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

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Focus Review

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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Born Crazy
by Bonnie Sanford Collins Bostrom
The Canelo Project


"The journey requires of us the ability to leap into darkness, play tag with time and break our own hearts."

Bostrom’s childhood in the 1940s on a remote ranch in northeastern New Mexico gives her a unique grasp of the rhythms of the natural world, and the simple life oriented toward family and community that shaped her requires a great deal of stamina, resolve, and patience. Bostrom reveals much about the matriarchs of both sides of her family as well as paying homage to the patriarchs, offering a window into the ongoing manifestation of the divine feminine that arises in all cultures. The title seems to nod not only to the oddities and imperfections of Bostrom’s life but to the crazy wisdom that is inherent in the very act of living. She humorously points out in one essay that sperm are both male and female, a simple but revelatory fact not acknowledged in what many see as the patriarchal slant of American culture. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Myths & Signs

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Suicide Dilemma: Finding a Better Choice
by Rebecca Morgan Gibson, LCSW and Lynn Mills
Cosworth Publishing


"You don’t have to be a mental health professional to recognize that someone is suicidal. If you respond and reach out in a caring and intelligent manner, the person may be saved."

A down-to-earth reader regarding suicide, the book covers significant information that the lay public needs to understand not only to be knowledgeable about the subject but to be an ally for those who suffer, including the suffering of one’s self and one’s own suicidal ideation. Topics include preventing suicide, losses, the myths and truths regarding suicide, symptoms of depression, talking to a suicidal person, treatment and recovery, and seven stories of people who have been suicidal. It ends with a discussion of the main points regarding suicide and how to survive when someone you love commits suicide. The book also offers research regarding this issue. ... (read more)

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Election Trouble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Naked Truth: Or Equality, the Forbidden Fruit
by Carrie Hayes
HTPH Press


"'I am not ashamed of any act of my life!'"

Hayes delivers an audacious debut novel that, at its core, is about the fight for sexual equality in late nineteenth-century America. But it is desire, disloyalty, bawdiness, hypocrisy, prophecy, and several other narrative elements that give that core its many engaging dimensions. In the story, an enticing spiritualist named Tennessee and her sister Victoria take America by storm with their needs, ideas, beliefs, and actions. One even decides to run for president! What's more, it is a world populated with many historical figures, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Susan B. Anthony. Of course, just because the sisters are exceedingly bright and seductively cunning does not mean they can't find themselves in serious trouble, legal and otherwise. They do, and that simply adds another component that makes this book at once wholly traditional and completely original. ... (read more)

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Secret History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

White Seed: The Untold Story of The Lost Colony of Roanoke
by Paul Clayton
Amazon.com Services


"He was playing his part in all of this, pretending that they could make a go of it in this God-forsaken place."

Maggie Hagger is just one of many passengers leaving England and making her way to Chesapeake, Virginia, in 1587 as one of the future citizens of Sir Walter Raleigh's colonies. Raleigh's Virginia promises the start of a new life to Maggie and others—like the newly appointed Governor John White, as well as Captain Stafford and his soldiers—but first, they must survive the journey to the Americas. Yet Maggie and the other colonists soon learn that settling down in Chesapeake will be much harder, as tensions between the Native American tribes there and prior English settlers still exist. Labeled as one of America's oldest mysteries, the failed colony of Roanoke is at the heart of this novel, which explores the possibilities of what went wrong and what happened to the inhabitants. ... (read more)

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Compulsion & Desire

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

HomoAmerican - The Secret Society
by Michael Dane
Amazon.com Services


"This Secret Society, of which I am a member, is no more visible to me than I am to them."

With the rise of noteworthy novels and biographies from LGBTQ writers such as Paul Lisicky, Noelle Stevenson, Brandon Taylor, and Ocean Vuong, Dane joins the ranks with his hefty, detailed memoir. The reader is invited into Dane’s private, life-long search for identity. With intimate detail, the author reveals a well-traveled, storied life where somewhere along the way he “stopped being a real character,” only recognizing himself in reflections. He examines the painful moments of childhood and his chaotic passage into adulthood. We follow him as he roams among outcasts, immersing himself into an invisible society that is known only to a few. Dane probes the duplexity of visibility and invisibility, like a dancer on stage in front of audiences and an object of desire, yet continuously feeling lonely and invisible. For Dane, he moves through a world of night. He wanders in shadows and “darkness, of passion and pleasure.” ... (read more)

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No Average Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Defending Guns
by Steven Prevosto
World Castle Publishing, LLC


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

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

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Battle Frontiers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew: A Memoir
by Hendrika de Vries
She Writes Press


"Being the old, dark child of the past, I was the one bound to my mother through the secret memories that everyone wanted to leave behind and forget."

De Vries's memoir tells of her time as a child in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Her father, the traditional provider and protector, is taken to a German POW camp, and the young de Vries and her mother are suddenly left alone in an occupied city with no one to depend on but themselves. As the war goes on and the occupation lengthens, food and safety become scarce. De Vries' mother begins to take bold steps to ensure the safety and welfare of her child. Even as suspicions run high, and neighbors report neighbors, de Vries' mother begins associating with the resistance. She even shelters a young Jewish girl in their home, fully aware of the danger that brings to herself and her own daughter. ... (read more)

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Stunning Historic View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

General in Command: The Life of Major General John B. Anderson
by Michael M. Van Ness
Kӧehlerbooks


"While he had been abroad, he dreamed of home and now at home, he held firmly to the relationships formed abroad."

Biographies, by nature, are a peek into an individual's lifespan and contributions to society. In this book, however, Van Ness successfully manages to not only give a glimpse of Major General Anderson's life but also delivers insight from a unique vantage point into many of the most pivotal moments in American history. At the same time, this work is genuinely made special and personal by the continuous efforts of the author, Anderson's grandson, to both learn and chronicle his grandfather's gargantuan impact. In his quest to fully unearth the life of a remarkable general, Van Ness combines his family knowledge with relentless research, leaving no stones unturned in his mission to shed light on one of the principal figures of the 20th century. ... (read more)

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The Fate of Journalism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Truth: Real Stories and the Risk of Losing a Free Press in America
by Bob Gabordi
AuthorHouse


"The first amendment doesn’t belong to the press; it belongs to all Americans. Lose it and we lose what America stands for around the world: hope and freedom."

