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April 2021

Book Reviews

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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

Nila’s Babies
by Jac Simensen
Cosmic Egg Books


"Why, in the name of God, didn’t you get us away from your mother’s vile superstitions? How could you let her disfigure your child?"

Contemporary Florida is the setting for this novel that slyly morphs from a budding romance into a mysterious occult chronicle. Gordon is a widowed father of twins who becomes increasingly fascinated with Nila, the woman he’s hired to serve as his girls’ nanny. As the adults’ relationship grows, so too does a vile malignancy committed to claiming the very souls of the precious toddlers. While this is indeed a modern story of suspense, it is simultaneously a trek through an alternate theory of religion and creation that challenges more traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs with those of African Ashanti legend. As these dual storylines unwind, mere humans are forced to come face to face with immortals bent on shanghaiing innocents as vessels for their never-ending journey. Can love endure when surrounded by such malevolent sources? Can children maintain their innocence when set upon by such evil powers? ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

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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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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Most Precious Creation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dying Art: A Brig Ellis Saga
by Joe Kilgore
Addison and Highsmith Publishers


"Life’s biggest sin, you know. Being a bore. That’s why I go out of my way to keep from being one."

From the onset, Kilgore wastes no time in separating his narrative from the run-of-the-mill whodunits. Brig Ellis, a decorated military veteran, is called upon by Lela, a former high school flame, to investigate what could either be disguised treachery or just a series of coincidences surrounding her husband—up-and-coming artist Tilton Mangas, who paints in human ashes. From this decidedly macabre yet highly creative opening, the plot accelerates at a breakneck speed in a tale imbued with an electric energy that ultimately pits age-old themes of morality, envy, and creativity against each other with deadly consequences. ... (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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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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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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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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An Ordinary Man

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Man Called Stan
by Jay
iUniverse


"When you are in the gutter, you may as well wallow."

Stan is a man's man, low on introspection and sensitivity but high on impulse and testosterone. Fortunately for him, his adventures and misadventures range from mildly amusing to downright hilarious. He turns the daily grind plus any outstanding events of his ordinary life (ranging from boyhood home to nursing home) into entertaining vignettes. The antics that many red-blooded males would love to try but don't dare, Stan gets away with. At any rate, there's nothing that a drink or two (or ten) and a quick apology can't fix, right? ... (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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Dante Revisited

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Once Was Lost: Book Three of In Dante’s Wake
by Seth Steinzor
Fomite Press


"Faith may reside in aspiration,
...as lunging, snarling dogs,
water cannons, police batons, and
hooded incendiaries bloodied negroes for
asking politely to live like me."

In this modern-day retelling of Dante's epic Divine Comedy, this third volume shapes itself structurally after Paradiso, with Steinzor's vision of the Garden of Eden taking form on a North Atlantic Beach. Beginning with a breakfast of clams at sunrise, Steinzor's poetry progresses through the day with a series of interactions and encounters with individuals whose impact on the world reverberates even now. With Dante and a woman named Victoria as guides, Steinzor's heavenly journey begins with a reflection of "dumpster diving" for food while progressing through Hell. Perhaps what makes this rendition compelling in its own right is the poet's ability to unearth the perspectives and contributions of history's players that would not immediately strike the reader's mind. ... (read more)

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Heartfelt Tribute

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Dog’s Life: A Collection of Humorous Tributes Celebrating Man’s Best Friend
by Peter Boygo
BookBaby


"As is often the case with those displaying an aptitude for math, Tiger was also a gifted musician. The piano was his instrument of choice, with jazz improve his forte."

In a society where pet and particularly dog ownership is becoming more and more integrated into family and individual life, an aspect of pet ownership that all pet lovers must face is the passing of one's beloved friend. As dog lovers encounter this difficult time, the grieving process proves itself as intricate, intimate, and individual as the grieving process one experiences when losing any human family member. More so, in a dog-eat-dog world where even the smallest ounce of puppy love from a therapy or family dog can make the largest difference, these humorous tributes—sure to make readers laugh, cry, and remember all at the same time—are one author's attempt to bring peace and healing to the lives of dog owners who have lost their best friend. ... (read more)

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Art & Verse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Welcome Home Little Poltergeist
by Vincent Hollow
Writers Republic


"deep wells of starlight remnants
collide with my moon crater stare"

