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July 2022

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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Mom's Gone Missing: When a Parent’s Changing Life Upends Yours
by Susan A. Marshall
HenschelHAUS Publishing


"Working with someone whose mental capabilities are compromised is a constant exercise in patience and acceptance."

When Susan Marshall gets the phone call from her brother telling her that her mother is missing, she is shocked to find that her mother is descending into dementia just months after her father has succumbed to Alzheimer's. Marshall finds herself wholly unprepared to face the myriad of decisions that arise as she navigates the health, financial, and legal issues that come with caring for her mother. In addition, she must untangle the frustrations and expectations of her siblings when they lose both parents within ten months of each other. Exploring aging, dying, and caregiving issues, Marshall shares her singular experience as a daughter coming to terms with the past and all its choices, forking paths, and a future without her parents. Her account movingly connects to universal truths and familiar tribulations that offer readers comfort and support. Marshall views her writing and reflection as "a hand extended," which is a fitting gesture that matches the words and revelatory stories in this memoir. This honest story of caring for her mother is truly an offering to those seeking another's experience of preparing for and watching a parent slowly diminish from dementia or Alzheimer's. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Christmas Tradition

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Life in the Neck Advent of Christmas
by Diane Davies


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

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

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Never Give Up

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The First Bloodline: Book One: Blood of Cain
by Michael Neville and Roman Neville


"I would like to say it is between good and evil, but it is more like between bad and truly evil."

In this book, the authors explore the theme of good versus evil through the lenses of their protagonist, Michael, who is the son of Cain from the Bible. Cain, of course, is well known for killing his brother Abel. Michael recounts in detail how his father turned him into a creature of the night. One day, Cain savagely attacked his entire family and killed his wife and daughter. However, he forced his three sons to choose between dying or living as eternal evil creatures. They all chose the latter. At that moment, Michael made the sacrifice to lead a life alone and exact revenge on his father for destroying their family. Throughout his journey, he navigates between two worlds—the living and the undead. ... (read more)

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Seriously Funny

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Revolution
by David Dorrough


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

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

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Mormon Trials

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The Way to the Shining City: A Story of the Early Mormons in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois
by Elaine Stienon
AuthorHouse


"He said the time had come when men of high reputation in the sight of God could take extra wives..."

Gabriel Romain is a young doctor among the Mormons who began relocating to the city of "Far West," Missouri, taking refuge after the church's financial speculations in Kirtland, Ohio, had failed. By 1838 there were more than four thousand Mormons in Far West. This novel joins Gabe and his sister Marie, escaped slave Eb, his friend Nathaniel, and others as they re-orient themselves in this new place. Tension builds again between believers and other Missouri citizens, culminating in Governor Boggs's infamous "exterminating order" after mustering 2,500 militia troops to put down the "Mormon rebellion." Joseph and Hyrum Smith negotiated a surrender by October of 1838, and the body of believers once again forfeited their property and rights to gain safe passage to Illinois. Most of the novel concerns Gabriel's wedding to Bethia, who seems to suffer from depression, and his encounter with the rapidly changing circumstances of life in Nauvoo, Illinois. ... (read more)

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Useful Change

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


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

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

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Elder Advice

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The 16th Second: The Wild Life and Crazy Times of Colt Michael—What Really Happened
by Ted A Richard
W. Brand Publishing


"I have lived through my fifteen seconds of fame, albeit not without scars. But what about the 16th second? What happens then?"

Trauma and homophobia in Richard's hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, led him to Houston, Texas, where he found a vibrant, welcoming gay community—and where he discovered exotic dancing. Performing under the name Colt Michael, Richard became a highly-recognized, award-winning stripper. He spent years living a double life, using drugs and alcohol to bridge the gap between the fabulous, debonair performer and the lonely, insecure young man he truly was. Unfortunately, his wild lifestyle caught up with him, and HIV/AIDS, as well as his rampant substance abuse, took their toll on his body and mind. ... (read more)

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Emotional Ride

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This Distance We Call Love
by Carol Dines
Orison Books


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

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

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Riveting

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Unconventional: A Memoir of Entrepreneurism, Politics, and Pot
by Jamie Andrea Garzot
Girl Friday Books


"I saw the potential to create a store that was different, that did not have the ‘stoner’ customer at its center but instead embraced all customers."

Scores of inspirational, entrepreneurial memoirs are appealing, but few are quite so riveting as this title. With humor and the same point-by-point fastidiousness displayed in developing her pioneering cannabis dispensaries, Garzot outlines her entry and ascendency into an industry in which she originally had no interest. Never a consumer of cannabis, Garzot's life took an unexpected turn when she sought relief for insomnia and discovered that a single cannabis edible brought her a full night's rest. From there, she became a pioneer in the virtually unregulated California market that, even after many years of regulation, still has many peculiarities. Dispensaries still engage in cash-only transactions because most banks don't allow accounts for dispensaries, a situation created by the federal status of "pot."... (read more)

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Complex Tale

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


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

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

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Vote!

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Big Day
by Terry Lee Caruthers
Star Bright Books


"On the way home, I told everybody I saw, ‘It's a big day! We got to vote. We got to have our say.’"

When little Tansy wakes up on the morning of September 6, 1919, she has no idea that she will be changing history for the better. Unaware of what the day will hold, she hurries to get herself ready for the big day as Big Mama rushes her along. Tansy's anticipation begins to grow when she sees Big Mama in her Sunday dress talking on the phone to someone about how exciting the day will be. She wonders if today is the first day of school. Big Mama, wearing her Colored Women's Political League sash, explains the day's importance, saying that today will be the day that their voice is heard. They stand tall in the voting line and wait their turn. When it is finally time, Big Mama even lets Tansy drop the ballot in the ballot box. Their walk home is filled with pride and joy in their hearts as Tansy tells everybody that they got to vote. ... (read more)

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Yoga Guru

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Higher Self Yoga: A Practical Teaching
by Nanette V. Hucknall
Inner Journey Publishing


"Your Higher Self understands you and knows when you are ready to explore spiritual path."

Though most yoga practiced in the West concentrates on the physical aspect of the practice, this guide is one in which practitioners will find the means to tap into that part of the spiritual side called the Source. This "God Consciousness" or "union with God" is not an easy journey, but "doing the exercises in this book will help determine whether one is ready to start this journey." As the goal of higher self yoga is transformation and spiritual growth, "psychological work is very much a major part of this teaching." The book consists of seventeen chapters which include information such as overcoming problems, examining the way a person sees others, clearly seeing one's personality, seeing oneself at a crossroads, seeking wisdom, and challenges along one's journey. Chapters include relevant vignettes and a group of exercises that lead readers to examine psychological motivations to understand past behaviors and feelings. ... (read more)

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Directed Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Wanted -> A New Career: The Definitive Playbook for Transitioning to a New Career or Finding Your Dream Job
by Marlo Lyons
Future Forward Publishing


"It wasn't a reporting job, but I didn't care. All I knew was that I got a job in my field of choice!"