In this autobiographical manifesto, Gabordi details his personal stories as a journalist, starting with his long uphill battle in forging a career, followed by how the industry adjusted during the evolution from print to digital media consumption, all while emphasizing the value of the First Amendment and the imperativeness of a free press for all Americans. Gabordi approaches how the news has recently become widely regarded as an ethos of dishonesty, and how journalists are now modern scapegoats for society's issues. In response to those that blame the media as a whole, he presents the inner workings of newspapers through the lens of his forty-one years as a working journalist and, later, executive editor for local presses. His mission is to reveal the compassion and truth-seeking qualities that journalists should embody on the whole. It is especially important to recognize this now, Gabordi states, within the current political climate. He shares how journalists must aspire to delineate the facts and let the truth speak for itself. Otherwise, it will stand in danger of losing its credibility. ... (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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In the Labyrinth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Memoir of the Minotaur
by Tom Shachtman
Madville Publishing


"In your next incarnation, each of you must resolve to make yourself the sovereign of your own labyrinth of joy and pain, and to set as your task the recognition of and empathy with the labyrinths of others."

Horror marries philosophical hilarity in this spin-off of the bawdy Greek myth of the minotaur. He is born of an engineered union between a white bull and Queen Pasiphaë—wife of King Minos of Crete—whose unnatural desire in this version thrusts her to a tragic end when she is slain by birthing the horned infant. As a side note, Pasiphaë is assisted in her bestial endeavor by Daedulus the architect, best known as the father of Icarus and creator of the labyrinth where Minos banishes Asterion, the minotaur. Eventually slain by Theseus, who is aided in navigating the maze by Minos' daughter and the monster's half-sister, Ariadne, Shachtman's minotaur then shares his tale with an audience of fifty centuries in Hades, waxing poetic with philosophical musings. ... (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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Time Out of Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shock Wave 2: The Book of Vallora
by Florian Louisoder
Amazon.com


"We see time as this big thing that spans eternity and we forget to appreciate and value the moment."

In this second book in the author's series, time travelers Scott and Linda DeSantis return from Atlantis to their own time; however, the world they find is a much different place than the one they left. History has rendered an alternate reality in which America, defeated by Germany in the Second World War, is now a totalitarian nation. Technology is used to keep watch and exert control over the American public. For Scott and Linda, this new world in which they have arrived, one in which their own children are unrecognizable to them, is one of danger. They are immediately hunted by old enemies who are now in power and find themselves trying to escape to safety, all while being under surveillance by this new and frightening government. The two have one goal: to stay alive long enough for the secrets held in the Book of Vallora to lead them back to their real home. ... (read more)

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Engaging & Fearless

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rainstorm of Tomorrow: The Ever-Flowing Banquet of Philosophy
by Renyuan Dong
MSI Press


"Humans tend to regard curves as more beautiful than straight lines, a colorful palette more appealing than one of monochrome, and music more mellifluous than noise."

A remarkable volume of philosophical overview by a Tokyo-based healthcare consultant who has spent time in more than thirty countries, this book sheds new and illuminating light on that which are generally considered to be three primary branches of philosophical pursuit. This includes the notions of truth, ethics, and aesthetics. In his fascinatingly unique take on such age-old questions, Dong illustrates that any meaningful assessment of these three primary focuses necessitates an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, such disparate fields as quantum mechanics, neuroscience, comics and anime, Einsteinium relativity, psychoanalysis, genetic modification, Darwinian evolution, artificial intelligence, human sexuality, utilitarianism, literature, music, and visual arts enter the picture. One of the author's key interests includes implications for applying philosophical insights into the near and distant future for humankind. ... (read more)

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Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


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

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

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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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Bursting with Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Epics of Rathhild: Volume I: The Darkness Within
by Jabari Ashanti
AuthorHouse


"In the distance, a dragon sprouted up from behind one of the mountains. Kitara and were-wolves marched side by side. He couldn't stop this."

The first volume in Ashanti’s series introduces the readers to the many characters and creatures inhabiting the Kingdom of Rathhild. Weakened from years of a bloody war, the kingdom now faces a new threat: an evil sorcerer, Raul. Jay, considered by some to be a demon because of his glowing red eye, attempts to hunt down and kill Raul in distant lands before he can cause too much damage. However, by the time Jay finds Raul, it is too late. Raul has an army with dragons, were-wolves, Walkers, and mind-controlled vampires to attack Rathhild. Forming an unlikely alliance with his estranged brother, Levi, and Bryce, the vampire lord, Lawrence must rally his outnumbered forces and defend against the onslaught. ... (read more)

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Finding Relief

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heal Yourself of Anything: Example Glaucoma
by Nancy Lynne Harris, M.A.
URLink Print and Media


"The words you choose to think and speak most often form attitudes that move your life toward illness or wellness."

When author Harris's son Michael was born with glaucoma, she did exactly what doctors instructed, putting medicated drops in his eyes three times daily to control pressure buildup. But she was told there was no cure for congenital glaucoma. Moving to California, Harris encountered a course in healing—"Eschatology, or the Science of Last Things." She and her husband became eschatology teachers. Based on the mental exercises taught by the science, Harris curtailed Michael's eye drops. To her and the doctors' astonishment, the pressure in the boy's eyes had become completely normal. Harris postulates that her sense of "pressure," brought on by an excessively overbearing relative, transferred itself to the body and mind of her son, causing glaucoma. She outlines the ways to access such insights to help others in the process of self-healing, by emptying the mind of negative thoughts, filling it with positive messages, and reflecting on the innate connectivity of all minds. ... (read more)

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Beat Diabetes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Prevent Diabetes - I Beat It, and You Can Too!
by Dorris S. Woods, PhD, RN, CS
Tiger Publications


"Just as we plan for a successful job experience or career, we can also plan a successful weight-management lifestyle."

In this book, Dr. Woods shares her own inspirational story. It is not a miracle story about breakthrough techniques and plans, but a real, human, believable story about how willpower can make a genuine difference to health. Alongside her personal account, she provides a summary of the irrefutable evidence linking obesity to diabetes, as well as a detailed explanation of how to understand the numbers and data that doctors use to make a diabetes diagnosis. Finally, she offers simple explanations for the factors that inhibit people from making the right changes to their habits, making the path to good health more visible. Without being condescending, Woods makes a compelling case for a lifestyle change. ... (read more)

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Geopolitical Issues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crimes in the Name of Liberty: The Dictatorship of Western Democracies and the Suffering It Causes Around the World
by Pascal Konneh
Xlibris


"Every Western military intervention in the 21st Century—Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria—has left the countries in a humanitarian crisis much worse than before the invasion."

