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June 2021

Book Reviews

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

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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Murder in the Atchafalaya
by Jim Riley


"Trixie’s unblinking gaze fixed onto whatever follows death as her last breath left her body."

A lot of things can kill you in the Louisiana swamps, not the least of which are water moccasins, alligators, and maybe even something unworldly called a Rougarou. But as the body count rises in this jambalaya mystery, it becomes apparent that the increasing death toll is mostly due to some very bad villains and some very tough law enforcers. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Emotionally Charged

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mothers of Pine Way
by Corrine Ardoin
Black Rose Writing


"Protective of her newfound self, she savored the change, basking in a waking dream. Joy and opportunities were open to her since the discovery of her gifts."

Candelaria is one of many women in this story. She discovers her true self, and the power to thrive, after surviving multiple traumas: the loss of her family's home and parents when she was a child and, later, the loss of her husband as well as her feeling of responsibility for a difficult son. Ultimately, she rejoices in her Mexican and Native-American heritage and a rare ability to tell stories. Those epiphanies, as well as positive relationships with her daughter, Rosa, and a determined woman named Esther, Candelaria's good and bad memories of her past, a spiritual counselor, a connection to her mother that transcends death, and other major transitions help Candelaria to develop a life that is liberated from rage and fear, a life that becomes personally empowering. ... (read more)

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Captive Crisis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Box Turtle Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Santa Fe Tom
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books


"At the end of the song there was a standing ovation. His humble heart was full of successful gratification."

A bashful and humble turtle overcomes the powerful temptation to retreat into his shell and shares a gift he did not know he was capable of giving in this new book by children's author Bate. Santa Fe Tom, a Desert Box Turtle, wakes up one morning in sunny New Mexico, ready to arise from hibernation. He becomes alert quickly as he hears a summons from other desert dwellers Ray Roadrunner, Quincy Quail, Molly Mockingbird, and Paul Prairie dog. It's time for them to get moving, as they are preparing a big birthday surprise for someone who lives in Critter Town. ... (read more)

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Liberation From Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Art of Forgiveness: A Promise of Peace
by Carolyn CJ Jones
Gate Lady Publishing


"It’s as if someone was saying, because you don’t understand something, have a question, or need a hand, you’re defective for some reason."

Demonstrating the dichotomy between a life lived in two entirely different worlds, Jones holds nothing back in describing her own journey and providing a pathway for others to achieve the same level of peace. At its core, the narrative is an opportunity to experience authentic introspection and tackle heavy topics like anger and resentment head-on. ... (read more)

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Evocative Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Childhood is a spaceship full of friends
that rockets into the future.
I will be there when it lands
like a kitten on its feet"

In her second book of collected poetry, the author has organized her musings and insights into six categories. Each chapter follows the themes of home, animals, places, riddles, caffeine and wine, and family respectively. The home chapter is the most explored, following memories of homemaking and raising children with all the energy and chaos they can bring. The chapter on animals considers the impact of family pets and wonders what life would be like in animal form. The chapter on places recalls old residences and other colorful memories of location. When writing on the theme of riddles, the poet considers things that are somewhat contradictory or mysterious about life. Not surprisingly, the chapter on caffeine and wine is a treat for the sense of taste, using language to express flavor. Finally, when exploring the topic of family, Goka revisits the endless tasks of homemaking, as well as considering her dual role as both mother and child. ... (read more)

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Sharp, Swift, Credible

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dead Horses: A Peter Romero Mystery
by David E. Knop
Bookbaby


"'They’re haters, both sides are waiting for an excuse to shoot,' he said. 'Your crazy-ass story will just get `em riled up. One shot and a full-blown firefight breaks out.'"

In times gone by, there were plenty of reasons the West was referred to as wild. The present, however, does not take a back seat to the past where action and adventure are concerned in this rough and tumble tome of turbulent times in contemporary New Mexico and Colorado. Author Knop makes today's West come alive with vivid characterizations, authentic place setting, intricate plotting, plus a respect for the land and its inhabitants that comes across as absolutely sincere and not simply tacked on for politically correct purposes. His depictions of modern-day Native Americans encompass their very real struggles with today's problems while acknowledging their connections to the sacred ways of their ancestors. This odd dichotomy of ancient races living and working in modern times infuses Knop's story with additional insight and interest woven from an intense study into his literary cast. He knows his characters, how he wants to honestly depict them, as well as the engaging scenarios he wraps around them. The author is working at the top of his game, as both his narrative and the way it is told grab readers early and hold them tight until the very end. ... (read more)

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Engaging Plots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Helen’s Orphans
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"I wondered who we were, what for. War took his kinfolk off to die. But who were mine, and who was I?"

In Greek mythology, the legendary Trojan War is universally recognized for the carnage it caused and the notion that it stemmed from ego-fueled ambitions of attaining Helen, anointed as the most beautiful woman in the world. With this tale as inspiration, Fritsch peels back the curtain even more and spins a complex web of secrets and revelations that keep the audience engaged throughout. ... (read more)

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Dante Revisited

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Our Evolving Brain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Story of Homo Loquens: How We Have Changed into Another Species
by Dan M. Mrejeru
Global Summit House


"“…language was one of the fundamental tools that shaped our ‘world of order’ by suppressing the elements that appeared to contain ‘disorder.’"

Humans are born with the potential to learn languages. This ability does not leave us as we age. Retention of such a juvenile characteristic as the need or desire to communicate is called neoteny. Through language, we have achieved such goals as effective agriculture and the establishment of complex societies by means of our ability to name their components, such as tools or laws. Human communication is the most outwardly apparent sign of humanity's potential for creativity and innovation. Such creativity also manifests itself in the production of music and other art forms. Ultimately, a perpetually inquisitive human brain is likely to remain healthier—that is, more adaptable to new ideas—than that of someone who deliberately or otherwise stops learning. ... (read more)

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Heartfelt Tribute

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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The Christian Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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Current Times Through God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What The Bible Has To Say About The U.S.A.: The Old Testament Speaks To Americans Today
by David S. Heeren
URLink Print and Media


"This book is about an era of moral and spiritual torpor... also about the faithfulness of God to preserve America, if its Christian population is faithful..."

The book of Hosea was written foremost as a warning to the backslidden children of Israel. Since the Bible is transcultural, Heeren applies its warning to also fit backsliding Christians in America. The short book of Hosea surely contains the strangest love story in the Bible. Hosea, the prophet, was told by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer. All was not well. Gomer missed the money and trappings of her temple life and left. Her three children's prophetic names foreshadowed God's dealings with backsliding Israel. ... (read more)

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Dark Conspiratorial World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Natalie Stone: Beyond Survival and into the Light
by Martin J. Ryan


"'A fragment of my Mom's dress in my hands. A floral print that I remember. It never ends.'"