Many people are looking to transition to a new career in today's world. Spurred by the pandemic, people are taking a closer look at their career paths and considering new options in their fearless pursuit of increased job satisfaction. The author's advice will help people "leverage experience, knowledge, and skills" as they pursue a new career that might require a more circuitous route rather than the typical linear path forward. Combining practical advice, motivational examples, and engaging self-inventories, Lyons' expert guide will help career switchers through the challenging job search process. Lyons firmly roots her guidance in the belief that people should find jobs that bring them joy and that align with their values. So, she begins by helping job searchers identify these things through exercises and questions. She then moves into the nuts and bolts of the search process, including resume writing, cover letter creation, and interviewing. Other highlights include identifying transferable skills, explaining resume gaps, and what to do when an offer is made. ... (read more)

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Survival

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The Puppet Maker's Daughter
by Karla M. Jay
Book Circle Press


"In the worst of times, the sad truth is life takes on a heartbeat of its own, and the days blur into one another."

By 1944, war has ravaged most of the world for five years. The Nazi war machine has plowed throughout Europe, its goal of conquest only beginning to be checked. In Hungary, Marika and her family have not been subject to invasion. However, the Hungarian government has been ramping up legislation and mandates targeting the Jewish citizenry. Soon news reaches Marika and her family that the German soldiers are arriving in Hungary. Repression against the Jewish people, from confiscation of property to extradition to concentration camps, begins en masse. Marika bears witness to the deteriorating situation among friends and family, but she is a part of the resistance movement fighting against the Nazis. Marika is willing to sacrifice her own life in order to aid her family’s flight from the deadly grasp of the Nazis and their willing collaborators. ... (read more)

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A New Cozy

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


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

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

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Unforgettable Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eban and the Dolphins
by Carolyn Davis


"I think that he could be a leader—perhaps a liaison between us and humans."

Lost and adrift in the foster care system, Eban retreats to the ocean, where he is drawn to a pod of bottlenose dolphins that he discovers swimming near his coastal town. Initially, he connects to the patterns of sounds coming from the dolphins. As he spends more time with the pod, he begins to see these amazing animals as the family that has eluded him all his life. In a lovely twist on the coming-of-age tale, Eban joins the pod of dolphins and escapes into a world he chooses rather than remain to suffer in the human world that leaves him sad and disconnected. Growing up with the dolphins as his family, Eban becomes a beautiful bridge and healing force for animals and humans. With a deep knowledge of the oceans and the needs of dolphins, Eban is able to channel his experience into environmental activism, and his life becomes an inspirational call to action for all young people. ... (read more)

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Ship Life

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A Daughter of the King
by Catherine Pettersson
The WIld Rose Press


"Her existence had become a perverse fairytale, one that had transformed her from princess to peasant."

Based on the life of her ancestor, Pettersson's novel traces a girl's passage from France to New France (Quebec) as one of the "King's Daughters" intended to populate the new colony in 1668. Jeanne Denot never intended to leave her home at Mursay. Her father, a French officer, promises she will inherit the estate. Jeanne lives at Mursay with her aunt Mimi and cousin Francoise. Her father is often gone on soldierly missions. He dies when Jeanne comes of age. ... (read more)

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Well-Paced

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Willow's Secrets
by Sally Avery Bermanzohn
Epigraph Publishing


"'I have deep roots in this land!' I cried out to the wind from my still-secret ledge. 'This is where I belong and where I will live my life.'"

Willow leads a simple life with her mother, Rose, and her grandpa. Born in the late 1860s, Willow and her neighbors work together on their farms, helping each other and sharing a barn and well. Although older, Molly, the neighbor's daughter, is Willow's best friend. In 1874, the nearby town of Pine Hill decides to build a new schoolhouse as the old one was burned down during the Civil War. Willow is unsure about going to school, and when she finds out that Molly can't go because she is "colored," Willow decides it is not for her. Also, Willow has a secret. Her birth mother is not Rose, but a Chickasaw woman named Spring who was killed by the KKK when they found out she was seeing a white man. However, Grandpa insists Willow go to school and volunteers as an assistant to protect her from those who believe that she doesn't belong. As Willow gets older, she learns more about her mixed-race past and connects with lost relatives. She'll do all this while trying to keep the farm going and raising a family. ... (read more)

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Imperfect Lives

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The Common Threads Trilogy: Common Threads I
by L. A. Champagne


"The Ashantis were the first tribe to actively kidnap and force other Africans to be their slave laborers. Little did they know that this custom would be the downfall for millions of Africans..."

Champagne's debut historical novel, the first of a trilogy, examines friendship and family as forged during the horrific era of chattel slavery in the nineteenth century. The story begins in the early 1850s as Berko Yaba, a young Ashanti teenager, is kidnapped while playing in the rain near his home in Ghana. He is housed with many other captured Ghanaians at the infamous Elmina Castle. Two weeks later, he is forced aboard the Destino, a slave ship bound for the islands of the West Indies. After a tortuous voyage of many weeks in which only 238 of an original 323 captives survive, Berko is sold on an auction block in Port Royal, Jamaica, to Jacob Marcus. Berko is the sugar plantation owner's first human purchase, and the boy notes that Marcus' behavior is different from other white men at the auction. A reasonably benevolent man, Marcus purchases two other boys that Berko had become acquainted with as they survived the horrors of the Atlantic passage. It is a comfort for them to continue their friendships. Marcus bestows his slaves with Christian names, and Berko is forever after known as Jedidiah Allen. ... (read more)

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Love, War & Survival

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Real Presidents

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We The Presidents: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century
by Ronald Gruner
libratum.press


"Politics has become a multibillion-dollar industry composed of partisan news organizations, firebrand media pundits, subversive Internet sites, avaricious political action committees, and sponsored think tanks and universities."

Gruner's book gives readers a balanced history of the American presidents ranging from Warren Harding to Donald Trump. The author never uses the words Democrat or Republican. Instead of party politics, there are thorough explanations of policies and the reasons behind them. Another effect of taking out the partisan slant is that readers see the human beings, the presidents' characters, values, and work ethics. Readers receive a refreshing view of the ways presidents help Americans explore their own consciences. ... (read more)

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Time of Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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A Spiritual Philosophy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Rich & Varied

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Borrowed Light
by Ken Haas
Red Mountain Press


"is what separates us from the beasts
cracks the cabbie in Jersey
as we grind like chipped gear teeth
toward the steel cervix
of the George Washington Bridge."

Through poetry, this textured memoir reflects on life, world events, and a twentieth-century Jewish American trajectory from war to conventional comforts and challenges. Written with the rich benefit of hindsight and longevity, these poems blend deft wordplay and stylish storytelling to reveal the bonus of age and perspective: finding out how certain stories end, how events connect, and which ironies and juxtapositions emerge. ... (read more)

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Coming of Age

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A Portable Chaos
by E. M. Schorb
Hill House


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

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

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Good Business

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Ethical Profit: A Guide to Increase Profit Using Sustainable Practices
by Samantha Richardson
Writing Pixels Publishing


"It’s easy to shrug our shoulders and say the problems are too large… situation is too far out of our control. This isn’t the case."