The primary argument of Konneh's book on recent international conflict posits that the United States (and Western Europe), have more often than not intervened militarily in poorer, non-industrialized countries not out of humanitarian concern but rather in service of powerful self-interest. The author provides detailed documentation that this has been the driving force behind military intervention by the West for well over a century. ... (read more)

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Hisotrical Time Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The King’s Broad Arrow
by Kathryn Goodwin Tone
Marron Press


"He let out a cry when he hit the water—too surprised by the impact and the ice-cold temperature to stifle it."

Tone's historical novel tells the story of young Sam Nevens during America's Revolutionary War. Sam and his best friend, Eamon, can't help but talk about the friction between the colonies and Britain. Sam's father owns a mill and has to leave the best trees picked out by British surveyors for the British Navy. Being caught cutting one down can have severe consequences. Although both boys are too young to join the militia, Eamon has a plan to go to a neighboring town, lie about his age, and join the fight. Sam doesn't believe he has the courage to be a soldier and isn't sure that fighting a power as strong as Britain is a good idea. However, Sam will be swept up in the revolution nonetheless, as he is caught trying to hide one of the trees his father cut down that was reserved for the British. He is captured and put on a prisoner ship. From this point, Sam begins to meet a rich selection of characters as he becomes more and more involved with the revolution and the reasons for which it is fought. Sam will interact with and help notables such as Thomas Paine and George Washington, as well as help print some of Paine's pamphlets from Ben Franklin's deserted house. Eventually, Sam even ends up fighting for the militia under the command of a young Alexander Hamilton. ... (read more)

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Communion with Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems from the Wilderness
by Jack Mayer
Proverse Hong Kong


"How humbling to carry everything
on my back,
for no human voice
to scatter the sanctity."

This moving collection of poems immerses the reader in the natural world and expounds on the solace and solitude that comes from hiking countless miles on trails through wilderness, mountains, and forests. Mayer contemplates the intersection of metaphysics, physics, and spirit as he observes nature on his many hikes along Vermont’s Long Trail, parts of the Appalachian Trail, and through the White Mountains. With stunning imagery, his poems transport the reader to a world of trees, plants, and birds through the seasons. He also digs into his own life and work as a doctor and hospice volunteer, allowing meditations on healing and death to enter alongside his experiences on the trail. He follows a long tradition of poets and thinkers who seek in nature the truth of the human condition. ... (read more)

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Acknowledge the Child

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Brave Little African Girl
by Thabitha Mathabatha
AuthorHouse


"She always wondered why being a girl was a problem. Fofo bet if one of her brothers—or any boy for that matter—had done it, the boy would be applauded."

Fofo has always been different from the other kids in her village. It's why she plays and spends time with her older brothers instead. Yet, despite being close to them, she feels a divide whenever she is overprotected and unable to do things on her own like her siblings. It is this impetus that sets the story in motion when she goes out on her own to swim at a spring in the mountains. ... (read more)

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Finding the One

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Meet Your Soulmate: Guide to Meeting the One and Starting a Happy Relationship
by Hanieh
Xlibris


"The best relationship starts with your relationship with you and how you treat yourself."

For many years author Hanieh was lonely and unhappy, longing to find and marry a true, loving partner. Through her own bold initiatives, she finally succeeded. She has created a ten-step plan for others to follow. First, forgive and forget the partners of the past. Stop blaming the other person, acknowledge personal faults, and move on. Look in the mirror daily and say, “I love you,” to gradually understand how to improve the way to care for oneself. Make a list of all the qualities wanted in an ideal partner. Then make a second list, a third, and a fourth, honing it down to the real needs and wants. Conquer self-doubt through meditation, envisioning the best possible scenarios with a fantasy mate. Chances are that having worked through these exercises, one will find a new love very soon, as the author did. ... (read more)

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Panorama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Story of Pooville
by Fenton Roades
iUniverse


"The Pooville company was at the top of the heap in all the important metrics that judged a successful company."

In this amusingly conceived but philosophically attuned novel, a clever entrepreneur turns his wish for a better fertilizer into an internationally known mega-business. George Poo, a humble science teacher in England, begins to experiment with a radical notion: the use of human manure, or poo, for crop cultivation. His testing shows remarkable increases in the poo’s productivity over that of horses or other animals. But how to market such a weird idea? George takes the Poo family to the United States, where his innovation finds fertile ground. A colony is established where residents don’t have to work, and room and board are provided, as long as they poo regularly and copiously. When the Poo family realizes that dead pooers make even better fertilizer, the company really takes off—but in an atmosphere of extreme secrecy. ... (read more)

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Rare Cast of Characters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rare Bird Alert
by Richard H. Peake
Lettra Press


"The soft strains of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major complemented Georgina’s voice with what Bob thought a sexy background."

With a curious cast of characters, a travelogue of colorful locales, and a query into why unusual characters do what they do in picturesque places, this book is about human reactions to various non-human and decidedly inhuman things. The non-human things include birds and natural settings, while the inhuman things include rape and murder. From Australia to Galveston to a South Pacific island, from lonely people to nosy people to bad people, from sparrows to orioles to kookaburras, this book is a unique expedition into bird-watching and crime, told in a literary style that often appears casual, here and there caustic, perhaps even semi-satirical. The result is a twenty-four chapter excursion into fiction that is sometimes too strange to be believed but also too observant not to have some truth behind it. ... (read more)

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Both Sides of the Tracks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Love of Vera
by Alice Magro
Amazon Kindle


"When you are protecting yourself or your family, you have to do things you don’t like to do... even kill."

Faith and love intertwine in this romance novel rooted deeply in family ties and unconditional love. The tale primarily revolves around Vera and Gino, the epitome of high school sweethearts. Magro provides a unique glimpse of New York City from the lens of the young couple. For their age, both of them are unusually multifaceted and well-cultured with respect to their knowledge and appreciation of art, theater, and philosophy. Strong character development drives the narrative. As Vera and Gino progress through their challenges, they learn how to look within and listen to their feelings. ... (read more)

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Ranch Intrigue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Measuring the Mountain
by Adrian Stadtmiller
Publicious Book Publishing


"'Aaron and Josh have fought with each other since they were toddlers. I’ve got no reason to believe they’ll be any different in the future.'"

