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November 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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A Korean Chronicle
by Josephine deBois


"We have all heard what’s going on out there: brutality, oppression, and cruelty. It’s wrong. We went through the horrors of two wars... and we still feel them."

This epic-like drama intricately spans fifteen years and eleven TV-like episodes. Readers follow Phillipe Farber, an anthropologist, as he researches the lives of traditional Korean families and individuals. Meanwhile, Phillipe also finds himself immersed in wars that have long-lasting consequences, not only for Korea and the Korean families involved but also for Phillipe. Readers are transported into Korea's majestic and ethereal landscapes where "tongues of fog envelop and caress the hills, like gentle eiderdown quilts lying over the awakening landscape." They also find themselves navigating Korean families' everyday existences and the circumstances that shape, stitch, and tear apart relationships in the most tumultuous of times. ... (read more)

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Competing Forces

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A Portion of Malice: Ages of Malice, Book I
by Lloyd Jeffries
Buckminster Publishing


"I must say, with no small amount of journalistic regret, I became a part of the story in this mansion in the desert."

Cain, also known as Thaddeus Drake, wants journalist Emery Merrick to write his biography. Emery, once a Pulitzer award winner, is now washed up and in need of work, so he accepts Drake’s offer. Drake’s is the story of a lifetime—actually, of many lifetimes—beginning when Cain kills his brother Abel at the dawn of time according to the biblical record to an epic, game-changing project in the 2000s. Drake uses X’chasei, his secret organization, to organize Middle East peace talks, train an elite band of unblemished children, and establish one world currency, all to win a fateful, earth-shattering audience with God. Meanwhile, X’chasei’s enemies in the Vatican threaten to undo these plans. While Drake teeters on the precipice of victory, winning another Pulitzer for telling about it turns out to be the last thing Emery wants. ... (read more)

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A New Way to Relate

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2 x 2 on the Ark: Five Secrets of a Great Relationship
by Mary J. Giuffra, PhD
Balboa Press


"Building a love relationship and being a strong marriage partner require a lot of intentionality and self-awareness."

Falling in love is easy. Swept up in emotions and the excitement of something new is like a rose-filled wave that lifts lovers to dizzying heights and sets them off on shore to find their way. Then the hard work begins, and sometimes that work demands the help of the experts. With over forty years of experience, Mary Giuffra offers resources and practices to empower couples to build and maintain long-lasting relationships. Filled with practical advice, insightful revelations, and candid examples, this guide will inspire couples to transform their relationships. Strategies are thoughtfully designed and thoroughly explained, so the hard work feels manageable and the results within reach. ... (read more)

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Historical Adventure

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A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume III - Fate
by Ian Crouch
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights


"This day would be lost to Pyrrhus because of the preparations, the following day because of hangovers. The feast was still a political triumph."

This book is the third installment in the A Pyrrhic Victory trilogy. In it, readers gain even more insight into the ancient military commander respected still today. Readers follow Pyrrhus through his barring from Rome and the rejection of his peace terms. Pyrrhus accepts an invitation to lead the powerful Greek cities in Sicily against the ruthless invaders, the Carthaginians. Pyrrhus then gains their support in the war he wages against Rome. This book is not only a careful look at Pyrrhus’ military greatness but also an insightful glance at who he was as a person as it incorporates a fictionalized portrayal of his relationship with Bircenna and Hellenistic faith, which was part of his existence. As it concludes, the book focuses on the small circle of individuals who made sure Pyrrhus’ remains were cared for with the utmost respect. It also briefly examines how Pyrrhus’ death set the stage for the next major turn in history—the beginning of the twenty-three-year-long struggle for control of Sicily: the First Punic War. ... (read more)

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Real Progress

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ACE Your Life: Unleash Your Best Self and Live the Life You Want
by Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., MPH, LCSW-R
Morgan James Publishing


"You must chisel away those barriers and 'stuckness' to reveal and unleash your personal power."

The three components of this revelatory guide for transforming your life are acceptance, compassion, and empowerment (ACE). With insight and wisdom founded on professional knowledge and experience, Maidenberg breaks down each component and incorporates inspiring stories alongside scientific and philosophical expertise. Maidenberg also provides self-discovery exercises, questions, and prompts to engage readers and seekers in actionable work that can lead to true transformation. Each section offers definitions, benefits, methods, and strategies that combine to provide a way forward for people who may feel stuck in unfulfilling lives and cycles of frustration and missed opportunities. ... (read more)

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Revolutionary

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The Auction
by Elci North


"Are you telling me The Auction wasn’t designed to strengthen the American family?"

The Handmaid’s Tale meets 1984 in this timely, captivating, alternately hilarious and infuriating dystopian novel that presents a plausible scenario in a future USA. The right to terminate a pregnancy is a small facet of any woman’s worries, with birth control banned and babies the primary source of government income. The most genetically fit babies command the highest prices at auction, and no couple keeps their biological children after giving birth. Worse, there’s no right to decide when to have a child or even whom to marry. Women are forced to marry their rapists or other unsuitable mates during the thirty-eight-year-long administration of President Boyce, who declares the 1950s and 1960s to be the “Halcyon Days.” In fact, the only television options available to Americans are mid-twentieth-century programs and films that reinforce Boyce’s philosophical gaslighting. ... (read more)

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Truth Telling

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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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Heaven & Hell

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Requiem For A Queen
by Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing


"She wanted to find a way to survive on her own, just as she had planned to do before being discovered by Onoskelis."

In a fascinating concoction combining the realms of magic and Hell, McFarren delivers scintillating commentary on the quandary that is power: the more one has, the more one wants until the individual's true essence is so consumed by their hunger that they become mere puppets of that power, going to any and all lengths to attain it. Upon severing ties with the Nexus Institute, Samara Daemonium is the object of a wild goose chase featuring everyone from a former Nexus lover to Hell personified—Lucifer himself. Chaos ensues, yet like a phoenix, Samara attempts to rise from it and experience her own journey of introspection and self-realization. ... (read more)

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Innovative

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Reality Prism: A Raven Novel
by Paul E. Vallely Major General, US Army (Ret) and John D. Trudel


"These America haters of the left and their Marxist and Fascists friends like BLM and Antifa do not advance civil discussion or unity."

This innovative book blends fiction and fact to address what the authors see as a Marxist takeover of America. The chapters are written as distinct types of prose: normal narrative or general reading; non-fiction discussions of threats, such as a New World Order and The Great Reset; action or suggestions to regain freedom, prosperity, and safety; and heroic fiction in which the authors' theories are presented as a predictive thriller. Throughout the non-fiction portions, the authors expound on the current state of American politics and what is seen as an effort by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to change America into a Marxist state. This theory is reinforced by the fictional part of the book, which tells a terrifying story of the assassination of a sitting American president. ... (read more)

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Generations of Peace

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Coming Full Circle: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America
by Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger
Olympia Publishers


"This massive clear cutting led directly to major environmental impacts. Many wildlife populations were rapidly declining because of the annihilation of their habitats."

Using a blend of historical fiction and poignant truths, the narrative delivers a spirited discourse on conservation, our environment, oneness, and, chiefly, the concept of coming full circle. With authors whose credentials speak for themselves and their commitment to Mother Earth, the beauty of this book lies in how easily it is brought to life for audiences. Titlow, whose background in natural history and photography, and Tinger, who helps future leaders fuse business with sustainability at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, leave no stone unturned in delivering a truly comprehensive commentary on the origins and imminent threats our planet faces. ... (read more)

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Brotherhood

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Inside the Grey
by Bobbi Groover
Satin Romance


"They were sensations he had never felt before, not even with Lavinia."

