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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of subscribers to our free monthly newsletter of fiction book reviews and nonfiction book reviews. Learn why our publication is different than most others, or read author and publisher testimonials about the USR.

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

Featured Reviews
 

Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Doc's Dog Days: A Hickory Doc's Activity Book
by Linda Harkey


"'Doc, you can learn a lot about a book by eating its binding.'"

Linda Harkey, a former educator and museum docent as well as a hunting dog enthusiast, writes children's books about the beloved and oft-visited topic of canine capers, making the old new again by featuring a specific breed close to her heart, German short-haired pointers. In this third book of her series, the adorable black-and-white illustrations by Mike Minick are begging to be colored and doodled upon with markers, pencils, or crayons, making this both an educational and a fun diversion likely to be appreciated by kids and their caregivers, parents, and teachers. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

The Plan

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No Birds Sing Here
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing


"People don’t want poetry or literature. They want celebrities, half-crazy celebrities."

Mix a dram of Hunter Thompson, a dash of Kerouac, a pinch of Tom Wolfe, a sprinkle of Palahniuk, a dab of Salinger, and a heaping spoonful of Scott Fitzgerald. Shake liberally, and what emerges is an urban literary concoction that rises to the level of the best road trip stories ever told. At turns ribald and violent, at others tender and thoughtful, this tale starts mildly enough when Beckman, a disenchanted dishwasher with literary aspirations, flees his dead-end job and his writer's block to hit the road with Malany, a remarkable poet he encounters at a used book store. He concocts his theatrical plan after they jump out of his dive apartment window and head through the Southeast in her rickety Oldsmobile. ... (read more)

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Surprising Debut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fishing for Something
by Andrew Scott Bassett
Luminare Press


"Catching a break in life is like catching a fish, part skill, part perseverance, part dumb luck... lot like fishing when you really think about it."

Raymond Barrett is the father of two sons named after movie stars: John Wayne and Audie Murphy. That and his love for fishing speak volumes about the type of person he is. The boys haven't seen their father since he left their mom when they were in their early teens. As the eldest son, John has taken on responsibilities in the household. Meanwhile, Audie has always been more free-wheeling. Now their father is dead, and his lawyer has informed them that they have to take a fishing trip across America and notify old friends about his passing to collect their hefty inheritances. At each stop on the list, they must go fishing as a kind of memorial service of times past. ... (read more)

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Devastating Events

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation During World War I
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers


"Today, whenever there are civilians anywhere in the world in harm’s way—from a natural disaster to an armed conflict—the nearly universal response has been: ‘America will help.’ That was not the case before World War I."

During the First World War, a group led by American citizens, known as the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), saved millions of Belgian and French citizens from starvation when Germany occupied their homelands. CRB, which was not an official government agency, which became the largest food relief program up to that time in history. Despite that distinction, few people know about it now. That’s precisely why this is such a valuable and formidable addition to World War I scholarship. The veteran author has been studying history for almost half a century. When he inherited a compendium of papers from his grandfather, who was a member of the Commission, he knew he had to chronicle the CRB story. This book is the result—a project that began when the author first heard the tales as a teenager and concluded with a decade of expert research and persuasive writing ... (read more)

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Engaging Plots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Helen’s Orphans
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"I wondered who we were, what for. War took his kinfolk off to die. But who were mine, and who was I?"

In Greek mythology, the legendary Trojan War is universally recognized for the carnage it caused and the notion that it stemmed from ego-fueled ambitions of attaining Helen, anointed as the most beautiful woman in the world. With this tale as inspiration, Fritsch peels back the curtain even more and spins a complex web of secrets and revelations that keep the audience engaged throughout. ... (read more)

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Evocative Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


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

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

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Our Evolving Brain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Story of Homo Loquens: How We Have Changed into Another Species
by Dan M. Mrejeru
Global Summit House


"“…language was one of the fundamental tools that shaped our ‘world of order’ by suppressing the elements that appeared to contain ‘disorder.’"