Natalie, a brilliant young computer science student, is raped by a footballer at their college. Familiar with trauma since her parents' death, this latest tragedy triggers her usual response: disappearance. She hacks into government sites to change her identity, outs her attacker to the news, and escapes. She and Mario, a mentor hacker she befriends online, meet in the Sierras. Over hikes, confessions, and self-defense training, they fall in love. But their safety dissolves when Mario's enemies locate them. Natalie hides out in Seattle, then joins the military, deployed to Iraq, where she is further traumatized by war and more predatory men. Her wizard-like computer skills afford her a way out of the troubled country. Working at a firm outside of Washington, D.C., she follows a trail of damning evidence, exposing the man behind her greatest personal loss and that of many others. ... (read more)

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Lives & Loss

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Aftermath: 9/11 Through a Volunteer's Eyes
by Beth SK Morris
Poetica Publishing


"Subway destroyed, they fled east
on foot, heads covered with ash,
some wearing masks, some still
bleeding from the debris"

This cathartic, eye-opening account of the tragedy that 9/11 bestowed upon the United States transports readers to Ground Zero, where ash and debris fall, where loved ones disappear, and where for years to come, the day’s physical, emotional, and psychological scarrings refuse to disappear, let alone fade. In this haunting collection, the poem “By the Numbers, 6000” reduces humanity to “body parts recovered, sorted / into segments small enough / to fit in a test tube.” Readers find themselves face-to-face with a wife who “buries her face in her workbook, lowers her eyes” as she confesses the potential loss of her husband and the consequences his disappearance bestows upon her and her daughter’s future in the poem “The Lesson.” Meanwhile, toxic xenophobia permeates American society and shocks readers to their cores as they experience it for themselves in the poem “The Physics of Ripples.” ... (read more)

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Small Town, Big Trouble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Their Feet Run to Evil: A Big Ray Elmore Novel
by Thomas D. Holland


"The little girl whose father had died with his secretary and a single suitcase would forever be in there, looking out on a world filled with unfairness and betrayal."

In the town of Split Tree, blacks outnumber whites, except for virtually any degree of community status. Therefore it's not surprising that when a young black girl is found dead in the river, few authorities care to expend anything more than rudimentary energy in finding out why. Big Ray, however, whose own past harbors echoes of similar malevolence, is hellbent on coming up with answers. He begins an investigation that rankles some, worries others, and reignites embers in relationships too far along to reverse yet too intense to ignore. Big Ray starts, as he might put it, knowing squat. But as he picks up potential leads, he's not averse to using physicality as well as psychology to get the information he needs. Soon revelations start to surface that illuminate long-held secrets and unknown alliances. Just as it seems the puzzle is essentially solved, Big Ray uncovers a missing piece that changes everything. ... (read more)

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Canine Connections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Loki - The Husky: A Child's Emotional Sojourn
by Krishna Vemuri amd Dev Gupta
Xlibris


"I’d never seen a pair of human eyes speak so much in so little time."

Loki the husky is the central character in this lively saga. In dog daycare, he joins a cohort calling itself F5, whose friendship offers human readers an inside view of canine beings. Loki's pals include the attention-seeking Chihuahua, Pixie, who frantically tries to control her young keepers. Then there's Weekday, a bearded collie and natural leader who, after a cozy puppyhood, loses his dog mother and his human godmother. Akita Kiko is a powerful runner whose maltreatment eventually leads to happier placement. Rounding the friends off is Luke, a Belgian Shepherd exploited for pit fighting who escapes to a warm adoptive home. Loki's recollections are perhaps the most distressing. Torn from his mother and confined to a puppy mill, he waited agonizing months for adoption but now lives comfortably with a cheerful Indian family. But lately, Loki pines for his birth mom. Does he dare run away and seek her out? ... (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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Unpredictable & Engaging

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Curious Cat in a Dead Dog’s Town
by Chip Weinert
Stratton Press Publishing


"Actually, I work hard at doing as little work as I can. It’s not a bad life."

Exploring the age-old dynamic and tension between cats and dogs, Weinert creates a world divided: Catscamp on the North Bank and Dogstown on the South Bank. Though the towns share a hospital and police department, there is no mystery that the two strive to maintain the distance that stemmed from a gold rush over a century ago. While frequenting the Stump and Grind, a feline biker's bar, the central character, Duke Hazzard, spots a stunning Siamese, Gloria (otherwise known as Mrs. Bravo), handing an envelope over to a far more imposing snow leopard, Marlow. As the only private eye in either town, Duke knows something fishy is going on. Almost immediately, news of Doggie Crunchie tycoon Ralph Bravo's death confirms his suspicions. ... (read more)

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Artistic Freedom

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Last Troubadour
by Eugene Scruggs
Stratton Press Publishing


"Isn’t it a paradox that false devotees are really the sinners?"

Emeritus Professor Scruggs applies his considerable knowledge of seventeenth-century French literature, culture, and history in this first-person narrative featuring Charles Coypeau, aka Sieur d'Assoucy or Dasouccy, a French musician and burlesque poet. Coypeau prefers a life of artistic freedom to his father's wish that he study law. So he sets out at seventeen to rove around the "taverns of Europe" and later rub elbows with Parisian libertines and literary luminaries such as Moliére, Cyrano de Bergerac, and many others. ... (read more)

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From Art to Science

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Happy Clam
by Rosemary A. Schmidt
Gainline Press


"So, the cure to everything – conflict resolution, world peace, happiness – all resides within us right now; latent, untapped material, waiting to burst forth."

Several aspects of the author's life play into the guidance she provides in this highly engaging, realistic compendium of memoir, experience, and advice. Her older sister Angie was born with physical disabilities that affected her breathing and caused the amputation of one leg. Angie's life was always imperiled, yet she refused to see herself as different from or envious of others not so afflicted. Instead, she compared her situation to enjoying see birds fly without wishing to be one. Young Schmidt realized early on that it "could've just as easily been me," grateful for her blessings. Another focal point for learning life's lessons came when Schmidt and her family had to oversee their mother's care when she developed dementia. Moving her from home to home was an unpredictable and often discouraging responsibility, along with seeing her slipping away mentally and physically. The author's job as a supervisor also encompassed many revelations about how we interact, how we should treat ourselves, and what our work lives can mean in a larger terrain of cultivating positive relationships. ... (read more)

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An Expert Speaks

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Socialism Revealed: Why Socialism's Issues Have Never Permitted Success in a Real Economy
by Phillip J. Bryson
Stratton Press Publishing


"...there is rarely both a big winner and an exploited loser in free transactions—since either buyer or seller is free to walk away."

