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October 2020

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.

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Focus Review

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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tokyo Traffic
by Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press


"Hiroshi’s forensic accounting skill was helpful with most homicides, since money could be found at the root of most cases."

This third volume in Pronko’s series about Detective Hiroshi is packed with all the atmosphere and disparate personalities readers have come to expect from his Tokyo-based stories. Pronko takes us through not just the Tokyo of movies and textbooks but one teeming with more underbellies and connections to global corruption than we might otherwise expect. This time our intrepid detective—an amiable accountant—is in pursuit of the criminals who may be responsible for a grisly murder at a porn studio. The key is likely held by a girl from Thailand who was working at the studio when the crime was committed. But now she’s missing, and Detective Hiroshi, who has a personal life as intriguing as his professional one, has his work cut out for him. Combining old-fashioned gumshoeing with modern-day social conventions, Pronko’s lengthy tale is as much a Tokyo detective’s diary as it is a gritty underworld whodunit. ... (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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Suffering Loneliness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer's Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation
by J. W. Freiberg
Philia Books


"Loneliness, I realized, is the sensation of inadequate connections to others, just as hunger is the sensation of inadequate nourishment and thirst is the sensation of inadequate hydration."

Consisting of five stories taken from the author’s work as a lawyer, this book offers a study in the causes of subjective chronic loneliness in those whose connections with other people “fail to provide the security, nurturing, and soothing care that others enjoy from their healthy connective networks.” In looking over his many years of case studies, the author narrows down the types of misconnections experienced by the chronically lonely into five categories: “Tenuous Connections,” in which the connections between clients are uncertain or unreliable; “One-Way Connections”—for example, unrequited love; “Fraudulent Connections,” wherein one’s relationship is based on deception and manipulation; “Obstructed Connections,” where one is prevented from being emotionally available; and “Dangerous Connections,” in which the relationship can cause devastating emotional and physical harm. For each of these misconnections, Freiberg includes a case study from one of his past clients to illustrate how people who are in relationships with others may still suffer loneliness because of the failure of their relationships to offer healthy connections. ... (read more)

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Light, Fun Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Orphan Rock
by Bronwyn Rodden
Amazon.com Services


"And for a second, as a moth passed nearby, its wings dusted angelic white glistening in the harsh light, he felt a tiny shaft of hope. Then nothing."

In a mystery regarding the murder of Jack Spandel, a local real estate agent, the book takes us through a variety of potential culprits related to Spandel's death. He had offended others in a variety of ways, both personally and professionally. His body was found close to a high-class restaurant and a local park that served as a gay cruising area, although he supposedly wasn't gay. Along with the possibility of a secret deal regarding mines in the area, a problematic marriage, a difficult teenager, affairs, and the question regarding a Chinese co-worker and the death of another person, Jack's murder is a difficult case. Detective Ros Gordon and others are tasked with finding the murderer, all while dealing with Gordon's probationary status and past and present relationships. And how does her former relationship with another cop influence her work and affect her case? ... (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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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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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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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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Quests & Beauty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Stone for Bread
by Miriam Herin
Livingston Press


"'The issue was never authorship, Rachel. The issue isn't authorship at all.' He turned and stared at her, his eyes bloodshot from the wine. —“What it's about is murder. And not just by the Nazis. I too was complicit.'"

There's quite a mix of character and circumstance in this novel of mystery, history, and soul-searching: a seasoned, enigmatic poet whose heyday was two generations ago; a very pretty and engaging graduate student just starting out her life today; a shadowy Frenchman whose nearly century-old actions have long-lasting consequences. These three contrasting personalities set this very original tale in motion, but the plot grows from there into a dramatic, almost journalistic who-what-where-and-why saga that spans not only generations but also equally disparate scenarios. One scenario involves a quest to discover the true authorship of some famous concentration camp poems. Another is a quest to figure out how we decide who we are and what we need to do with our lives. Indeed, there may be several quests that are part of this story, but Herin weaves them together as a single seamless tale. ... (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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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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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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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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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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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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Transition to Chapter Books

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lord Chamberlain's Daughter
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"That was the story people told about me. I'm glad, of course, it wasn't true."

Lord Chamberlain's daughter, better known as Ophelia, has a new story to tell. In this satisfying remake, Ophelia's fate is markedly different from the one Shakespeare assigned her. In this story, she is alive and well and ready to talk about her childhood friendship with Hamlet and Horatio, palace intrigue, and the warmongering of men in power. Shakespeare's setting remains, and the time and place of the original play are intact, but the plot has gone astray, reimagined and rebranded with a powerful female protagonist driving the action of the familiar story's milestones: the murders and resulting power shifts. The story is structured as a confessional of sorts by Ophelia to Fortinbras, who visits her after he learns that she is alive and living in the countryside. Ophelia begins her story by filling in the details of her adolescence at Elsinore castle, roaming freely with her brother Laertes and pals Hamlet and Horatio, while her father, Polonius, advises Hamlet's father and strategizes a war with Norway. She continues through her own awakening to the suffering of the common people in the war effort, the corruption of the castle, and her own heart's desire. With her motives revealed and her secrets shared, Shakespeare's heartsick, mad Ophelia is transformed into a savvy woman of power and rebellion. ... (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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Ideal Women

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Viral War: A Fairytale of Perfect Women
by Josephine deBois
AuthorHouse


"And now, perfect women; yes, but we always managed to make women perfect."

In New York City, Samuel, an ordinary traffic cop, manages to thwart an attempted kidnapping. This sets him on an investigation like no other. He befriends Sohee Suh, the acclaimed Korean singer who was almost kidnapped. Sohee's DNA carries a secret that Samuel works to uncover, exposing a complex plot involving sex trafficking, government coverups, and biological warfare. ... (read more)

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Lives in Flux

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hinterland
by L. M. Brown
Fomite


"Cooper and Stefano had walked into a house where something terrible had happened, and though the disaster had occurred years ago, father and daughter had never come out of their shock to speak about it."

The landscape of the human heart is a treacherous thing to map, filled as it is with the cliffs and quicksands of despair and regret. This author, however, proves a gifted cartographer, adept at delineating the often unrecognizable borders between conflicting emotions that keep people apart or draw them together. There is much of both separation and reunion in this tale of lives torn asunder by the innate imperfections of human frailty. There is also a poignant acknowledgment that even the best of intentions can seldom stand up to the vicissitudes of life. ... (read more)

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Primal Instincts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Soccer Is Fun without Parents
by Peter M. Jonas, Ph.D.
MSI Press


"If your son or daughter scores a goal, world peace will not transpire."

In recent years there has been no shortage of articles, books, and documentaries on the exciting world of youth sports. The thrills and letdowns of a small grouping of students who sign up for various teams and compete for little league glory have a certain appeal. As the author of this book notes, though, all enthusiasm for such a process seems to evaporate once a child turns thirteen. Jonas believes that it is the pressure parents place on their children that causes them to slowly pull away from the game. ... (read more)

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True Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome
by Romy Wyllie
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"In deciding to reject… institutionalization and to care for our child ourselves, we had chosen to open one of the tightly closed doors in the long corridor of life."

When Andrew Wyllie was born in 1959, the only other Down syndrome baby his doctor had delivered had been sent away. Andrew’s parents took the risk to raise their son despite the doctor’s warnings. Andrew became an integral member of his family—educable, able to work, fall in love, and live in a supported setting. He traveled and participated in recreational activities such as horseback riding, running, and bowling. He developed mental illness and other health complications at thirty-eight and passed away at age fifty-two. ... (read more)

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In the Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Gang of Black Eagles: La bande des Aigles Noirs
by Patrick “Rapace” Albouy
Balboa Press


"Even on the nicest, happiest days in our lives, our time here on Earth is never as good as it will be in Paradise."

Why did Patrick's mother abandon him? Will she ever come back? Where is God amid a six-year-old's loneliness and feeling of betrayal? Life will answer some of these questions for Patrick during childhood, imbuing him with profound peace. He wonders to this day about the answers to others. What he knows for sure is that in November of 1953, his deeply depressed single mother dropped him off at an orphanage for the children of Russian refugees in France known as The Russian Boarding School. The school is a repurposed medieval castle, complete with an aristocratic lady, exiled during the Russian Revolution, whom staff and students alike call "the Princess." ... (read more)

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Depth & Danger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When Darkness Descends: The Relevation Trilogy, Book I
by G. W. Lücke
With Distinction Consultants


"Darkness will descend before Sardis falls, majesty. When we enter paradise, famine, disease, and war will fade away, banished by...the Creator’s hand."