The MacAuley Family is as close to royalty as it gets in the township of Coppabella in rural Australia. Eventually Charles, the patriarch of the family, is no longer physically able to keep up their large estate. His son, Gareth, has proven a poor manager of the estate, and his daughter, Elizabeth, is no longer interested in the job. Now that Elizabeth's twin sons, Aaron and Josh, are eighteen and have graduated from secondary school, she and her father feel it is time to put one of them in charge of the ranch. Elizabeth chooses Aaron. Blind to his defects or perhaps refusing to see them, she overlooks his arrogance and egotism when she does so. Aaron immediately begins his stewardship of the family's estate by lording it over his brother and treating him extremely badly as a worker on the ranch. ... (read more)

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Paranormal Chaos

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Between Light and Dark
by Rian McMurtry
Xlibris


"Death is his domain, and he can kill with a thought, almost, and if he lost control it wouldn’t be pretty."

On the surface, Lucas Valley High School appears to be your normal high school environment, albeit one that is progressive with two females, Danielle and Angela, on the junior varsity football team. Behind the scenes, however, what appears to be a narrative revolving around sports and the shattering of gender norms takes a turn for the electrifying and paranormal. High school students and childhood friends Alex Menendez and Seth Dupree, along with Angela "Ange" Fujiwara, are involved in a harrowing bus crash that forges an inseparable link between the three. The dark sense of foreboding begins with Angela regaining consciousness just as Seth's hands are under her shirt. ... (read more)

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Finding Unconditional Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

OOPS! Wrong Family
by Debi Toporoff
Creation House


"All a foster kid wanted was just to be accepted for who she was... to have somebody to play with."

This heartbreaking memoir of mental and physical abuse is also a story of overcoming such mistreatment and the power of forgiveness and acceptance. The author shares the horrors of growing up with an abusive mother, who seemingly got joy out of mistreating her daughter. Meanwhile, her father spent almost all his time away working. Toporoff's mother frequently had men over to the house in affair after affair. Even though Toporoff had other brothers and sisters, it was she who bore the brunt of her mom's abusive and violently cruel nature. She was often tied up in a swing all day because she wasn't "good enough to play" with the other children. Her head was held for long periods of time underwater. There was always loud screaming in the home. At age two, her mom hit her and proceeded to throw her across the room, where she landed on cement and couldn't get up, breaking a leg. Like many other occasions, when her mom took her to the hospital after one of the abusive incidents, she lied to the nurses and doctors, making false claims such as she had fallen, not watching where she was going. During one fit of rage, her mom's wedding ring damaged Toporoff's left eye to the point of causing permanent damage, and the little girl had to wear an eye patch. ... (read more)

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Endurance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Unsigned, Undelivered Letter: Pindling Left Free...Mandela Set Free
by Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Philip A. Rahming, J.P.
Westwood Books Publishing


"The contents of the letter were... indeed shocking, judgmental, and condemnatory. The council addressed the prime minister as though he were a rogue schoolboy."

Faith, love, and loyalty, both in God and the Bahamas, are at the core of Rahming's text. An iconic figure in his own right, the author is credited for writing the lyrics to the Bahamian National Pledge of Allegiance as well as the national song, "God Bless our Sunny Clime." In this nonfiction work, however, Rahming explores an aspect of Bahamian history that could have served as a tipping point during the nation's infancy. When members of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC), an organization that held sway, sought to remove Sir Lynden Pindling, they drafted a letter and designated Rahming, president of the council, as the man to deliver it to the prime minister himself. The unimaginable pressure and burden of such a responsibility were not lost on the author. The trickle-down effect of either delivering the letter or not delivering it made for a lose-lose situation. ... (read more)

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Adundance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Penn’s Woods: A Romantic View
by Bernard Charles Barnick
Page Publishing


"Every so often I must get away from people to find some communion with nature."

With its coal industry, railroads, and significance in American history often in the spotlight, natural beauty isn't always the first thing that Pennsylvania brings to mind. However, Barnick's unique contribution draws attention to the state's natural splendor through essays on his experiences in the Wilkes-Barre area and beyond. ... (read more)

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True Forgiveness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Channel of Love
by Susan Carroll
Xlibris


"When we least expect it, a shift happens. We often do not see or feel it coming, but it is there, silently waiting to be recognized as the hand of God beginning to move in our lives."

This story about the author's "encounter with divine love" reveals a picture of her lifetime, both before and after her opening to God. The book begins in her childhood, teenage, and adult years before she focused on her recovery. She quit smoking marijuana but began to slide into alcoholism as she also loved the feeling of "drinking to feel good" and smoking cigarettes. Struggling with her mother's death and blaming others for her problems, she began focusing on a spiritual path while trying to stop her addictions. With this focus, she received communications from her deceased mother and then her spirit guide, Erob, (and other guides). But as she worked towards her recovery, she felt the presence of the "Evil One" who tormented her and caused a significant rift in the family, while trying to take her away from Mother and Father God. In prayer, she found release, forgiveness, and love. ... (read more)

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A Giant Falls

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Event Horizon: Or How My Business Career Got Sucked into the Black Hole of the Radical Change in the Computer Industry
by Mike Stockdell
URLink Print and Media


"Social change begins with the expression of an idea in the purest form possible."

The typical computer at one time had to be housed in large rooms and contained the competing power of your average calculator. Now the personal computer has gone from hobby to utility and can be carried in the palm of your hand. This transition has been achieved at breakneck speed, but this improbable journey has largely gone unrecorded. Happily, this book provides a much-needed introduction to this not so distant history when outside forces were slowly transforming industrial powerhouses. ... (read more)

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Across the Globe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beyond the Mountains and Across the Seas: Over 50 Years of Romanticizing Travel
by Hal Davis
Stratton Press Publishing


"Through meeting and making new friends, to information sought and gained on foreign lands, my travels have been a godsend."

Ex-Marine Hal Davis has embraced his wanderlust with gusto and lives life to the fullest. In this intimate photo album experience, he shares his many adventures throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, North and Central America, and at his various military posts. Davis began his travel journeys as a young soldier in Spain at age nineteen. His textual vignettes are brief but written in a lively, sincere manner. What comes across the most in his prose is Davis's heartfelt enthusiasm for his military service and international travel. ... (read more)

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Believers Know

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

For Such a Time as This: We Must Walk in the Power of the Holy Spirit
by Darell B. Dyal
Stratton Press Publishing


"For many years, we have needed the Spirit to fill a void in believers’ hearts."