Humans are born with the potential to learn languages. This ability does not leave us as we age. Retention of such a juvenile characteristic as the need or desire to communicate is called neoteny. Through language, we have achieved such goals as effective agriculture and the establishment of complex societies by means of our ability to name their components, such as tools or laws. Human communication is the most outwardly apparent sign of humanity's potential for creativity and innovation. Such creativity also manifests itself in the production of music and other art forms. Ultimately, a perpetually inquisitive human brain is likely to remain healthier—that is, more adaptable to new ideas—than that of someone who deliberately or otherwise stops learning. ... (read more)

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Powerful Imagery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let’s Go Walking in the Storm: A Collection of Poetry and Reflections for Soul and Spirit
by Gloria D. Gonsalves
AuthorHouse


"A prayer is a poem and that is my truth."

This collection of poems explores several issues, including human suffering, ecological devastation, violence and war, immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic, racism, discrimination, and other topics in which, as Gonsalves writes, "soul and spirit face a storm together." Throughout, the author undertakes a journey to "seek understanding and acceptance in all the chaos." Many pieces are written as religious prayers. Other realms are equally explored, including celebrating nature, children, personal obstacles, death, the power of words, global peace, the celebration of trees and forests, and the poet's determination to raise her child as a lover of nature. "In the forest I let him touch and feel the trees as he points them out," writes Gonsalves. "One particular tree has become his ritual: he squeals with excitement when it's in our sight." ... (read more)

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Breathing in Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When Snow Walks In
by Christine Candland
iUniverse


"Just sitting there.
Looking forward to a murky pancake
and syrup that stares back from a small
stainless pitcher -
when Snow walks in."

Like the title poem in this short and elegant collection, the other pieces also describe the extraordinary amidst everyday scenes and in understandable prose and sparkling details. Simple things like utensils, road signs, trinkets at a thrift sale, and foods convey the feelings surrounding memories. Compassion and empathy are immediate responses to such straightforward expressions of emotion. Like Snow, the tantalizing newcomer to the scene in the title poem, the poems invite the reader into an elevated experience of humanity through captured impressions. ... (read more)

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Lively Memories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Right Place at the Right Time: Stories from a Life in Education
by Curtis Connaughty
The Adverters


"Times are always different, but I still believe the inner child is the same."

A retired educator looks back on his experiences in a tiny midwestern town. The author was born to a farming family in Minnesota, absorbing a strong work ethic. Along with his father, he herded, fed, and milked thirty-two dairy cows. He attended a one-room elementary school, sometimes walking there in the winter when snowdrifts covered the telephone poles. In 1949 he started college but joined the Army in 1952 during the Korean War. Returning home, he married his college sweetheart. Both were hired as teachers in Eden Prairie, a town too small for any map. For just over thirty years, Connaughty would teach industrial arts and act as a coach in Eden Prairie's high school. His wife Mary taught earlier grades, and both were excited to be part of what would evolve into a large, diverse community where they still reside. ... (read more)

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A Biblical Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thy Kingdom Come: Re-evaluating the Historicist's Interpretation of the Revelation
by Marsue and Jerry Huerta
Four Horsemen Publishers


"...the question becomes, what are the superior guidelines that can reconcile the Revelation to harmonize with a history that will not lead to further variances?"

The authors have assembled an in-depth look at biblical end-time prophecy utilizing detailed Seventh-Day Adventist guidelines. The authors explain "progressive revelation," which their church teaches. This states that current revelations can outweigh the value of earlier, historical interpretations. One exception is that newer revelations must not contradict specific dates already accepted as church truth. Topics addressed in this book include the Old Testament Covenant vs. the New Testament Covenant, events and teachings addressed in the Book of Revelation, and the validity of dispensations regarding Jews vs. the Church and Gentiles. ... (read more)

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Thirst for Knowledge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Eliza at the Dinosaur Exhibit
by T. Steele Petry
PageTurner Press and Media


"Little Eliza enjoyed the trip to the dinosaur exhibit and learned so many things…"