In this collection, readers enter a ghost-filled environment similar to Otranto's castle. Beautifully melodramatic and haunting in both word and art, with terror and heartache lurking around every corner and in every crevice, this collection disorients and surprises. Poems like "Paper Tombstones" exude Corpse Bride vibes. Other poems like "Tell Me Where You Are" detail a dismal yet passionate desire, one that plays like a long-forgotten goth rock album on vinyl. "This Mourning Together" spins defiantly yet romantically, like a poetic version of Alkaline Trio's album Good Mourning. At the book's core, however, lies "Forever," the collection's standout poem, which portrays an apocalypse as a wedding, one complete with gas mask canisters through which guests drink their pink champagne and watch as "the crow and the sparrow / dressed in their funeral attire / walked to the shore of the wreckage." ... (read more)

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Captive Crisis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Forever Wild, Forever Home: The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado
by Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger
Pyree Square Publishing


"Here, above all else, the animals set their own agenda. And that is the difference between a zoo and a true animal sanctuary."

This book covers the miraculous efforts of Pat Craig, the founder of Colorado's The Wild Animal Sanctuary—a place where more than 500 wild animals call home. The story begins after Craig rescues a baby jaguar, Freckles, and continues through forty years of environmental and conservation awareness. It examines the rise in popularity of shows like Tiger King and the United States' lack of federal oversight regarding large animal ownership. It introduces readers to the sanctuary's "ground-breaking, species-driven, and carefully tailored animal rehabilitation programs." Readers become friends with Clay the tiger, Ricki the black bear, and Gala the lioness—animals whose successful recovery stories are highlighted in this book. Readers also learn about the captive wildlife crisis permeating America and vicariously travel through decades of hard work, well-earned patience, and the continued and recent expansion of the sanctuary in a new Texas installation. ... (read more)

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A Rare Gem

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Best-Ever Adventure
by Eric Artisan
Eric Artisan Books


"Their kingdom was the most wonderful place and they had everything their hearts desired."

A young prince and princess live in an ideal world where they can do as they please, and everything they do pleases them. However, soon they begin to feel a longing to experience “everything.” They consult the wizard, who asks them if they are sure they want to undertake such an adventure, cautioning them that in order to experience everything, they must go through the bad as well as the good. The two don’t even know what the word “bad” means and take “good” for granted, but the mixture somehow sounds exciting. The old wizard mixes a potion for them to drink, advising them to act like ordinary people as they confront the new land. Soon they are on a little boat and travel to separate places and live different lives. ... (read more)

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A Complex Work

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Darkness That Slept
by Keegan and Tristen Kozinski


"The true password is psychopathic paraphernalia. If you can't remember it, what's the point in having a password?"

This fantasy novel details the attempted political dominance among a "God-Emperor" in the West, a sort of revamping of the religious crusades in the East by a group of zealots who have designs on the North. Meanwhile, a plutocracy in the South has its own amusements, realpolitik, and true evil—the Muntalabacs or "Dread Lords" of old. One of the Dread Lords is present at this time and has the potential power to destroy all. Interwoven in all the dominance and doom is comic relief, the best of which emerges from a character named Slade, who is the leader of a rebel group. ... (read more)

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Intelligent & Otherworldly

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Presence, The Play
by William E. Jefferson
Port Estillyen Productions


"My dreams speak of staging presence not passé, dreams of crafting lines with lilt and life."

In the town of Port Estillyen, at the end of Lent, the playwright Script is settling into his seat to watch the opening performance of his latest play, Presence, when he hits his head and falls into a coma. In his coma, he enters an in-between land, meeting historical and fantastical figures, such as Melchizedek, Sage, Simon, and a tweeting mockingbird called Mock. Over bonfires, meals, and walks through pastoral meadows, these men convince Script to go through a series of portals and enter Hell to circumvent the devil’s pernicious plans to co-opt his play for evil ends. The quartet must stop Lucifer from ruining both Easter and Estillyen. ... (read more)

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Healing & Tranquility

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Everybody Don Kolomental
by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi
The Roaring Lion Newcastle


"Are waiting to chew on your grief like hungry lions and spit
out the carcass when the stomach no longer rumbles."

Rarely has a poetry compilation brought emotions to life with such ferocity and candor, juxtaposing despair and hope by seemingly deploying every figurative device with seamless precision. Recognized for his poetry compilation, Dead Lions Don't Roar, Akinyemi's ability to advocate for mental health by evoking emotions through potent imagery, metaphors, and stunning similes is unparalleled. ... (read more)

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Debunking Myths

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Once Upon a Time in the American Revolution
by Rev. Gordon R. Hackel D.H.L.
Goldtouch Press


"More likely, the right man, in the right place, at the right time in the history of the birth of America, much like General WASHINGTON."