Speaking directly to a generation of inhabitants hellbent on throwing away the planet, Richardson is adamant that businesses can achieve profits and maintain an environmentally conscious mindset. However, what separates Richardson’s work from other guides on optimal environmental practices is her ability to highlight the indirect costs that arise from being solely profit-oriented. In a nutshell, the work juxtaposes the hidden fees of capitalism with the transparency of sustainability to highlight the advantages both to the individual business as well as the planet that can be reaped with a nurturing mindset toward nature’s resources. ... (read more)

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Truth & Lies

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


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

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

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Answers in Our Roots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Repairing Our Divided Nation: How to Fix America’s Broken Government, Racial Inequity, and Troubled Schools
by David A. Ellison
Cedarhurst Press


"Now is the time to repair our divided nation."

Few can argue that modern America faces problems stemming from partisanship in government and racial inequity in society. In his brief but well-defined treatise, the author discusses how the United States became a nation divided along party lines in both the private sector and government, why racism still has its hold on American society, and how the educational system can be used to help rectify these problems. The author pulls from many historical writings, such as U.S. Supreme Court decisions, The Federalist Papers, The Constitution of the United States, and authors from Frederick Douglass to M. Night Shyamalan to illustrate his points. The book includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and the constitutional amendments. ... (read more)

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Hard to Put Down

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A Dancer in Depth: Paragraphs From a Theatre Life
by Stanley Howard Mazin
PageTurner Press and Media


"I was awakened by the sound of shouting, which had happened many times before. But this time there was a gunshot..."

By his own admission, Mazin is a shy person. But this trait does not mean he cannot prove his goal of being honest about his life. His comments on his many sexual experiences are told like true confidences from a friend. As his life story unfolds, he relates becoming friends with so many dancers and directors and then very famous people on American TV and the stage that he also proves to be a very outgoing person who goes far by enjoying working with new acquaintances and old friends. He became a regular on The Carol Burnett Show and, from that experience, was hired for decades of programs. He also became a tour director for his time between shows. His fascination with his time in Cairo demonstrates his positive, curious nature. He became family with the Egyptians who first showed him around. He then took tours of so many famous places that the reader will likely feel envious of his rich experiences. ... (read more)

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Unflinching

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These Walls Between Us: A Memoir of Friendship Across Race and Class
by Wendy Sanford
She Writes Press


"Mary and I had begun to tell each other more of the truth, but I was scared."

In her memoir, Sanford recounts her life from childhood to adulthood with profound honesty. She was born into a white and wealthy family, but her life was not picture perfect. The author details her father's abusive behavior toward her mother. Little did she know that a teenage girl would come into her life and change it. One summer, when Sanford was twelve years old, she met Mary, a fifteen-year-old black girl who worked for Sanford's parents. Both girls became fast friends despite their race and class. These women would go through marriage, divorce, and single motherhood, and these events would bring them closer. Throughout her journey, the author would begin to understand her white privilege and find her voice. ... (read more)

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Multi-Award Winner

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Sky Full of Wings
by Ksenia Rychtycka
Finishing Line Press


"I push away embroidered pillows, hands
insistent on Father’s back till he wakes,
...We are as snug as birds
nesting. Soon our nest will empty."

In Rychtycka’s poetry compilation, the use of vivid sensory images brings the intimate feelings of one’s memories to life. An ode to journeys past, the poet’s trek ranging from Chicago to Kyiv is eye-opening, weaving together a snapshot of time that is sometimes torturous and haunting, at others hopeful and resplendent. ... (read more)

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Deep Examination

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My Swan Lake Life: An Interactive Histoir: 80,000 B.C. - May 31, 1965 A.D
by Louise Blocker
L&L Publishers


"...Although 'Black' is shown on my birth certificate, I don't wear the color well, so I will continue to write 'human' in the space allotted for race."

When her grandson asked her if she had any fun being a slave, Blocker realized it was time for her to examine the realities underlying her status as a black American female of the modern era. She began collecting historical data relating to her background and all members of her extended African family, the result being this remarkable tribute grounded in America's continuing racial struggles. ... (read more)

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Compassion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Revolution
by David Dorrough


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

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

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Heartwarming & Gut-Wrenching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series Book 3)
by J. D. R. Hawkins
Westwood Books Publishing


"The anguish in her eyes broke David’s heart. He gazed down at her and, as reassurance, gave her a sorrowful smile."

How one acts in the face of adversity is often a true reflection of one's character. This is no different for the protagonist, Anna Brady, a teenager who harbors a soldier from the Confederate Army as the Civil War is reaching its most pivotal point. Despite fears of being labeled complicit in a crime, Anna finds herself mesmerized by Alabama native David Summers. More than that, though, she recognizes that he is near certain death after being wounded at Gettysburg, and if she doesn't help, his blood will be on her. As the story unfolds, Hawkins does a masterful job of using the Civil War as a stage to highlight the torturous choices faced by those who lived through these times. ... (read more)

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Haunting Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ice Out: A Novel
by Susan Speranza
She Writes Press


"Though her eyes were closed, images rose like unwanted specters, creating a kaleidoscope of the past which crowded her, taunted her."

Francesca Bellini's life has an upward curve in which everything is made magical by her love of music and her virtuoso flute. When she meets her future husband, architecture student Ben Bodin, she becomes aware of his deep pain and the darkness in his life surrounding the death of his twin sister, Lucy. Ben is as passionate about making a life with Francesca as he is about his love of the land his parents have gifted the couple in Vermont. She is initially reluctant to leave her fulfilling life on Long Island, but on their first trip to the mountains, "as they glide through the trees, the moon guiding their way, she senses she has found something beautiful, something rare." ... (read more)

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A Better Way

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unlearning the Ropes: The Benefits of Rethinking What School Teaches You
by Denise M. Bressler
DIO Press


"Childhood play helps us lay the groundwork for who we are and what we love."

As an educational researcher with over two decades of experience, Bressler brings pertinence and insight to her work. It is a timely piece of literature that underscores the massive flaws in America's educational system and its residual effects on the overall development of the student. For far too long, the whispers of a system that isn't working at its most optimum to benefit students have been growing; Bressler's research punctuates these whispers with resounding force and a wealth of information that lends credence to the notion that there are fundamental pitfalls in the current way of doing things. ... (read more)

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Coming of Age

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Valiance
by Vanessa Caraveo


"Nothing can stop me on my way to the top, and I am going to get there with the people I love cheering me on."

Diego is born deaf and unable to make sounds with his vocal cords. As the middle child in a family of undocumented immigrants, Diego often has to do without many things in his life, including functional hearing aids. Ever an undaunted learner, he figures out how to read lips, and from there, nothing can hold him back as he works toward his goal of becoming a soccer star. ... (read more)

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Pandemic Aftermath

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The Wuhan RBG Virus
by Philip Emma
Quantum Discovery


"Therefore, in addition to reversing the Chinese virus that was turning people into vampires, I had higher goals in mind."