When Little Eliza goes to a dinosaur exhibit with her parents, she already knows that such amazing natural wonders no longer exist, since the conditions that fostered them were long ago destroyed by massive climate change. She is keen to find out more. In words and pictures, she is introduced to creatures like Stegosaurus, one of the earliest animals on the planet, a herbivore, and generally the loser in encounters with the carnivorous Allosaurus, which could be up to forty feet tall. The bird-like Pteranodon might fly up to sixty miles an hour, with any smaller creature as prey. Apatosaurus, or “deceptive lizard,” was huge but has been depicted in such gentle guises as the family pet of the Flintstones. According to paleontologists, Eliza is excited to see what was probably the first bird: the small, colorfully feathered Archaeopteryx. Another dinosaur “movie villain” was the Dilophosaurus, though it actually never spit poison as is depicted in films. A swimmer, Mosasurus lived in the sea. The plant-eating Ankylosaurus species shared its era with the legendary T. Rex, which was almost sure to conquer and consume them along with other gentle grazers like Triceratops. Terrifying in its time was the monstrous, rhino-like Spinosaurus. The Dawndraco, a fish-feasting flyer, is next in Eliza’s explorations, which conclude with a Wooly Mammoth—a furry, prehistoric Alaskan wanderer. ... (read more)

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More Than Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Travels of ibn Thomas
by James Hutson-Wiley
New Generation Publishing


"I had told so many lies that I was certain my disclosure would destroy everything. But Sukman accepted me for what I was. I wondered if God would be as understanding."

After the mysterious Thomas learns the truth about his identity from a secret letter written by his father, he devotes his life to discovering his father's fate. Thomas's life takes an academic turn after being admitted to Schala Medica Salernitana, where the medical training he receives becomes a priceless gift that leaves even the noblest of men indebted to him. Thomas's adventures continue with the faithful Sukman by his side, but no matter the warriors, battles, or nobles that he and Sukman face, fate constantly reminds him of his father's legacy and the convoluted family roots that make Thomas an outsider even when he finds himself on the inside. As his adventures continue, Thomas recognizes that love, and nothing else, is what is most important. His observations deliver a message for all to heed: "My life would have been so much easier had I understood this long ago." ... (read more)

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Philosophical Considerations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hard Drive Backup
by David Shipley


"Think about what we’re doing—looking at moving all the knowledge of this world someplace else. We have a duty to humanity to get our information out."

In the not-too-distant future, Jake is a scientist working with the National Historic Agency on a program named the Existing History Database (EHD). This project literally "records" the volunteer subjects' lifetime of memories via a brain download using specialized stimulation equipment and merges the memories with code in the EHD's database. "The result," Jake explains to potential volunteers, "is an ever more accurate history of humanity in particular and the world in general." His wife, Elizabeth, heads up a semi-classified government research laboratory where the study of electromagnetic waves is funded by what the author terms the WAM (Ways and Means Committee). She and her staff are all diligent scientists and techies working on ways to maximize the use of so-called standing waves. They work for the most part under the radar, and their scientific experimentation is always at risk of being defunded by the powers that be. ... (read more)

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Worldbuilding

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Last Star Standing
by Spaulding Taylor
Unbound Publishing


"Resist loudly or quietly, depending on your nature, but never resist your inner truth, for that is the only death that can endure."

Twenty-third-century Earth, still in tatters after World War III, is dominated by a Xirfell king who manipulates the remaining human survivors and ET refugees in a 1984-inspired tale. Aiden Tenten, born of an indigenous Australian woman raped by an infamous elite politician, is shaped in his early years by many rejections and disappointments. The attempted abortion by his mother during her pregnancy is soon followed by his adoption. A kindly couple raises him in luxury, but his private school peers scorn him as a "netty," a non-essential terrestrial worker. Though groomed to attend the Academy, a cruel betrayal ruins his bid at an academic career. Each of life's bumps and bruises spawns the development of young Aidan's fiery temperament and his ultimate association in a rebel cell of the human resistance to Xirfell rule. For the first time in his life, Aiden is winning. ... (read more)

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Liberation From Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Imperfect Love?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The God Haters
by Bryant Harris
WestBow Press


"Beloved, can we not see from these passages that to hate is to love less?"

Anything less than unwavering, selfless, devoted love constitutes hatred. The Bible asserts that to love God and others less than one should is to hate them. To hate someone is the same as murdering that individual, according to the Apostle John. In his first letter to them, the Apostle Paul tells the wayward and lackadaisical Corinthian church members that the halfhearted practice of their Christian faith clearly shows their hatred for God since they love God less enthusiastically than they should. In that letter's thirteenth chapter, Paul explains to them the attributes that perfect, sufficient love on their parts would include. He describes such love as patient, kind, humble, forgiving, self-controlled, hopeful, loyal, and desirous of finding the truth. ... (read more)

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New Traditions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Child’s Christmas in San Francisco
by John Briscoe
Last Gasp Press


"but for you nothing beats
a Bull Pupp enchilada,
with salsa and an ensalada
trucked in tinned from Ensenada
or some place deep under Fresno."