This captivating story follows the adventures of Brayden, who is searching for his best friend, Caleb. Union raiders took him because he was accused of hiding a rebel convict. They plan on hanging him. Brayden is ready to do anything possible to find his dear friend. Life has not been easy for him because he is still grieving the tragic death of his wife. At this point, it is essential for him not to lose another loved one. Brayden begins this journey with the help of his friends. Along the way, he crosses paths with Kawley, a mysterious lady with many talents. She is looking for her brother, who was also taken by the Union raiders. She is determined to find him. At first, Brayden and Kawley do not trust each other, but throughout this journey, they will come together to find their loved ones. ... (read more)

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Christmas Tradition

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Up For The Job

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tails of a Lady Dog Catcher
by Nancy Lebaron-Kiley
Fulton Books


"On the first week as the Assistant Dog Catcher I rounded up 37 dogs and collected $93 in fines, something the City Treasurer had never seen before…"

In the early 1970s, the author, although young, shows herself to be good with animals. She can do what the city dog officers cannot. However, because she is a female, the city isn't ready to hire her on full-time. As her first year as an assistant wears on, the community goes through several male dog catchers. Eventually, they conclude that the author is the best person for the job. She becomes the first female dog officer in the country. Fearless and mischievous, she does outstanding work with a variety of animals and makes a name for herself. She also becomes known around the precinct as a practical joker and has all the other officers on their toes. Not only does she deal with a number of dog cases, but she also handles snakes, skunks, large cats, and an exotic monkey. The hardest cases involve those where animals are mistreated. The author learns a lot from a judge and makes sure to pursue those who commit animal cruelty until they are caught and convicted. ... (read more)

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Amusing Fantasy

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The Trump Diaries 2024
by Barry Robbins


"I’ve got a really good topic tonight… but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is."

Satirist Robbins has composed a future view of former president Donald Trump, garnered from Trump’s fictional diaries in the year 2024. The humor rolls from the outset when Trump admits he has hired a “translator” to convert his “drivel into real English.” While some of each day’s ramblings reference Trump’s continuing, outrageous aspirations to take back the White House in the elections coming up in November 2024, some of his daily scribbles sustain the hilarity with simple, human diversions: his attempts to make a truly smooth smoothie; his frustrations with the popular Wordle game (and his proposal to create an alternative to be called “Trumple”); his annoyance arising when the Mar-a-Lago chef decides to switch to brewing real coffee after years of serving him instant; and coping with problems with the toilets at Mar-a-Lago, problems possibly caused by his flushing away all the bills he gets from plumbing companies. ... (read more)

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Gripping Detail

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La Palma
by Raylin Timothy
Xlibris


"There, right where that little piece of clear land is. My house was only a few hundred yards away. Now it’s buried under a hundred feet of lava, pumice, and ash."

There are strange goings-on in the skies and under the earth on an island in the Canaries just off Spain. What begins as minor tremors continue to grow in both number and intensity. Soon, professionals in the area are concerned enough to call in heavy-hitting scientists. One of those called is a foremost geologist and volcanologist currently living the sweet life in a high-rise condo in Miami. But when a fellow earth analyst and old friend asks for help, Dr. Tanner is soon on his way. ... (read more)

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Fully Relatable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Portion of Malice: Ages of Malice, Book I
by Lloyd Jeffries
Buckminster Publishing


"I must say, with no small amount of journalistic regret, I became a part of the story in this mansion in the desert."

Cain, also known as Thaddeus Drake, wants journalist Emery Merrick to write his biography. Emery, once a Pulitzer award winner, is now washed up and in need of work, so he accepts Drake’s offer. Drake’s is the story of a lifetime—actually, of many lifetimes—beginning when Cain kills his brother Abel at the dawn of time according to the biblical record to an epic, game-changing project in the 2000s. Drake uses X’chasei, his secret organization, to organize Middle East peace talks, train an elite band of unblemished children, and establish one world currency, all to win a fateful, earth-shattering audience with God. Meanwhile, X’chasei’s enemies in the Vatican threaten to undo these plans. While Drake teeters on the precipice of victory, winning another Pulitzer for telling about it turns out to be the last thing Emery wants. ... (read more)

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A Worthy Gem

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Nothing Comes After Z: Death and Retribution in Tepoztlan
by Ana Manwaring
Indies United Publishing House


"I am that person, Dylan, I wanted to shout. But it would be a lie. I was a girl with too much baggage, and part of the baggage was after me."

JadeAnne Stone is in a world of hurt and confusion. She is recovering from a recent gunshot wound and being tended to by her estranged biological father while residing at a former brothel. JadeAnne is fleeing from the lethal Los Zetas and their attempt to ensnare her in a large human trafficking ring. Her refuge from immediate harm lacks security in her mind. The man who calls himself her father is still enshrouded in mystery. Her once ally may have led her into a trap, and she doesn't know who to trust. She saved a young teen from human bondage but is at a loss in how to get her back to the United States. JadeAnne's confusion yields to anger, as she desires payback against the criminals who harmed her. ... (read more)

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Capitivating

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Silence the Past
by Gary L. Kreigh
AIA Publishing


"We have no choice. We have to do what drivers do when they’re sliding. We have to turn into the skid, stand up to the past, and concentrate on the future."

Set during the Indy 500 race week, Kreigh takes readers to Indiana, where a string of local robberies and a bureau and desks with tricky hidden drawers are connected to suicide and then murder. Who is communicating through the secret compartments in the desks, and are they using family history to perpetrate blackmail? Only the board and staff members of the trendy Open Arms thrift shop know if there is illegal activity between the shop and Cottage Gallery, an upscale art and antique shop. Unfortunately, they aren’t talking to Callan. Kreigh then shifts the story back in time to a chance meeting on a train where a bond of friendship is formed, and a one-hundred-year-old shameful secret involving the Ku Klux Klan is shared. ... (read more)

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Lasting Entrepreneurship

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Extreme Entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs and Jesus Christ
by Tracy Emerick
Bookside Press


"Income, profit, and disposable cash were never the drivers…. All of their energies were devoted to their calling, their motivation, and their personal missions."

Amidst the influx of self-help and faith-based literature permeating the publishing industry, Emerick takes a unique approach by weaving entrepreneurship, the concept of soul, and Jesus Christ into a work that establishes the parallels between two of history’s most iconic and influential figures: Jesus Christ and Steve Jobs. Jesus Christ as an entrepreneur is likely not something that enters the readers’ thoughts, much less a direct connection with Steve Jobs. Yet, the manner in which the author develops his argument regarding the vitality of entrepreneurs from the perspective of uncovering one’s inner spirit is undoubtedly thoughtful and a creative way of merging both entrepreneurship and faith. ... (read more)

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Calm & Energentic

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Meditations on the Rosary: Scripture, Psalms, Illustration, Guided Imagery
by Sandra Enders
WestBowPress


"Consider the good news that this child eventually leaves behind for all of us to live by—forgiveness and redemption, good will toward others."

Serenity permeates every chapter of Elders’ work as she weaves scripture, psalms, and illustrations to provide a guidebook for spiritual growth that can ultimately lead to holistic development at the mental and physical levels. Whether one utilizes the work as a prayer, meditation, or something more educational within a Sunday School environment, it will fit seamlessly and provide a fulfilling and therapeutic experience. ... (read more)

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Real LA

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More Westside Stories: How the Westside of Los Angeles Developed
by Michael Harris with Godfrey Harris
The Americas Group


"Enjoy the journey with us from the Westside's past into a glimps of its future."

The Harris brothers share one hundred fascinating years of Los Angeles’ Westside history. Raised in Westside’s Cheviot Hills, the authors are uniquely qualified to trace its evolution from semiarid farms and ranches to a sparkling cultural and entertainment oasis. This striking coffee table book provides not just a litany of facts and figures but an entertaining, illustrated, and star-studded evolutionary narrative that animates the people, elements, and events that transformed the region. It benefited from forward-thinking real estate entrepreneurs and the outsized roles of golf and film studios, while dealing with the complexities of transportation and water supplies. ... (read more)

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Masterful

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The Dust That Danced
by A. Cavuto
New Degree Press


"CLOSE-UP: Alice’s eyes flick from me to the books, then back to me."