When Dr. Grouchi, chief medical advisor to the president of the United States, is invited by his good friend, Dr. Gao, to explore the Wuhan Lab's research on bat excrement—rabid bat guano (RBG)—little does he know that chaos of apocalyptic measures will be unleashed on society. A direct satirical commentary on the rumors swirling around the origin of Covid-19 in a Wuhan lab, Emma's narrative is lighthearted and entertaining, but at the same time, one that will force audiences to think deeper about their own experiences during the pandemic. ... (read more)

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Strong & Clear

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unbelievable Delusions of the Infamous John Calvin
by Ron Craig
Writers’ Branding


"So, what is this book all about? It is about revealing the TRUE-NATURE of Calvinism, so that the reader will question why any Christian would call him or herself a GOOD CALVINIST!"

The author seeks to reveal the true nature of Calvinism and believes that sixteenth-century French theologian John Calvin led his followers astray with his theories about predestination. Arguing that The Institutes of the Christian Religion should have been more appropriately titled “The Destruction of the Christian Faith,” the author suggests that Calvin’s teachings toward predestination are the opposite of what, in fact, the Bible teaches. Craig discusses the Bible and the blessings of Christ for all people and questions the intentions of Calvin, accusing him of rewriting the Bible to fit into his own misguided theories. Incorporating his lifelong study of the Bible, as well as his solid understanding of Calvinism, the author believes he is qualified to bring forth these arguments with a strong, heartfelt warning for his readers. ... (read more)

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Spirit of Discovery

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Licosa
by Nick Goulding
Libel Press


"If someone's worried about leftists in Europe, they have a lot of countries to worry about."

Centered on the backdrop of a traditional treasure hunt in southern Italy in 1962, Goulding’s work establishes the tone of a no-holds-barred, anything-could-happen thriller with the ominous and sinister opening-scene murder of prominent figure Benedetto Gasperini. True to the thriller genre, the train encounter in which Gasperini reaches his most undignified lavatory demise leads to a genuine desire for further probing and the need to understand the motivations of a man called Rino Scarpa. ... (read more)

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Amazing Synchronicity

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Imageries: Images and Epigrams
by Stephen Stolee and James Botsford
Sandyhouse Press


"…the paired impressions are meant to inform, provoke, illuminate and expand on each other."

Two artistic thinkers who grew up together in Grand Forks, North Dakota, met again in later years and saw that their works might align smoothly with each other. Thus did Botsford's epigrams and Stolee's photographs successfully merge in this imaginative volume. Both pictures and the short word portraits that accompany them offer only the most subtle clues as to meaning, leaving the observer to think far outside the normally constraining "box" that defines either verse or photography. ... (read more)

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Healing Tales

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Nursing Reflections
by Carolyn Christine Dew
Trafford Publishing


"There is never a dull moment in the life of a home health nurse."

Nurse and writer Dew presents stories about the realm of nursing designed to entertain and surprise her readers while endowing them with a more thoughtful attitude. Her first offering gives a glimpse of the oddities to come when she is asked to help fulfill a gay male patient's last wish. With Dew's persistence, his favorite musical piece, "Killing Me Softly with His Song," is played at his funeral. A hospice nurse and her co-workers deal with three deaths in one night. A public health nurse visits a poverty-racked farm home and swallows a fly, wondering later where it had been before it landed in her mouth. A professor asks a nursing student named Alexa a complex question, and the answer is suddenly pronounced by a nearby Echo-Dot, to the great amusement of all present. One of the most moving stories involves a patient being diligently prepared for post-mortem care when a loud gasp of air startles the gathered medical staff: "One could say that the patient had the last word in this case…." ... (read more)

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A Case Study

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Plot to Save America
by Avraham Azrieli
Amazon


"I’m not a happy executioner, but I’m a willing executioner. I don’t feel guilty about this. What we do... essential to Make America Great Again."

Azrieli’s haunting narrative conjures an alternate reality highlighting the ramifications of the Stop the Steal rally that culminated in bloodshed on January 6, 2021. After separating the Republicans and Democrats, the Democrats are suffocated in the tunnels in the Capitol Fire, while prominent figures are hanged. The story is centered upon Death Penalty Investigator #1645, who fittingly remains anonymous to represent the obliviousness of a population convinced that Biden and Black Lives Matter were responsible for the insurrection. ... (read more)

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Bittersweet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Faithful Dog: A Civil War Novel
by Terry Lee Caruthers
Black Rose Writing


"Based on a true story and the history of the Fifty-Eighth Illinois, [the book] powerfully illustrates the unwavering bond of devotion between dogs and their humans."

A friendly, intelligent dog named Bärchen joins the family of Louis Pfeif, which consists of Pfeif, his father, his wife, and the Pleifs' young daughter, who is the dog's particular friend. It is 1862, and there is disagreement in the home because German-born Pfeif plans to leave his family to join the Fifty-Eighth Illinois Infantry Regiment. Mrs, Pfeif is grieving his choice but ultimately agrees to her husband's decision to participate in support of the Union by becoming an officer. Bärchen accompanies Pfeif to Chicago's Camp Douglas, where the dog becomes an honorary member of the regiment and, concurrently, a devoted friend and supporter of Louis Pfeif. From Chicago, the unit is transferred to Tennesee and onto Erin Hollow. Through multiple physical and emotional hardships, the truly faithful dog remains close to his master in the military camps and the battlefields, even into mortal danger. ... (read more)

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An Educational Philisophy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Confessions of an Elementary School Principal
by Meril Smith
Inks & Bindings


"The challenge was creating memorable experiences at school that would last children a lifetime."

This engaging memoir of a man who has devoted his life to education has an unlikely start, as Smith was considered "one of the dumb kids" when he attended school. He did not learn to read until the sixth grade and struggled academically throughout high school and college. With the help of a teacher who believed in him, Smith eventually became an elementary school teacher himself and would go on to spend the majority of his career as a principal. His memoir describes his journey to becoming a principal and explains his educational ideology and its impact on his school, students, and community. ... (read more)

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Engaging Narrative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Promised Child
by Rensey (Rick) Hutchins
Quantum Discovery


"As a man of God, I have to have humility, not pride. I need integrity, not frustration. I need love and hope."

Born in August 1966 in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in "the projects called Desoto Bass" in the 1970s, Hutchins begins his story by describing his hometown as a boomtown, where in the past, there was a large amount of manufacturing but now only "purgatory and distress." Though he grew up in what he calls a dysfunctional family, absent his father and with a single mother on welfare and one of six siblings, he declares God has blessed him. He moved to Aurora, Colorado, in the mid-80s, where he liked the mountains and lakes and people but ultimately ended up back in Ohio, as the elevation in Aurora kept him sick constantly with sinus and ear congestion. At age sixteen, the author recalls telling his mom while the two were standing in the kitchen that "one day, I would be rich." "Oh son, don't forget about Momma," she replied, and they giggled together. ... (read more)

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A Compelling Voice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hero of the Good War
by Nick Goulding
Libel Press


"And if he was happy and sober and light at the end, it was only because he'd received a final moment of grace as a parting gift from the man he had left with no choice but to kill him."