When the lumbering stone grell Brennian has the opportunity to bring Prince Oldaric's life to a fitting end, his humanity—and the lack thereof in his adversary—costs Brennian his life and foreshadows a dark future for Enthilen, a world that the Divine Creator, Volerdie, intended to create in the likeness of man. The book opens up with a fierce attack on the grell, protectors of Malang Gunya, long believed to be where the ancient city of Pergamos resides underground. In South Australia, five-year-old Tom Anderson witnesses the harrowing murder of his grandmother. More than a decade later, he is fueled by feelings of guilt and retribution, setting him on a collision course with the grells and the ancient lands of Enthilen and Sardis. ... (read more)

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Love & Betrayal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Trading Secrets
by Rachael Eckles
Aphrodite Books


"Fred Warren’s warnings all those weeks ago were legitimate – she was in danger, grave danger."

Beautiful and self-assured, finance executive Celeste Donovan lives a life of luxurious excess. Surrounded by loyal friends and acquaintances, she is happy as a single woman. And because of a past abusive relationship, she has no desire to change her status as such. However, when Celeste meets the mysterious Theodore at a friend's party, she is instantly drawn to him. When he pursues a relationship with her, she finds herself falling for him. Unfortunately, Celeste doesn't realize that her past love, Omar, has been keeping tabs on her. When Theodore is killed in an airplane crash, she believes that Omar is involved. Racked by guilt and grief, Celeste vows to avenge Theodore's death. Omar, however, is more dangerous than she imagines. With not only herself but those she loves in danger, she soon discovers what real fear entails. ... (read more)

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Emerging from the Rubble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Surviving Hiroshima: A Young Woman’s Story
by Anthony Drago and Douglas Wellman
WriteLife Publishing


"'What happened in Hiroshima should never be repeated again. I know how it was, I was there.’"

This historical and biographical account creates immediate suspense by starting in the cabin of the Enola Gay on its way to drop an atomic bomb. Then the book cuts back in time to build up to the plane's mission. From the close perspective of author Drago's family as well as a broader lens, it captures the dramatic highs and lows of momentous events and their aftermath. ... (read more)

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A Child Prison

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Bracelet
by Charles A. Bonner
Verily Publishing Company


"’The next time you don’t have my money, you know what’s going to happen,' he spits as he turns and storms out of the room."

Bonner’s novel follows an ever-expanding group of girls who work together to bring down international groups responsible for child sex slaves. The book opens with a respectable looking, older gentleman tricking a young girl named Macie into his car. He speeds away with her and puts her in his underground bunker as his sex slave. However, Macie is a fighter. She does her best to gain the confidence of the man so he will begin trusting her with more and more freedom, all with the plan that it will eventually lead to her escape. After failing her initial escape attempt, Macie finally succeeds with the help of her sister. Once escaped, Macie determines to use her own experience and fierce determination to help girls worldwide to get away from men just like she has done. She begins a plan to help more girls escape, and she gets help from the government and a lawyer to do so. Soon, she has a small but dedicated group of escaped girls who work together to bring down sex slave rings all over the world. ... (read more)

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Meter & Flow

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Genealogy Lesson for the Laity
by Cathryn Shea
Unsolicited Press


"Use your head.
Imagination is a peculiar clay,
infinity captured
in the dark matter we don’t understand."

One of the most alluring and powerful things about poetry is that it offers the poet the opportunity to say things indirectly, using the simple selection of words to make the ordinary magical. For example, there is the attention to detail in poems like “Drano Didn’t Work,” which chronicles the hiring of a drainage company to service the author’s home. The same care is given to poems about bad hospital food and the dread of an unpleasant diagnosis or a dying friend. This collection of poems broaches these big and small eventualities of life with the same gravity, processing them with the same levity. It illustrates how the same coping tools can tackle any problem, and how a sardonic but compassionate view will find the silver lining in any challenge. ... (read more)

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Evocative & Meaningful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sister Marguerite and the Captain
by Mark Barie
Barringer Publishing


"'You live to fight. I fight to live,' she snapped."

In this second novel of a historical series steeped in romance and warfare, the tale begins aboard a French ship in 1756. Captain Antoine Dauphin, a professional soldier, and the Ursuline nun, Sister Marguerite, a former socialite with flaming ginger hair and a temperament to match, struggle to understand their attraction as they head to New France and later struggle with their imperfect love. Set against the backdrop of two wars, this anti-romantic drama follows the couple’s tumultuous lives over nearly two decades as their discordant desires and personal failings repeatedly challenge them. Stalked at every turn by unfortunate circumstances, the couple is also confronted by Marguerite’s malicious former suitor, who seeks to destroy them in rounds of mutual revenge. ... (read more)

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For Every Reader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Colors of Time: A Collection of Poems
by Maya and Jello
M&J Literary Works Inc.


"American justice?
The system’s corrupted!
Take to the streets!
The whole world shouts.
No justice?
No peace!"

Often poetry is used as a medium that transports readers emotionally to moments of solemn reflection or intense feelings of romance. Others use it to paint a picture of a serene view of nature unspoiled by the pace of human life or to celebrate the human jazz that is urban life. But could poetry transport its reader to the mindset of life in an ancient time? Could it isolate modernity and hold it under the microscope of twenty-four-hour binging on current events and breaking news? This collection draws inspiration from multiple sources, organizing poems by not only topics but historical periods that hold a link to the subject of each musing. From thoughts on science and the royalty of Egyptian dynasties to the civil struggles and wars of the modern era, the author ties multiple strands of thought together to lay the path for the reader to follow. ... (read more)

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Truthful Doom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Rabid Watchdogs: Abuses Within Our Imperfect World: Reflections of a Psychotherapist
by Mary D. Morgillo, Ph.D., A.B.M.P.P.
Authors Press


"Our legal system promotes suits and anyone can sue someone."

The author grew up during the Great Depression, and after marrying and having children, was determined to use her fine intellect to help others. She obtained a bachelor's of education and then a master's degree in guidance and counseling. Overcoming resistance in the academic world from males who saw women as a threat to the profession, she completed a doctoral program in psychology twenty years after beginning her educational journey. Opening private practice, she was highly idealistic about the work ahead. Infused by her Christian faith with strong moral values, she trusted those who came into the business with her, beginning with Darrell, who wished to attain a doctorate in psychology as she had done. Sympathetic to his aspirations and needing the help to handle a growing caseload, she paid Darrell well. She also hired several other assistants at his recommendation, including Selma as a secretary and Lee, a supposed expert in dealing with children's mental health issues. ... (read more)

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That Mighty Jet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019
by Herbert A. Hutchinson
Xlibris


"...there were no losers in the USAF Lightweight Fighter Program. Both fighter aircraft advanced technology designs deserved to be and were winners."

This impressive book records the competition of two companies, General Dynamics and Northrop, who, during the 1970s, designed and tested two fighter planes for accuracy, maneuverability, and fighting power. General Dynamics'™ YF-16 became more widely known as the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon. 4,600 of those F-16s were built for the operational inventory of twenty-five nations. The Northrop YF-17 design was refined to become the USN F/A-18 Hornet aircraft (over 2,600 were built) with the capability to operate from aircraft carriers in the operational fleet inventory of the US Navy and five other nations. ... (read more)

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Clear & Rich Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wherever the Road Leads: A Memoir of Love, Travel, and a Van
by K. Lang-Slattery
Pacific Bookworks


"We drove through a landscape transformed by billows of white—cabbages buried under snow, wet haystacks resembling fat men in black with white top hats, and frosted farm buildings."