In the fall of 1992, Stella is happy to return to her prestigious university as a sophomore. With her first year now in the rearview mirror, there’s no need to make new friends and no reason to make all those phone calls back home. That freshman target on her back is also, mercifully, gone. Stella intends to focus on her schoolwork and bask in the sun of her sophomore status. But everything changes when Stella meets Alice Dayholt, a transfer student. Alice holds her cards close to her chest, but she seems she will fit in just fine with Stella and her friends. Plans go awry, however, and what follows is a gripping tale about superstitions, mythology, and friendship. ... (read more)

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Success Strategies

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Be Transcendent to Sustain Happiness: Ethics Philosophical Essays—Reduce Miseries and Stresses
by Yvon Milien
yMilien


"Transcendental knowledge and the will to learn how to act correctly are sure ways to sustain happiness in this life."

Author Milien offers sound, wide-ranging guidance for self-improvement based on the legacy of some of the world’s greatest teachers. His vision for attaining and maintaining earthly happiness is arrayed here in eighteen essays examining the subject from a variety of fascinating angles. Initially, Milien says, one must be careful not to “put the plow in front of the oxen,” as an old adage humorously suggests. To make meaningful strides in life, one must develop a strategy for assuming one’s proper place and knowing the work involved in that place. To do so, self-control will be required, along with the development of well-chosen intentions and the ability to put principles into sound practice. One angle of examination comprises rising above a mere “life history” to create a vibrant “life story.” The latter demonstrates one’s triumphs over adversity and overcoming of weaknesses. Using this story, it is then possible to persuade and convince others of one’s worth, leading to advancement in many spheres. ... (read more)

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Lifetimes Unfold

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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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Historical Significance

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Heguanzi, the Dao of Unity: in the Birth of the Chinese Empire
by Marnix Wells
Xlibris


"Its basic themes are of political unification, meritocracy, equality, multi-racialism, and spiritual transcendence."

Martial artist and Chinese scholar Wells methodically explores a view of early Daoism (Taoism) in this academic exploration of a long-lost ideology called the “Way’s Law.” The Book of Han or History of the Former Han, a history of China completed in 111 AD, is the earliest source that mentions the Heguanzi, but a Tang dynasty writer found a copy of the Heguanzi in 805 and proclaimed it a forgery, an opinion echoed by scholars over the next twelve centuries. ... (read more)

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Future Debt

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Biotechnology: Scientific Advancement versus Public Safety
by Conrad B. Quintyn
World Scientific Publishing


"It is clear that tinkering or tweaking—which gives the impression of minor changes—for a desired effect can also lead to drastically fatal results."

In the history books, the twenty-first century will be known for many things, but the technological advancements that have revolutionized life itself will be at the forefront. In Quintyn’s text, readers get an incredibly comprehensive history of the evolution of biotechnology. At its core, the author is determined to demonstrate that though genetic engineering has forever altered the way we live, the ripple effects it has undeniably caused leave many unanswered implications for society, ones that future generations will have to fend off and decipher if nothing is done now. ... (read more)

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Dignified & Inspiring

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The Celeste Experiment
by Omar Imady
Villa Magna Publishing


"[S]he might have called it a quiet, and yet that implied an absence of sound. This was not an absence, but a fullness."

Billionaire Michael aims to prove religion wrong, just as it failed to heal his wife, Celeste, from an untimely death. He assembles experts from around the world and across academic fields in her absence to design a scientific experiment that will beat religion at its own game by reenacting its methods. Hamida is the subject, chosen from the slums of Kolkata for her poverty and esteemed ancestry. Michael brings her to his estate in Britain to be raised in strict parameters. At eighteen, he finds her a suitable partner, Maurice, with whom she travels and prepares for the final stage of the experiment that suddenly goes awry. ... (read more)

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Musical Language

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The Violin Thief: A Curious Tale of Lost & Found
by Genie Higbee
100 Wings


"Young Douglas’ runaway imagination is a growing problem. He believes the rogue violin communicates with him across time and space."

This magical story begins in 1941 in Elizabethtown, New York, where a haunting violin melody slices the starry night and mingles with the smoke from a burning farmhouse, a temporary refuge for Basque immigrants. Now homeless, the colorful, gypsy-like band departs, accidentally leaving behind the violin, which miraculously survives the fire. ... (read more)

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Memorable Tale

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Desert Friends: Travels with the Pack
by Linda Harkey
Archway Publishing


"Animal friends in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are found in all sizes, shapes, and colors."

Rodney the Roadrunner and Quincy the Quail are best friends who live in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. They spend their days peacefully exploring the unique landscape of their home and exchanging tales of their perspectives on the world. One of their favorite activities is to race each other through an arroyo. When these friends encounter two hunting dogs who have scouted ahead of a hunter called “the Great One,” they stick together to overcome this terrifying situation. However, when things take an unexpected, terrifying twist for the worse, Rodney and Quincy must not only believe in each other but also seek to help the hunting dogs. ... (read more)

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Connectivity

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No School for Ben: What Will Happen?
by Daphne Pang
AuthorHouse


"So, you must be very smart then; enough to help other people by going to school today."

Six-year-old Ben has made a monumental decision: he no longer needs to go to school. He reasons that he experiences the same routine every day, and he already knows the alphabet and all of his numbers. It is obvious to Ben there is nothing more to learn. He announces his intention to become a very young dropout one morning when his mother wakes him to get ready for school. Ben’s mother does not get upset. Instead, she sits down with her son for a heart-to-heart talk. The boy eventually understands some of the repercussions of not going to school—not for himself but for the other people in his day-to-day life who rely on him. ... (read more)

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New Words

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We See Something Moving
by Trisha Lochan
Xlibris


"We see something moving. We see 1 fire truck. Where is it going? What is it doing?"

The story is geared primarily toward preschool-aged children. Two brothers are looking out a window at a variety of moving objects. Some are machines, and some are animals. They comment on what they observe in a repetitive, easy-to-memorize (and anticipate) structure. The brothers use multiple senses to convey their observations. The objects and animals appear in a sequence in the story as well as in a group after it. Children can practice memorization and motor skills by reading or participating in the story. ... (read more)

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Looking Back

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Revelations of an Ugly Old Hag
by Dolly Delanty
PageTurner Press and Media


"This ugly old hag marches to her own drum. At this stage of life, she says anything at any time and usually does."

This collection of short, humorous essays details the author’s life in and out of her Canadian retirement home (which she calls “the Gulag”). She reminisces about her days before coming to the Gulag, sharing stories of her skinflint ex-husband’s disastrous used vehicles or the time she drunkenly “almost saved a life.” She reflects on cultural differences during her visits to her daughter and in-laws in Australia (with a particular eye for the differences in male swimwear). And, of course, the essays provide hilariously scathing reviews of the retirement home, as well as its denizens and group activities, from the home’s fun “mystery trips” to Walmart or a cemetery to the hopeless choir and a drama club composed of people with memory issues. ... (read more)

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Being Heard

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Woefully Worried Wilma
by Madelyn Anderson
Author’s Tranquility Press


"Each time you conquer,
A worry or woe,
You learn something new,
And it helps you to grow."

In this children's picture book, Mille is a young girl who has a very worried friend named Wilma. Wilma worries "from morning till night" about all the things that could happen to her if she steps out of her comfort zone. To Wilma, the simple act of going outside to play is fraught with dangers, such as bumping her toe, being too warm or cold, or meeting a moose. After three days of asking Wilma to come out to play, Millie finally convinces her friend that she might be missing out on actual fun. The girls go outside to play and encounter every hazard that had worried Wilma: wind, rain, a bumped toe, and, yes, even a moose. Millie is right beside her friend to comfort her when she needs it, and by the time Wilma has faced all of the challenges of the outside world, she comes to realize that none of them was as bad as she feared. She recovers from her worries in time to reassure the moose not to worry about his loose tooth. ... (read more)

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The Path

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The Lord Is My Shepherd and That’s Enuff: 365 Interpersonal Daily Reflections with God
by Leda Rafter
Author’s Tranquility Press


"Faith reaches into possibilities that the eyes cannot see."