The Kemper family came to New York from Germany before the Revolutionary War began. Jacob Kemper owned a city tavern where those who met were prepared to risk their all to rebel against the British king. Outside the tavern, Kemper's youngest son, John, met a gypsy fortuneteller. She predicted an important future for John, who longed to be a great soldier like his German grandfather. Two Indians, a halo of stars, a smoke cloud, and great danger were among the predictions that would come true. ... (read more)

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Compelling Account

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Spirit of Everything: Awakening to a Miraculous Life
by Sharon Jogerst
Balboa Press - A Division of Hayhouse


"I had been suspended on the border between the physical and ethereal worlds. This experience reassured me, with absolute certainty, that there is nothing to fear."

At age three, the author and her sister experienced a telepathic, out-of-body occurrence providing an incredible sense of light-bathed peace. They found themselves flying together above their little sleeping bodies. From that point, Jogerst became aware something was different about her, placing her directly in touch with the spiritual. Her memoir tells the story of a life rich with "heightened sensitivity." Provided are detailed examples of intuition concerning other people's energy fields. The author examines the majestic nature of dreams as a "sacred space," delivering spiritual guidance for daily life. Such phenomena as the third eye, clairvoyance, physic healing, and eternal consciousness are explored. Past times are revisited, including with loved ones who've passed away. A compassionate chapter on animals explains how they "merge energetically" with people in their lives. Karma, reincarnation, chakras and auras, early life trauma, the power of forgiveness, and meditation exercises are detailed. Finally, Jogerst explains one's "energetic signature," a unique frequency vibration defining our very being. ... (read more)

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The Christian Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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A Retrospective Angle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All Things that Deserve to Perish: A Novel of Wilhelmine Germany
by Dana Mack
Dana Mack Publishing


"Because surely he wanted to marry her, if only for her money. And she had sent him away without that. And now she was free. No man would have her for a wife, and she needed no man for a husband."

Musically gifted Elisabeth von Schwabacher wants nothing more than to play the piano and perform for the rest of her life. However, when she returns home to Berlin from studying piano in Vienna, she finds that her mother expects her to get married. Even though her mother is open to her marrying outside of their faith, her father insists that any future husband for his daughter must be Jewish. As a young lady with average looks and a full figure, her mother puts her on a very tight diet to slim her figure before finding a suitable match. With only two suitors who happen to be Christian men, Elisabeth feels that she is only sought after for her wealth and not her own qualities. Wanting to be rid of all talk of marriage, she has an affair. Its repercussions narrow the path of the life she hoped to live. ... (read more)

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Believers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


"'If you talk with Electra, tell her to watch her back. You should watch yours, too.'"

When all but one member of the Keeper's Group is killed in a tragic accident, the remaining ninety-seven-year-old Su-Lin Song Chou—with the help of Indira, a self-aware, ever-evolving AI app—plans to recruit members for the group. Established to keep Electra Kittner's memory alive, the group has met annually since Electra's disappearance twenty years ago. Now Su-Lin, with Indira's assistance, contacts the four orphans for whom she serves as guardian. Posing as Su-Lin's assistant, Indira sends twins Alonzo and Eve Carter and twins Nila and Nari Bose on a mission to Cairo to meet a contact who will give them something with which they are to return. Electra's old enemies threaten them, and the four are increasingly troubled by what they are not being told about the mission and their mysterious contact. ... (read more)

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55 Love Poems

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Illustrated Book of True Love Poems
by Dave Courtney-Shore
Balboa Press


"You know when you are in love it does not lie
Sometimes you feel you can touch the sky"

This slim volume includes both whimsical and erotic poetry about love. The author presents a deeply personal look at the many aspects of the emotion. From the giddy headiness one feels at the beginning of a love affair to the despair one might experience when separated from a lover, this work examines the ecstasy and anguish of passionate love. ... (read more)

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What's Real

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hope that Heals: Reflections on a Life Journey
by Betty Jane Clem
Xlibris


"The ability to take care of you matters. The relationship, the need to know
the threshold can be crossed, matters."

Even in the darkest of nights, there is hope that day will come. Clem's poetry compilation brings this notion to life throughout the eight sections, particularly through the use of symbolism. Chronicling observations of life experiences spanning over six decades, Clem's work does this and more with its focus on using words to evoke emotions and themes ranging from peace and hope to healing and gratitude. ... (read more)

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Candid Experiences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Power of The Flower: A Broken Man's Guide to Intimacy
by James Holley
Xlibris


"When we pull the petals from a flower, we say 'she loves me, she loves me not.'"