San Francisco's Christmas traditions thrive in the nostalgic photographs and witty verses encompassing this collection. As each day in the week leading up to Christmas takes on a different theme, the day becomes iconic, as do the children's celebratory interpretations of each day. One child's keen admission that "Now that Tortola's is closed, / and Sinaloa too, / and unwilling to descend to the level of Red's, / many of the grownups get hosed" entertains readers with its precocious awareness. The witty reminder that "You've eaten tacos in Waco / and awakened a wacko. / You've snored in Sonora, / done tea in Tijuana" walks readers through the grounds of Playland. And the quiet remembrance of "Saturday nights in San Francisco / were once / reserved for a Pisco / Punch nonce" makes readers long for a seemingly more innocent time that is long, long gone. ... (read more)

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Ship Down

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Christena: A Story of Tragedy and Survival
by Whitman T. Browne
URLink Press and Media


"…are we better prepared today for a similar disaster? Did we learn anything from the incident to prepare us for a next time—God forbid?"

Was she in poor repair? Was she improperly sealed before she crossed the channel between the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis? Did her crew of five receive adequate training in seamanship? Since August 1, 1970, these three questions have been chief among those that haunt the descendants of the 233 passengers who perished when the ferryboat Christena capsized and sank in ten minutes. No one doubted that she was overloaded. She carried at least 330 people, more than double her expressly stated capacity of 155. She belonged to the government of St. Kitts-Nevis—an unwillingly united nation of two islands whose people clamored for independence. The disaster was just one glaring example of the government's generalized indifference to the plight of those it purports to govern and offers those who desire change a cause to champion as they fight for survivors' compensation. But even fifty years can't heal all heartaches. ... (read more)

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Inspirational Moments

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Secret Place
by Cynthia R. Johnson
PageTurner Press and Media


"The burden rests on our shoulders to save the world; each of us in our own unique manner."

Two half brothers, Nathan and Jonathan, unaware of their true relationship, have developed a strong mutual respect, forming an alliance that will lead them to secret places, hidden facts, and a chance to forgive. In their old age, the two enjoy extended family ties and recollections of their shared past as the story opens. The families are of mixed race and color, elements that play a serious role in their history. Flashing back to the brothers' resolve to start a successful venture years before, we see them in rural Louisiana, where fateful events lead to contact with missing members of their clan. A young woman who was abducted long ago offers clues. Nathan and Jonathan will realize that slavery in the South did not end, as is often assumed, with the Emancipation Proclamation, but reared its cruel specter in many covert ways. As the brothers mature, they will become loving patriarchs and benefactors for African Americans held back by poverty and prejudice. ... (read more)

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Scholarly & Accessible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Leonardo da Vinci: Geologic Representations in the Virgin and Child with St. Anne
by Ann C. Pizzorusso
Da Vinci Press


"Geological complexity demonstrates Leonardo’s ongoing efforts to achieve an astounding level of sophistication not only in portrayal of natural objects and figures but in his painting techniques as well."

In her book of art history, Italian Renaissance scholar and geologist Pizzorusso examines Leonardo da Vinci's famed painting Virgin and Child with St. Anne. Estimated to have been painted between 1501 and 1517, the painting depicts a scene of Christ as a child clutching a sacrificial lamb while the Virgin mother reaches toward him. Meanwhile, her mother, St. Anne, glances upon them both. Pizzorusso examines the painting's mystique, which she says evokes a strong sense of "beauty, mystery and empathy." ... (read more)

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Destiny

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Midnight Sun
by Florian Louisoder
Starry Night Publishing


"If someone is unhappy with the present and the future is at best a blank, the past suddenly becomes the perfect refuge."