A childhood memory led author Rafter to compose this dynamic daily guide. At age four, she had the responsibility to recite a short piece of holy scripture in front of a church congregation. Though fearing she would forget, she summoned her courage and declared, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.” This personal recollection forms the basis for several of the day-by-day offerings Rafter has created that reflect her thinking and actions over many years of Christian contemplation. ... (read more)

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Thoughts Beyond

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Book 3: On a Stormy Day
by Andrew Woo Young Choi
PageTurner Press and Media


"People who are in bad health, having financial difficulties, or struggling in their marriages lose hope, not just because of their difficult situations but because they think negatively."

This work is a collection of five biblical studies connected thematically through the subjects of overcoming adversity, hope, and serving those around you. The book is divided into both an English language version and a Korean language version. The primary focus of the lessons is helping the reader through times of stress caused by disbelief, overwhelming odds, hopelessness, and depression. Most of the study is focused on the New Testament, but there are references to Moses’ trials and those of Job and Daniel. In fact, the discussion of Job’s trials detailing how Job was persecuted—not because he was a sinful man but to prove a point that even godly people suffer terrible hardships—is particularly poignant. The typical presentation has the author describing the situation to be discussed, applying the appropriate biblical passages with a brief description of how the two relate, and then offering a hopeful conclusion to the presented problem. Each study is concluded with a series of questions in hopes the reader will ruminate on the teaching and meditate on how the scriptures apply to this problem in their own life. ... (read more)

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Fantasy Romance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Across the Chasm
by Richard Grabmeier
Authors Press


"I do not know what it is but it's almost like you came from somewhere else."

This innovative fantasy follows the time-traveling adventures of Chris Redding. Pieced together through journal entries, it tells the story of Chris, his wife, Gail, her daughter, Maureen, and Maureen's friend Lisa. Upon first meeting Lisa, Chris remarks, "I was struck by a feeling unlike any I'd ever experienced. It could have been her black-brown eyes that awakened a strange restlessness, an eerie uneasiness in me such as animals might display before a storm, a feeling somewhere in the recesses of my mind that this was not the first time our spirits had touched." Though Chris feels uneasy, he is intrigued. Questions flood his mind. "Why was I so mesmerized with her the moment we met? And why had she so obviously reacted to me in the same way? What was the bond that invoked the sense of familiarity? How could that feeling exist when we had just met? Had we met somewhere in the past, in another time, another life?" As a believer in reincarnation, Chris wonders if this could be a small memory of a past life that has slipped through the veil between present and past. ... (read more)

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Powerful Letters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Peter Olaf
by Richard Grabmeier
Authors Press


"He dreamed of Minnesota, where Sven worked for farmers who had gone to that country years ago, and were now growing rich on the new land’s bounty."

On an early November morning in 1895, Peter Olaf leaves his home in Huskvarna, Sweden, and heads to Remer, a town outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with forty dollars in his pocket. Peter leaves the comfort of home, his family, and his girlfriend, Julia, to follow his dreams of moving to America and making his fortune. As soon as he makes enough money, he plans to provide travel for Julia to join him. After purchasing a gun, he befriends Gustav, another immigrant from Sweden, and the two begin an arduous journey to his cousin's logging camp. Peter soon discovers that logging is dangerous work. He strikes up solid friendships with the other men at the camp, and sadly, one of the men is killed. While hunting, Peter gets severe frostbite on his hands and cannot work. He is healed by the great Indian healer, Wise Otter. His granddaughter, Sarah, helps with Peter's recovery. He, in turn, teaches Wise Otter English. Peter is heartbroken to learn that Julia, still in Sweden, will marry another man. Sarah helps to console him, and the two fall in love, despite their differing cultures. Their relationship is severely tested, but their love eventually prevails after many hurdles. ... (read more)

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The Long Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Journey of Hope: The Story of Father Joseph Albrecht
by Bob Riepe
Gotham Books


"I will not, I repeat, will not obey the work of the devil."

Author Riepe has collected extensive materials in fashioning this enlivened biography of a fascinating religious leader whose lifeline spanned two continents and several American states in his wish to help the needy and create spiritual sanctuaries. Joseph Albrecht, born in 1801, would inherit a significant swathe of farmland in his home in rural Germany. Married at a young age to Mary, a girl chosen by his father as a suitable bride, he would find himself increasingly aligned with the Catholic church as war swept through Europe. The couple was intensively involved in aiding their local community, with the oversight of the church, so much so that Mary and her daughter separated from Joseph to become nuns. They would emigrate to America for freedom of religion, and eventually, Joseph would do likewise as an ordained priest in his late forties. ... (read more)

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Diverse, Remarkable Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thoughts on My Thoughts: The Tales That Wagged This Veterinarian
by Walter R. Hoge, DVM
ReadersMagnet


"You can’t always do much to change circumstances, so smile."

Dr. Walter R. Hoge, DVM, shares his considerable experience as a veterinarian and as a kind and thoughtful human being in this delightful collection of autobiographical essays. Each chapter addresses a unique topic, or thematic set of memories, and the non-linear format is fresh and appealing, allowing readers to skip around and enjoy their favorite stories while being in the moment with this remarkable man. ... (read more)

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Clear-Eyed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Skyhook: My Vietnam Experience
by R. Carel Byrd
Xlibris


"Nothing could prepare other soldiers or me for a war zone."

This short but poignant memoir takes an intimate, no-nonsense look at one veteran’s experiences on two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. It will be a welcome addition to the genre. Like many other Vietnam vets, Byrd grappled for decades with PTSD before his recent diagnosis and even now suffers from a lack of sleep that began during the war. The negative pall cast over Vietnam veterans because of the war’s unpopularity at home and abroad is also an ongoing theme in Byrd’s life. He held a social status in common with many Americans who chose to enlist in the military. As a young working-class man, he had limited financial and educational opportunities when he graduated from high school in San Jose, California. He has “done things backwards,” as he puts it, and after a career as a machinist and engineering and development technician, he obtained his BA in communications in 2010. ... (read more)

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Endurance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Saved from Dementia
by John Vieira
Xlibris


"There appears no immediate relief from this prejudice, which has followed me throughout my life."

At a mere two months of age, Vieira is left in the hands of a small Hindu/Muslim community, essentially creating a dissonance of identity from birth. When the author moves to the UK at six, he is known as Young Master John Omar Vieira on his Guyanese passport. However, he is also viewed as Omar/Umar, with the stereotypes associated with the name. As he gains a sense of who he is, he falls prey to a dependence on social security to survive, unable to secure any strong prospects for work and housing despite having studied business at university. ... (read more)

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Experimental

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Short Stuff: Essays, Life’s Snippets, and Poetry
by Carolyn Whiteside Panko
Xlibris


"Sea of faces, not so strange.
Blues, greens, browns are warmer now.
Enlightened? Friendly?
More human now, as I am."

Panko's work is a chronicle of her life in the context of the impactful events of history she and her family lived (and grew) through. From grief to joy, the author experiences the entire spectrum of emotions, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. From growing up as an only child in the 1940s to being a grandmother, Panko's experiences provide audiences with a birds-eye view into her life. ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced Adventure

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Ranger’s Sojourn
by Ulysses Namon
Xlibris


"The two marauders were not interested in surrendering, raising their weapons instead."