The author has combined humor and wisdom in a self-help manual based on his own experience. Although the book is aimed specifically at the younger male, both sexes will find thoughtful advice. This short volume is written in the supportive tone of a wise uncle. ... (read more)

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All in the Family

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Carthy Family Secret: Book 3 of 4
by K.M.M.
iUniverse


"I am Kathrie Caitlin Mary, the time traveling Kathrie put in place to prevent the destruction of the eleven crystals originally housed here as well as convey through distinct years meetings and messages of Kathrie’s."

The author's book tells the captivating tale of part of the history of the McCarthy family. This third volume in a series of four books is a compilation of seven stories. Each is the account of a member or acquaintance of the McCarty family and features separate chapters and intertwining characters relating to the person in the chapter before. It is told through the visions and time traveling of the original storyteller, Caitlin, a modern-day Kathrie from Jamaica. ... (read more)

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Life of Saah

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Other Side of the Ocean
by Beverley Bell
Xlibris


"But no. The house was gone. And the people were gone too. The whole neighbourhood was blackened, and Saah saw none of the familiar faces he had come to know so well."

Survival is a constant struggle in this historical novel set during the civil war that shook Sierra Leone in the '90s and early 2000s. Saah Kamandu does not remember a time when war didn't ravage his country. Though it remained distant in the background of his childhood, it finally found its way to his front door during his teen years in Freetown, Sierra Leone. His entire life is uprooted as he struggles to survive with the only family he knows to be alive—his brother-in-law. In a landscape where death is at every corner, Bell takes us on a perilous journey as we follow their story, witness the horrors of war, and the pains he and his brother-in-law must go through to survive. Despite how emotionally heavy the plot can sometimes be, Bell still portrays rays of hope along the way. ... (read more)

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Immersive Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Son of Charybdis
by Gabriel Anthony Lopez
iUniverse


"He had one message to give as he linked up with the robot to all remaining Charybdisians. Leave or die."

Byeolsu is a carefree youth on the planet of Charybdis I, born into the upper class of the Imperial Council and with no worries regarding the mining caste or the rising insurrection. He is focused only on playing games of bainet, while those close to him are torn between preparing him for his destiny and protecting him from a dangerous and deadly fate. When the insurrection begins, a shadowy figure named Enceladus starts to stalk and hunt Byeolsu and his companions. Amidst the chaos, Byeolsu is forced to flee to the abandoned planet of Charybdis II, where he learns of his true calling as the future leader of the Charybdisians. Needing to save his family and protect himself, Byeolsu must make a decision that will determine the safety of his people as well as his own life. ... (read more)

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Reimagine Now

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Forward to the Future
by Hendrik Sven Weiler
Xlibris


"The Age of Imperialism is past—and we are looking to the FUTURE. Ahead—not back."

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on financial markets, employment, healthcare, and the overall way of life worldwide. While many are looking forward to the day where there is enough immunity to get back to normal, others see the results of this global event as a light shining on all of the broken systems and fraudulent promises of government leadership, a call for change and action. The author of this book outlines numerous ways in which the pandemic has laid bare the failures of major governments, particularly in North America and Europe, and designs a path forward that will better serve all people—not just the rich and powerful who benefit greatly from outdated capitalist institutions. ... (read more)

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Artistic Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

More Wise Words to Ponder: A selection of great thoughts through quotes and verses
by Eric Wei
Partridge Publishing


"Two men look out the prison window. One sees stars; the other sees mud."

Seemingly harnessing the universe's energy throughout time, Wei's sequel delivers an aggregation of a comprehensive range of quotes that possess the power to shape one's thought and life. While the selected passages are filled with lessons, what makes them intriguing is the creative manner in which they are depicted. The quotes do very little preaching and instead use philosophy, literary devices, or sensory images to urge the reader to dig deeper within themselves and ignite actionable change in their day-to-day lives. ... (read more)

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Turbulence

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Painted Rose
by Alejandra O. Reed
Xlibris


"Mildred has mastered and tailored her facade for years. Whatever the position called for, Mildred will change to fit the moment."