Ralph Dempsey's expertise in nuclear physics, particularly in atomic armaments, is on full display during Operation Sapphire, a partnership between the U.S. and Kazakhstan to mitigate the spread of nuclear capabilities. Disabling the bomb with mere seconds left on the timer, it appears that Dr. Dempsey can do no wrong. However, a firestorm of events that sends his life into upheaval is imminent. Though the narrative is crafted on the backdrop of an electric, action-packed plot featuring atomic weapons, the focus on relationships, whether it be the father-son dynamic or the husband and wife one is unmistakable. ... (read more)

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Safe at Home

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Napoleon and the Hurricane
by Katie Moak
AuthorHouse


"All the animals in this book are real, and the unnamed people who brought them to Napoleon's house are very kind and caring."

In this children's book, a poodle named Napoleon lives in a house with a man, a woman, and a puppy named Scruffy. One day while outside, Napoleon is told by a hummingbird that "a monster... called a hurricane... is on its way...." The hummingbirds are evacuating. Napoleon enters the house to relay the message to the man and finds him on the phone, inviting people and their animals to come to their home to be safe. ... (read more)

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Learn to Listen

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grammy Said, “No!”
by Lucy Geddes
Xlibris


"You can’t put pickles, chocolate, pretzels, olives, chips, cheese, and raisins in a peanut butter sandwich!"

Sometimes there are reasons Grandma has to say "no," such as in matters of safety. Other times, when the initial answer is "no," Grammy then reconsiders. "Why not?" she thinks to herself. No harm will be done, and it might even be fun. In this delightful children's picture book, that's precisely what happens in a series of events, including the creative culinary decision to embellish a basic peanut butter sandwich with such outlandish ingredients as olives and raisins. The little boy and girl laugh, realizing it is quite delicious as they eat with Grammy. ... (read more)

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Bright Puppy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Pablo Gets a New Puppy
by T. Steele Petry
PageTurner Press and Media


"Little Pablo found there is much to learn and prepare for when getting a new pup…"

A former family practice physician turned writer and artist adds some fun yet practical knowledge for potential pet owners in this latest addition to his "Little Book" series. Here, the youthful reader will learn along with Little Pablo, the story's central character, all the disciplines required to take on ownership of a new puppy. Pablo really wants a doggy companion, and his parents readily agree. Together they visit shelters and breeders to find the best match. Pablo likes them all, but a first lesson is that looks can be deceiving, as adorable little pups may grow up to be much bigger than they appear now. So Pablo undertakes a period of preparation and education, reading books and attending classes to learn all he can before choosing his best-fit canine companion. ... (read more)

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Soft & Warm

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Abby and Her Animals
by T. Steele Petry
PageTurner Press and Media


"Little Abby really enjoyed the summer when time was carefree and fun. She also loved to spend time with her animals; each and every one."

The author's whimsical yet simple children's book uses rhyme and pictures to take young readers on an adventure with Abby and the animals she encounters throughout the summer. The story begins at Abby's home where readers meet a variety of interesting animals: her mixed-breed dog, Ada; her hedgehog, Cactus Butt, whom she plays with for hours in her bedroom; her younger sister Sammy's two cats; and Abby's guinea pig, Piglet, who loves to eat lettuce and carrots. Out in the yard, she meets a box turtle and a hummingbird, her grandma's favorite. The story then follows Abby on vacation, where she visits the zoo and sees a rhinoceros, a wallaby, and a koala. While on vacation, she even has the chance to swim with a dolphin. Back home, Abby introduces her horse (Eagle) and its foal, the honey bees she keeps, and a red-tailed hawk in its nest in her backyard. This book encounters even more animals as Abby continues to navigate the world around her. ... (read more)

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Changes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Sammy and the Seasons
by T. Steele Petry
PageTurner Press and Media


"For all that have still
survived
The fields are bare and it’s
cold outside. Yet the skies remain so blue
But little Sammy isn’t sad."

Inspired by his youngest daughter, Petry's work is certain to ignite the imagination of budding readers navigating away from exclusively picture books. Through little Sammy, the author depicts the unadulterated passion children exhibit while exploring the outdoors, a rare simplicity often left behind and forgotten at childhood's doorstep. ... (read more)

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Infectious Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Plays with Words: Fun with Homonyms and Homophones!
by Bruce P. Attwood
iUniverse


"If Bayer, the aspirin company, had a mascot, and it was a bear, and the bear was naked, we’d have a bare Bayer bear!"