Tomi Ryan is a smart, confident, and adventurous young lady. It helps that her parents invested in an enhanced genetic package for her before she was born. After finishing school, Tomi eventually decides to join the Federation Rangers. She excels at the training and passes the strict requirements easily. It isn’t long until she is out on assignment. It turns out there is a group of space pirates causing trouble, and Tomi and her fellow Rangers must track them down and stop their looting. However, Tomi doesn’t get to rest as there is a war on, and she and her rangers are called to a distant planet to infiltrate an immense fortress acting as the Imperium’s command center. They are tasked to breach the fortress underwater, blow up three power units to cripple the station, and extract. Things don’t go as planned, but as the Rangers say: improvise, adapt, and overcome. ... (read more)

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Supernatural Horror

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bloodline Spectrum
by Huminaten
AuthorHouse


"Something was very wrong because the scenery was too right."

On Halloween Night in Miami, Florida, an amorous couple’s night is upended by an apparent car accident. The alleged victim soon turns the table on the couple and viciously kills them. This macabre specter quickly becomes commonplace across the United States with mass casualty events and supernatural assailants. In Chicago, Kareem lives with his wife and daughter. Kareem left the chaos of a wayward youth behind. However, the chaos spreading across the country reaches him and his family. Kareem is experiencing apocalyptic visions and surviving near-death experiences. However, he is not an outlier in this regard. Merline lives out in California, and she narrowly avoids a grisly death caused by an indestructible assailant. Her savior informs her that she is one of the chosen few that must come together and beat back these creatures. Her future and Kareem’s are linked in fighting a new war. ... (read more)

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Tough Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The DNR Trilogy: Volume 1: Backing the Wrong Primate
by Don W. Hill, M.D.
Bookwhip


"Brewster stopped his seemingly incoherent rant and went outside to stand in the pouring rain. It was as if a house immolated in flames was suddenly being doused with a firehose."

Dr. J.D. Brewster begins most days by putting a loaded .45 pistol in his mouth. He has been morosely ruminating on an event he orchestrated and carried out with a few others almost thirty-five years ago when he was a medical student. Back then, he saw a bright future ahead of him. He was one of a few dual M.D./Ph.D. students at his Texas medical school and was researching a mysterious hepatitis strain that would eventually become known as hepatitis C. He was, and admittedly still is, a bit racist and prone to bullshit, particularly of the intellectual variety. ... (read more)

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Compelling & Atmospheric

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Suddenly a Larger World: The Sons of Peter Olaf
by Richard H. Grabmeier
Authors Press


"'It is in the way the great spirit made us,' Lone Man said. 'He gave us strength of body and mind so that a warrior can do what he must do.'"

Author Grabmeier's historical family saga begins in 1918 on a World War I battlefield on the Western Front in France. Charles Hokanson is an "American serving in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), attached to an Australian unit (under British command) for no better reason than that his twin brother had preceded him to the war." Charles' patriotic sense of duty and filial piety are finely honed, but he has recently witnessed a buddy's demise in the trenches. To add to his grief, when the story opens Charles is giving comfort to an equally young and mortally wounded German soldier in a muddy shell crater. Glad that he hadn't caused the man's death, Charles' and many other young soldiers' romantic notions about military life are rudely dispelled by the troubling, bloody battles on the ground and in the air. ... (read more)

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Internal Emotions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let Us Not Talk Falsely Now
by T. Patrick Graves
Xlibris


"'See,' I tell her, 'I never really had a family.'"

In his work, Graves tackles the themes of racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism through the lens of his protagonist, Johnny Desmond. He is a troubled young man with a painful past. He is part of a white supremacist group, and the leader is Peter Thurgood. Johnny respects him a lot and is willing to do anything for him. One day, on Peter’s orders, Johnny places a bomb at an Islamic center but realizes someone is inside the building. It turns out to be the janitor. Ironically, the janitor is a black man. In a blink of an eye, Johnny takes the man out of the building before the bomb explodes and flees the scene. From there, the police hunt to find this so-called Samaritan who saved the janitor and might have the answers regarding the bombing. ... (read more)

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Shaping the Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Newton's Riddle
by Neill G. Russell
PageTurner Press and Media


"The infection was so virulent that it ate right through the victim's skull!"

Nearly three hundred years ago, Sir Isaac Newton placed a coded text in an alchemy journal that described certain aspects of the relationship between the state of Israel and the United States. Ezra Schroeder, a National Security Administration code breaker, discovers Newton's hidden work. Since the political situation between the two countries is becoming increasingly ominous, Schroeder feels that he must go public with the discovery and try to convince the nation's president to act in accordance with Newton's caveats. There are many challenges, and the mortal realm represents only one of many. For example, Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness is used as a reference for demons attempting to sabotage the U.S. and Israel in order to destroy the latter country. ... (read more)

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Rollercoaster Ride

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

New World Order
by Robert Slaughter & Jerry Brown
Xlibris


"Anyone who stands against our New World Order will be silenced! The future has already been planned and is in motion."

In this sci-fi novel, forces are pitted against each other in the Federation’s desire to gain control of the nations. Tristan Hart, a mercenary trained by the elite Institute VI, finds himself caught in espionage and intrigue while on a mission to destroy a Zyn depository. Zyn, a natural energy source, provides power to the world’s infrastructure. The question is, “Why would one country be so compelled to control this natural resource, something that benefits all of humankind?” When Tristan is sent to meet with a Federation informant, he encounters Eliza Nyvala, the Federation general’s daughter. There is an instant attraction between the two, and Tristan becomes devoted to keeping her safe from forces that would harm her to keep Federation secrets intact. However, the two discover that nothing is as it appears, and when the man known as The Enlightened One kidnaps her, Tristan is desperate to find a way to save her and the world. ... (read more)

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Magical Place

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Easter: McEaster Valley
by Walter R. Hoge, DVM
ReadersMagnet


"I was drawn to the valley as if it had something to offer and if I didn’t respond, I would never have another opportunity."

One early morning, the protagonist and his Labrador retriever took a walk in the Sierra foothills. He noticed an entrance into a beautifully lit valley. As he began traveling on the trail into the valley, he felt all his burdens lift and felt young and carefree. However, at some point, the path started to close in on him, and he was tripped up and rolled into a briar patch. Once free from the briars, he realized he was lost and could not locate his dog. The only direction he could go was forward. After many hours and several long naps, he escaped into an opening and was greeted by a reassuring bearded man. The man took him into a mountain cave that eventually opened and was lit as fantastically as the golden valley he had seen earlier. Here he encountered many people and animals living harmoniously and crafting candies and toys to give out once a year on a special day. The man made him a one-time offer to live there forever, always full of vitality and peace, and help take care of the animals. The man tossed and turned all night, thinking of the opportunity but also about his wife and young children. When he awoke, he was back where he was walking, and his Labrador was licking his face. ... (read more)

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Pursuing Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tales
by Trebbiano
Xlibris


"The only way to jump ahead was to keep my eyes open and learn from observing."

In his book, Trebbiano recounts events in his professional and personal life. For example, he had always wanted to become a chef. Years ago, he moved from Germany to Switzerland and got a job there in the hospitality industry. From there, his career kicked off, and he worked and gained experience in different countries, such as the United States, Canada, and India. Throughout his career, he was determined to learn as much as possible and develop new skills. His hard work and dedication paid off. He did not let anything get in his way. When confronted with difficult situations, he would always come up with solutions. He would always be happy to help and guide others. Over the years, Trebbiano would go on to become a remarkable chef that would not be afraid to take on various hats when needed. ... (read more)

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Redemption & Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Black Three
by Gene Skipworth
AuthorHouse


"In jail, of all places, some good happened to you. I know what it is. It is called grace."