It's 1957, Ike's in the Oval Office, and ex-pats are in the City of Light. Radio has left its mark, and television's beginning to usurp it. But it's still the newspapers that inform the masses and fire the imagination. Bass is an American reporter at a paper in Paris who wants to work for a bigger and better one. He will get his chance if he can find McGlynn, the most famous reporter in the world, who's missing. Bass' quest to locate and deliver McGlynn provides the framework for this empathetic homage to a time that likely will not come again. It's a tale told well without the need for wistfulness or sentimentality. ... (read more)

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Wonderful Storyteller

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Artifacts and Other Stories
by Ronna Wineberg
Serving House Books


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

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

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The Five Senses

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Clean Your Heart
by Jiang Shan Yu Ping
Pen Culture Solutions


"Human consciousness is like a computer system, and the faith system is the foundation program for sustaining the whole system."

This new book is intended to help the reader find peace and enlightenment. It is presented with twenty-seven chapters (or courses). The author suggests the reader work their way through these, often by typing or writing out the information by hand to help the material become a part of the subconscious. Each chapter presents several questions followed by repetitive phrases meant to help readers think about how they process information and what they perceive through their five senses. Closing each chapter is a summary of what the lesson was focused on and the benefit gained from it. Most of the summaries work through the computer program analogy, and a few focus on right and left brain thinking and how the male and female brains may differ. ... (read more)

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Well-Paced

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Vampiro: Volume I: The Night Crawler Protocol
by Don W. Hill, M.D. and Tom Cavaretta
Bookwhip Company


"Lorena intuitively realized that something evil was afoot and standing directly in front of her."

Blake Barker is busy managing a Woolworth store in Santa Fe when a hippie named Jody assumes the lotus position outside, wearing nothing but a wifebeater. After cutting his palm with a strange obsidian knife, Jody freezes to death on the sidewalk. Over the next four years, Blake must put up with members of a cult dedicated to Jody showing up outside the store, attempting to emulate Jody's demise. Finally, Blake has enough and moves his family to Las Cruces in southern New Mexico. However, some of the more devout of those following Jody track Blake to his new town. In addition, his family, with the help of Lorena, their live-in domestic, begins to raise alpacas and chickens. Things get weird when Ruby, one of the devout that follows Blake, is discovered dead in front of his new place of employment with wounds on her neck and holding the same obsidian knife. Then some of the alpacas are killed, and Lorena discovers that their chickens carry the virus that turns others into vampires. She confirms this when she realizes their neighbor's son, Romero Lopes, is now a "vampiro." She tries to tell the Barkers what is going on and protect them, but they tell her they don't want any of her superstitions in their house. ... (read more)

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Serenity Among Chaos

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Silhouettes of Time
by Maya Mitra Das
Authors Press


"Open your eyes to the world, there are sounds, colors and feeling which are all around us. The world just doesn’t revolve around you."

Exploring an era of Indian history largely left behind by time, Das weaves a tale of heartbreak, division, and the underlying hope that emerges like a phoenix from the ashes of nonsensical bloodshed. The work is a compilation of short stories that range on various topics, but the tales predominantly reflect upon a pre-independence India that featured unimaginable rifts between the Hindu and Muslim communities, one where seemingly overnight, neighbors and friends thirsted for the blood of those living around them. Well written and with engaging characters, the narrative develops a storyline and examines this time from a variety of angles, including but not limited to the role that Mahatma Gandhi (also known as Bapujee) plays in creating peace, the tragic devastation of broken families, and the aftermath of it all as a nation picks up the pieces. ... (read more)

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Historical Ride

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Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride
by Jean M. Flahive
Indie Author Books


"So be it. Know this, child. You will meet someone notable who rides the black car."

Millie is a girl growing up in Maine in the early 1910s. She lives on a farm with her parents and older brother. When an interurban trolley line is built and runs through her small town, she is fascinated by the beautiful trolley car named the Narcissus. Her father supports Teddy Roosevelt, and when she hears that Roosevelt will be coming to her town on the trolley, she decides she must see him. Although their wagon wheel breaks on the way to see him, Millie chases after the trolley car hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous man and give him a bouquet of sweet peas. This moment, along with the opening of travel opportunities provided by the interurban, will shape Millie's life through the decade and the trials of World War I. ... (read more)

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Essays of Truth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

American Requiem: How the Left is Destroying America
by George Hassel
AuthorHouse


"It is important to realize that the march to socialism and eventual one party rule will continue unless soundly and finally defeated."

The United States has experienced its ups and downs through its 245-year history, especially as political leadership, like public opinion, is fluid. Author Hassel sees historical comparisons between Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Joe Biden, their commonality being a lapse in real leadership. The repression by a hegemony fractures an already fragile union, and special advantages and dispensations are leading to a rift in the United States. The focus on open borders and perils of imminent climate change are distracting from larger issues, mainly crime and homeland security. The main crux of the book focuses on the first term of Barack Obama and how “Hope and Change” were a mere smokescreen for bloated government and institutional corruption. The Biden administration is considered merely an extension of Obama’s policies. ... (read more)

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Unique Approach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Another Way: Thoughts on the Coming Collapse
by John Louis Martin
Xlibris


"This book is about greed, hubris, poisons, missed opportunities, sins of commission, and sins of omission. It is about the modern world."

This small book explores people’s sense of self within the community, including their various identities revealed in their religion, ethnic groups, gender, and politics. By examining multiple environmental problems with so-called solutions promoted by businesses and politicians, the thrust of the narrative is instead the need to focus on using less rather than more, including stopping population growth and reducing fossil fuel use. Martin's work takes into consideration the history of the United States, how it has led to current problems, and the changes needed to have sustainable communities. It looks at the value of farming, the necessity of railroads, and the issues with the nation’s information and communication systems. The author’s book utilizes information from various sources, mostly from the twentieth century and especially from the 1950s to the 1980s. ... (read more)

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Fascinating Races

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Rangers Universe: Slave Traders
by Douglas James Cheatham


"Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gave one last look at her home. In that singular moment, she realized how harsh Known-Space was."

Even for the Rangers, an ability-enhanced race, Cameron Summers’ telekinetic powers are too strong and dangerous in this action-packed science fiction novel. Cameron and her grandfather move to a “Human” planet to try to blend in and live a peaceful life. When she is thirteen, however, a raid on her home planet results in Cameron being enslaved and her grandfather held hostage to keep her powers in check. Cameron ends up training to become a useful asset for her new owner, Slave Lord James Ferrell. Though the Slave Lords are only Human, their financial power grants them political sway throughout Known-Space, and James Ferrell is one of the most influential. His bodyguard, Alex Sheridan, is a traitor to his own Ranger race and recognizes Cameron’s potential. He aids in Cameron’s training as she assists him in guarding Ferrell and in planning military-style operations to defend their forces and enlarge Ferrell’s slave empire. Sheridan also mentors Cameron throughout her teenage years as she becomes the weapon her people always feared she would be. ... (read more)

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Flight Control

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Legends: The Men on the Flying Trapeze
by H.J. “Walt” Walter


"People started running towards the site, many with fire extinguishers and wearing protective clothing. Walt could smell the presence of gasoline…"