Dotti Miller is forced to grow up in a difficult situation. Her mother, Mildred, is abusive, and her father, Tommy, refuses to notice the signs of a clearly unhealthy family dynamic. After being inspired by a newscast, Dotti decides they need to catch Mildred in the act, recording her abuse on videotape and playing it for their father to end the marriage and allow his children a happier, healthier homelife. However, even when Dotti's plan works, the lingering effects of that homelife continue to poison and infect her thinking. She resents her sister Bobbi who Mildred often pitted against the others. She also begins to secretly drink alcohol, commit small crimes, and distance herself completely from her family. It will take an awful lot of willpower and support for Dotti to overcome her upbringing and find a way in this world. ... (read more)

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Spying Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Code Name Excalibur
by Jonathan Wright
Xlibris


"'You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground.'"

Most of the time, Jonathan Wright flies by the seat of his pants. Fortunately for him, he can usually extricate himself from dangerous or embarrassing situations using his silver tongue and incisively analytical brain. How else could he pass tenth-grade algebra or evade a pack of schoolyard bullies? Fortunately for everyone around him, he uses his astounding powers of manipulation for good instead of evil. His pure motives and devilish penchant for instigating mayhem combine oddly but effectively to propel the devoted young soldier through the ranks of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The friendship of his congressman prevents Wright's deployment overseas. Still, when a recruit is beaten during hazing or when a G.I.'s suicidal wife is denied adequate psychiatric care, Wright channels his indignation at the Army's mistreatment of its own into quests for solutions—just as his late grandmother always told him he should. ... (read more)

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The Gamut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wild Ride at the Dude Ranch
by Sherry Walraven
Outskirts Press


"In his mind, he was doing what needed to be done, so other children wouldn’t be tortured like his sister and him was."

With a series of interwoven plotlines, tumultuous developments loom like a dark cloud waiting to erupt and unleash mayhem on anyone in its path. Ironically, a group of eight female cousins, all named after a city or state, embark on their vacation with the intent to relax. However, trouble and adventure seem to follow them. Juxtaposed with this group's seemingly carefree lives is the heartwrenching opening of the novel that features a pair of children (twins) being cruelly abused by parents who may as well have been monsters. The male cousins' rocky journey to their chosen vacation spot and abusive husband Sam Simpson's quest to find his pregnant wife, Charmaine, all culminate at the Dude Ranch. ... (read more)

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The Team Grows

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Girl Who Sparked the Singularity Book 5
by Cliff Ratza
Lightning Brain Press


"As I evolve further into emotional and physical domains, I may need your assistance. You are a carbon-based organism that can function in them better..."

Coke and Oreos are Electra Kittner's two favorite snacks. This exceptional girl with the lightning brain assumes other identities when in danger or for service. Her current personas are a scriptwriter for a Hollywood mogul, a professor at GWU researching AI, and a speechwriter for America's president in 2133. ... (read more)

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Two Styles of Leadership

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Balance Theory: An Approach to Organizational Leadership
by Daisy Magalit Rodriguez
The Adverters


"By recognizing the commonality of balance in all people, leaders can manage organizations with a Balanced Leadership approach by utilizing its basic principles."

Author, nurse, and educator Rodriguez builds upon her previous publications aimed at nursing and the physical sciences with this concise exploration of balance theory as applied to organizational leadership. In seven chapters and four diagrams, along with associated notes and a bibliography, Rodriguez explains that "the balance concept is applicable in any area of human endeavor and leadership is a major factor in modern life . . . all the related sciences support its existence in all areas of life." A central premise of the theory is that the five elements of balance—adaptation, equilibrium, homeostasis, needs, and health—as applied to human survival also apply to organizations and organizational leadership. Organizations, Rodriguez posits, can only reflect the people who work, manage, and lead within them. ... (read more)

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Animal Friends

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Animal Acres
by Colby Becknell Hardison
Xlibris


"This was getting to be a fun place to live."

This short children's book tells the story of Sammy Skunk and his new friend, Rocky Racoon. Sammy enjoys living on a farm where he is well-fed and where he gets to play. One night he is awakened by a noise and sees a strange creature eating out of his bowl. Instead of getting mad, Sammy asks him to stay, and they enjoy dinner together. He is fascinated by Rocky's stripes which seem to go the wrong way. However, even though they have their differences, Sammy likes his new friend, and they find ways to have fun playing on the farm. Rocky relates the stories about living away from the farm, and Sammy enjoys these tales. Sammy wonders about the other friends Rocky might have and decides to ask him later about this as they go to sleep to rest for a new day. ... (read more)

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Reunion

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Shadows in the Forest
by Helen Ridling
BlueInk Scribble


"The next morning before the sun had risen there was a loud but insistent knocking on the door. The wolves pricked up their ears and searched Pede’s face for orders."