Author and theologian Dyal asserts that though there are many churches attracting membership in our times, the leadership often fails to inspire members to grasp the reward that awaits those who are led by and walk in the Spirit and example of Jesus. He constructs his thesis in three parts: Part I examines the effect of God’s presence in the person of Jesus; Part II expands on the miraculous power promised to those who live that model; Part III illustrates ways in which churches stray from basic, scripture-based teachings. Jesus’s presence on earth was so powerful that even devout persons asked his advice on how to pray. He gave the second greatest commandment—to love our neighbors as ourselves. We should desire spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and should convene to worship God every day. The enemies—sins and the devil—are real, and we need to combat them as God has commanded and demonstrated through his Son. ... (read more)

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The Struggle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience
by Mark Henick
HarperCollins Publishers


"Being suicidal was not how so-called normal people were expected to cope with the stresses, mistakes and disappointments of life, but that reaction was becoming normal for me."

"Good boys aren't supposed to have hard times." This belief plagues Henick as he struggles with a mental health issue that nearly devours him. With his new memoir, he chronicles his lifelong struggle and diagnosis with major depressive disorder, a condition that continuously defines him from age twelve. Before that, his childhood was a series of ups and downs, propelling him toward an ensuing crisis at the onset of becoming a teenager. He writes plainly of his dysfunctional family, his suicide attempts, and the numerous episodes that lead to his "mind breaking down, gradually shutting down." ... (read more)

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Urban Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rats in a Maze
by Peter Bailey
Moonshine Cove Publishing


"The police were a thin blue line protecting the citizens while the detectives solved puzzles in blood that nobody really cared about."

Twenty years with the NYPD have left Detective Ray Fisher jaded and cynical. Only the guilt he feels about his pregnant wife's recent death in a car accident provides him any interest in life. But mysterious Jessica Sorenson reawakens his baser passions with a single touch and his sense of intrigue with her British flair. Exactly who is Jessica, anyway? She's married to multibillionaire Theo Sorenson, but is it as a ravishing twenty-something or as a washed-up, childless 62-year-old? Jessica seems able to control others' first impressions of everything. So, was she a mere witness to a simple case of a car plunging into the Hudson River, or did she orchestrate a waterlogged murder through mind control? Her secrets lead Ray on a cross-country flight from his past, during which he must confront the continuing horrific results of human experimentation the Nazis began in World War II. ... (read more)

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Hail Bordeaux

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Exploring Wine Regions, Bordeaux, France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life
by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society


"It began with nature creating an ideal terroir for wine growing, followed by man’s unique intervention to enhance the terroir, followed by important events in history, which created the demand and distribution of Bordeaux wine to the world, and finally, the classifications to control and delineate quality."

As viticulture and winemaking continually evolve due to environmental shifts and societal attitude changes, and as the two concepts more and more become parts of everyday culture and conversation thanks to wine delivery services like Naked Wines and entrepreneur vineyards, many people find themselves exploring the world's most famous wine regions' histories and cultures. While the wines of these regions cannot be replicated just anywhere due to unique, completely natural terroirs, these wines and regions serve not only as an inspiration for entrepreneurs and experts alike but also as draws for curious tourists wanting breathtaking environments worthy of any Instagram post or coffee table photography book. Bordeaux, splendidly positioned along the Garonne River, offers experience and enchantment. Like Bordeaux, this book welcomes visitors with open bottles and beautiful glasses into gastronomic and viticulturist luxuries. Bordeaux, with its grand downtown and breathtaking landscapes, comes to life vividly and fully in Higgin's work. Each turn of the page offers readers a new adventure in this spectacular region, and readers will feel like they are on a trip with their very own personal tour guide. ... (read more)

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Life of Devotion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

St. Michael's Poker & Drinking Club
by Ned Randle
Regal House Publishing


"Could socializing with a Catholic priest be worse than socializing with whores and tax collectors? It was a question that finally led him to fret over the paradoxical effect hierarchical edicts of any hidebound church had on the lives of lonely men."

After the death of his beloved stray cat, Father Thomas Abernathy, a dedicated priest at Saint Michael's Parish, realizes his life is lonelier than he originally intended. In an effort to thwart the nagging confines of priestly solitude, Father Tom brings together a Methodist minister, a Lutheran pastor, and a billboard-gracing evangelical, forming the St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club. Father Tom quickly develops a friendship with Theo Swindberg, the Lutheran pastor whose wife, Naomi, receives an aggressive cancer diagnosis. In a breach of church tenets, but in an act of true friendship, Theo asks Father Tom to pray for Naomi, a move that will send both men down a path that tests the limits of not only their faiths and the church doctrines they advocate and uphold but also their friendship and free will. ... (read more)

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Shivering Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ghosts and Other Vital Organs: An Obituary of Echoes
by Vincent Hollow
Writers Republic


"does my reflection
seem infected?"

In poems depicting the loss of self to one's demons, psychological terror, and toxic relationships too enthralling and adrenaline-spiking to cleanse, what becomes apparent is that what most shapes a person psychologically and emotionally is often that which one cannot see. Poems such as "Mirrors" and "Our Nightmares" depict the intertwining of good and evil, lust and calm within one's essence. With allusions to films like Nightmare on Elm Street, the poems within this collection possess an unequivocal darkness that, from the very first to the very last, leaves readers shivering and needing a nightlight to sleep. ... (read more)

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Angel Intercession

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Angel Encounters
by Cindy Mackenzie
CreateSpace


"What is an Angel? Simply, a messenger from God."

In this work, the author writes of her firsthand experiences, as well as those of others that have been relayed to her, about those who have encountered what they believe to be messengers sent to offer protection and comfort. The first chapter concerns her work in Croatia, where she was given stories from many who believe they were saved by angels during the war and ethnic cleansing that took place during the early 1990s. Following are several accounts of angelic encounters, some in the manifestation of a felt presence, others in the form of a human being that the person believed later to have been an angel. In all instances, these people attest that they have been in the presence of an angel sent to them by God. ... (read more)

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Behind Enemy Lines

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Marriage Tree
by W. J. Eaton
URLink Print and Media


"She wondered if America would ever be the same."

Fate brings Evangeline and Liam together as kids but separates them once they are adults. It's by chance that they meet near the old tree by the creek. And although they become fast friends, their respective families' opposing views of slavery keep them apart. However, with the Civil War looming closer, the two childhood friends secretly marry under the same old tree, unaware of what fate has in store for them. ... (read more)

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Flight & Return

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems from the Edge
by Ginny Worley
Stratton Press Publishing


"The garden will again flourish and thrive by what we have done to help it survive."