Skipworth assembles a diverse cast of characters in a small American town, reflecting timeworn, newly cast, and enduring values through their interactions. David, a high school senior, and his twin brothers, Samuel and Joseph, both juniors, become the first ever black basketball players on the Grayville, Tennessee, High School team. Their skills bring great success—until some nasty insults by teammates expressing ugly racial prejudice force a forfeiture when the three, whose Nigerian-born father is a successful community physician, leave before the game starts to protest their ill-treatment. That incident, along with another in which Samuel rescues another black student from being severely beaten by white bullies, put race relations and their complications squarely in the light in Grayville, a place once called a “Sundown town” because blacks were not to be seen on the streets after dark. As the issues arise and compassion and respect surprisingly follow in their wake, it is clear that real lessons have been learned that will positively affect and empower those involved. ... (read more)

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A Conversation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Your Gold Mind
by Richard Shine
Xlibris


"A land of honey a place of peace
Under skies so sunny and I hope"

Political and motivational, this collection balances social commentary with personal insights and explorations of faith. Poems like "Stop the Fight" address the inherent violence in American society and acts as a call for unity. "You Can't Hide" openly tackles the subject of domestic violence, while "So Divine" serves as a gentle reminder to readers about love's power in an ever-darkening world. Other poems like "Bless You" offer readers even more positivity, reminding them to "Keep your spirit strong." As the collection continues, readers find even more nudges towards the light and the positive. "Striving Days" offers them inspiration to move forward because "Striving days are best days / Bless days are striving days." ... (read more)

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Serene

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Words to Breathe By
by James Richard Hansen
AuthorHouse


"She is lounging
in sunlight, stretched
across a silky white bed.
Our celestial work of art
has just begun."

Immersed in the imagery of light and dark, sun and moon, Hansen’s work is soothing to the core. From the opening poems, audiences can anticipate the color that is a part of each poem’s identity, and though the pieces are short and simple, their depth is in the thought-provoking juxtapositions of Mother Nature and love. ... (read more)

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Picturesque

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Within and Without
by James Richard Hanson
AuthorHouse


"Finally, my mind drifts back to the sun,
but it’s already down."

In this deeply personal poetry collection, readers discover the small, often overlooked, moments that compose a lifetime’s mosaic. The book opens brightly with the poem “Dawn,” which celebrates those first few seconds in a person’s day. Pieces like “Not Me” offer a sensory experience where sight and sound combine, and the speaker contemplates philosophical questions such as “What is it like to be rain / splattering pavement in the night?” Other poems like “Mozart” offer a deep yet humorous contemplation as the speaker reflects that listening to Mozart is “like a great meal that / I don’t know how to cook.” Other works in the collection offer quietly romantic snippets that acknowledge the boundaries of emotional capability and the intense motivation to continually do better for one’s partner that develops over time. ... (read more)

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Heartfelt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Longhunter: An American Tale
by E.P. Lewis
Xlibris


"A good Longhunter must always wait."

In 1777, William MacEwan is a young man living on the frontier of the nascent American republic. While hunting one morning, William spies what he believes is a turkey and fires his musket. However, the target is revealed to be a teenage Cherokee boy. William is horrified at his actions, believing he has killed the young man. His mother, Elspeth, briefly scolds William but tends to the wounded youth and brings him into the house. William learns the native's name is Shadow Bear. Despite their bumpy first encounter, William forms a bond with Shadow Bear. He offers to bring him back to his kin and offers a mea culpa. This act of kindness introduces him to the Cherokee but also begins William's voyage to places far beyond the backwoods of America. ... (read more)

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Intrigue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Devil’s Tumble
by Eben Beukes
Golden Ink Media Services


"That wearily familiar walk down that darkened street on the way to yet another scenario of man’s unquenchable appetite for the depraved and the desperate?"

Oxford-educated Lieutenant Riad al Ajmi works in the homicide department in Kuwait. While the Iraq War rages across the border, Riad is trying to figure out who is killing residents of Kuwait City. His investigation leads him to cross paths with two U.S. MPs tracking a serial killer wearing an officer's uniform and recently active in Seoul. In addition, Riad is trying to raise his daughter as best he can after his wife's death and also deal with the unexpected arrival of his gun-smuggling uncle. Riad's case draws him into the inner circle of one of Kuwait City's wealthiest and most influential families while connecting to the past horrors of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. This dangerous assignment has Riad reflecting on truths about law and justice while trying to avoid corruption and catch a killer before the murderer makes him a victim. ... (read more)

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Hisotry Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Protesting for Change
by Cody Elizabeth Handy
Xlibris


"We have to continue to work peacefully like our ancestors. They did not stop, and we will not stop either until justice is won."

This children’s book tells the story of a young black girl named Morgan who is trying to make sense of race-based violence in the news and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests she sees. Her teacher raises the question, “Who can tell us what happened last night?” in class, and Morgan’s classmates share their understanding of the reasons for the protests. The students talk about their feelings and opinions. Their teacher helps them work through the issues and gives a fair and balanced perspective on the protests. The students brainstorm ways they can help promote racial justice, and they bring the day’s discussion home to their families. ... (read more)

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Beyong the Unkindness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Know Your Worth: Whose Report Will You Believe?
by Shirley D.
Xlibris


"Stay focused and God-conscious as we determine in our mind to be obedient to God’s plans for us."

The author has composed a guide for readers to determine what messages in their lives come from God and which are the “report” of others the devil may manipulate. Stress is given to recognizing the powerful ways that God can influence his people to strive toward righteous living. The author constructs an analogy of a race, in which one must divest oneself of the burdens of negative thinking, dress in God’s armor, then “pray, get set, go!” ... (read more)

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A Vivid Dream

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Tunnel in the Pines
by Lucia Greene
North Country Press


"This time we're on some kind of sick conveyor belt going forward whether we like it or not. Chickening out is not an option, not now."

Just before summer vacation, Wills and his best friend Andrew spend their days planning their club while avoiding endless taunts from Wills' brother Taylor and his cruel sidekick, Strat. With his passion for Darwinian science and a pension for deep thinking and offbeat social behavior, Andrew's worm investigation leads them to a bright idea. Why not include Taylor and Strat, as well as other local kids, and outsmart the bullies in the process? In the beginning, The Annelids work together to arrive at ideas about how the club will work. However, things go awry when the group digs a tunnel, and each member has different ideas about what the club's initiation will entail. The unfolding severity of Andrew's asthma forces Wills to grow up and stand up for his friends. Ultimately, Wills must respond to the increasing social complexities that emerge with maturity. ... (read more)

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Post-Modern Detours

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Almost a Christian: A Rebuke to Luke-warm Christianity
by Dorsett D. Smith MD
Ink Start Media


"Postmodern man desires his independence and is looking to getting from God rather than give to God."

Author Smith studiously examines the differences between those he considers “almost” or “lukewarm” Christians and those who hold to the true faith, supported by biblical text and as promulgated by Jesus and His disciples. His exploration sets forth the general proposition that much of postmodern Christian understanding is melded with a concept of “One-ism,” a new, essentially self-gratifying system that may even accept atheism. Smith posits the notion of “Two-ism”—an old, unchanging relationship between God and man, in which an independent, omnipotent God will look after his children and should be embraced by humans in pure faith rather than a rationalistic belief system. The author is convinced, based on his extensive study of scripture, that modern evangelism often ignores the strict words of Jesus regarding eligibility for salvation. To accept God’s love means to be willing to die to self, repent, and obey His commandments—an uncompromising stance that postmodernists may reject because it is too difficult and not sufficiently inclusive. ... (read more)

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Heart-Wrenching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Catching Rain: A Woman Rediscovers Herself in Stories Her Lover Has Forgotten
by Sandi Paris
Balboa Press


"I force myself to acknowledge that whatever images you still hold in your mind, they are no longer painted with words."

No one is ever prepared to have a doctor deliver a diagnosis of dementia. And when it happens to your spouse, and he is only fifty years old, it is unimaginable. Randy is a scientist who is 6’3” tall. He has always been athletic. In fact, he is the picture of health until he is unexpectedly taken down by a rare type of dementia. The disease gradually takes a horrific toll on his brain and, in the process, takes a toll on his loving wife as well. ... (read more)

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Ripples

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Opportunity Knocked
by Clyde Seely
Pen Culture Solutions


"The pebble in the pond and its ripple effect has become an important metaphor for me."