Combining the adventurous nature of The Boxcar Children books with the voice of Matilda, this book follows two tiny travelers, Georgia and Max, as they make their way home from boarding school. When the two arrive home, they discover their parents are away and that their sister, Pede, has been caring for herself with the help of a good neighbor, a man the children mistakenly call Mr. Whats It. The adventures unfold as Prina the Apatosaurus becomes the center of attention, and Max meets Charcoal and Ice, two wolves whose father is no longer the Alpha male and who has gone to sit with the Kings. Meanwhile, Max learns that, like his father and unlike the rest of his family, he doesn't possess the power to understand the animals around him. He quickly discovers that sometimes, in order to hear, he must be the first to begin the conversation. ... (read more)

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Spirit View

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Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight
by Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson, Optometrist
Christian Faith Publishing


"It is always wise to look at things from various vantage points to get a true picture of what’s going on."

While all of the body's five senses are incredible in their abilities, there is none that we rely more upon than sight. Our eyes tell us so much all the time and at speeds that we can't even notice that we might take them for granted. Spirituality and faith work in much the same way, providing guidance and constant benefits when used but seldom appreciated for all of their contributions. Using his unique perspective as both a reverend and an optometrist, the author compares the sense of eyesight with the vision of the spirit, which he refers to as "life sight." He combines the scientific explanation for how we see and compares it to how enlightenment shapes our mind's eye. Breaking down the different ways we see, this book makes sense of both scientific and metaphysical concepts, marrying the two and borrowing elements of each to answer much larger questions. ... (read more)

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Family Ties

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Exposed: Humanity Craves Power
by Anton D. Morris
iUniverse


"The fact that the strongest slaves survived the transition was indicative of a more aggressive and tenacious genetic structure. Those slaves were said to have warrior’s blood."

Echoes of Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate and Loren Singer's The Parallax View waft through this intriguing tale of a very different kind of presidential candidate and the forces behind him. While the novels mentioned lean more toward conventional thriller aspects, this noteworthy book relies more heavily on intriguing intellectual concepts. Yet, it quickly becomes just as much a page-turner in its ability to immerse readers in its narrative. ... (read more)

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In Nature

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Plants R Cures: An Almanac of Plants & Healing
by Martin E. Gordon, M.D.
LifeRich Publishing


"Plants are extremely adapted for doing exactly what they need to do."

This almanac provides a nice overview of the history and relationship of plants and medicine. According to Gordon, the book is partly "a mission to try to understand the relationship between plants in our lives." This includes delving into the subject of plants as medicine but also discussing the dangers of plants to those unaware of their proper use. The book is divided into thirty chapters plus a glossary, keywords, a list of plant libraries, and other observations. The author uses anecdotes, information about plants and their uses, and his own professional experiences as a medical doctor to illustrate and exemplify his premise. He succinctly sums up his belief that "Nature has provided all the cures we need." ... (read more)

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Emotionally Vast

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Magic Mines: The Treasure of Love
by Mandeep Singh Lotta
URLink Print & Media


"Why should I use words on you that are not even worth your fate?"

Love and devotion dusted with hints of loss and deceit glisten on the walls of this poetic mine. In the mine, the walls of commitment and romantic nature constantly collapse, reform, and reshape under the quiet and overt intimate expectations and passionate pressures. As one narrator learns to let go of the one they hold dearest, a boldly declared "I LOVE YOU" punctuated by an even bolder "GOODBYE" seemingly seals the mine forever. However, hope gleams once again through the mine's small entrance. Warmth reemerges in poetic letters addressed to "PO Box Love," and readers remember that even the tiniest ounce of love holds immense, ceaseless power. In the end, love prevails and with it, the encouragement that humanity needs. The final poem reminds readers, "Do all the good you can, and you are sure to find your love." ... (read more)

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Better Terms

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My Life Including Prison
by Eileen Pruett
AuthorsPress


"My two lives seemed so different. At home I cooked, cleaned, did laundry. Work was a different feeling. I felt important, writing reports, recommendations to the Board of Pardons and Parole."

Pruett, married to the man she loved and met through her involvement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was a busy and dedicated mom, raising no less than eight children. Having joined the Church at age thirteen, she often dreamed of the day she would attend Brigham Young University in Utah, in some ways a world away from the small rural New Hampshire town where she grew up. In February of 1968, she met Don. Their first date was a movie date, seeing The Graduate. There's a good reason the idiom "The rest, as they say, is history" is cliché, as this certainly applies in the life of the author of this absorbing, comprehensive memoir. ... (read more)

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Well Told

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No More Hats
by V.M. Sojourner
AuthorHouse


"Mudear’s hats were displayed in the windows and on the floor of the pulpit and around. They indicated no more hats for Mudear to wear on this earth."