After scoring well on pre-aviation screenings and showing the necessary drive and discipline, Bob, Paul, and Walt arrive in Pensacola, Florida, to begin flight training for the Navy. The three young men become acquainted and realize they’ll be in the same squadron. They excel as pilots through intense training, both in the classroom and behind the stick in planes. In addition, they become close friends. Although it is 1929, and the stock market has just crashed, the young navy aviators are isolated from most of the trouble because they are in the armed services. Walt’s father is a wealthy energy tycoon, so he helps the young men stay in fancy hotels and experience the finer things in life when they have leave. Eventually, they all pass their flight certifications and get their wings. Bob and Paul are assigned as pilots to a carrier, while Walt becomes an important member of a team working on lighter-than-air vehicles to use as flying aircraft carriers. As these experimental carriers get more national attention, the young pilots meet again as they attempt to solidify the viability of these vehicles for the Navy and the public. However, tragedy puts that goal out of reach. ... (read more)

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Deeply Nostalgic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Journey Back into the Vault: In Search of My Faded Cuban Childhood Footprints
by Mario Cartaya
Xlibris


"How did we allow the short distance between our countries to become so great?"

Cartaya captures the heart of the Cuban diaspora in this moving memoir of his return to the country of his birth after fifty-six years. Born in Havana in 1951, The author fled the country with his family eight years later. This traumatic upheaval has had repercussions throughout his life, both for him and his family. He has found great success in America, but when travel to Cuba became possible under the Obama administration, he felt the pull of his homeland. He embarked on a return journey with the desire to visit the places from his childhood with the hopes of finding closure, connection, and calm. ... (read more)

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Decisions

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The Adventures of C.W.: Choices
by Sandy Meeks
Archway Publishing


"’I tell Mommy I learn about making good choices and not bad choices.’"

While his parents are at the hospital with a newborn, C.W. spends time with his grandparents. Two days after a fun trip to the zoo, C.W. and his grandma, Mimi, awake to find they have had a snowstorm and the power is out. Mimi entertains him with old board games and fun in the snow. However, C.W. misses the television and the heat. He gets frustrated and makes several poor choices throughout their time together, and Mimi corrects him and helps him think about better decisions. As the weather clears a bit, they can visit the boy’s grandpa (Poopaw) on the ranch. C.W. shows that he has been learning good choices. When he finds out his parents are coming the next day, he is excited to tell them what he has learned about making choices. ... (read more)

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Family During War

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Shake Your Tree: Memories of Marie Claire, Always Creole and Always a Proud Colored Former Slave Owner
by Paulette Fenderson Hebert
iUniverse


"Just shake your tree, son—you never know who or what kind of people will fall out!"

A fictional census taker in 1890 has not finished his assignment along a road in the Louisiana countryside. At one stop, the gentleman becomes intrigued with an elderly lady and her family stories, along with the pitcher of tea she offers freely on a hot day. Miss Marie Claire explains about being creole because she had at least one relative who was a colonist. She then explains the difference between relatives classified as “colored” and a free man or free woman of color. She also notes the differences between her relatives who are part African. Namely, they are mulatto, quadroon, or octoroon. Her original white family members had arrived from France, and their descendants once lived on plantations as the rich owners of slaves. Intermarriage between peers was a way to increase their wealth. Skin color didn’t matter. However, once Louisiana became a U.S. state, the roles were reversed, and her relatives were classified as black. ... (read more)

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Adventurous

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Rogue Pharma: A Qian Choi Novel
by Hugh Cameron & Edna Quammi
Xlibris


"In the hours before the meeting was supposed to start, they walked around the center of the city looking at the Sakura trees, blooming in all their fleeting beauty."

In this exciting collaborative effort, readers follow Qian Choi, a heroine of the likes of Louise Rick in The Night Women. As the leader of a Hong Kong-based triad involved in pharmaceuticals, Qian Choi and other fierce women battle against the pressures of Big Pharma. As Big Pharma threatens to destroy Qian Choi, Lauren, a former assassin and the widow of Qian’s former husband, arrives with Qian’s rescue. Readers also travel to some of the world’s most exotic places, including Vietnam and Japan, as Qian and her team race against an always-ticking clock to prevent the next disaster. Along the way, the storyline ventures into the shady and corrupt realm of Big Pharma, where high payoffs and well-protected networks ensure high profits and well-padded portfolios for high-ranking investors. ... (read more)

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The Long Road

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

TM: A Mind-Expanding Mystery Adventure
by H.D. Rogers
AuthorHouse


"Life is always full of risks."

A space-age military defense system used surreptitiously to defeat terrorist attacks on the ground creates extreme political controversy in this high-concept thriller. Dr. Harold Symes, the designer of artificial intelligence for the Guardian Orbital Defense System (GOD), a network of 104 U.S. satellites, has disappeared, leaving investigators puzzled by the “TM” notations on his calendar. Outspoken Senator Leila Kahlid-Conroy, a staunch opponent of the system, points out the possible dangers of artificial intelligence that could render GOD dangerously out of control, especially because the system satellites are often under attack by Chinese, Iranian, and Russian hackers and their nations’ anti-satellite weapons. Plus, future presidents or Space Force commanders might misuse the system with ill intent rather than protect the country from totalitarian enemies. ... (read more)

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Whiskey & Humor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beating the Odds: 82 Years at the Kentucky Derby
by John S. Sutton, Jr. and Amber D. Sims
Xlibris


"By the time I was twelve years old, I could study the racing form before and after the race better than most adults."

Growing up in difficult circumstances in Louisville, Kentucky, the creator of this lively autobiography taught himself to bet on horse races, notably the Kentucky Derby, often to the gain of family, co-workers, and friends. His acute knowledge of racing was undoubtedly inherited from his father, who helped Sutton’s grandfather in his work as a blacksmith. Sutton’s youth embodied many paradoxes. For example, he was far more physically powerful than his slim frame indicated and far more intelligent than his poverty-ridden circumstances suggested. He often amazed physical education instructors and barroom bullies with his physical prowess and proved his mental capabilities by attending university, attaining a BA in biology and an MBA in mathematics, serving in the U.S. Army, and receiving high praise for his intellectual abilities. With his father and then on his own, he began his “tradition” of attending the Kentucky Derby at the age of eight. ... (read more)

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Being Human

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tearing Petals of Beauty
by Bailey C. Weber
Xlibris


"The tongue wastes precious words; the pen frees them
Finally, I can see for myself truth
My thoughts are straining to see not of him"

The spectrum of characteristics humanity possesses is depicted through the construct of flowers in a poetry compilation that is stirring with energy from the first poem to the final one. Bursting with resplendent imagery, each selection is infused with meaning that may address one of a myriad of themes but still culminates with love. ... (read more)

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Thrilling Ride

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Researched Death
by G L Barbour
Pen Culture Solutions


"Seems like we have a lot of ‘knowns’ without knowing whether they mean anything."