Seely, an Idaho farm boy, becomes an entrepreneur and community builder in this vibrant memoir. Each spring, his family would travel in the back of a small pickup with a canvas on top, impelling the author to move as a young man to the tiny town of West Yellowstone, where he and his wife Linda would buy Three Bear Lodge. Two hours after the purchase was completed, the lodge caught on fire. Seely’s determination came to the forefront as he repaired the property in time for the spring snowmobile races. Seely and his family led snowmobile treks, managed the lodge and other properties, and refurbished a vintage train car, constructing around it a large hotel that would one day carry the Holiday Inn brand. During all these endeavors, Seely encouraged fellow residents of the little town to expand their businesses. Today, West Yellowstone is a noted tourist venue with many features first instigated by the author, his friends, and his family. ... (read more)

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The Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

MarsX: The First Manned Spacecraft to Mars
by Michael G. Hunter
Xlibris


"The steady roar of the engines and the vibrant shudder of the craft, our adrenaline flow, and rapid heartbeats lifted us to the stratosphere in minutes."

Rapidly developed and funded by billionaires, the first manned mission to Mars takes off in 2027. After going through thousands of possible candidates for astronauts, the three selected for the trip are known as Sister Margie, Sister Marsha, and Brother Mark, all in their sixties. The launch goes better than expected, and at the beginning of the estimated sixty-day journey, the astronauts have nothing more to fight than their boredom. However, they soon learn how deadly meteors can be in space. Sister Marsha is hit by a meteor that breaches the craft and is put into a coma. In addition, most of the astronauts’ supplies are destroyed. Limiting their consumption of vital supplies and all their movements, the crew miraculously arrives on Mars. However, they aren’t alone. ... (read more)

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Admirable Debut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ereshkigal’s Vengeance: Race For A Cure Against A Pandemic
by Carl T. Seaborn
iUniverse


"If we don’t act, the birth rate in the United States will drop to zero within one year and three months."

The world is thrown into a panic as a horrible pandemic sweeps the globe. No, it is not Covid, but an even more malevolent one in this engaging tale that combines science, geopolitical maneuvering, archeology, myth, mayhem, and more. Suspense builds as a race against time is conducted to find an antidote that will halt and reverse the spread of an infectious disease that has the potential to virtually wipe out all of humanity. And the clock is ticking. ... (read more)

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Rollercoaster Ride

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moscow Gold: A Novel of Twentieth-Century Spain
by Douglas L. Field
iUniverse


"Mood reflects weather. Cold fear, together with cold wind, infused Nacho as he worked his way toward the big boulevard."

Set during the Cold War, the author’s book chronicles the adventures of David Fordham. Fordham is an expatriate and a freelance journalist living in Madrid. Reluctantly, David takes on the investigation of a cold case involving the disappearance of gold reserves during the Spanish Civil War. The search weaves David’s path with that of civil war veteran Igancio “Nacho” Arjona—a likable, philosophical character—and a cast of many others. David’s investigation leads him not only through Spain but also throughout the globe and into exotic and dangerous places such as Paris and Moscow. He and his cohorts unravel an international cover-up that threatens not only Europe and the globe but also their lives. ... (read more)

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Truth Imagined

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fictionally Nonfiction: The Life I’d Never Admit Was Nonfiction
by Wynn Thành Phi
AuthorHouse


"I am a survivor. A survivor still struggling and still suffering from more than one damaging hit to my soul, but still a survivor."

The teenage author of this memoir writes a mixture of prose, poetry, and a blend of the two in describing her day-to-day life as well as the salient events that led to her becoming who she is today. Phi survives depression, childhood sexual abuse, PTSD, and a suicide attempt but does not let these events define her. She compartmentalizes her mental health issues and her family’s struggles as she tries to live a normal high school life. ... (read more)

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Pastor & Counselor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Developing and Building the Mind and Heart of Christ Jesus: (Within You)
by Dr. David Garty
Xlibris


"Without open eyes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, there can be no revelation to spiritual truth."

Author Garty describes a process for reaching an understanding and acceptance of Jesus Christ, sharing knowledge and practical steps that the reader can apply regularly. Each chapter of Garty’s study guide discusses often complex and sometimes little-known ways in which Jesus may affect an individual, with relevant quotations from the Holy Bible based on what the author considers to be five of God’s central commands: to listen to His words, tune one’s ears to His voice, keep His lessons in plain view, concentrate on His message, and learn it “by heart.” ... (read more)

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A Scholar Speaks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Is God Incompetent? A Study of Meaning in Natural Calamity, Disaster and Disease
by Geoffrey E. L. Bennett
AuthorHouse


"Suffering is something over which human beings can rise victorious."

Author Bennett has examined the question raised in his book’s title for many years. He has organized this exploration into three parts. He first recalls the traumas he suffered in childhood, observing the extreme physical suffering of his father, the fears associated with war, the psychological pangs of family separation, and service in the military as a teen, observing horrors in ambulance units. He offers the viewpoints of other religions, such as Christian Science, Buddhism, and native beliefs regarding God’s connection to human suffering, finding within them few satisfactory answers. The second part seeks answers from the Holy Bible, particularly parsing the Book of Job, which indicates that humans are not controlled by “outside forces.” From the New Testament, he encounters the realization provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “The best is yet to be!” ... (read more)

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Last Thoughts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Simple Thoughts – Simple Pleasures: Color Your World with Words
by Cynthia “Cookie” Viloria
AuthorHouse


"Simple little pleasures can sometimes bring peace of mind."

This short poetry collection reflects the author’s love of nature and the joys one receives from quiet reflection. It is a personal sharing of the soul’s spirit. Viloria writes of the elation felt when observing the natural world as well as the happiness brought by others. She writes of the simple pleasure of watching children at play, the changing seasons, and colorful sunsets. The author encourages readers to “Take a moment to stop and reflect on calm waters, picturesque scenes, your thoughts collect.” Her poems reflect the happiness brought by her marriage and the close relationship between friends. Her love of nature, family, and friends is evident in each of these personal and spiritual poems. The desire to bring peace and happiness to others is found throughout her poetry as she seeks to share God’s love. ... (read more)

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Origin of the Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Soul Genetic Code & Destiny: Ansara Genetic Consciousness Hypothesis
by Ashley Ansara, DVM, PhD
Balboa Press


"It is possible to imagine that the DNA carries the soul DNA just as it carries the DNA for physical appearances and characteristics."

Built upon the author's hypothesis that the human soul is programmed into one's DNA, much like physical characteristics, this work delves into the source and existence of what he terms "the living soul." Ansara references scholars, philosophers, and other thinkers to make his argument. He states, "This hypothesis was created from Egyptian belief systems regarding the soul with the premise that each person has, metaphorically, a box of knowledge, tools, and traits to use along the road of life from the moment of conception until death." The author approaches his theory in a scientific hypothesis he calls the "Ansara Genetic Consciousness Hypothesis," in which he addresses the soul as an energy all humans possess. In ten chapters, the author discusses such concepts as religious, spiritual, and scientific definitions of the soul, the biology and DNA of the soul, and the ancient Egyptian concept of the soul. He concludes with a bibliography of the various works used to build this hypothesis. ... (read more)

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Innovation & Growth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tree, Planted by the Water
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media


"She had a swelling feeling in her mind like she had just taken hold of her future with the shovel and her two dirty hands."

This story of a burgeoning prairie town parallels a girl's coming of age. While her older two siblings fill their parents' shoes following their sudden deaths, Lynn, the youngest, watches from her beloved chestnut tree. Her languid days journaling and talking with angels and owls on a branch end, though, when she's asked to guard the family's land, from the tree, during a land-grab race. She succeeds in securing the acreages on which sit the chapel and parsonage they caretake. The three also gain more land. Soon, they welcome neighbors and friends and establish a town. ... (read more)

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More Tails

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Corky Tails: Tales of a Tailless Dog Named Sagebrush: Sagebrush and the Never Summer Mountains
by Joni Franks
Xlibris


"She had learned that by working together as a team, they could accomplish the task at hand even though there were those who felt they were too small to get the job done."