A younger generation of Americans on social media has begun advocating for socialism. They believe in promises by politicians like Bernie Sanders that socialism can provide a better solution to equal opportunity and pay. Knowing Obama was an advocate of socialism, Bryson carefully observed his presidency to see what strategies he would implement to solve the economy's downturn. He concludes that, though knowledgeable about Marxist theory, Obama didn't succeed because he was unskilled in economics and free markets, something also seen in Venezuela's recent attempt. ... (read more)

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Good Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Nature of Good Government
by H. Doyle Smith
Stratton Press Publishing


"The role of government is about people’s lives, not abstract theories that do not apply."

Smith's treatise on what makes government work begins with "The United States is at a crisis." He continues to state that many in government spend their time "chasing red herrings like abortion, no taxes, free trade, or deregulation." These political theories, he asserts, distract from the true purpose of government which is to work with its citizens for the community's good. When governing entities fail to attend to the good of all its citizens, whether through the promotion of one certain doctrine or showing favor to "any part of the economy at the expense of others, the government has failed in its responsibility to provide for the good of all." The author proceeds to define good government through an extended analogy using the Ten Commandments. Discussions of different forms of government, systems of economics, megaeconomics, and immigration are discussed in subsequent chapters. ... (read more)

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Passion & Authenticity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rescuing General Patton
by Curtis Stephen Burdick
Gene-Freak Publishing


"If you find the target and are unable to accomplish mission, kill the target. REPEAT kill the target. Target must not remain in enemy hands."

Hemingway is credited with saying, "All good books have one thing in common—they are truer than if they had really happened." That thought can definitely be ascribed to this World War II novel where fact and fiction cohabitate imaginatively in chapter after chapter. The literary conceit is simple enough: suppose the Germans had apprehended General Patton. However, the plot that follows is anything but simple, as the highest echelons of U.S. Command plan an incredibly desperate mission to simultaneously hide his capture from the world and rescue the fabled warrior. ... (read more)

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Good Grandparenting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Grandparenting: How to Meet Its Responsibilities
by Godfrey Harris
The Americas Group


"Grandparents, by virtue of what they have seen and done throughout their lives, represent an important community resource."

Author and public policy consultant Harris offers examples, suggestions, and strategies for the older generation to share its wisdom and perspective with the younger. He asserts that grandparents, coming from times very different from those that the grandchildren experience, have a personal and social responsibility to express and exemplify broader perspectives of societal and community values. Many "lessons" are situational. Grandparents can share their understanding of what is appropriate in specific circumstances. For example, suppose a child rushes to exit an elevator ahead of a man using a walker or a woman carrying a load of paperwork. In that case, that child needs to be shown by discussion and practice what constitutes more sensitive, thoughtful, and compassionate action. Many such problematic scenarios—at a funeral, in the hotel, and the like—are presented, with solutions suggested, along with twenty-six techniques enumerated and elucidated to help elders give necessary social guidance to youngsters. ... (read more)

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To The Realm of Energy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Destiny and Signs of God - Spiritual Psychalysis
by Ionel Rotaru
iUniverse


"Getting to know ourselves is difficult, and it takes time and dedication."

Author Rotaru recalls the many amazing events of his life as seen through the lens of what he terms "spiritual psychalysis." Born in poverty in the Republic of Moldova, he learned to survive in an often corrupt system while being inculcated with high self-sacrifice and hard work values. A good student, he aspired to a career in medicine, requiring numerous levels of exams along with bribes and promises to university and other officials. While studying psychiatry, he met his future wife. Together, they would move often, raise children, work and live in foreign climes, survive hardships, and experience both near starvation and material prosperity. Through these changing scenarios, Rotaru began to see the handiwork of God, subtly but directly guiding him to successes, sometimes through exposing his failures. Here he recounts many occasions when God directed him to turn new corners and perceive events as spiritually infused. ... (read more)

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Experience

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Am I.
by J.J. Zerr
Primix Publishing


"So, I thought about how Teresa made me happy, and I thought about other kinds of happiness I had known."

Revolving around the childhood and teen years of Eddie Walsh, Zerr's book captures the ups and downs, the naive exuberance, adventurous excursions, and kindling romance of youth. From the opening image, Zerr paints of mischievous five-year-old Eddie stealing cookies, opening the chicken pen, and trying to do his best cowboy impression by lassoing the neighbor's poodle—all without getting in trouble from his mother. It becomes apparent that he seemingly can do no wrong. With his brother Lennie getting the brunt of the spankings for Eddie's actions, audiences will certainly be transported back to memory lane and their own childhood memories. ... (read more)

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Intriguing Factors

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Ticket to Hell: On Other Men's Sins
by J.J. Zerr
Primix Publishing


"'What saved me,' Father Dom said, 'was discovering the power of silence. Especially when you mistakenly think you’ve lost God.'"

With multiple plotlines featured throughout the novel, the dichotomy between Jon's life as "Stretch," the Navy lieutenant flying combat missions over Vietnam, and that of his wife, Teresa, is eye-opening. Five-year-old Jennifer and three-year-old namesake Edgar Jon are already a handful. However, Jon and Teresa are expecting baby number three. ... (read more)

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A New Quest

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thesila Prophecy: The Journey Home
by Robert Rumble
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"Mikolas was drunk with power and decides that he would put her spirit in a special bow so that he could always keep her near."

Mashaun, an American outdoorsman, wakes up in a cave in a strange world. Soon he is joined by a few others from Earth, and no one knows how they got to this place. After finding some weapons, including a bow that speaks to him telepathically, Mashaun leaves the cave and confronts some soldiers and a female mage who have captives in a wagon. Mashaun uses the bow to kill the soldiers and the mage, a clone of the powerful Magdalenia. The captives join the newly arrived earthlings, and they set out to find out where they are and figure out how to get home. They will meet fantastic creatures and fearsome foes, explore astonishing cities, and become acquainted with magic. ... (read more)

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An Epic Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Guitar Player: Nuit Blanche
by Ed Levesko


"Change is a rather peculiar phenomenon. It can scare you because in many instances it comes about in an abrupt way."

In Paris, 1970, readers wander the city streets with Jordan, an ex-military narrator who studies at the Sorbonne. As the book progresses, a romance on all levels flares between the narrator and the captivating Jasmin, a woman whose intellect is as sharp as her beauty. As their relationship grows, so do Jordan's experiences and enlightenments in France, along with his comprehension, perceptions, and self-awareness. Along the way, he makes unique insights about the creative process sure to inspire readers in both their creativity and their lives: "Take whatever comes and then follow it for a while. Drop it. Find something else, maybe related, maybe not." As Jasmin and Jordan navigate cultural nuances and their personalities clash and mesh, Paris' magic and beauty unfold, giving life to characters and readers alike. ... (read more)

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Dirty Words

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

LEWD: The Secret History of English Dirty Words
by D. W. Kreger
Windham Everitt Publishing


"None of the books solved the mystery...."