A doctor sits behind the wheel of his car, intent on leaving the stress of his job, when an unknown assailant accosts him. He is directed to drive and ask no questions. New City Hospital is a teaching hospital currently overseen by Tom Bolling. Bolling's past in the military serves him well in his position as chief of staff at the hospital, where he runs operations with a structured mindset. The hospital is thrown into a chaotic state when a patient dies after a fairly routine procedure. Bolling wants answers and questions Dr. Adam Schlecter on his actions that may have led to the patient's demise. Bolling worries about negligence that could lead to the hospital forfeiting its accreditation. However, a bigger problem emerges when Schlecter goes AWOL, and various hospital personnel members turn up dead. ... (read more)

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Beyond the Tangible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Out of Chaos, Shapes
by Jim Martin
AuthorHouse


"The same hand which used a soft lump of red ocre to search meaning in life. With an axe could brutally kill."

Central to Martin’s premise is probing beyond the veil of what is tangible and becoming a purveyor of the limitless beyond. The compilation represents an intriguing conglomeration of all our experiences, digested and analyzed from both the scientific and metaphysical perspectives. Specifically, the power of thoughts as the framework for operating as powerful a tool as the mind is integral to understanding the evolution of humanity as a whole. ... (read more)

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Supernatural Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Feathered Serpent
by Robert Leahy
Pen Culture Solutions


"All this cosmic talk comes to us on this balcony."

Pearl is a psychic living in the small spiritualist community of Argo, making a living by reading auras, interpreting visions for visitors, and occasionally helping local law enforcement solve crimes with her intuitive abilities. Life is mostly peaceful until her friend Margaret Anderson, the director of Langford College Art Museum, is found murdered in a mysterious and brutal way. Margaret’s heart has been ripped out, and a red feather is discovered in her chest cavity. ... (read more)

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Edge of Your Seath

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Naked Death
by G L Barbour
Pen Culture Solutions


"I’m just saying, it would be hard to hit that little hole with a guy dancing around."

Murder, hospital corruption, and more money than one person can handle are combined in this mystery novel. A man is found stark naked and murdered with a pencil jabbed through his ear at Cincinnati’s New City Hospital, and it’s up to Ron Looney and his partner Gene Novalchek to figure out what happened. What they unravel leads them down a path of scandal and corruption like they haven’t seen before. ... (read more)

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Turning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Recruitment
by Ronald E. Estes
iUniverse


"'Jack,' Paolo said, 'per favore. I don’t think you are an American diplomat. You and I shouldn’t know whether Sasha or his father is KGB, and we shouldn’t care.'"

Everyone has secrets. So does every country. Intelligence services exist to keep their nation’s secrets and to uncover those of its adversaries. At no time were those objectives more paramount than during what’s often referred to as the Cold War. America’s CIA and Russia’s KGB were front and center in the geopolitical struggle to keep one from succeeding over the other, not simply militarily but ideologically as well. This short novel takes readers inside a clandestine operation to turn a Soviet agent into an American asset. Beirut, Lebanon, is the initial setting. There, American intelligence operatives concoct a plan to persuade a Russian KGB man, Petrov, to become a double agent, a resource for the United States. ... (read more)

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New Business

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

5 Dysfunctions of a Company
by Leonard Marsden
Xlibris


"Be careful what you measure because it could cause the wrong behaviors."

Businesses have always been competitive. Globalization, the Covid pandemic, and an ever-shifting economy have made one fact crystal clear: businesses today need every advantage they can get to rise above competitors. Marsden’s guide presents five essential principles for any organization to be effective and functional. These principles are mission/values, strategy, leadership, communication, and teamwork. Each chapter defines the tenet, offers examples of how it applies, and gives examples of the dysfunction caused when it is not. ... (read more)

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Multi-Traditions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mandalas: Reflections From Inner Space
by Jan West
AuthorHouse


"Meditating on a mandela provides a way for a practitioner to enter a sacred space."

This book’s artwork transports the reader to his or her own private creative center. The messages that accompany the mandalas give precise and poignant guidance. They can be read over and over on different days to reveal fresh insight with each re-read. The artwork and wise words feel both universal and intimate. They can be used for spiritual comfort or everyday inspiration. ... (read more)

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Strangely Compelling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Waterbury Winter
by Linda Stewart Henley
She Writes Press


"'I’ve seen it too many times,’ she says. ‘Lives ruined by the bottle. You have a gift to offer the world. Don’t squander it.’"

Barnaby Brown is unhappy. In middle age, his life has reached an impasse. His beloved wife passed away eighteen years ago, leaving him alone with only his green Amazon parrot, Popsicle, for company. In despair, Barnaby has turned to drink, thereby sabotaging his career and relationship prospects. But Barnaby has one talent—painting—which offers him hope for gainful employment and respectability. When Popsicle’s disappearance brings him into the orbit of two women, Julia and Lisa, who both display romantic interest, Barnaby is motivated to cast aside his slovenly, self-pitying lifestyle and begin selling his artwork. But the allure of liquor proves almost irresistible, and when a scammer cheats him out of a considerable sum of money, Barnaby starts to fear that his aspirations will never take flight. ... (read more)

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Hybrid Novel/Play

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kin Magic: Journey to Enlightenment
by U.S. Obilor
AuthorHouse


"It was a divisive sorcerer execution at the command of the king, under the pretext of recognition and fame, publicly showing off wizards killing wizards for the amusement of an undeserving king."

This story features the magical wisdom of Africa. In this engrossing tale, Taju Olamilekan and his companions must discover what binds the European eaters of death with the African principalities of magic. Taju is a loquacious good-for-nothing. He's got a great sense of humor and is as lovable as he is loathsome. Important secret circle members—Kali, Imani, Shaka, and Eberu—join him in confronting the forces of Ra and the principalities. The encounters require careful planning. Ra covets the holder of the portkey magic. While Taju is just learning how to use the forces of magic, the identity of the holder of the portkey magic is slowly revealed. ... (read more)

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Lyrical Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Chronicle of the Ostmen: Book One: Maelstrom
by Ian McKay Nunn
Xlibris


"'We will if the boy will play that tune we heard on our arrival.' He nodded towards Mael."

Mael is the young son of an Irish clan lord. Since he is not in line to be an heir, he is left to live a carefree life, playing with his friends. He has become recognized for his musical talent with the lute and his enchanting voice. The village adults hammer home the importance of paying strict attention to the new Christian leaders and never speaking about the old ways. Little does Mael know, though, that their lives are going to change forever. ... (read more)

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Childhood Worries

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moonlight Monsters
by Heather Millard
AuthorHouse


"Alexander jumped into his bed and thought, I am still scared, but I was brave after all; even the monster said so. And with that knowledge, he fell soundly asleep."

Young readers join Alexander as he braves the lurking shadows in his dark room at bedtime in this engaging children’s book. When his mom announces it’s time for bed, Alexander hesitates to crawl into his bed and close his eyes. He sees the creepy shadows on his wall and wonders why the monsters have come for him. He’s much too afraid to fall asleep. Even though he is scared, he knows he must face these monsters if he ever wants to get to sleep. ... (read more)

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Unique

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Turquoise Tail
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books


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

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

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Technology

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mutiny on the Omaha (Book 1)
by Don Holman
PageTurner Press and Media


"I saw the second marine bringing his blaster to bear on me. I fired and his blaster exploded."