This book for older children looks at the beauty of the Never Summer Mountains, which has been impacted by a summer monsoon that has led to a landslide and broken trees. These have blocked the water source for Shun Village. The Shuns are only six inches tall, live in tree holes, and are friends with Young Miss, who has a cattle ranch, and Sagebrush, the tailless puppy. Clover Leaf is worried about his sick mother and is also in love with Firefly. They work together to remove the debris along with Young Miss’ horse. Along the way, they meet Mr. Hunter Man and The Wooly Man, who have an impact on the trip, especially as Mr. Hunter Man belittles them. After freeing the landslide, they return home, where Clover Leaf asks Firefly to become his partner. They celebrate with a beautiful ceremony, which helps Clover Leaf’s mother to heal. ... (read more)

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Pick It Up, Please

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Clarence the Candy Eating Dragon
by Sue Walters
Xlibris


"’What did I eat? I don’t feel so good!’"

Clarence is a baby dragon who lives in a cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites close to a forest and camping ground. When two children come to explore his home, Clarence draws closer to investigate the situation, and in doing so, he inadvertently scares them away. The children accidentally drop candy, which Clarence eats despite the hesitation of his friend Shoo-Shoo, a raven. The candy makes Clarence ill, and he breaks out in multi-colored polka dots. To help himself feel better, Clarence goes for a dip in the nearby river, promising Shoo-Shoo that he will never eat human food again. Meanwhile, the children enjoy the sight of what they believe is a colorful, dotted river rock as they leave with their parents. ... (read more)

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Turbulent World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stay Woke
by Novia L.D.
Xlibris


"You may be young, but you are not dumb."

This fully illustrated book reads like a poem that encourages children to be aware of the troubles and issues that face the world at present rather than try to hide from them. Each page features another part of this melodic call to take notice or “Stay Woke,” such as to show kindness and be modest towards others. It emphasizes that all of us live in a world plagued by terrible troubles, including the pandemic, natural disasters, injustices, and misinformation campaigns. The work stresses that some of the best ways to make things better are to become informed about what is happening in the world today and to take an active role against attempts to turn a blind eye to them. ... (read more)

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Likable Characters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Prince Elliot: Riding Through the Towns
by Rosini A. H.
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"Duke Henry shared that he was familiar with the story of a genie being thrown into the sea by an angry noble who was on a passing vessel many decades ago."

Prince Elliot decides to travel across England to visit his uncle, Duke Henry. On his trip, he encounters a princess locked in a tower. There is a line of suitors outside the edifice waiting for a turn to attempt to solve the number puzzle which will open it. Prince Elliot meets a cobbler who knows more about the situation than he initially admits. Later, Elliot comes across a village in dire straits due to a lack of rain. There is a witch in a cave who may have the power to help, but the villagers don’t trust her. Eventually, the prince is looking across the sea when a bottle drifts up to his feet. He is truly surprised when a large, complaining genie emerges and calls him master. ... (read more)

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Crime Narrative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Love Money Greed: The Rise of the Money Bag Boyz
by Dimas D. Tollinchi
Xlibris


"I yearned to be something greater…. The way the mind moved, the sky would be the limit."

Dima's life is usually free from complications. He makes money slinging dope and living with his girl, Maria. However, his world is rocked when his brother calls to inform him that their father is dying. Dima must return to New York, where he left many fractured relationships after he was exiled to Florida as a teenager. Dima and his brother Jayden reconnect while on the way to visit their moribund father. After their dad's passing, they discover something was left for them: money and a large quantity of cocaine. Dima decides to take his father's bequest and delve further into the drug trade. Soon, Dima has a crew and is making a name for himself. However, he is also coming to the attention of those who don't take kindly to upstarts. ... (read more)

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Diligent

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heart Expressions: A Book on Poetry
by Alysha Potente
Tellwell Talent


"The history of the creative arts is as old as humanity. Poetry itself has existed for centuries."

Dedicated poet Potente has constructed a book of and about one of humanity’s oldest forms of expression—poetry. Her work is divided into two major sections: the first, a collection of her poetic compositions; the second, a historical analysis of and guide to writing poetry in several classic formats. Each of Potente’s poems is accompanied by expressive photographs that do much to enhance the feeling already expressed in the words she has carefully chosen. For example, the opening work, “Out in the Meadow,” describes a girl alone in nature: “And she’s floating. / In and out of dreams.” The image given in words is then underscored by the perfectly posed photograph depicting a girl, arms raised as if joyfully dancing, in the midst of a golden meadow. ... (read more)

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Concrete

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Song Dog of the Prairie
by Joann Klusmeyer
PageTurner Press and Media


"Of rugged stalk and prickly leaf,
the hardy Scottish Thistles grow
Seeds afloat on threads of gossamer
as the Highland breezes blow."

This book of poetry focuses on the pastoral and the author’s observations of life in the rural plains. One finds recollections of farmers and days gone by, such as in the section titled “Things I’ve Always Known About.” Observations about people and the natural world populate the section “Observations On Folks.” In addition, there are sections devoted to advice and encouragement, animals, plants, and many other things. The title poem, which opens the book, is one of the strongest pieces and gives the reader a good indication of what is included. Most of the pieces are written in stanzas with similar line counts, although there are a few prose poems. Most of the selections are arranged in couplets, either matched or alternating. ... (read more)

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Through Tragedy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Times Like These: A Novel
by J.R. Klein
Del Gato


"I was trying to write about the American Dream. But now I believed that at times all dream are a hoax..."

Jack and Owen are middle-aged American creatives. Jack is a novelist with one big success under his belt, and Owen is a photographer for Time magazine. As successful as they may be, they feel restless. After not seeing each other for almost a decade, they reunite and seek to revive some of the good old days they spent in Mexico with two dear friends—Anna, now a divorced mother, and Chloe, a successful painter. The four of them agree to move together to Mexico to live as ex-pats. All is going well. They fish for their food every day. Jack is making progress on a new novel. They all seem content, but Jack keeps wondering if they are truly happy. ... (read more)

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Poignant Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Thirteen Years in Latin America
by H. Lynn Beck
Pen Culture Solutions


"The farm boy leaving to join the Peace Corps would disappear and an adventurer would replace him, one who always needed to see and work in another country."

A simple sign posted outside the University of Nebraska student union changed the life journey of a young man who, until that point, considered not much beyond his commitment to working on the family farm. The sign announced that a Peace Corps representative was conducting interviews in the building’s basement. Beck’s terrifically detailed memoir notes from the beginning that despite strong pressure to commit to life and work on the family farm, the author experienced a deep yearning to experience new places and exposure to new ideas. This longing would indeed bear fruition as Beck began work as a Peace Corps volunteer with an assignment in El Salvador in August 1967. From there, he continued more than a decade of service throughout Central and South America. Agricultural skills and knowledge were parlayed into his overseas service, and it was ultimately in Latin America where Beck would fall in love, marry, become a father, and much more. ... (read more)

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No Comfort Zone

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series)
by J.D.R. Hawkins
Westwood Books Publishing


"The voices of thousands of wounded soldiers rose up from the ground in an eerie, harmonious chorus."

In typical Hawkins fashion, the spirit of the battle, its highest highs and lowest lows, has been impeccably captured from the perspective of ordinary citizens turned soldiers. In this first volume of The Renegade Series, the author delivers an incredibly realistic experience for the audience. Readers not only get to read about the Civil War in an engaging manner, but they also get to feel the era come to life with the characters, their mannerisms, dialogue, and the tensions that tug at them as they are forced into difficult choices. ... (read more)

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