In a whirlwind of two years, an artist named Katie and an engineer named Tom—newlyweds anxious to meet the challenges of life and marriage—cross countries and span continents on the adventure of a lifetime. They journey forth in a Volkswagen microbus known as The Turtle that has been redesigned to accommodate long months on the road. Spending days on end in exotic campgrounds in Mexico, Panama, Spain, France, and throughout the rest of Europe, Tom and Katie encounter the joys and frustrations of marriage, tackle culture shocks and linguistic barriers, and embrace life and adventure during a seemingly simpler time in modern history. With only maps, a plan, a budget, and each other, Tom and Katie fulfill their passion for travel and set the stage for a lifetime of globe-trotting that transforms after they park their vehicle, begin a family, develop new means of transportation, and take on new adventures. ... (read more)

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Gracious Strength

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sky Turtle Tours: An Ocean Prince Tale
by Mary Ramsey


"I am older than you can imagine. When I was Isa’s age, I witnessed the horrific atrocities of your kind."

Who exactly is Elena Rios? Is she the aimless and heartbroken widow of a downed Air Force pilot? Is she the love interest of the god of the Pacific Ocean? If she is the object of his affections, what sets her apart from all other women? Certainly, that is more than Kaylinani, his overprotective older and more powerful sister, can understand. Ever since the ocean prince took the name Isaiah, the form of a handsome Hawaiian surfer, and left the ocean to be a painter in the human world, Kaylinani has striven to bring him back under her control. But unquenchable romantic love is beyond the scope of her powers, and the most she can do is turn Elena's bliss into agony every chance she gets. Through four attempts on her life, can Elena maintain the gracious strength that frustrates Kaylinani's evil and which first won her Isaiah's heart? ... (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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Positive Mind

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Waves of Life & Our Mind Game
by Say Thu Varadewa
Partridge Publishing


"You are just one brave decision away from a total new and happy life."

Drawing from her storehouse of perspicacious personal and professional observations, self-help author Varadewa advises readers to live more consciously and positively. Every day has twenty-four full hours. We choose how we use them. For many of us, our active minds dominate, but, at times, thinking can equate with worrying. We must train our minds to be clear and calm. We must learn to be good to others without considering ourselves as inferior to them. Valuing ourselves is a key component of Varadewa’s method. Even a simple smile can change our thought processes. The author often speaks of difficult interactions in the workplace. Many people consider work a “second home,” so it is vital to remain positive and avoid being highly critical of others in that environment. We must trust ourselves, follow our dreams, and let past problems disappear. Above all, Varadewa urges, “Never give up.” ... (read more)

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Christ-Centered Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crossroads: And the Choices We Make
by Julia S. Dane
Xlibris


"I had not a care of what treasures awaited me beneath the tree because my baby chick from school had died that Christmas Day."

Following the lives and relationships of the main character, Rebekah, this novel is a testament to the myriad shades of the human condition. Throughout, Dane juxtaposes unyielding resilience in the face of heartbreaking tragedy with the light of dreams and hope that are powered by walking in faith. Fittingly titled, the cross of Christ is the ultimate destination where the roads of our choices lead. Scripture embedded throughout the narrative is used to demonstrate the power of a Christ-centered life. ... (read more)

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Helping Others

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Criss Cross: A Medley of Thoughts
by Mukta Arya
Partridge Publishing


"The ability to be humble while scaling greater heights is, in my opinion, priceless."

This journal of thoughts and meditations, written by a human resources professional with more than twenty years' experience in multinational organizations, was inspired after a move from Hong Kong to Singapore in 2016. Arya found solace from the "whirlwind of activities related to work" in a new favorite place—on her balcony with a cup of tea. It was sitting there that the writer composed her thoughts on a range of subjects. Areas explored include the beauty of the culture in her new home country, nurturing of relationships, that which makes us content, respect, ambition, creativity, and deep appreciation for the "little things" in life. In her ponderings, the author finds creative ways to connect everyday notions (such as exploring new colorful areas around the city and being happy with what one has) with her professional expertise in human resources management. ... (read more)

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Listening & Feedback

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Effective Communication Skills: The Foundations for Change
by John Nielsen
Xlibris


"Effective communication literally dies because people would rather die, it seems, than express themselves assertively."

Books on effective communication skills abound. This one is refreshingly different because it integrates Nielsen’s work with recovery support group programs, explores the “relationship between extremely low self-esteem and communication skills,” and emphasizes being assertive. The expected charts, worksheets, questionnaires, and glossaries of industry jargon cover classic communication topics, such as active listening, body language, nonverbal cues, and how to give and receive feedback. The brilliance lies in the clear and insightful self-assessment exercises on how to separate feelings from self-talk, be assertive and not aggressive, handle pressure, increase self-awareness, and practice self-aware, active listening and feedback. ... (read more)

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Police Challenges

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Blue Dilemma
by Maurice A. Butler
Xlibris


"Officer Harris took one last swig of his drink, and in a drunken stupor, looked down at the gun sitting in his lap. Maybe it was his time to go, he thought."

The mean streets of a tough Washington D.C. neighborhood comprise the locale for this tale of police officers whose backgrounds are vastly different, as well as their motives for becoming cops. Yet they all share a desire to do their jobs in an honorable way that actually helps the community they serve. This novel, however, is no apology for how policing is carried out today. It doesn't shirk from the issue of rogue cops who dishonor their badges and their duty. In fact, it dramatizes several instances that show just how bad some police can be. Its bigger agenda, though, is to bring to life all the physical, mental, and emotional situations that can take their toll on even the most dedicated officers. ... (read more)

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Young Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

One Hawaiian Morning
by Kelli Gard
Xlibris


"We didn’t move; we swayed face-to-face, our bodies close together, hanging on a ladder in the middle of a US navy ship for a few sweet moments."

The year is 1940. Ruth Shepler is a twenty-year-old girl whose family lives on the gorgeous island of Oahu, Hawaii, where her dad is retired from the U.S. Naval Air Corps. Though the family is white, Ruth, in particular, very much enjoys the local indigenous Hawaiian culture. Every single morning she races down to the ocean to surf the waves with her best friend Kekoa, who is like a brother to her. Even with the urging of her parents, Ruth has no interest in dating any men, let alone flirting with the hundreds of naval seaman who yearn to meet the local women. All of this changes when Ruth, while surfing the Hawaiian waves one day, meets William, a lieutenant commander on one of the naval ships. Young Ruth realizes, against her initial pride of independence, that she and William have fallen in love. The romance (and eventual marriage) between the two intensifies and yet is constantly challenged by the sailor's long journeys away at sea. ... (read more)

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Raw & Distinctive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Warrior of Life
by Richard Poole
iUniverse


"My father knocked up my mother, my grandfather put a contract out on my father, they had a shotgun wedding, loved each other very much and I had a wonderful childhood? I think not!"

A debut novel about a remarkable life, this is the story of a common man with an uncommonly fast-moving, incessantly shifting tale to tell. It begins a generation before he was born, and takes readers through his sixty-seventh year. Along the way, the affable narrator shares countless ups and downs of a turbulent childhood, a dark family secret, his angry youth, his tour in Vietnam, his troubled relationships, uncanny work experiences, and more. And since he’s the one telling the story, the reader gets the chance to get into his head, full as it is with attitude, witticisms, acceptance, stoicism, and even optimism. There’s a lot he does not understand about life, which he clearly admits. But simply knowing that helps him plod through, and he’s happy to take his readers along on the journey, if for no other reason than to have some decent company with whom to commiserate. ... (read more)

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Subtle Wit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Within Reach
by Ian Douglas
Xlibris


"Then there are the confessors, the ones who front up to the police stations across the country, claiming 'I did it. It was me.'"

This exciting read opens with Simon Hadlow, a well-experienced New Zealand policeman, taking a new posting in Christchurch, where he quickly becomes involved in a gruesome investigation of two severed arms from different bodies. Flashbacks also occur of Simon's past during a Queenstown stint spurred by his family members asking him to arrange a scheme to protect his brother-in-law from burglary charges. All through the murder-solving adventure, Simon recounts his broken, beyond salvageable marriage and a personal improvement plan involving a tarot-reading civilian assistant named Melanie. As he works to solve the gruesome mystery at hand, Simon encounters the comical Inspector Galligar, the likable DCI Scotty MacPherson, and the respectable pathologist Gordon Williams. He ventures internationally until all clues come full circle and allow Simon to solve this mind-boggling case. ... (read more)

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Legal Drain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Diminished Capacity: A Novel of Legal Suspense
by Leighton H. Rockafellow
iUniverse


"He saw Rogers lift the ax and deliver not one, not two, but three blows to the man’s head just as he would if he were splitting firewood."