A woman's life is chronicled in Sojourner's tenderhearted novel. What sets the story in motion is a common struggle many families face today. Alana, a nurse and the eleventh child of Elsie Banks, contemplates the painful decision to place her mother in a nursing home. Elsie, affectionately known as Mudear (a nickname from her first child's inability to say, "Mother Dear"), is approaching one-hundred-and-one years of age. Alana loves her mother and dreads this onerous choice and discussion with her siblings regarding their elderly parent. ... (read more)

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Touching, Enduring

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Daughter of Laharna
by Patricia E. Beattie
AuthorHouse


"It was a rule of Dad's that any guest could ask to enter the kitchen... to check for cleanliness."

The author has a unique story about which to reminisce. This book is Beattie's recollections of living in Northern Ireland—specifically, in Laharna, a former hotel in Larne. The author describes the family sleeping quarters by hotel room numbers. "Mum and Dad's bedroom, Number 72,... Our bedroom was actually numbers 73 and 74 made into one large room... Mavis slept in Number 69." Imagine having your twenty-first birthday in the likes of the Ritz or the Four Seasons. Such was Beattie's life. ... (read more)

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Life Lessons

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Mia and Nattie: One Great Team!
by Marlene M. Bell
Ewephoric Publishing


"Nattie’s mouth was a little crooked. Her legs were a bit shorter than usual, and one horn was too straight like a unicorn’s. But Mia thought Nattie was perfect."

Mia finds Nattie, a newborn lamb, abandoned and hungry. Immediately sensing a connection, she cradles the orphaned animal, warms her in the laundry room, and bottle feeds her every few hours. Unfortunately, Grandma tells her, "Sheep belong outside." Mia knows Nattie needs to grow and gain strength first. Besides, the lamb makes her feel special with her exceptionally calming manner. When another sheep gives birth to triplets, the two larger lambs crowd out the smallest brother. Mia takes him to Nattie. With Mia's bottle feeding and Nattie's nurturing, calming demeanor, he grows beautifully and joins the other sheep. "Nattie is a terrific nanny," Mia declares. When Grandma's best ewe is sick, Mia convinces her to place it with Nattie, who will "work her magic." Indeed, the two graze together playfully. Grandma proudly winks at Mia, who snuggles with Nattie, deciding they make a great team in raising the farm's orphans together. ... (read more)

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Multitide of Perils

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Baby Rafi: The Runaway Giraffe
by Valerie Lee Baker
Xlibris


"Rafi, unable to sleep, sat up all night long shivering from the cold and the intense fear of the unknown lurking around him."

When Rafi is born, his adoring parents declare him "the most handsome giraffe" in the jungle. They establish rules to ensure Rafi's safety, limiting him to a secure area where they can keep him in eyesight. As a baby calf, his only sustenance is mother's milk. However, Rafi has other ideas in mind. He wants more than anything to eat leaves like he sees his parents doing. Jumping and leaping frantically, he attempts to reach those leaves. In the process, he badly injures his leg. Nevertheless, he ventures deeper into forbidden areas of the jungle. Giraffes back home organize a search party for him, but plans are soon diverted as the jungle catches fire. Rafi is confused as workers with African Rescue Compound relocate him, providing food and medical care. All he wants is to be back with his family. Months later, a young girl is trapped deep within a nearby mountain crevice. Rafi becomes a hero, rescuing the child. ... (read more)

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Rice Knows

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Fallen
by Craig Conrad
Xlibris


"'There's always some truth to be found in all these myths,' Phoenix pointed out, 'religious or pagan.'"

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ashleigh Cruz helps her family with the conversion of the Cruz's old brewery into a commercial mall. Yet the property seems to be haunted. After the accidental death of her cousin Carlos Cruz, Ashleigh seeks out the services of Paul Rice. Rice is originally hired to cleanse the building of any spirits, but what he discovers seems to be something much more sinister in nature. With the help of Ashleigh's sister Natalee, the locals, and Rice's paranormal acquaintances, Rice uncovers a family curse dating back to the Spanish Inquisition and the deadly entities behind it. ... (read more)

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Harvey's Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cult Of Sacrifice
by J. Greyson Fike
Xlibris


"They say if we raise taxes, the people will rebel. But I’m convinced their real motive is that taxes eat into their already robust profits."