With few exceptions, almost everyone over the age of three knows that certain words are considered to be "dirty." But what makes a word fit that classification? Is it the connotation or the usage? What makes saying such words so taboo that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will fine someone for saying it when broadcasted? Well, as the author points out, it comes down more to the history of these words. Most words that are considered dirty nowadays were just commonplace words but became taboo to use. In this book, Kreger explores the connection between the usage of dirty words and the historical implications of them. ... (read more)

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Los Angeles Retold

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Westside Stories Too: Further Reflections on Life in West Los Angeles Beyond the 1960s
by Michael Harris
The Americas Group


"Los Angeles has a reputation for being fresh and new, constantly reinventing itself as different trends and styles arise to dominate the landscape."

This second offering of the author's reflections on what is considered West Los Angeles includes not only a nostalgic nod to institutions long gone but also a look at important architectural and cultural offerings in and around the area. Harris defines West Los Angeles as "bordered by Mulholland Drive on the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains and the City of Malibu to the north, La Brea Avenue to the east, Los Angeles International Airport the south and on the Pacific Ocean to the west." He also includes a section entitled "Notorious Westside Crimes," which includes such names as Sal Mineo, Bugsy Siegel, O.J. Simpson, and Charles Manson. The book discusses several sites which are worthwhile to explore when in and around Los Angeles and includes many photos within each section. ... (read more)

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Science Imagery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stem and Leaf Plots: Ten Eco-fiction Short Stories
by Virginia Arthur
EOS—Ecological Outreach Services


"...Gordon knew humans were in over their teeny little heads when it came to the if’s of a God."

Like plants, the bonds between people can flourish or wither, depending on how carefully they are tended. Rivalrous sisters Nora and Carole finally acknowledge years of mutual hatred and the inability to salvage their relationship. Sometimes one bonds more closely with animals than fellow humans, as neglected young Brady does with an injured goose in his local park. Some people's petty narcissism or materialism is most starkly apparent against the vast background of Mother Nature. For example, coddled and jet-setting misanthrope Rowena has no idea of either the depths of her loneliness or how to take care of her loathsome husband's favorite fig tree after his death. Love of living creatures can also lead to religious awakening late in life, like with Gordon. The newly Christian entomologist leaves behind tongue-in-cheek words of consolation for the mourners at his funeral, comparing friends and enemies alike to his favorite—and least favorite—insects. ... (read more)

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Ancient Beliefs in Modern Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Wheel of Time: Origin of the Holy Days
by D. W. Kreger
Windham Everitt Publishing


"The whole notion that time is like a wheel was a near universal concept among pre-history people on opposite sides of the planet."

Using what he has learned in his thirty years of travel in the study of archaeological sites around the world, Kreger offers a comprehensive work that traces the origin of many of our holiday traditions to Neolithic beliefs. The author constructs a "Wheel of Time"—"a complete and concise model of all the special days of the year observed by our ancestors and what they might have meant to them." He discusses ancient sites across the world erected to mark the changing of seasons by following the movements of the sun and moon. Such sites as Stonehenge, Kokino Observatory, and Machu Picchu are discussed, as are places in North America. Many illustrations of the wheel which emphasize and explain his premise are included. Kreger also refers to literature, such as the writings of Julius Caesar, the Venerable Bede, and the various legends of King Arthur to further expound upon his conclusions. ... (read more)

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Nuances of Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Incredible Mind of an Average Man
by Petros Tsikkos
Writers Republic


"Allow the tune of your actions to trickle through the musical masterpiece of life."

The twenty-nine poems presented in this slim volume offer a parade of different perspectives on the human experience. Written from the point of view of a variety of diverse speakers, the poems speak of life, love, and loss. The poet takes readers on an emotional journey in which they encounter God's dismay at his creation, an old man's musings from an assisted living facility, and a person's frustration in facing the diagnosis of ADD. Each poem represents a distinct and unique theme and speaker. Some of the pieces are written in the first person, while others are second-person reflections. However, each resounds with the poet's intent to share these observances and his desire to touch those who read his words. ... (read more)

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Man in Charge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

POTUS: A Political Fantasy in Three Parts
by T.C. Owen
Page Publishing


"America is like the frontier—beckoning us to it, just out of reach, receding before us to the edge of Eternity, making us strive to achieve our dreams..."

This humdinger of a magical realist political thriller stars President T.C.—a hard-riding, hard-shooting conservative hero. He rides his way through contemporary terrorist attacks and a recalcitrant U.S. Congress with his Six Riders—"Death Riding Six White Horses"—as he is fond of declaring. Imbued with a personality that is a mash-up of a spectrum of manly guys from Hollywood Westerns, war flicks, and political thrillers, POTUS embraces life to the fullest with most of the hierarchical and violent clichés that accompany these genres. That said, the overall effect of his wild adventures is more humorous than earnest, and that lightens the hard edges of the story. ... (read more)

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Revelations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Salvation to Sanctification; Then Eternal Life
by Zadia B. Tyson
URLink Print and Media


"A change takes place in the life of the believer because the Holy Spirit gives him power to live for God."

Author Tyson offers a serious study of the stages of spiritual life based on Christian teaching. The book begins with a portrait of God (the first chapter heading) drawn from biblical revelations. He is the eternal and omniscient creator, revealing Himself in many ways. But sin, imbued by disobedience in the Garden of Eden, gave Satan great power over events, often preventing humanity from accessing God's word. Jesus Christ came to change people and provide them with a pathway to redemption, a means of battling evil. Through the abiding truth of Christ's sacrifice, people can achieve salvation, activated by the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to "guide and lead" after his departure from earthly life. Through salvation comes sanctification, an increasingly righteous tendency that emerges once a person has been saved. The reward for these newfound spiritual attitudes and actions to renounce sin in all its aspects is eternal life. ... (read more)

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Biblical Themes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Immortal Tree
by Scott Devon
BookTrail Publishing


"The Clan of Kahn inherited their father's paranoid mind."

In recent years, a common theme in the publishing world has been to revisit or reimagine the beliefs, myths, and fables of our past, to bring new life into these tales that have for so often seemed like moral companions to their readers. This book does this in its retelling of humanity's fall from grace—the story of Adam and Eve. ... (read more)

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God Exists

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God... Or Not? One person’s amazing experiences: Do they verify the existence of God...or not?
by David S. Heeren
URLink Print and Media


"I call it improbable non-fiction because it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t happen as often as once in a lifetime."