One man sees another deliberately killing an injured individual, but what if that isn't murder? Twin boys are killed in a horrible traffic accident. But if the wreck could have been prevented, was it really an accident? These are the involving puzzles explored in this legal thriller that meticulously makes its way from event to trial to conclusion in a story filled with both complex human relationships and intricate legal maneuvering. ... (read more)

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Love & Romance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

By the Shoreline: For the Soul That Craves the Peace Within
by Little Stickman
Partridge Publishing


"Another day
With coveted hopes and dreams
Pumping up the adrenaline rush
To start and proceed
To power and water up the seed"

Poems of confession, longing, hope, and light await readers in this collection. Love, and the loss it incurs, reaches apexes and bottoms that span distance in time, age, and geography in this book of spiritually insightful verses. The perplexities of romantic relationships become individuals with their own free wills, personalities, and determinations. With companionship and its complications at the forefront, poems like "bloom in drought" weave together with "quit" and "alive" to form an immeasurable, strong braid tied succinctly at its end with a single word of dedication—"you." ... (read more)

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Re-Centering

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

America Thy Simmering Agony
by Ramesh Sharma
AuthorHouse


"Sometimes I feel like playing apoplectic thunder
when my passion, emotion and desires get
bruised at the hands of some nemesis."

In declarations of self-love, searching, political thought, and individualism, this book’s verses navigate a country on the verge of collapse. It is a country in which the individual reigns supreme but risks falling into the pits of conformity. In celebrations of the individual and close scrutinies of a system founded on free will and exceptionalism that finds itself in peril of slowly succumbing to overregulation, the voice of a single narrator rings loud and clear like the Liberty Bell. By honoring and internalizing the American cultural and natural landscapes, each poem reestablishes America’s place as the Free World’s leader. This is achieved by uniquely blending Vedic tones with Thoreau-like analysis of the individual’s purpose and role in preserving both personal and national independence as well as the basic freedoms granted to all by the U.S. Constitution. ... (read more)

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Lucid Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Healing w/o Patient Suffering (for Virginal Sole Distinction)
by John Patrick Acevedo
Xlibris


"If I could stop the frames racing with your glowing face in my mind
I’d keep them on a shelf in my memory’s virtual occupancy library"

The author has penned an impressive, somewhat surreal collection of poems that examine from a unique vantage point a range of philosophical propositions. Pictures are painted by Acevedo which float by like dreams, accentuated by an unusual yet pleasing choice of words and turns of phrase. Much of the terrain explored in this collection is composed from an abstract world, where the reader—to some degree or another—must slightly suspend the normal acceptance of beliefs and common conventions, including grammar, syntax, and to some degree, the flow of ideas. The payoff for doing so is enormously gratifying. Enjoyable, often playful poems make creative use of pun, wordplay, and imagery while ideas abound on every page. There is perhaps a hint of Charles Bukowski's infamous poetic ideology here, minus the constant vulgarity. Acevedo, no doubt, has a unique poetic voice. ... (read more)

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Fragrance of a Rose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Standing Afar, Atop a Hill
by R. D. Hohenstein
Xlibris


"The elusive memories
Of bygone years
Leap out
And beg you to remember"

Memories, meditations, and people—real and imagined—are the elements in this moving collection. Hohenstein offers brief but vivid pictures of the natural world, brave hopes for the future, sighs for the passing of years, and the occasional expression of admiration, as in this tribute to “Nelson Mandela”... (read more)

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Facets of Oneself

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prelude to a Groovy Road Trip: A Collection of Key West-Inspired VW Love Bus Pictures and Poems
by Vinnie Van Go
Xlibris


"Why, I might even hug me a cop
and just hope that he doesn’t
tase me."

From the unique perspective of a Volkswagen bus named Vinnie Van Go come poems personal and political, observational and witty. Disgruntled with the academic establishment and the academic declination of American college students, Vinnie's owner, affectionally known as "The Professor," takes Vinnie to the open road after Vinnie undergoes a substantial "born-again refurbishment." The two head to Key West—the land of Ernest Hemingway, watersports, sex, infamous night clubs, and more sea, sun, and sand than a beach-seeking soul can imagine. Pirate days meet zombies, poetrygeists taunt the creative spirit, and the importance of existing as one human family becomes clearer and clearer. In Key West, Vinnie and The Professor encounter spring break, chic freaks, Key West's famous Duvall Street, and adventure after adventure fit for any bohemian, nine-to-five, corporate-despising soul. ... (read more)

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At Sea

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sojourn with Heidi
by Heidi Leitner Fearon
AuthorHouse


"Life has offered me so many opportunities, and in most cases, I have chosen the path less traveled."

Born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1940 to an educated family of modest means, the author rebelliously and courageously (for her time and culture) works her way as an au pair into ever more prosperous and adventurous circumstances. Heidi's sojourns as a children's companion take her to Paris, Cambridge (England), Boston, and Montreal. Her life in Canada expands into marriage, and her interest in fashion design blooms into multiple opportunities to work in the fashion industry. After an apprenticeship as a pattern maker, she ventures into designing bikinis, dresses, and coats while simultaneously building a portfolio. ... (read more)

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On the Range

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Making of a Cowboy Doctor
by Kyle Ver Steeg, MD
Xlibris


"The cowboy is the quintessential American. Born into freedom, he is the metaphorical avatar of independence, self-reliance, competence, and courage."

Author Ver Steeg grew up in a home with midwestern, middle-class American values. He didn't excel greatly at sports, though his coach father had high hopes, and after high school enrolled in pharmacy school at the University of Iowa. Reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged spurred him to think rationally and become a nonconformist on many levels. He ultimately became a surgeon, making high grades and demonstrating strong technical skills. He took on the persona of a cowboy, feeling it embodied his determination to work and live by his own rules. He battled the increasingly greedy insurance bureaucracy that began to dictate how doctors could practice. Then, after notable successes in private practice, he turned to the discipline of bariatric surgery, at which he excelled. His memoir is filled with the dramatic and often distressing situations in a surgeon's work, along with some triumphant "cowboy" moments, defying the overreach of medical insurance and regulatory schemes. ... (read more)

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Personal and Professional Torment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Winning Away: Memoir by Ana Klepova
by Ana Klepova
Xlibris


"She reconsidered the invitation, plus her joblessness and decided to go to America and stay there."

After graduating college in her native Macedonia with a degree in sociology, and spending some time there and abroad as a political activist, Klepova found herself starting over in the United States. This short memoir is an autobiographical account of a startling array of personal challenges and obstacles, clashes and confrontations, and ups and downs as she navigates the decade of the 2010s in her new country. In a way, the cards for this book seem to have been dealt the day her father died (the book is dedicated to him) when she was only twenty-one, an event which, significantly, followed what she calls a “not so good” childhood. After an overview of her life in Macedonia, she takes the reader to America and ultimately proves that even daily struggles and emotional suffering can eventually move out of the way to allow something much more pleasant to take its place. ... (read more)

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Gaurdian Angels

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Force to Reckon With! The Virtue of a Person’s Identity
by Dire Quotidian
iUniverse


"Life is a series of stages moving along in an endless twist of events."

Identity theft, a debilitating illness, and a narrow brush with tragedy helped to form the author's character in this vibrant memoir. Quotidian was scheduled for a job interview in downtown New York City on September 11, 2001. For some reason, her gut instinct told her to cancel. This is one of many situations in which it seemed she was living in a parallel world, where negative things that might have happened were averted, while things she wished for sometimes went awry. She designed a pair of multi-use jeans for which she sought a patent, but her identity was stolen along with her product line. After a flu shot in 1998 and a medical procedure a year later, she developed disturbing, disrupting, undiagnosed physical symptoms. Through all her trials, however, she often saw heavenly visions or encountered guardian angels, remained strong and stalwart, and, through employment as a nurse's aide, regained her sense of purpose. ... (read more)

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Angels of All Sizes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Angels, Of Course: A Collection of Illustrated Visits
by Win Tuck-Gleason
iUniverse


"So why did I get to see angels? It’s a mystery to me. I’m... of Christian ancestry. Maybe my Dutch grandmother prayed them around me."