This celebration of homophones and homonyms revels in wordplay and invites laughs and groans in equal measure. Attwood turns the sometimes maddening confusion of homophones and homonyms into an opportunity for storytelling and joy. Many teachers, students, and English language learners have seen up close the struggle that can ensue over the mastery of these words. Attwood admirably steps in and uses the spark of words to create vignettes built on sequences of homophones and homonyms. The brief stories vary in length and subject matter and are driven by the wordplay. Attwood manipulates situations and sentences like building blocks, constructing a maze that zigs and zags until the homophones come together with a final flourish. ... (read more)

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Buddhist-Inspired

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pandora’s Box: Triforce
by Alan Davis
iUniverse


"‘Pandora’s Box is not one thing. Its meaning varies based on the person as well as the moment in time. What it means to you today may be completely different from its meaning tomorrow.’"

Darth, also known as Sirius Black, is a highly complex character. As he once again finds himself facing ordeals—such as the Rune Ordeal—of epic proportions, Darth, despite his high intellect and deeply philosophical nature, finds himself often indebted to others. While he searches for what is known as the Infinity Stone, he navigates the treacheries of various challenges and spirit realms. His logical, Spock-like thinking and carefully thought-out actions often save the day but sometimes put him in harm's way. Darth soon finds himself at the mercy of others, an easy enemy of the royals and a confusing toy for the flirtatious but evil-natured Ursula in this alternate world. Only the magical presence, wisdom, and representation from strong female characters like Sunita and Katanya can save him. ... (read more)

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Atypical Crime Yarn

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It's Personal
by Cynthia R. Hobson
Xlibris


"I think he’s ready to give up the information I need. Put him in the trunk, though, ‘cause he smells like roadkill."

The focus is on families in this tale of revenge, retribution, and redemption in 1965 Chicago. It's not the typical mafia families one thinks of when considering Windy City crime novels. Rather, it examines black families caught in a crossfire. One is led by a police detective dedicated to getting to the bottom of a cold case before it freezes over. The other is represented by a parolee committed to making things right with his wife and son. ... (read more)

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Uplifting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Miracles of Life or Life of Miracles
by Lily
Xlibris


"A true miracle is something that has no logical reason or explanation that we can see."

The author of this book, writing her story in the third person, was born under difficult circumstances. Born in breech birth, she was bright blue when she emerged and contracted measles in her incubator. She was not expected to live, but she was a fighter. By age one, she wasn't developing typical motor skills and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, leading her to be wheelchair-bound. But she was very intelligent. She believes that many remarkable incidents in her life could be designated as miraculous. For example, at six, when riding a pony on her grandfather's farm, she fell off and was dragged by the foot and dropped off in the middle of a field. When she was found unhurt, her grandfather made her get back on the pony, teaching her a vital lesson in persistence and overcoming fear. ... (read more)

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Out of Egypt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Life Journey from Darfur, Sudan to Boston USA
by Victor Zaki
Xlibris


"Now I saw God helping me. It was not a story but real life. God was in action!"

A man of faith finds many miracles in his long, adventurous life. Author Zaki was born in Sudan to a family of Coptic Christians. The country of his birth, as he recalls it, was then a friendly place imbued with religious tolerance. Zaki vividly describes his childhood friends, foods, games, and experiences of church and school. He progressed quickly through school but was unable to attend Khartoum University because of English difficulties. Instead, he applied to college in Egypt. He now sees this as evidence of the divine plan for his life. ... (read more)

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Vivid Flashbacks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lion and the Queen I Hope to Be
by Cindy Gilbert
AuthorHouse


"DAD, you are before my eyes, but I cannot see you."

The author of this collection of essays and recollections was raised in a large, complicated family. Her parents met in prison during the revolution in Nicaragua. Her mother, Grace, related by marriage to the deposed government, arrived in America with five dollars and no English knowledge. Her father, Benji, was a physician. When Gilbert was about four, she was accidentally pushed into a swimming pool and had a near-death vision, later suffering trauma. After obtaining a bachelor's degree and good employment, an automobile accident caused her to lose control of rational thinking patterns. She believed she would never recover. With recurrent headaches and various other problems, she was prescribed medications that led to her experimentation with meth, which seemed to temporarily clear her mind. Then began long, realistic conversations with God on almost every possible subject. God told her to call him "DAD" as he is the father of all. A fortunate set of circumstances led her to a church whose beliefs accorded well with what DAD had told her, helping her achieve a more stable life. ... (read more)

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Adoring Tribute

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Drifting into the Light: How the Pandemic Changed Lives Forever
by J.B. Harris
AuthorHouse


"I have chosen to comfort others by sharing Uncle Adam’s story of patience, love, adventure, hardship, and final destination into the light."