This collection of short stories about events that occurred in the author's life is informative and entertaining. However, these amazing recorded incidents will likely cause one to consider deeper issues. There is a bit of humor in the sections where the author discovers for himself that God hates pride, which apparently Heeren sees as his personal weakness. Readers will also find intriguing the prayers involved in Sarah Brightman's music CD titled Hymn. The "By The Numbers" chapter considers whether coincidence could be an explanation for such occurrences told within this book, such as receiving the exact amount of needed resources within twenty-four hours of a deadline, the overnight healing of extreme pain without medical treatment, two incidents involving angelic protection, and the accidental early discovery of prostate cancer. ... (read more)

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Life of Daniel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Discernment from Daniel
by Bernie L. Calaway
PublishAmerica


"Despite the king’s insistence on uniformity, the heroes devise effective plans to preserve their Jewish identity... by their refusal to subsist entirely on government dole..."

Deportation results in culture shock. The Babylonians made it a practice to deport the top people of a conquered culture, leaving the poor and lower classes in place. This is why Daniel, a teenager from the royal Jewish household, and his three friends ended up in Babylon with new names and an overly rich diet. They were also likely made into eunuchs. According to the author, Babylonian culture was everything Judah was not. Spread out for fifty miles, the city of Babylon was known for its palace complete with the famous hanging gardens that were proclaimed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. ... (read more)

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An Age Gone By

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amanda
by Jackie Gibson Villarreal
Xlibris


"I love you, and I love the person you are. Not because you are white, Indian, or half of each. I just want to make you happy and to be with you."

A Mormon family in the 1800s is forced to flee from their Missouri home when religious persecution puts their peaceful livelihood at risk. While making their way to the Dakota Territory, and evading violence from outsiders, they begin to harbor a new fear of being captured by Indians. Shown through young Amanda's perspective—an independent and compassionate daughter and sister—this historical fiction novel immediately begins with all that is at stake in their courageous transition to a better life. Amanda's coming-of-age story—spanning the evolution of a young girl reluctant to grow up and finally becoming a young woman embracing love and starting a family—is expressed through a sentimental tone akin to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women or Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. Amanda deftly walks the line between respecting her elders' guidance and daring to keep a splendid secret amongst herself and her siblings. ... (read more)

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Inside Darwin

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

On the Island with Charles Darwin
by Barbara ten Brink
Authors Press


"My comment prompted Señor Darwin to open his portfolio. For the first time in my life, I saw a map."

Misael, a young man living on Isla Isabela in the Galápagos Archipelago, watches a new ship coming into the harbor. The local custom involves greeting the voyagers and, in the process, garnering a bit of income. When he learns that one of the new arrivals, Charles Darwin, plans to spend a week exploring the island, Misael decides to use his knowledge of the place and its people by offering his services as a guide. He approaches Darwin, and they converse in a mix of English and Spanish. Darwin admires the teen's spunk, since one of his cherished tenets is, "Those who learn to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." The two make a most compatible pair, with Darwin seeking all animal, vegetable, and mineral species for analysis, and Misael taking him to places where such samples can be found. ... (read more)

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A Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Be Not a Seeker: Be a Seer
by David Hays
Authors Press


"Edgar Cayce said we have about thirty lives that pertain to the issues we seek to heal in this present lifetime."

Mathew Slains, a retired police officer, moves east from Wyoming after his wife and soulmate Sara loses her life in an automobile accident. He believes that by relocating he can start fresh, hoping to leave behind the anger he has pent-up inside towards God for letting death take his wife and for feeling guilty about not being there when she was killed. He finds some degree of solace in tending to the garden behind his house. Significantly, he is moved to leave a large circle barren in it. When he first lies down in that portion of the grass, though, his life changes forever. While there, he comes into contact with other people, including Sara, who guide him on his spiritual awakening throughout the book. He discovers that he is able, on various occasions, to observe himself in his previous lives. All of this at first seems improbable, and he wonders if he is losing his mind. As time goes by, he accepts that it is very real and not just in his imagination. ... (read more)

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A Seemless Past

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Like Two Saplings: A Memoir
by Margery al Chalabi
AuthorsPress


"There had been, over the past few years, a number of remarkable treatments, most involving bone marrow stem cell transplants or chemotherapy drugs targeting specific involved genes."

Just short of their forty-ninth wedding anniversary on March 9, 2014, Margery and Suhail al Chalabi received dire information: Suhail's "chronic leukemia had become acute. Not only acute, but developed into a far-more lethal strain – BPDCN – a set of letters that would become terrifying" for them. This memoir relates the journey the couple undergoes as they deal with Suhail's struggle with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm. It is also the story of the couple's half-century together. Margery's tribute to her partner of fifty-plus years is a testament to their strong marriage. Told through Margery's point of view, it is the story of the deep love and pride she feels for the husband with whom she shared most of her life as well as her determination to ensure his accomplishments not be forgotten. ... (read more)

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A Themed Collection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All About Love: Poems from Mixed Experience
by Joan Bonnell Clark
Paperchase Solution, LLC


"The low, strong song of a woman
stretched to her tallest
offering her fullest”"

In six sections spanning subjects such as "Regarding Love" and "Over-the-Hill Love," this book takes readers on a whimsical, passionate, and sometimes serious exploration of the different facets of romance, erotic love, camaraderie, and friendship. In often straightforward verses with uncomplicated structures, a woman's desires and passions come alive. The intricacies and clarities of love explain and tantalize, torment and drive, praise but never criticize. More importantly, readers encounter a love that defies fairy tale stereotypes, and they join one woman on her journey of romantic development, understanding, and fulfillment at physical and spiritual levels. ... (read more)

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Insider's View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Teacher’s Quest: Loving our Students, Serving their Future Needs, and Saving the Schools
by Brian L. Murphy
Page Publishing


"What are we doing to prepare our children for their chosen futures?"

A teacher expertly examines the current American educational system from multiple angles, using hard facts, concomitant history, and some enlivening recollections from his twenty years in the classroom. Murphy had always nursed a wish to be a teacher, but teachers were underpaid when he had to decide what profession to pursue. In addition, the jobs available were few. By 1997, after a business career, he took the plunge, gaining the credentials needed to work in his dream career. He spent the required time as a substitute teacher and was subjected to numerous standards and evaluations until finally securing full-time work. At first, this was as a computer instructor and then as a history teacher at the high school level. He discovered one important fact very quickly: teaching is a lonely job. Teachers work alone and have little contact with workmates. He also found that the generation he was teaching had very different values from his own. ... (read more)

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Music Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Music of Peace
by Beverly Fearon
Authors Press


"Harmony hated fighting of any kind."