At various times, Tuck-Gleason needed comfort, entertainment, protection, deliverance, and encouragement about the changing directions of her life. She married three times, experiencing two divorces and life as a single mom. She moved between Canada and the southwestern United States and attended new churches multiple times. Gifts she received from angelic visits were the love of music and no fear of being alone. ... (read more)

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Damien's Discovery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Metamorphosis of Power
by Greig Alexander
Xlibris


"Your funeral was held yesterday, meaning no one will ever expect to see you again and it is just another unsolved mystery to the non-wielding world."

In this urban fantasy, Alexander reveals a unique supernatural world within our own where the creatures of myth we might know of are very different than how they are perceived. The story follows Damien, a 31-year-old who has lived a privileged life of good fortune in both wealth and comfort. However, having been raised by a foster family, he never knew who his birth parents were. Nor did he know that he would be the descendant of a magical sect and the promise of a prophecy. ... (read more)

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Zodiac Crimes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Zortega’s Qualum: And The Shadow Walker
by Lagina Weaver and Darryl Johnson
iUniverse


"For as long as he could remember, every Saturday and Sunday morning, him and his dad would head out back to train in magic and combat."

The joint effort of married authors Weaver and Johnson, this fantasy follows high school track star Dev Vanseal as he navigates life with his parents and siblings as visitors on Earth from a magical land called Zortega. Dev's father, Rodney, is the leader of the Capricorn line of the Zodiacs, and as the eldest, Dev is heir to the title and position. Each of the Zortegans that live on Earth belongs to one of the twelve Zodiac lines, each with its own leader. Every Zortega has a familiar, and the two are tied together in a bond that can only be broken in the case of wrongful death. Strange magic-related deaths and the subsequent transformations of some familiars into evil creatures called Kantors warrants a meeting of the Council of Zodiacs. Not only do Dev's family and friends find themselves in danger, but they must also help the council defeat an existential threat to Zortega. ... (read more)

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No Longer a Secret

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

P.S.S.T.: Public School Speech Therapist (The Best Kept Secret in the Public Schools)
by W. Ray
AuthorHouse


"For it is laughter and dedication that keeps the hundreds of thousands of individuals in this field surviving."

In this short book, the author shares twelve chapters and numerous stories about the experiences of being a speech therapist in the school systems. Given the stress of this job, Ray manages to convey her love of working with children while addressing the difficulty of the profession. Understanding that the key to such work is about flexibility, she also relates the problems of often traveling to numerous schools. This includes not having a permanent office, which entails having to haul heavy equipment from school to school, not always getting the necessary respect or camaraderie from teachers, administrators, and custodians, the demands of paperwork and other essential skills not related to speech therapists, and having to cope with parents and problematic children. ... (read more)

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Flowing Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Whispers: A Story of Meeting the Devil and Surviving
by T.G. Anderson
Xlibris


"Like a drug addict, I needed that next fix to live through the next day. And like all alcoholics, I needed that next drink to numb the pain of being alive."

A first-person autobiographical novel, this is the life story of a man who was raised on one of the farms that form a patchwork throughout America's Midwest. Shy and underweight, he develops a habit of losing himself in literature while a young man to escape the drudgery and demands of endless farm chores. What is telling is his description of meeting a young girl named Denise, whom he forms a crush on. Yet she is a loner who hangs out on a tree limb overhanging a graveyard and warns him that he will be unable to escape the "whispers." ... (read more)

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Hope & Freedom Awaits

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Land of the Butterflies: A Prelude to Prophecy
by S.L. Bergen
Westwood Books Publishing


"The world needed a little shake up now and again. Different would never detract from right."

York Sabastin is a forty-six-year-old Cultural Judge who traverses the planets, never staying in any one spot for more than several weeks. The novel finds Sabastin just after he evaluates Torac. In the city of Shiacre, he, like all single men, lives in a simple, almost ascetic one-bedroom dormitory. On the surface, the central character seems to be living a mundane, ritualistic existence, married to his job. However, one of the earliest scenes of the novel quickly shatters this misconception. Unafraid, Sabastin enters the embrace of the sea, battered physically but emotionally and spiritually resurrected by the caress of God. Undergoing an awakening, not unlike that of the main character in Kate Chopin's Awakening, Sabastin becomes a beacon of hope and freedom. ... (read more)

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A Spun Yarn

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Judge Ed
by Ted Rose
Xlibris


"They made one more attempt at persuading me to consider some sort of leniency for their client by asking for a plea deal, which I denied."

This novel is an exercise in duality. It's one part self-reflection and one part revenge mystery. The analysis-of-self part tends to take precedence over the good guy versus bad guy part, but they both eventually intertwine in this contemporary tale set in South Florida.

Readers are given extensive information about the judge who narrates his tale. They learn of his disdain for self-promoting, celebrity-seeking jurists who perform more for television cameras and TV ratings than for actual justice. Yet, the judge becomes a bit of a star in his own right as he doles out tough sentences and builds a reputation as one who is not to be underestimated. Part of the judge's high profile reputation is achieved when he takes on the case of a noted doctor who is accused of murdering a young nurse with whom he was said to be romantically involved. The physician is convicted but later escapes from prison and sets out to wreak havoc on the jurist. Tension rises as the doctor comes for his revenge, and only a well-meaning acolyte of the judge stands in his way. ... (read more)

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Cure for Boredom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Trip Around the Pond
by Jennifer Gardiner
Xlibris


"Georgette walked into her Granny's art studio and shouted, 'Granny, I want to go to Paris!'"

In this story for children, bored Georgette Mae, visiting her grandmother, announces that she wants to visit Paris, France. Georgette's artist grandma tells her that if the little girl walks around the pond near the house, looks "really hard and [doesn't] give up... [she will[ see Paris." Georgette packs up a day's worth of supplies in a toy train. With a little help from Granny, and a whistle to blow in case of trouble, she begins her journey. ... (read more)

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Touching & Sensitive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Connie Gets More Than Her Backyard
by Patti Whitehead-Gill
Xlibris


"That’s the real difference between a human mommy and a doggie mommy. No matter what, a human mommy is never likely to forget that she’s had a baby."

Connie is a young girl with a lot to think about. Not only has she had to leave her apartment in New York and her beloved grandparents to move to the countryside, but she has also had the shock of discovering she is adopted. With her whole life changing around her, Connie's one ray of hope is in the promise that her mother has made her: in their nice, new, and bigger house, Connie will have a big backyard and a puppy. As Connie gets to know the puppies that her best friend Pam has found, however, she becomes more and more worried about them. Their mother left them, just like hers did. Will the puppies' mother come back to snatch their happiness away from them? Will her father try to turn up and take her away from her family? This story follows Connie's journey of self-discovery. ... (read more)

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Deep Suspense

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poetic Confessions: Confessions of a Poet
by Arilita Moore Joyner
AuthorHouse


"My silent edition is a secret never known.
My fragments remain, but no evidence shown."

This volume of poems and stories tells the story of a twenty-something single mother of a young daughter with developmental challenges. Though she loves her daughter, she is lonely and longs for someone with whom to share her life. She wants to provide a good life for her daughter and feels that a father is a necessary part of that. As she navigates the world of internet dating, she quickly discovers that the men she meets aren't as forthcoming as she is about their motives. There is a long-time boyfriend whose tenderness in their early relationship morphs into the caustic carelessness of a user who only comes around when he wants sex or money. Another professes his wish for a relationship when she connects with him online, yet balks when she moves too fast. The author explores her character's search for romance but also delves into familial relationships, friendships, and her intense love for her daughter. ... (read more)

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Erotic Roller Coaster

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Homey's Adventures
by Jim Wish
iUniverse


"My ex-wife did all our bill paying and saw the Hooters charge on my credit card. You would have thought that I paid for sex with the way she reacted."

Jim loves sex. His wife of many years, who apparently has not even a fraction of his libido, divorces him late in life, ostensibly because she is unsatisfied with the life he is living as a retired person. But in the love-and-desire department, Jim is anything but retired. His goal is to find a loving and lovable wife with whom he can truly enjoy the sensual arts, for he does not believe in carnal gratification without love. He fantasizes about the act, shares those fantasies online, and then meets up with some of the digital recipients. It isn’t always smooth sailing for this robust senior Romeo, but his amorous adventures still lead him to a rewarding climax. ... (read more)

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Salvation in Christ

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Broken Truth
by Karl Olson
Christian Faith Publishing


"I ran a lot of long distance up the hill on Randolph Street, up through the woods with hills. I never wore earphones. I wanted to listen to real nature."