The novel as social criticism has a storied history in America. As far back as 1906, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle exposed abhorrent conditions and practices in the meat-packing industry. That tradition of storytelling to expose societal abuses and inequities is alive and well in author Fike's chronicle of one man's quest to both avenge past wrongs and stop the continuing exploitation of citizens simply because of who they are and where they live. ... (read more)

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Finding Jesus

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The Spiritual and Mental Transformation (Revised Edition)
by Stanley Njoroge
Xlibris


"Spiritual and mental transformation requires two in partnership: God the Holy Spirit and man."

Missionary, preacher, and religious instructor Njoroge imparts knowledge gained in his life of service to fellow Christians in this illuminating manual. He asserts that once individuals have a regenerative conversion experience, there follows a long process involving mental sustenance and regular practice. The church, its ministers, teachers, and community of believers all participate in this process. New believers must begin the transformative activities immediately (the author recommends within twenty-four hours after the conversion). God's grace provides the first step, endowed when people open their hearts to him. They must then seek further knowledge, make prayer part of their lives, and observe days and rites of the Christian calendar as faithfully as possible. Reading scripture and practicing asceticism strengthens the connection to God and helps one adopt the mental practice of attributing all life's occurrences, no matter how simple, to him. This transformation can work equally in children, teens, and older people. ... (read more)

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Prophecy

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Seventy Weeks Prophecy: How the Bible Foretold the Year Jesus(as) and Muhammad(saw) Will Come on Earth: Volume 2: The Correct Computation – Jesus(as) and Muhammad(saw) Fulfilled the 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel(as)
by Pedro C. Arceno, Jr.
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"The time of the revelation of the seventy weeks’ prophecy is usually not dated by many scholars."

In this fact-laden treatise, author Arceno seeks to establish as scriptural truth his assertion, first advanced in an earlier volume on the subject, that Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet who came to alert his followers to the coming of the Messiah Muhammad and the worldwide dominance of the religion of Islam. To make this point, he relies throughout on two major sources. The first is the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, in which the prophecy of the seventy weeks appears in Chapter 9. Long examined by biblical scholars, Daniel’s vision has been interpreted as a foretelling of the advent of Jesus. Arceno, however, has extruded a far different meaning: there are two Messiahs referred to in the passage. The second source is the Book of Barnabas, an apocryphal gospel that first appeared in the 16th or 17th century. In building his case that Jesus came to announce Muhammad’s advent, Arceno provides complex graphs, chronologies, and numerological data to add historical and textual credence. ... (read more)

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New Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Victory of the New Man and Mysteries of God: A Detailed Discussion of Romans 12-16 with Supplemental Material
by Joel Zao
Xlibris


"Paul's letter to the Romans is the beginning point of the Christian faith."

In this third book in his series focused on the biblical apostle Paul's letter to Christians in Rome, author Zao expresses convictions based on careful analysis of this and other gospels. He closely explores Chapters 12-16 of the Book of Romans, drawing from them the symbolism of the "Old Humanity" and the "New Man." The former, he believes, is to be seen as all humans who lived on earth up until the time of Christ's crucifixion and who symbolically died with him then. Afterward, Christ becomes the New Man, affording believers the chance to be made anew in his grace, renounce older religious approaches, and embrace a freshly conceived church. Just as Moses was given the vision to build the first tabernacle, so Paul had the vision to construct a metaphorical "temple" of faith centered on the life and teachings of Jesus. Doing so revealed the mystery of the New Humanity and provided a concise manual for Christian living. ... (read more)

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Exciting Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Girl Who Cloned Lightning: Book 4
by Cliff Ratza
Lightning Brain Press


"There was only one thing to do: climb for survival, and that she did."

In this book, readers find an unlikely heroine in Electra, a woman guided by her inner voice, Indira—“her practically perfect mother.” At the same time, Electra also receives guidance from her alter ego, Alisha, as she careens through a world of espionage, government secrets, and terrorist plots that threaten to unleash a deadly, STD-like virus known as T-Plague on the globe. After cyber attacks on the Federal Reserve and the East Coast banking centers, which everyone concludes are the work of a clandestine terrorist group known as Iron Triangle, Electra finds herself in the throes of political and biological danger. Her fate grows more and more uncertain as she attempts to cure herself of the T-Plague and faces ghostlike enemies such as Maksim Popovitch, the ruthless leader of the paramilitary force known as S-Cube. ... (read more)

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