A little girl whose last day at school is upset by the fight that breaks out among some of her classmates finds contentment in her name's meaning in this charming parable by children's writer Fearon. Harmony, the book's young heroine, is so negatively affected by conflict that she can't even watch such things on TV. After witnessing the boys' fight and resultant bloody noses, she flees outside to a grass-tufted hill and begins to sing a song to calm herself. Her father always told her that she sang like her mother, who had a lovely voice. As she sings, a strange feeling comes over her. Something is about to happen. She looks up and sees something in the sky. Within minutes the mysterious object has revealed itself as a hot air balloon. It is filled with children and quickly lands nearby. ... (read more)

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Conservation Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Springtime with Rachel Carson
by Dr. Barbara ten Brink
Authors Press


"For the next several months, my family's farm became a working laboratory led by Rachel Carson as she put theory into practice for her research."

In the spring of 1953, Louise Lewis fervently hopes that her family's new neighbor near her mother's produce stand on Southport Island, Maine, has a daughter her age. Imagine her surprise and excitement when instead she gains an ongoing friendship with the eminent marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson as she engages in academic field research on the ecology and biology of the Atlantic coastline. ... (read more)

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Solid Writing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kayla Blaze: A Tale of the New Southwest—or, The Will to Resist
by Mark Gooding
Authors Press


"Cleave to your freedom, then, for freedom, though easily lost, is hard won."

Marty Frey is a middle-aged community college English professor who hated school while he was in it and now despises female academics and left-wing ideology. Of course, female colleagues dominate his English department, providing plentiful opportunities for him to mock contemporary feminist thought and openly ridicule their physical appearances and perceived gender-specific intellectual shortcomings. Marty's attitude keeps him contentedly single—free to immerse himself in world literature full of the ideas of the white male thinkers he adores, such as Marx, Darwin, and Hegel. Or maybe his avid study of their writings simply keeps his loneliness in check. . ... (read more)

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Imposing Efforts

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Great Adventurers of the 20th Century: Revised and Updated 2nd Edition
by Ron Tagliapietra
Authors Press


"Many people think of adventure as a vacation, but they ignore the years of preparation spent by these adventurers."

There is no shortage of books about adventurers and explorers. However, what Tagliapietra does a little differently is that he doesn't focus wholly on just any one person or adventure. Here, he includes a collection of diverse people and their significant ventures into one globetrotting book. But these are not just any adventurers but great adventurers, ones who set out to achieve loftier goals than, say, your average rock climbing weekend. The result is a patchwork of absorbing chronicles that serve as both a call to adventure and inspiration for those seeking similar thrills. ... (read more)

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Passion & Fear

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amber Alert (Lord of Wrath)
by Joseph Daeges
URLink Print and Media


"The whole family is on edge from all the peculiar happenings around the house..."

A gothic novel of a haunted house and a besieged family, the author’s tale includes the components and adventures of new occupants Paul and his family, a friendly but mysterious former owner, the disappearance of Paul’s son Angelo, and a strange, tenacious blackbird who is other than she appears at first to be. Many of the standard components of the genre are present. Included in the mix are clues that manifest in a magic mirror, voices that alternately warn and guide the family in their quest to crack the mystery behind the haunting and Angelo’s disappearance, and a general air of uncertainty as the family learns to discriminate between helpful and destructive supernatural forces. Through it all, Paul, who seems to have the most emotional investment since he is Angelo’s father, appears to be a tower of strength, even as he questions, reacts to, and fears the circumstances evolving in and around the house. The son’s name derivative, “Angel,” makes the reader wonder if the implied connection to divinity might be the reason for his capture and disappearance. ... (read more)

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Certain Grace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inspired by the Holy Ghost: Spiritual Poetic Messages Received from Popular Songs
by Aimee Cabo
Inspirational Books Publishing


"Some of us can drown
when treading through a raging sea"

Rarely do the secular and the spiritual so smoothly intertwine. In this collection inspired by radio favorites and cross-genre hits, readers discover a musical world where songs by some high-profile musical stars that many would not associate with the spiritual or the religious encourage an introspective narrator. The narrator looks inward, examines life in correlation with the Bible, and recites verses that reveal personal hardships and unexpected survival. ... (read more)

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Family Saga

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pages and Leaflets of North Oxfordshire: My Lineage Pre-1700-1959
by Angela Fortnum
AuthorHouse


"John’s occupation was a weaver, and he probably made cloth on handlooms… John was probably an artisan of his day."

Using diligent research and an evident thirst for knowledge of her personal ancestry, author Fortnum has composed this chronicle presenting the highlights of the people and happenings in her mother's family. She knew that the family hailed from two villages in North Oxfordshire, England. In questing for historical references in South Newington and Milcombe, her search for written records of the Page family was launched when she found a reference to James Page, brother of her “seven-times-GGF” (great-grandfather). She surmises that James may have been born a Quaker since there was a Quaker meeting in the area. His surname likely indicated his occupation. His son John, a weaver, had four boys and two girls, the girls having been mentioned in a will found in local annals. The Page surname flowed through the author's ancestry until the generation following that of her grandfather, Harry James Page—a miller whose daughter Muriel, born in 1916, met and married John Fortnum during the time of the Second World War. The author was their child, born in 1948. She still resides in the house where she was born. ... (read more)

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Radiant Artwork

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What Do You See?
by Linda Cassella
AuthorHouse


"Mr. Elephant, Mr. Elephant,
What Do You See?"

In this picture book for preschoolers, a mother eagle is seeking something or someone. She asks all of the animals that she sees, "What do you see?" Some of them—including elephants, a bear, and a polar bear—tell her what they have been doing, but no one replies with the answer that she wants. The drama in the repeated question continues throughout the story, with intrigue building each time the anxious eagle asks the question. The text of the story emphasizes the repetition and is reminiscent of some of the "Baba Yaga" tales, as well as those of Dr. Seuss. The question is posed exactly the same way and structured on the page identically for each animal or group of animals. The repeating pattern will likely lead young children to have fun anticipating and saying the line with the main character. ... (read more)

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Class Structures

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jessie’s Will
by Virginia Wells
Xlibris


"I know you meant well to bring us together, but it can’t work. We live in different worlds. I can never hope to make his world mine."

India comes to life in this historical novel about an Anglo-Indian woman whose life is entangled with a British family, laying bare the issues of class, race, and ultimately love. Myra falls hard for Giles Cottrell, the grandson of Jessie, a woman who has taken special care of Myra. When she becomes pregnant by Giles, she leaves without telling him, choosing illegitimacy for her son and loneliness for herself. She refuses to settle for a forced marriage built on obligation rather than love. But when Jessie dies, Myra’s secret is revealed to Giles, and he comes to claim what is his. He offers marriage to Myra and assurance of legitimacy for their son. The ties that bind them may be stronger than they realize as they embark on a new life together and are forced to sort through the past riddled with mistrust, secrets, and shame. ... (read more)

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Medical Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Type B
by Steve Mitchell
iUniverse


"John headed home, glad of the fact that he wasn’t carrying the Sanguis virus, but concerned about how he would help Paula if she were to contract it."