This volume of poetry is entitled "from the edge" for a good reason. A great many of these poems were composed at a time in the poet's life when she says she was quite literally at the edge of sanity, of completely giving up hope, and of a deep dark despair which was crippling her ability to live life. The book is divided into the following sections: "Darkest Times," "Going Under," "Coming Out," and finally, "Messages of Hope." As the author indicates, this represents the "journey" she has gone through. But just as surely as these poems capture a time in the author's life of a darkness so profound that ending it all was considered a viable option, perhaps the more significant takeaway is that ultimately Worley sees a true sliver of light and hope. Through the process of healing and the writing of these poems, she can finally grasp onto that beckoning shimmer of light and bring herself back from the edge. ... (read more)

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Building a Plan

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My Child Is Autistic? What Do I Do Now?: The Guidebook For All Parents Who Have Just Learned That Their Child Is Autistic
by R. Kali Ashby


"“In every interaction regarding your child, hope for the best, but always be prepared for the worst."

Author Ashby is the mother of an autistic boy, Aaron. She believes that learning of this diagnosis is a shock, not unlike the grief experienced at the loss of a loved one. Expectations of typical parenting have to be set aside and a new set of plans and goals developed. Ashby has created this book to alert parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder that they must ceaselessly advocate for their child's rights to be sure that his/her needs are met through the school and other systems. Parents should begin the process by first locating a pediatrician specializing in autism and obtaining an assessment letter, a "golden ticket," detailing the services the child requires, and for reference in meetings with school officials to press for proper goals for the child. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are federal guidelines to protect the child's rights. Parents should be prepared to stand firm and argue every point on behalf of their child. ... (read more)

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The Raven Way

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ravens of Snover Canyon
by Philip I. Moynihan
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"There is a certain imposing mystique about the raven, an aura of reverence that commands respect."

From his home in La Canada Flintridge, California, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the Los Angeles metropolis where he overlooks the rugged Snover Canyon, author Moynihan spent a year feeding, observing, and befriending a pair of mated adult ravens. This book narrates his interactions with the birds and provides an intriguing window into their "ravenworld." First, Moynihan discusses our ongoing fascination with ravens, going back to ancient times to summarize various mythological origin stories for the birds, with several showing them turning black through their feathers being scorched somehow. Next follows a scientific discussion of the raven's intelligence, which is on a par with the great apes, and evidenced by their problem-solving ability, learning capacity, and adaptability. Following these background chapters, the rest of the book consists of near-daily journal entries documenting the activities of the author's raven neighbors, whom he names Freya and Tyr. ... (read more)

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Rising Above

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Palsy I Am Not
by Terrell Scott
iUniverse


"I have a disability, but I haven’t lived the life as a person with a disability."

Debut author Scott sincerely wishes to reach out to fellow disabled persons, to give them the hope and fortitude he has received through Christian scripture and conviction. Born with cerebral palsy to a drug-using mother, Scott was adopted as an infant and grew up with a mother who cared about him and his siblings. Her husband was strict, but Scott believes he kept him "off the streets" by punishing him for moral infractions. As a child, the author was not fully aware of his physical condition but gradually understood that he was different from others and would need to try harder to prove himself. Placed in special education where he felt teachers often denigrated their students, he conceived a determination to get a high school diploma, not just a certificate. He pursued adult education after high school and attained his diploma along with job skills. ... (read more)

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Writing Savant

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lighthouse
by Tico Yang
Xlibris


"Andrew woke up because of heat licking his face."

The story follows a pair of men in a dangerous competition to earn a Japanese woman's hand. The heroine, Suah Hase, learns of her brother's plan to force men to compete for her, so she plans her escape and accelerates her journalistic career at the same time. After all, her brother only sees her as some "form of a prize." ... (read more)

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Easy Read, Bad Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Naples, Florida, COVID -19 Terror Tale
by E. E. Hunt
Xlibris


"’We are representing the sheriff’s office and need to inspect your premises since it was discovered that terrorists are in Naples. We don’t know anything specific about this restaurant, but these are very bad guys and could be anywhere.’"

The author's story consists of two friends—each of them partnered and in some type of human service work—who are vacationing in Naples, Florida, for a couple of weeks. Ted is an FBI agent, and his wife, Sherry, is a police lieutenant in NYC. Steve is a political officer at the American Embassy in London, and Steve's fiancée, Bronwyn, is also an embassy employee. But they are called into action for suspected terrorist activity. It appears that these terrorists want revenge for the killing of General Qassim Soleimani. The book then focuses on the protagonists guessing where bombs might be planted. They receive help from the area's two-person bomb squad. Coping with COVID-19 at the beginning of the outbreak and understanding the terrorists through some basic history figure into the book's background. The book continues to reveal the horrors of terrorism. ... (read more)

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Social Commentary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ghost of Daniel Morris
by Aundrel Scarborough
Xlibris


"These were dark secrets that had to be exposed. And regardless of its antiquity, she felt it was the right thing to do."

Scarborough's novel is not exactly a ghost story, but it is about ghosts—long-buried secrets unearthed to harsh light. It's also an eerily relevant and timely tale for today's audience. The setting is 1993 in Alabama, where Valencia Robinson, daughter Zoria, and brilliant granddaughter MyAngel witness Daniel Morris's trial. The trial is a big deal, and the trio feels compelled to understand the reasons for these brutal murders for which Morris is convicted and executed. They scrutinize Morris's past and the violent history of Lanis County (whose acronym stands for something quite shocking). As they delve into the enigmatic crimes, Zoria begins to have vivid, haunting dreams as key facts bring them closer to uncomfortable truths. ... (read more)

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Touch of Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Pinkerton and the Wizard
by Harvey Hetrick
iUniverse


"Would he ever be able to resume his career as a Pinkerton detective? His self-confidence had been shattered. How would he ever be able to survive the torment that now consumed him?"

With a touch of magic and a sprinkling of mystery, Hetrick takes his readers to nineteenth-century Philadelphia, where Merlin Pendragon—the legendary twelfth-century magician—travels through time with his wife. It is there that he becomes a consultor of sorts for an investigation after befriending a Pinkerton detective and a Lloyd's detective. Although out of his scope, Merlin is portrayed with more strengths than just his magic, namely his shrewd deductive reasoning that does a great deal in helping the detectives. ... (read more)

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Brazilian Folklore

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Adventures of the Saci Kids: A New Home
by Pamella A. Russell
Xlibris


"Suddenly, an eerie whistling emerged from the barrel, like someone mourning for the dead and exhaling the sound through shadowy graveyards."