Uncle Adam, born and raised in the Maldives but a world traveler, was Harris's favorite uncle. He was full of life, love, and altruism. Frequent vacations in the Maldives bonded the pair and brought the whole family—siblings, grandparents, and cousins—closer than the average relatives. Harris never expected her charming, successful uncle to experience business setbacks that left him unable to provide for his wife and two children. Since he was a man whose self-esteem and happiness depended on feeling needed, his "heart cracked." He was forced to travel alone to Ethiopia for work, where he soon died in a freak accident. Because his death occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, his family experienced the comforting ritual of a funeral via live streaming, a true blessing to his family. ... (read more)

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Overcoming Obstacles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Penguins to Paradise: My Life as an Advertising Man
by Paddy Hayes
AuthorHouse


"My career in advertising—in fact, my whole life—seems to me to have been a series of largely unplanned strange beginnings."

A young agency trainee begins his advertising career in London and makes his way to the top over a period of thirty-odd years, though not without myriad struggles and laughs along the way. Hayes hits the ground running in his career (and this debut memoir) with an advertising dilemma. Cautioned never to work with children or animals, he immediately suggests that a television commercial with live penguins would be just the ticket for his new employer's client. Never mind that the penguins' summer plumage needs a paint touch-up during the shoot or that cooling dehydrated birds in a kiddie pool washes off the paint. ... (read more)

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Expression

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

To the Monsters of My Past
by Cameron Crews
Xlibris


"I do not necessarily understand
Where all of life’s time goes"

In this collection of poems, a Coraline-like narrator tackles the stresses, difficulties, upsets, downturns, and happy moments of everyday life. Amid the chaos of growing up and recognizing that youth swiftly passes, bullies receive their reckoning, friends come and go, and families experience happiness and decline. Other poems depict a fierce self-awareness that the direction of one's life is in one's own hands. So often the happiness one wants is obtainable with a simple change of outlook: "No matter what it takes, I will have a beautiful / life that I will enjoy and be proud of." As the collection progresses forward, mimicking life's rhythms and beats, one philosophical insight from the narrator reigns supreme: "Each person you cross has a purpose / Their stay either temporary or permanent." ... (read more)

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Redemption

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All Israel Shall be Saved: Installment II of Chasing Truth, A Detailed Discussion of Romans 9-11
by Joel Zao
Xlibris


"The choice of God is not based on the acts of the believers. If it were, then it would be not by grace but by their works that they are saved."

In this book, Israel's scriptural and symbolic history receives an explication worthy of the best religious scholars. In a close examination of Romans 9-11, readers encounter a detailed report on the complexities of Israel's significance in the Bible and the modern world. Throughout the chapters, as the author examines Israel's role in both biblical and contemporary history, readers also encounter guideposts for daily living. Insights about faith and righteousness inspire readers to explore Romans repeatedly since each reading offers a new layer of interpretation. Other insights about purpose and fulfillment will help those struggling to find their true path amid the darkness and turmoil of a seemingly imploding world: "The potter may shape one piece into a vessel that accomplishes a certain purpose and yet another which accomplishes an entirely different purpose." ... (read more)

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Bedtime Treat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

New Day Surprise
by Simon Jones
Xlibris


"Yesterday doesn’t matter anymore, today is brand new. All of nature knows this and rejoices in its newness, and so can we."

In the dark at night, thoughts can tend to overwhelm the mind and bring a person down or leave them up all night pondering questions too big to answer. Yet after a night's sleep, when the sun rises again, all of those heavy contemplations typically vanish into thin air as a new day begins. This book contains a poem that encapsulates this very idea, telling the story of a person who lies down to sleep at night with a mind full of worry. When the sun rises, nature awakens, bringing beauty with it across every landscape and every beast of the forest and ocean. When the sun rises, all of those troubling thoughts disappear with the night, and the narrator has only the sunshine of a new day to look forward to. ... (read more)

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