Readers travel with John, a dedicated family man and courier for Christ Hospital, who is sent to collect a few vials of blood that his employer requests be expedited to the lab. At the lab, John finds a hustle and bustle of a different kind as the presence of two CDC technicians he has never seen or met before overshadows the lab's usual operations. As John ventures from assignment to assignment, readers ride with a man interested in the truth about what's happening in the hospitals to which he travels and in the lab for which he works. Then, John becomes a man who finds himself in moral turmoil after discovering the truth about a new virus threatening the United States. As the virus rampages through everyone except those who possess the B blood type, society slowly crumbles, and gangs rape and pillage. John's family struggles to survive amid the chaos. ... (read more)

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Dark Energy & More

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dual Energy Concept: New Answers to Questions in Quantum Mechanics, Relativity and the Universe
by Greg Van Arsdale
Stratton Press Publishing


"Dark Energy is an energy form that is not atomic in nature."

The dual energies spoken of in the title are atomic energy and the recent discovery of dark energy. Added to these two is the concept of an "Absolute Energy Medium" that is the quantum potential or quiescent state that has the potentiality of either dark or atomic energy to emerge from it. The author bases his theory on the posited matter waves concept, rejected at the Copenhagen Conference of 1920, which favored the now accepted particle physics. Arsdale describes these matter waves as manifestations of varying energy and property densities within the Absolute Energy Medium described above. He cites famous physicists like Louis de Broglie, David Bohm, and Erwin Schrodinger as supporters of the matter waves concept and claims that such matter waves explain all the current models of wave mechanics like string and membrane theory. More importantly, Arsdale posits the existence of location nodes where matter waves disturb the Absolute Energy Medium to create crests in the waves where particles will form according to Schrodinger's equations. ... (read more)

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Terse Observations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Veteran: A Novel
by Clarke W. Owens
Adelaide Books


"Joe felt his marriage hanging over him like a great heavy oaken door with a bar across it, and beyond it life was calling to him, reminding him you only went around once."

This is a book that's fueled more by its character examination than its plot. That's not to say that there is no plot in the novel but that it is one more akin to those found in the literary works of novelists from the mid-twentieth century than contemporary potboilers. The story revolves around Joe Dover's life, and like all lives, it is both unique and universal. The uniqueness comes from Joe's various experiences and relationships. The universality comes in the emotional high and low roads Joe, like all of us, winds up traveling. While it is the chronicle of one individual, it is also the story of every individual. Therein lies the appeal of this thoughtful, contemplative, and engrossing tale. ... (read more)

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Packed Narrative

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seven Days in the Wilderness: A Cognitive and Spiritual Journey for a Church that Has Lost Its Way
by Jon Post Windness
Stratton Press Publishing


"The problem today is that a new element has been added: the fact that many of Christianity’s central truth claims are no longer tenable."

Windness argues that the traditional churches of today that try to hold on to the old doctrines and dogmas are fated to fail. Using data concerning the rising number of people who now claim no affiliation with a religion, he claims the church is failing to attract and keep parishioners. Using scripture to fortify his position, the author emphasizes the fact that love, not doctrine, is at the center of the teachings of Christ. In fact, he states that ancient dogma and doctrines recited in churches "are embedded in an ancient worldview that is no longer possible for modern people of discernment to believe; moreover they are simply not true." This book explains in detail how he came to believe this and his plan for making the modern church more relevant to today's parishioners. Windness calls for a church more concerned with knowing God than emphasizing "right belief." ... (read more)

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Life & Death

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Catching Cold: Vol 1 - Breakthrough
by Lem Moyė
Trafford Publishing


"’What you have is a ragged group of has-beens and wannabes trying to do what no large consortium has ever been able to pull off.’"

Perhaps because he is an epidemiologist, Jon DeLeon is also a hypochondriac. That is only one manifestation of his emotional instability. This scientific genius is a dreamer, not a doer. He has no idea how to manage the everyday costs of CiliCold, the small vaccine manufacturer he owns. It does not matter that he secures generous loans for his projects; he can never repay them. Paying his six long-suffering employees' salaries is even further out of the question. Some of them begin to lose faith in him. His ex-wife's cynicism erodes his confidence even more. Mercifully, he is unaware that Triple S, a huge pharmaceutical company embroiled in a scandal of its own, wants to buy him out. His employees know but cannot decide how to approach him without unhinging him entirely. After all, how do you squelch the livelihood of a man who's sworn he'll cure the common cold? ... (read more)

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American Values

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Being American Matters
by Martin Buchalski
Xlibris


"Being born in or becoming a citizen of the USA is a tremendous gift."

With a heritage of European immigrant forebears from Poland and Italy, American author and business consultant Buchalski grew up in a modest working-class environment. He was raised with a sound work ethic and family values. After college, he worked for the Campbell Soup Company for nineteen years. In 1992, he founded his own consulting firm. That work took him around the globe, giving him a heightened understanding of how people in other places perceive the United States. He believes that most Americans are not aware of other countries' policies and social values because our mainstream news sources don't report accurately or thoroughly about them. Garnering information about eighteen countries where he has had business contacts in Western Europe, Central/Eastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania, Buchalski presents historical, social, economic, and political data, sharing insights he gained from each. He asserts that foreign businesses generally respect and want to collaborate with U.S. companies because of the energetic, optimistic qualities that American businesspeople display. ... (read more)

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Safety

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When to Run, Born Scared
by Stephanie King
AuthorHouse


"…Stephanie was born to fight, and survive, with a determination to win, or die trying."

Sometimes monsters are real. From the moment she's born, the ill-fated Stephanie is doomed to fail. Her malicious father actually says there's a monster in the closet. Her older, inimical sister stops at nothing to make her suffer. Stephanie is unwittingly thrown into a psych ward. She's subjected to incomprehensible abuses. As she craves her mother's protection, she endures her father's horrific maltreatment. At every turn, Stephanie is trapped in a fight she can't lose. But this merely strengthens her with a determination that helps her even in adulthood, where she faces unexpected new battles, both physical and mental. ... (read more)

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Tragedy & Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Early Years: A Memoir
by Rachel G. Carrington
Stratton Press


"We had become stronger and even more ready to tackle any to come. The Carrington family was all right!"

An authentic depiction of a lifetime of experiences, this autobiography captures a range of emotions in its most unadulterated form, both of Carrington's formative years as well as the duality of the trying times and moments of jubilation in raising her own family. Undoubtedly, the author's strength lies in the ability to portray her truth succinctly that both sheds light on her life and immediately creates an instant connection and relatability with her audience. ... (read more)

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Terrific Recall

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Misfortunes of Innocence: My Journey
by Veronica Garcia
Stratton Press Publishing


"Life has dealt me some strange cards, but what can I do?"