Olson, born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, describes his strict upbringing in the 1960s. Though he tried hard, he could not keep up with the other children in his class. He did fare better when placed into special education. Unfortunately, this led to being bullied and not having many friends. However, there was one thing the young author absolutely excelled at: running track. He practiced every chance he could, running all over town, purposefully seeking out steep hills to challenge himself. He won many a school race and set new records. Eventually, he landed a job at a pie-baking facility. Along the way—in struggling with girls, his learning disability, and more—his life came to a head after being wrongfully accused by the pie company. Around the same time, both his grandmothers died, and his father required major bypass surgery. He broke down in tears and spirit, desperate, seeking salvation in Jesus Christ. ... (read more)

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Shared Gospel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Miracles, A Personal Revelation, A Thankful Heart
by Mary Visker
iUniverse


"The more I was willing to help anyone who needed help, the more the Spirit would prompt missionaries to call on me."

Author Visker, a devout adherent to the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, fulfilled a long-held wish at age sixty, returning to college to become a registered nurse. This enabled her to join the LDS missionary movement overseas, in islands and nations of the Central Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Earlier, she had helped to start a children's choir in Utah, affording young people the adventure of touring in the U.S., Mexico, and England. In her ensuing missionary and nursing role, Visker witnessed and experienced many miraculous and vividly depicted occurrences. For example, a woman with blurred vision received donated glasses giving her back her sight. Children were saved from drowning, literally in some cases, and also through Visker's CPR training and instruction. Outbreaks of the dreaded dengue fever were managed and lives saved among missionaries and indigenous people. Also, hundreds heard and accepted the gospel message she shared. ... (read more)

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Love of Christ

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Soul Inspirations: A Journey for the Divine
by Kiana LaShayia
Xlibris


"Increase your faith, by taking a chance, that something good will happen from believing in God."

Poet LaShayia has created a group of poems and short essays touching on divine themes and acknowledging that, though we are human and fallible, we can strive for higher understanding. Her book is divided into groupings whose titles reflect our limitations: "Disappointment," "Hardship," "Loss," "Loneliness," and "Forgiveness." She suggests that "Everyone in this life will make a mistake," and from this, we learn "wrong from right." She advises patience, reminding us in "Rules of Waiting" that "Waiting is for the broken to heal, the dreamer, / To expand, the musician to sing…" ... (read more)

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Across Borders

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Spirit of the Sky Walkers
by Philip I. Moynihan
iUniverse


"With wings we are unconstrained. With wings we are literally above the world, seeing things no one else has seen over ground where no one has ever walked."

A lone pilot is a "Sky Walker," or one who is "walking in the sky," according to Moynihan in his new memoir. With his endearing book, Moynihan explores the intrigue and wonder of aviation, delving into our centuries-old fascination with flight. He considers its mythology, along with its history and evolution. For Moynihan, flying is "a magical experience." He shares select accounts of airborne adventures spanning more than three decades with his co-pilot and wife, Penny. ... (read more)

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Freedom Riders

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reap the Hot September Harvest (MLK Jr. Trilogy, Book 1: Desiree)
by Harry W. Kendall
iUniverse


"’There is much more to us than a legacy of slavery. Not having the wherewithal to look is no excuse for a lack of knowing.’"

The racially motivated shootings of thirty-eight Freedom Riders on Mother's Day in 1961 leave survivor Desiree Pierson depressed and traumatized. The violence instantly destroys her idealism. Nor does placing herself in danger make Desiree a hero to everyone she meets. An aging African-American veteran from World War II, in whose home she recuperates from her injuries, feels intimidated by the Freedom Riders' sacrificial bravery and resentful that returning black soldiers could not achieve similar equality sixteen years earlier. Desiree experiences lasting guilt about his resulting suicide. Desperate for healing, she eventually becomes a yoga instructor. Only then is she emotionally strong enough to meet Alan Duberry, a minister with controversial views concerning African-American Christianity, and a devotion to the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. that, he assures Desiree, doesn't just manifest itself on King's birthday. Desiree strongly disagrees with many of Alan's views, but she still falls for him. ... (read more)

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Coming of Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Land Beyond
by J.H.E. Lim
Partridge Publishing


"'Do you really trust me to know that when I share my experiences with you about my visits to the land, I’m telling the truth?'"

After meeting the Celestial Gardener in her last adventure, Josie Yuen is left with an earring that is the key to visit the lands beyond her own—strange places and people that exist in a parallel existence to her reality. While this escape offers her moments of curious exploration and often a vision of a future to come, her life in her own world is changing with her maturity and demands her attention. Her cousin Jeremy, whom she has shared admiration with in the past, is a potential love interest for Josie. However, his free-wheeling lifestyle with his university friends conflicts with her introverted and tradtionalist upbringing. How can Josie navigate her own challenging life while juggling the secret of the land beyond and the information it provides her? ... (read more)

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A Grander Adventure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lost Queen: Book 1
by Gaia Lewes
Xlibris


"I felt the magic of earth, air, water and fire taking root inside me the way the branches I used took root in the earth I set them in."

Vere, a young woman in Amadea, finds herself entangled in a scheme for a coup after being accused of being part of a rebel faction. Beaten and tortured, Vere is rescued by King Marc of Amadea himself but not before tapping into some unknown magic. During her recovery, Vere learns of Nogaynos—a land where magic is supreme—and decides to set out on a two-year journey to learn more about this mysterious land. Vere must travel through harsh winter landscapes and dangerous bandit zones to reach Nogaynos, but an unlikely encounter in the woods leads to a grander adventure. ... (read more)

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A Fast-Paced Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Blue Ring Assassin
by Keith K. Millheim
iUniverse


"Go home Zoe. Get a life. If you want revenge, don’t think about it – do it."

When marine biologist Dr. Zoe Waringi-Quinn discovers her father has been killed in a hit-and-run accident by a drunk driver, she is devastated to learn just how brutal a death it was. The driver, a senator, is tried for murder but found not guilty. Zoe finds herself completely lost in overwhelming grief, which leads to reckless behavior and places her in danger. Suddenly rescued by a strange aboriginal man, she soon becomes aware that he is a mystic sent to watch over her. Using her knowledge of poisonous sea creatures, Zoe seeks revenge against the senator who killed her father. Once her father is avenged, she then feels compelled to rid the world of others who have evaded justice. How will this compulsion affect her life, and how does the strange mystic fit into the picture? ... (read more)

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Chicago Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Color of Horses
by Antonio L. Coney
Xlibris


"I tell him life gets better. But I'm still waiting on mine to get better. But there is nothing wrong with hope."

Set initially in Chicago in the 1940s, a young black girl relates the story of her life. It's a life of abuse, racism, and loss. But like most lives, it also has its share of love, growth, and hope. The narrative comes directly from the protagonist in the first person. We learn she never knew her father and was raped continually by her mother's live-in boyfriend. When she becomes pregnant at age fourteen and decides to keep the baby, she's kicked out of her house and goes to live with relatives. What follows is a trek through her existence that leads to menial jobs, marriage, and eventually an act of violence that will lead to an escape to Louisiana where she and her daughter take up residence with a friend's aunt. There, the heroine finds work as a maid in the house of a woman who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The time spent with this woman, her home, and her horses changes both mother and daughter forever. ... (read more)

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Human Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Detroit Karen
by Kenny Chadwick
iUniverse


"Eddie reached over and pushed her down until her head went under. She didn’t struggle. After what seemed a couple of minutes, she jerked twice, and a big bubble came out of her mouth. She was gone."