After finishing high school, William Middleton III decides to enlist. Although he has been offered three scholarships, William believes this decision will be best for him and his mother. His father has been missing for nearly a year, ever since leaving for a sixteen-week space flight. William excels in his studies and learns about assembling and operating the space force’s top two computers. After being instrumental in defending against attacks during his first two assignments, William is put on a top-secret mission to determine what is happening on the large spaceship, the Omaha. It doesn’t take long before William discovers someone is sabotaging the ship. He and the men he trusts begin trying to track the saboteurs and determine that they are planning a full mutiny. ... (read more)

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Grain History

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The American Grain Elevator: Function & Form
by Linda Laird
Grain Elevator Press


"Grain Elevators on the prairie define our horizon and our sense of place."

This pictorial guide of the grain elevators in the American plains also provides a written history of these elevators. In two parts, it examines the history of grain beginning in Mesopotamia and Mexico while examining trading and the grain belt in the United States. It also thoroughly explores how the elevators work, including drawings, the storage of grain, and all other aspects of developing, building, and utilizing the elevator. The importance of the railroad is also discussed. The photos reveal the uniqueness of the various types of elevators, showing how some of them are retired while some are still working. In many ways, this is a chronicle of the culture and the architecture of the farm, highlighting important historical information that needs to be preserved. ... (read more)

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Wholesome & Fun

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Tails/Tales of Fin and Fang: Bare/Bear Trouble
by Kat Morris
Lulu Publishing Services


"When they were not helping their mother, they wanted more than anything to cause mischief and play pranks."

In this light-hearted children’s book, Fin and Fang are two playful, mischievous fox brothers who set out one morning to play a prank on Bear. Fang devises an “epic” plan to set up a spider web trap for Bear to get stuck in and decides to trick him into thinking his beloved friends, the bees, are in trouble. Fin knows that Fang’s pranks usually end up less “epic” and more like “epic fails,” and he worries they might be provoking Bear too much. But when Fang’s trick turns out to be a reality, both brothers work with Bear to save the bees and even learn a lesson about caring for their friends in the process. ... (read more)

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Great Lessons

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Carly & Her Friends
by Nicole Russell
Xlibris


"'Did you see all of your friends today, Carly?' Carly replied, 'Yes Daddy, Mummy and I had a lovely day.'"

In Russell’s delightful and attractive children’s book, readers meet a baby girl lion named Carly, who lives in the “wild of Africa” with her mother and father. One day little Carly decides she would like to go for a walk to see all of her friends. As Daddy sleeps, Mummy is happy to take her for an extended walk, where she will meet up with many fun-loving and adorable animal friends who also live throughout this land. Ellie the elephant, for example, is by the lake washing herself with her long trunk. Of course, the two young friends are excited to see each other. Gwen the giraffe is the next one to greet Carly on this beautiful day. With his deep voice, Rex the Rhino comes by to say hello. Zabella the zebra rounds out Carly’s best friends, and she gets to see her too. ... (read more)

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Intriguing Tales

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What the Wind Blew In
by Marilyn B. Wassmann
Writers Branding


"Pretend that the WIND blew these by!"

Six vibrant tales are presented in poetic form, with softly colorful illustrations by the poet. Wassmann presents her works as a sort of rare happenstance, each one depicting what could be viewed as an ordinary event, seen in the light of vivid imagination and yet always relevant to the reader or listener and grounded in recognizable realities. In the first work, “Tiptoe Through the Toadstools,” a human observer notes an encounter between a self-centered imp and a generous-natured dragonfly. The two are at odds over possession of a cozy mushroom home. The imp becomes more giving and the dragonfly more contented by talking it through. ... (read more)

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A Pastor Speaks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

It Takes a Willing Mind to Serve God
by Dr. Catherine Braswell
PageTurner Press and Media


"Please let God direct your paths and bring you to the expected end He already has mapped out for you."

Based on Christian scripture and author Braswell's life journey, this useful guide reminds readers that, for those wishing to lead a faith-filled life, both heart and mind must be focused on the wish and will of God. Opening one's mind to God's plan may require numerous steps, as outlined here. Thinking of God will increase one's love for him, just as thinking about one's human partner can increase a person's love and acceptance. A mind ready for God's work will be respectful, faithful, and able to "stand firm." It is as essential in one's spiritual life as in one's earthly life to avoid procrastination and constantly move forward. ... (read more)

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Worship & Learning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Morning Walk with God
by Marlene L. Burling
PageTurner Press and Media


"I have asked the Lord to show me simple spiritual lessons as I walk with Him throughout my day."

A devout church leader, author Burling has created her collection to address Christians in a special way, using the calendar as its basis. Each entry has a unique heading and contains the author’s observations and revelations, supported by quotations from the Holy Bible and concluding with three questions under the heading “For my walk with God this morning”: “What is this telling me about God?; What do I need to do today?; Is there a promise I can claim?” The answers are to be provided by the reader. January 1, for example, is headed “Happy New Year” and encourages the reader to “press on,” reminding them of the reasons they have to be thankful, despite life’s calamities seen from personal experience. In April, the traditional Easter season, contemplations include “It All Begins at Calvary.” On July 4, she thanks the Lord for “America and our freedom and independence.” Meanwhile, the days leading up to, including, and following Christmas are laden with references to the birth of Jesus—all delivered with gentle, individual purpose and perception. ... (read more)

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Positive Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Daily Walks with God
by Marlene L. Burling
PageTurner Press and Media


"Walking with God is exciting when you are expecting and looking for the things He wants you to learn through your day."

Author Burling finds comfort in creating daily devotional passages and shares them with readers for their spiritual inspiration. Her readers can draw upon her passages day by day throughout the calendar year, or simply read at random, perhaps attracted by such titles as “A Lesson from a Determined Squirrel” (September 2), in which she observes a small animal returning again and again to a bird feeder for sustenance and falling to the ground after every bite. This spiritual metaphor invokes the question, “Can we be as determined as he was?” Each entry concludes with a short prayer, “Dear Father,” based around the meanings implied in the segment. Simple, common, and homey experiences are mined for spiritual lessons: defrosting the refrigerator, coping with poor internet service, and keeping a “junk drawer.” ... (read more)

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Alphabet Cheer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Favorite Letter: The Alphabet Comes Alive!
by Susan Gilpin
Possibility Lady Press


"I love to read and I love words and I love letters, the basic building blocks of language."

This brightly illustrated book celebrates the alphabet and is the result of extensive research conducted by the author with her friends and family members to solicit opinions on their favorite letters. The result is a book that moves along one vibrant letter at a time, describing personal associations and why each one is remarkable. Some of these reasons include what a specific letter resembles, the differences between the cursive version and other ways of writing it, and if it is silent when used in certain words. Every section includes a blank space that asks the reader to write in a favorite word that uses the discussed letter. Additionally, there is an invitation towards the final pages for everyone who enjoys the book to email the author with thoughts on their own favorite letters. ... (read more)

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