution and the human consciousness are examined in light of the elements of Darwinism. The text also relates how man is a unique species among all other species and ponders the evolutionary struggle with the ongoing population growth. Another topic the author addresses is a sense of belief, indicating that belief itself is “narrow and limited.” As the book continues, it focuses on sanity and the ego, the view that everyone should be a vegan, and the varieties of intelligence. ... (read more)

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Aviation Exploration

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Take Us Flying Kiko
by Lyn Y
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"Nothing made them quite as happy as learning about aviation."

Seven-year-old brothers Joshua and Elijah are deeply fascinated with anything that can fly, from kites to airplanes. They wonder why certain creatures and objects can take to the air while others remain on the ground. Thankfully, they have Kikoman, or “Kiko” for short, their knowledgeable macaw friend, to teach them about the basics of aviation, including a brief glimpse into its history. The brothers come to understand Newton’s Third Law of Motion as it pertains to flight and the importance of forces such as lift, weight, thrust, and drag in navigating through the air. Before too long, they can apply what they have discovered to their daily lives and have a deeper appreciation of what they find soaring overhead. ... (read more)

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Classic Quest

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Pandora’s Box: Triforce
by Alan Davis
iUniverse


"Thousands of memories from past lives full of love and happiness were known to them."

This intense, complex novel spans two fictional worlds—one physical and one spiritual. Darth, a renowned sage, is deep into his pursuit of the Infinity Stone. He endures many tests on this journey that push him to the limit. His incredible strength and mystical presence reveal his identity to more than just his fellow mystics. This brings unwanted attention to himself and suffering on a grand scale. Those who would harm him have no idea how he is tied to the spirit world. ... (read more)

A Greater Foundation for Machine Learning Engineering: The Hallmarks of the Great Beyond in PyTorch, R, TensorFlow, and Pythonback to top

Software Exploration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


by Dr. Ganapathi Pulipaka
Xlibris


"Organizations need the ability to process large-scale big data in heterogeneous distributed systems for data processing on data centers with GPU accelerators."

The evolution of artificial intelligence is tackled in this work with a simplicity that renders even the most complex data science and machine learning topics digestible. Unlike most theory-based textbooks, Pulipaka’s book delivers a greater narrative element that permeates throughout and removes much of the fluff from a traditional educational text. ... (read more)

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A Passion for Business

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prophecy Before Vision: Learning to See and Altering the Future
by James Michael Matthew
Archway Publishing


"All events to happen in the future of any kind will come as the result of a series of connected past chain of events."

Any organization needs to develop a strategic plan and a vision. Often a tremendous amount of time and effort is spent crafting the perfect messaging about a company. Yet, the author emphasizes that most companies are missing a critical step. He asserts that it is unfeasible to develop this forward-facing cornerstone of a business without first analyzing what future trends and forces may impact the work. Leaders need to understand this and learn how to look into the future. From that vantage point, they can lead their team effectively and confidently. ... (read more)

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Brotherly Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Arecibo Antenna
by Helias Doundoulakis
Xlibris


"But life is far too short for self-policing and restraint, especially when telling my truth will not hurt anyone."

At the center of this text is a rarely talked about radio telescope that is credited with discovering groundbreaking findings like extrasolar planets and the two pulsar bits in a binary orbit that proved Einstein's theory that gravitational waves existed. Lying only nine miles from the town of Arecibo in Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Antenna, also known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, is layered with its own origin secrets. Doundoulakis' mission is to bring the facts to the forefront and present a series of evidence exhibits that would systematically create a conclusive argument for his brother, the late George Doundoulakis, a former American soldier and physicist, as the true genius behind the antenna's inception. ... (read more)

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