Joe Tanner, a long-haul trucker, is having a typical day when he meets Karen Brown and her son, Jack, at a truck stop. They are down on their luck. Karen's husband has died, and although she was going to divorce him, it still is a difficult time. They have decided to move to Florida to be with Karen's sister, but along the way, they have run out of money. Being a great guy, Joe helps Karen out financially and eventually falls in love with her. Karen has had a couple of run-ins with a "gang of thugs" in Detroit and is glad to move away from them, especially their leader, Mr. Black. However, he seems to have friends in high places, gets out of jail, and pursues Karen to Florida, where she gets kidnapped by a hired killer and rapist named Eddie. However, Joe also has a friend in high places and reveals himself to be something other than he has previously presented. But can he save the day? ... (read more)

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Death Threats

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Death by Your Own Device: A Philip Sarkis Mystery
by Peter Kowey, MD
iUniverse


"They were facing each other, locked in a mortal embrace, with heads thrown back as if struggling to disengage at the moment of their departure from life."

There's more at play in this involving medical mystery than appears in opening chapters. Certainly, there is the highly questionable practice of implanting pacemakers and defibrillators into the chests of patients who may not really need them. But there are also potential career-ending possibilities for any who are brave (or perhaps foolish) enough to take on the entrenched powers that exist in device-manufacturing and hospital board rooms. In fact, the ubiquitous system of treating the practice of medicine and the operation of hospitals as simply business-oriented profit centers is taken to task in this look at morals, money, and more. ... (read more)

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Atypical Parade

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Longbourne Place
by Jim Walker
Xlibris


"Anything could happen now. Otto could become a blackbird and fly up alternate highway 89 and peer at the setting moon on his left then look to his right for Britta's car."

Otto Barnes is back on the job as a detective, following a stint in rehab. He's much better now and just in time to arrive at the scene of a 9-1-1 call to the home of the Longbournes. But is he better? For that matter, is he even at the Longbourne Place? Otto's investigation occurs on a dreamlike path that suggests an alternate reality, hallucination, memory, or fantasy sequence. Or, to put it in a subsequent story's terms, Otto could be "nuts." ... (read more)

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Purpose & Perception

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hopkins Pickering
by Michael Sharma
Xlibris


"The mind inside is like a ghost
hiding in shadows and possessing the host.
No one ever, wonders why
probably the reason, its dark outside."

Sharma's compilation embodies the power of the human spirit through the spoken word as it ponders what happens in the world and why. In this introspective endeavor, an aura of cynicism toward the world permeates, particularly when it comes to the existence of true happiness. "A Walk" is reminiscent of life itself, where often humanity meanders through the years, sometimes unaware of where it is heading, at other times unable to move as it waits for divine intervention. Another theme that Sharma focuses on in "Bhandar" is of love being somewhat of a raging wave, mercilessly tossing one about on the rocks until a person is so lost in emotional disarray that getting out does not seem viable. ... (read more)

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Deep Desires

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Depths of My Soul
by Anja Leuenberger
AuthorHouse


"Light it up so bright no matter how much
darkness is inside of you."

When one’s darkest secrets, lying dormant in the recesses of the soul, are willingly brought to the surface, it is an act of immense courage. A public figure with a budding modeling and acting career, Leuenberger uses her poetry to respond to the silence, both her own and the silence of millions who are victims of sexual assault. Raw and authentic, the words are the poet’s attempt at piecing together the remnants of the soul. ... (read more)

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Experiences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Life’s Lessons: Poetic Instructions
by Thomas Antonacci
Xlibris


"Maybe dreams are just reality in
someone else’s time
and waking ends their story
As passing cancels mine..."

Exploring the everyday obstacles of life in conjunction with embracing the mysteries of the future, Antonacci's work presents a sort of roadmap that is both uplifting and actionable. His ability to work metaphors into his poetry is especially intriguing and makes his work easily relatable to all audiences. Throughout the course of the compilation, universal themes such as the discovery of one's purpose, emotional cleansing, embracing change, regret, and faith are highlighted in the context of positive thinking. ... (read more)

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Life of Blue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


"For a student of violent crime, Baltimore was a graduate college of carnage."

School terrified Steve Tabeling. That's likely because he dropped out of seventh grade and spent so much time before that playing truant that he was functionally illiterate when he quit. By the time he was twenty-five, though, he was married to his childhood sweetheart and the father of four. He needed steady work to support them. He also wanted to do something that mattered, to make up for being an anxiety-ridden disappointment to his harsh, alcoholic father. That's when he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement—an ironic choice for someone who was a serial car thief by age fourteen. Fortunately, he was never arrested for any crime and escaped his youth without a juvenile record. Of course, he also ended us lacking the eighth-grade education that was a requirement for applicants to the Baltimore Police Department in the late 1950s. ... (read more)

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Riveting Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Deliver Me: A True Story
by Larry Kevin Garland II
Xlibris


"I was twenty-three years old the first time my family and I had to wonder if I was going to live through the morning."

A talented performer's unimaginable fears were realized one day after a pre-show rehearsal when he had a sudden, severe parenchymal hemorrhage (a massive stroke) that left him completely paralyzed on his left side. Luckily, this serious misfortune struck as the author reached home, and his roommate was present. Otherwise, the scenario likely would have resulted in his tragic, untimely death. Garland's mother, a neurological nurse, rushed to his bedside in Indiana and was shocked and dismayed by the gravity of his initial MRI results. The author subsequently had emergency brain surgery and made amazing progress through the heroic efforts of his physicians, nursing staff, physical therapists, and the undying love of his family and friends. ... (read more)

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War Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mary Quigley's Da: A Personal Tragedy of an Irish Immigrant Caught on the Kansas-Missouri Border During the Civil War
by Mary Jaffe
iUniverse


"Learning to kill made him less charming but more in demand… 'It’s how ye become a man to be reckoned with…'"

Margaret Quigley dies in 1849 without telling her 11-year-old son Joseph that she loves him. Although he knows her death in childbirth aboard a ship full of Irish potato famine refugees is no one's fault, he never forgives her. Thus begins Joe Quigley's lifelong propensity toward self-pity and his inability to take personal responsibility for his various failures. Charm, a beautiful singing voice, and a gift for working with horses can only advance the fortunes of a bright but unmotivated alcoholic husband and father of six so far. Acting on a promise to their dead father, Michael, Joe's older half-brother, strives to keep an eye on Joe while bringing honor to the Quigley name. He and his descendants successfully keep the second half of that promise as prosperous stonemasons and farmers. But headstrong Joe embarks on a path that may well ruin him and devastate everyone he holds dear. ... (read more)

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Torn Between

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Volcanos, Roses, and Manteles
by Monica Arredondo
Xlibris


"I was thinking about Carlos and me. I was thinking about him and his wife. I was thinking about his kids. I did this often."

An American ex-pat with south-of-the-border wanderlust does a bit of country hopping and winds up in love in Ecuador. Through a series of steamy encounters, lovelorn texts, and stolen calls on a cell phone ever depleting its limited store of monthly data usage, a passionate affair unfolds between two people in love with love and, as luck would have it, with each other. This setup may suggest the relations of young twenty-somethings sowing oats before settling into adult life, but, in fact, the story catches the lovers on the other side of youth. The narrator and protagonist is an adventurous sixty-year-old retiree when she meets and falls for Carlos, a married father. Carlos, for his part, has no intention of breaking up his family. Yet he has even less willingness to relinquish the great adulterous love into which he has fallen. ... (read more)

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A Rich Collection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

James H. Critchfield: His Life's Story 1917-2003
by Lois M. Critchfield
AuthorHouse


"His life spanned some of the greatest changes our nation and our world have ever seen."

This wide-ranging examination of James H. Critchfield has been created by his widow as a fair, thoughtful recognition of his personal and professional accomplishments and aspirations. Critchfield, a hardworking farm boy from North Dakota, decided after college to pursue a military career. He began in the cavalry when horses were still used for military purposes. Critchfield proved himself an intelligent problem solver and soon rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, for a time in charge of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black regiment. Deployed to Europe at the height of World War II, Critchfield and his men fought from trenches for weeks without rest. The young officer received Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and the Silver Star for his leadership under fire. Post-war, he worked in counterintelligence in Germany and elsewhere, garnering a twenty-three-year career with the CIA. ... (read more)

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Chamring Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bear That Went Bump in the Night
by Shereen H. Waterman
Westwood Books Publishing


"A big dark shadow was leaving the chicken house, strolling toward the creek and forest shadows beyond."