This delightful story revolves around four foster care children who have hit the jackpot in living with Mom and Pop Spears, after having gone through a variety of traumas that led to social services involvement. The Spears offer love and support and embrace the various needs of the kids. This blended family includes one girl with ADHD, an African American boy who struggles with self-esteem issues, another very lonesome boy, and the natural leader of the group—Holly. Additionally, the family includes pets and barnyard animals. Holly makes a discovery and shares it with her siblings, but they keep it secret, especially as a local merchant steals a certain barrel. This barrel houses Saci, a mischievous elf-like trickster who has been sowing havoc everywhere he goes. The adventure keeps the kids busy and bonds them closer. But what is Saci up to? He’s stuck back in the barrel. ... (read more)

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Not Only Baseball

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Baseball Career That Ended in... A Split Second: The Life and Faith of Jim Aldredge
by Jerry Guibor
iUniverse


"[T]ry, try, try and work, work, work, and then leave the rest to God."

Before settling on a sharecropper's plot outside Fresno in the early 1940s, Jim Aldredge's family moved around searching for work. As his dad became increasingly alcoholic, Aldredge's mother relied on Aldredge and his brother to contribute to the household, instilling in them the principles of hard work and humility. The brothers succeeded as student athletes. Aldredge chose to play for the Pirates at seventeen instead of taking a scholarship to play baseball for Stanford. In his third year as a professional baseball player, an eye injury ended Aldredge's career. He went on to excel in academia and city management. ... (read more)

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Detail & Nuance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Distance Too Far: A Young Girl's Spiritual Journey
by Mary Pryor
Xlibris


"When you’re young, you think you are invincible and can do anything."

This moving story of a woman’s life in all its fullness and complexity begins when Beth is a pregnant teenager desperate to marry the man she loves despite her mother's alarm and resolute refusal to grant permission. Beth's decision to follow her own desires lead her on a path filled with trials and tribulations at the mercy of an abusive husband. But with determination, perseverance, and hard work, she finds opportunities to improve her life at critical junctures. She relies on education and hard work to lift herself out of poverty and limited life choices. At one point, her son calls her "Mom of Perpetual Learning," which speaks to her belief in education. With each degree she completes, she increases her earning potential and becomes empowered in her professional life as well as her personal one. ... (read more)

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Adventure-Packed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

With Tangra Against the Wind
by Captain Nikolay Djambazov
Xlibris


"If a man doesn’t take control of his destiny, he only has himself to blame."

Likely due to Bulgaria's east coast being the Black Sea, this story begins with a childhood dream to sail the world. At seven, the author built a cardboard boat. In his prime, he poured all extra earnings, time, and energy into building a fin-keeled yacht named Tangra by a local poet. The author spent his spare time learning English and astronomical navigation. His immediate goal was to compete in the 1980 OSTAR (Singlehanded Trans/Atlantic Race) from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island. Local friends proved untrustworthy rascals, while a film maker's offer to make a documentary attracted support. ... (read more)

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A Tribute

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Freddie and Johnnie and Other Colorful Characters
by Terry Shannon Escobar
iUniverse


"How many women can say their husband fell into a trash can at a Sonic drive-in? I haven’t laughed like that since! Oh, except for one other time…"

In this small book of short stories, the author relates her sense of humor in talking about interesting events in her life, most of them pertaining to her family. Twenty-four tales cover everyday life happenings from the mundane to the humorous. These include stories such as someone falling through a window, a tribute to her three husbands, falling off a bike into a trash can and having to wipe away ketchup remains, love notes from her father to her mother, and stories about her brothers. Escobar also writes about her mother, who was struggling with her memory, and their funny interactions. Along with a discussion written by her dogs, she explores her own “weirdness,” including being an introvert, a loner, and her semi-hoarding of various items. ... (read more)

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Making the Stitch

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Quilt Whispers: Stitched Bonds of Experience, Inquiry, and Growth
by Doris Steiner Diener
Xlibris


"A quilt is a silent partner… A quilt is a communal gatherer."

In words and photos, quilter Diener shares the art and craft of making a beautiful tapestry from scraps of cloth along with the thoughts and feelings that accompany them. She imagines a "Piece-Gatherer"—an inner force uniting a "hodgepodge" of scattered tendencies into a restored, newfound totality. From her own latest creations such as "Celebration of Completion," a simple design made mystical by a crocheted flower at one corner, to "Grandma's Quilt"—perfectly ordered tiny squares in blue-green and grey created by her grandmother in the 1950s—every work displayed is brilliantly colorful, often insightful in its message, recollecting olden times, or startling with more modern, artistic discord. Accompanying the pictures is a text so rich in its language that it borders on poetry, evoking images of the women who traditionally created quilts in pleasant communal settings. ... (read more)

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Logical Explorations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thought and Time: A Unique Perception
by Karur Rangan
Xlibris


"The LTOCK THEORY of existence closely follows the Buddhist concept of the middle way. All conditional things are in a state of flux."

This book is in the same conceptual realm as Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics. In this book, however, the author has balanced a Buddhist and Hindu cosmology with modern physics with a much heavier focus on logical systems. He begins by introducing the concept of "LTock" or logical thought that is the "Atmic particle" and metaphysical entity that exists outside of the physical universe. This is the Western mind-body dualism problem solved through the Hindu concept of the "Atman" or spiritual selfhood that is thought or mind. Atman is also capable of being subsumed or absorbed into the Absolute or Brahman, expressed in the Hindu concept of "Tat tvam asi" or, loosely translated, "Thou art that," signaling oneness with the infinite. Here the author attempts to logically dissect and reintegrate ontology by applying a wide-ranging argument using the modern physics of Neils Bohr's model of electron behavior and Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity as well as traditional Eastern philosophies of Nirguna Brahman and Mahayana Buddhism. ... (read more)

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Panoramic Viewpoint

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wakaf Tuan Farrer: Settlement Officer
by Abdullah Sani Bin Ismail
Partridge Publishing


"At present, the ‘Wakaf Tuan Farrer’ stands with grace and dignity at the confluence of the once off-beaten track."