Seven-year-old Larry and his younger sister Suzie live with their parents in a lush wilderness where both are already acquiring survival skills. Larry can spear salmon and (most of the time) toss them into his father's waiting truck, while Suzie looks on, charged with counting the catch as it accumulates. As they complete this enjoyable task to bring food to the table, Larry spots a bear moving around upstream. He and Dad talk about bears and their habits. This one appears to be fishing like they are, probably to feed her cubs. Gradually it seems to be approaching, and Dad says it's probably just curious about them. Back home, Mom cooks fresh salmon steaks. But that night, Mom hears a strange sound, and the next morning Suzie wails when she finds that something has stolen the jello that had been set outside to cool. Dad reckons it's the bear. ... (read more)

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Happy Ending

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Have You Seen Spud?
by Debbie Capiccioni Heidinger
Halo Publishing International


"Somewhere along the way, I guess Spud just wanted to play. He wanted to see how it would be to roam around and be free."

For this short, modest children's book, the author unquestionably drew upon not just her own imagination but that of her fifteen grandchildren to whom the book is dedicated, along with the seven children and stepchildren who brought those fifteen young readers into the world. The storybook world the author created for them, and certainly as many others as possible, is about a little boy who, for a short time, fears he has lost his best friend, who happens to be a bug. The friend's disappearance can be traced to his own natural desire to go off and explore his surroundings. However, in the process, he loses his way. After a bit of an adventure, and perhaps a small lesson or two, the story reaches a happy ending. ... (read more)

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Silly Grown-Ups

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Summer and Pop-Up
by Allen Henry
Xlibris


"One day Summer's parents Allen and Nailah took their daughter Summer to spend some time with grandfather (Pop-up)."

This highly colorful children’s story features Summer and her family. Pop-up and Nana are her grandparents, while Allen and Nailah are her dad and mom. At the lake with Pop-up, Summer catches a friendly fish named Moby, who boasts of his famous grandfather. He and Summer exchange cell phone numbers. Visits to the mall include Summer’s wish to ride on a flying horse. When she asks a rent-a-cop if they sell such animals there, he asks her what kind of formula she’s been drinking. Sometimes Pop-up tells her strange things. Nana explains that Pop-up’s mind is sometimes a bit weak. Swinging in the park, Summer encounters high-flying Thunderbird, who takes her for an instantaneous ride to San Francisco and back, and will appear again outside the window of the airplane when she and her parents take a flight to Thailand. There, everyone is friendly, and she has a boat ride. ... (read more)

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Certain Faith

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Always Believe
by Pamalamadingdong
Xlibris


"'Silly Beth, you don’t need me anymore. You believe in yourself, don’t you?'"

The resounding message of this picture book comes alive through the story of a girl who learns to believe in herself with a little help from her family and an imaginary friend named Ozzie. Beth is preparing for a role in the school play when she begins to doubt herself as she struggles to remember her lines. When she tells her sister Dizzie about her fears and worries, Dizzie tells her to believe in herself and enlists the help of her own imaginary friend. Once Beth opens herself up to believing, she can see Ozzie. Both her sister and Ozzie help Beth memorize her lines and practice for the performance. Her newfound confidence in herself propels her through the play and leads her to welcome her own imaginary friend from Imagiland into her life. ... (read more)

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Clear View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

High-Rise: Observations and Secrets of a Doorman
by A.B.C. Delevante
Page Publishing


"The characters found in this high-rise… can be found in friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors. They are all of us."

The doorman in this account comprises the eyes and ears of a high-rise in an undisclosed location. In residents' habits, traits, faults, and virtues, all the variations of humanity cross his path. His grandmother's advice and the wisdom of sages play out in his interactions with residents, causing him to marvel at life. The author categorizes this microcosm of the world into groupings of vignettes featuring colorful characters. For example, there's a man who farts on command, an obese woman, a man who thinks he knows everything, an old woman who acts young, an old man who prefers the company of young women, people who live in their imaginations, people ground down by life, and many more. Nicknames and personal effects create humorous and recognizable characters. Some of these personalities blur, though, as they're deemed "the most" of whatever trait they possess, and superlatives, perhaps intentionally, rob the descriptions of particularity. ... (read more)

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Consistency of Scripture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Back to Where We Came From: Our Foretold Journey
by B. Lising
Partridge Publishing


"...the book of Revelation was intended to prove that the Gospel is a single message."

As a skillful researcher, Lising digs out facts from the NIV Bible that point to a connection between the New Jerusalem (promised in the future) and what Christians currently call the gospel. Beginning in Genesis and culminating in the book of Revelation, the author proves that this connection indicates the gospel is a single message. Quoting from the Old and New Testaments, Lising backs up theory with competent explanations of difficult portions in Revelation. The author insists that the last book of the Bible connects all the dots. ... (read more)

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Saved by God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Miracles Allotted to Chris
by Christopher Dumais
Xlibris


"Sitting on the edge of my bed, I realized God heard my prayers all five times. It just took me five times to get it."

The author of this Christian-themed memoir attributes to Jesus many remarkable happenings in his life. The first major shift occurred when he was suffering from a leg injury and addicted to drugs. Five times he held a gun to his head, pleading with Jesus to save him from Hell as he squeezed the trigger. Later he understood that God had saved him and was directing him to read a water-soaked Bible, which he still possesses. His leg would heal completely immediately after he decided, based on a heaven-sent message, to abandon a lawsuit against those that caused the injury. His life was saved again when, as he prayed for rescue, a charging guard dog simply stopped and lay down. Prayers for a church sister assisted in her recovery from illness. A message from God exonerated him from a frivolous jail sentence. And several times in his profession as a welder, he performed near-impossible feats despite physical deficits. ... (read more)

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Effective Leadership

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Flipping Teams: A Leader's Guide to Building Top Performing Teams
by Vernon Mason III
Xlibris


"A formal warning is a misunderstood level of discipline."

People go into their jobs day in and day out without much regard for the detailed mechanisms involved in making the entire enterprise function. The best among them handle each daily task with much care as the average worker attempts to fight off the false allure of complacency and comfort. Many workers look for further advancement within their respective companies, fearful of stepping out into the unknown and seeking a profession elsewhere. But it's hard to climb up the ladder when management doesn't show where it's hidden. The simple fact is that, much like nature's iceberg, the common observer only sees an organization's surface facade. This book reveals the hidden logistics of a company and presents the reader with the tools needed to create their own path towards personal and professional fulfillment. t ... (read more)

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God's Help & Guidance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Teenagers' Prayer Book: Creating a Cordial Relationship with God
by Victoria Jonah
AuthorHouse UK


"Help me not to end up in hell. Help me make it to heaven. I've gotten my fingers burnt before and it hurts badly."

Teenagers have special problems, needs, and aspirations. Author Jonah has organized a grouping of prayers and exercises that can appeal to their particular requirements. The prayers are divided into nine basic categories: "The New Beginning" (realizing God's power and mercy perhaps for the first time); "Personality" (individual foibles that make religious life difficult at times); "My Future" (academic performance, use of time); "Setback" (insidious tendencies like envy and backbiting as barriers to faith); "Ecstasy" (sex and self-control); "Crossroads" (drugs, phobias, low self-esteem); "Family and Friends" (interactions positive and negative); "Celebration" (holidays and birthdays); "Eternity" (rapture, heaven or hell). Each prayer page has a space to add points and thoughts. It also includes quotations from other noted sources, biblical passages that support the prayer subject, and definitions of certain keywords in the prayer to clarify their context. ... (read more)

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Destiny is All

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Darkwind Chronicles: The First Act
by Christopher Michael Cifelli
URLink Print and Media


"'Your destiny lies at the end of this tunnel,' Shendu said, walking down the path."

After an earthquake opens a cave, Magnetin Darkwind, a young fire Draconian, is asked to accompany twins Andrew and Andrea Cashonit on a treasure-hunting expedition. Delphine Lightwind and the dragon Kamori agree to go along with the three. Along the way, they are met by Anita Lastum, a bomb-making elf, who plans to join them. To the group's surprise, when they reach the cave there is only what appears to be a door. Finding a sign on the door written in Draconian, they are puzzled by its cryptic message: "For those who represent an essence of eternity will find the way." Being a Draconian, Magnetin realizes that the sign refers to the descendants of Aeternum, the dragon god, each of whom possesses one of the god's essences. Soon, Magnetin is tasked with the quest to become a Dragon Knight and given a map marking his journey. ... (read more)

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