The author was a boy in Malaysia during the harsh days of World War II. That and other powerful memories flow through his engaging memoir. He witnessed beheadings by the Japanese army, later seeing the heads stuck on poles along the road. The return of the British came as a welcome relief. He completed his schooling, becoming a settlement officer, which required a precise understanding of measurement, geography, culture, and population. Owing to this, the author has garnered a variety of professional, personal, national, and folk-based observations. He recounts the "selling" of national landmarks to naïve villagers, notes significant natural wonders such as giant trees in his home region of Kelantan, explains local language based on common sounds, and laments the refusal of Malaysia's Islamic people to communicate with Israel. A Malaysian boy was arrested for devising and building an airplane, prompting the author's assertion that innovation should belong to all citizens equally. ... (read more)

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Affirmations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Epiphany
by Dr. Bahador Ghahramani, P.E., CISM, CPE
Xlibris


"Share with me my life's epiphany
My trials and mystical journey
Serenades of wisdoms revealed truly
My conscious thoughts and their hegemony"

With Zen-like proverbs and gentle stances, this book provides brief but wise counseling in the form of humble admonitions. In kind directives like "In a grain of sand, imagine the expansive universe," it urges readers to remain considerate of life's smallest elements, for in those readers might find the largest lessons. In gentle urgings, other verses in this book act as guiding lights to and confirmations of one's purpose: "I am a teacher, scholar, and entrepreneur / traveler, philosopher, and soothsayer." In confessions of devotion, eros becomes the steel tempered by the collection's more reasoned verses: "In the thunder, fire, and fury of my soul / I console to comfort of your arms." By its end, both the collection's narrator and the readers reach multiple epiphanies at the personal and existential levels. ... (read more)

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Intertwined Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Learning to Be Oneself
by Mabel Moyano and Daniella Barberry
iUniverse


"'I called our Good Providence until I did not have a voice and nobody came to help me. Finally, I had to solve the problem myself.'"

In the book's first tale, a young Spanish boy named Peter navigates his father's sudden illness, sloppy roads with a vegetable cart, and a journey into independence and self-reliance. After calling on an entity known as Good Providence and receiving no answer, Peter learns that often one must rely on inner wisdom and common sense to make decisions. More importantly, he proves to his parents that he is transitioning from boyhood into young adulthood, and that his road into independence—thanks to his work ethic and their keen guidance—will be a smooth one. In the book's second tale, young Ravi encounters Thanksgiving in America for the first time. His classmate, Sarah, teaches Ravi about this special day, and Ravi teaches Sarah about the Sri Lankan celebration of Pongal. This respectful exchange of cultures and traditions opens the gate to friendship, diversity, and acceptance. ... (read more)

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Committed Relationship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Easier Said Than Done
by TJ Anthony
iUniverse


"'Given the chance, I would pick her up every day.'"

It is 1981, and Laura Hall and Blake Roberts begin a relationship that challenges their lives. Laura is a young adult who has recently graduated from high school. Pushed by her needs for social acceptance, and living with loneliness augmented by her mother's demands that she abide by a rigid faith that Laura finds isolating, the girl seeks fulfillment in intellectual and emotional pondering. Blake's and her mutual physical, intellectual, and emotional attraction provide opportunities for Laura's growth and personal acceptance on many levels. ... (read more)

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Situation Gone Bad

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hell on Horrsman Road
by Honest Chunk
Xlibris


"I was heartbroken and angry. I hadn’t had a friend like him in such a long time. Damn, did I just lose my best friend?"

The narrator is looking for a friend when she meets Erron online. They connect, he ghosts her, she pursues him, and they reconnect. Their friendship deepens so that, despite warning signs about Erron’s stability, the narrator uproots herself and her child and moves to another state to share with him not just a house but the care of his elderly mother, whose health and home are in a precarious state. What ensues is a painstakingly detailed account of all the ways Erron disappoints his friend through what she perceives as his dishonest, immoral, and unforgivable actions and character traits. ... (read more)

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Preferred Outcomes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


"The possibility for career advancement must be focused on and rooted in personal agency and systemic resiliency for marginalized groups to increase representation in school leadership."

Utilizing empirical evidence, through the research and the study of elementary principals in two countries, Canada and Ghana, the author guides readers through a critical examination of social barriers to achievement, primarily by looking at minority status, including race and gender. Focusing on three research questions related to being successful in elementary school leadership, the impact of social differences on careers, career attributes, and examining the patterns from the previous questions, the study then leads to what is described as the Conscious Career Elevation model to help others “make better strategic decisions about their career.” This model focuses on social, human, and cultural capital. By using this model, readers learn about excellence in leadership through the empowerment of those who are often denied a voice. ... (read more)

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Experience Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Finding Your (Lost) Joy
by Laurel Khiabani
Xlibris


"I love you so much that I want you to be fulfilled and happy whether we walk this path together or take separate roads."

In a world where the definition of happiness has become elusive, Khiabani’s workbook provides an ideal opportunity for readers to take a step back from their tumultuous lives and examine what makes them happy. As a self-help piece, this text is a guide map to rediscovering the smaller moments. ... (read more)

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Return to Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Bridge to the Mainland
by Veronica Knight
Xlibris


"Don’t be fooled by me. Don’t be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask: I wear a thousand masks, and none of them are me."

Knight's work is heart-wrenching and therapeutic, painful and full of hope, a fusion of self-help and memoir. The author's strength is her vulnerability, an ability to remove any masks and be raw and authentic. In presenting her story, she paves a path for the countless women experiencing physical and emotional abuse, and who see no way out of their predicament. ... (read more)

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Finding Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Shadow of a Star
by JL Smith
iUniverse


"'Well, that is why we are here to find out what we are good at right?'"

Lucy and Gracie are best friends with unique life experiences and talents that shape who they are and who they will become. When tragedy strikes in Gracie's family, they are bound together forever as they begin their lives pursuing their dreams and goals after high school. Along the way, they encounter romance, adventure, and even dangers that threaten their safety. Through it all, they support each other, rely on each other, and occasionally misunderstand each other. With a spotlight on female friendship, this book delivers a special story of two very different young women finding their way in the world. ... (read more)

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Sacrifice & Commitment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Dear Boy
by Kim Joonmin
Xlibris


"'My visions do not tell me exactly when a person will die; they simply tell me how.'"

Park-Chul Joon has a gift or maybe a curse. When he touches someone, he can see how that person will die. His visions are startling in their detail and ferocious with the physical impact as he endures the flash of death within his mind. He has managed to hide his affliction from his friends and co-workers at the bakery where he works. He wears gloves to keep his visions at bay. But when he meets Lan Min-jah, his life is changed forever as he begins to understand his gift and how it connects to his burgeoning love and bond with him. As they grow closer, their lives intersect in many ways, which leads to love and danger in equal measure. ... (read more)

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