Resolving the past and hoping for the future are twin themes of this dynamic memoir. Garcia was born in the ethnically diverse Trinidad and Tobago. After being raped as a teen, her mother partnered with a spouse who initially fulfilled his loving promises, giving Garcia a childhood of stability in a rural, natural setting with visits to loving grandparents being a highlight. But several disastrous events made her life suddenly and irrevocably more stressful. By age thirteen, she had been physically and sexually abused by older family members. Though her family was Catholic, she became attracted to the tenets of Islam. Later, voodoo, in both its horrific and healing aspects, would play a role in a chaotic life that included living near the scene of and being affected by the 9-11 attacks, contracting syphilis from an unfaithful partner, and motherhood with no steady fatherly support. Yet with "incredible stamina and tenacity," she survived, worked hard, fought adversity, and believes that better things are to come. ... (read more)

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Revenge

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tarō: Legendary Boy Hero of Japan
by Blue Spruell
Out of the Blue Productions


"Cold as it was, he had thought to hide himself outside and fled the warm confinement of the castle in search of a peaceful place to read—his secret retreat—for stories carried him away, far from the harsh life to which he had been born."

In this blend of fantasy, myth, and history, three standalone Japanese folktales—"Kintarō" ("Golden Boy"), "Urashima Tarō" ("Island Boy"), and "Momotarō" ("Peach Boy")—are skillfully woven into one tale filled with adventure, a multitude of characters (some fictional and some pulled out of history), and magic. Spruell's retelling of Taro, which takes place in feudal Japan, begins when Taro is seven. After the assassination of his parents, he escapes into the wild and is taken in by a witch whose magic makes him unusually strong for his age. Having forgotten his past life, he lives with the witch for a time, thinking of her as his mother. When he saves Lord Tokugawa and is invited into his home, Taro is thrust into a world very different than his life in the woods. His path eventually leads him straight to his parents' killer. ... (read more)

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First-Rate Storytelling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emerald Greed
by Brian Ray Brewer
Goldtouch Press


"He stared down into the peaceful green of the long, hexagonal crystal almost perfect in symmetry. It was a magnificent emerald. "

Adventure abounds in this high-octane thriller set in exotic Brazil. From the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the sweltering jungles of the country's vast interior, a man and a woman are entangled in a fight for their lives. From the moment they venture to a legendary emerald mine, they are caught in a web of murder and mayhem instigated by despicable villains bent on the pair's destruction. ... (read more)

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War of Worlds

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lizard King
by Alexander Mattinson
Xlibris


"It is quite clear that your Coalition is the last hope my people have at a future."

When an invading force called The Grey threatens the galaxy, a Coalition forms to unify the universe in a quest to defeat the conquering scourge. This band of influencers primarily relies on peaceful persuasive tactics when visiting planet after planet seeking allies. Their mission gets off course, though, when they encounter the world Syclaria and The Lizard King. The Coalition wades right into the mire of a monarchy in chaos, conflicted factions, and competing values. They will use all of their military and intellectual resources to preserve Syclaria and prepare for the battle against a merciless aggressor that seeks domination over all. ... (read more)

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Easy Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Flying to Breakfast: A New World on the Horizon
by Dori Seider, Ph.D.
Xlibris


"I can’t wait to share with you the ideas that Diane, my flight instructor and I, had on our way to thinking about a rebuilt world of equality, justice, democracy and basic human rights."

A basic look into world issues, the book begins with the author learning how to fly and her relationship with her instructor, who became a friend as they discussed the world around them. The author discovered a diary she kept beginning in the 1980s. This diary is the basis of the book, which was expanded to more recent thoughts. The work is divided into four parts with twenty-three short chapters. The first part, "Learning To Fly," explores lessons in flying and life. The second, "Refueling," examines the new world modern society is facing and her "Declaration of Human Rights," which includes ten rights. "Thoughts in The Air" studies the problems and needs people face daily, such as the right to medical care, housing, education, and equality. The final section is "Staying The Course," where solutions are given for humanity's part in helping to heal the world. ... (read more)

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Lifestyles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life, Living, and Lifestyle: Baby Steps to Follow Mother Nature
by Prabhash Karan
Xlibris


"Mindful meditation! Relaxing through meditation, imagery, or breathing can get the body ready for the rest."

With the prevalence of mass information consumption, Karan's work takes the guesswork out of complicated fad diets and warriorlike workout plans. On the contrary, the text promotes an active lifestyle. However, it is emphatic that no matter where one is currently in their lifestyle, staying in the present and reuniting with nature is step one of the baby steps that will ultimately build up to permanent healthy habits. ... (read more)

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360˚ Health

Book Reviews - US Review of Books


"Death and the sun are two things we cannot look at with a steady eye."

Combining a genuine appreciation for the nurturing elements of Mother Nature with well-researched and comprehensive information on healthcare, Karan's work consistently advocates for simplistic, holistic living en route to achieving wellness. More than anything else, Karan seeks to educate his readers and an entire society that is consumed by instant gratification in every facet of life, be it in the fast-food industry, technology, etc. ... (read more)

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Seamless Flow

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God Gives You Goosebumps
by Gwendolyn Davis
Xlibris


"I suffer as he has suffered
For he suffered my fate
So I could be with him
In eternity."

With the poem "Rise," Davis sets a tone of unyielding resolve right from the onset while using imagery of rising from ash to depict a rebirth, a metamorphosis, and ultimately redemption. Largely consisting of narrative poetry, the poems are imbued with tenacity and authenticity that form instant connections with the reader. Overall, Davis' poetry is a poignant reflection on her journey to Christ. Though the premise of the compilation is undoubtedly one of hope, the poet rarely holds back in depicting her trials. For example, poems like "Gift" are compelling testaments to the difference walking in faith can make versus a prior life of constant doubt and emotional trauma. ... (read more)

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In Nature

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Nature Gifts of the Soursop Leaves: (Graviola Leaves)
by David Soh Poh Huat
Partridge Publishing Singapore


"...my late sister Journey... makes me want to reach out to people to let them know there is HOPE and have FAITH in their recovery process."

This short book is the author's intriguing testimony regarding the medicinal use of soursop leaves, also known as graviola leaves. The small evergreen tree grows in areas such as Southeast Asia, the coastal nations of West Africa, and Central America. According to the author's investigations, a tea made from soursop leaves is reputed to have healing properties that could potentially help with cancer and its chemo side effects. ... (read more)

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Whimsy & Music

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Anthology: 1975-2020
by R.K. Clark
Xlibris


"Strange disappearances of friends
and loved ones,
on the water and in the air."

Spanning forty-five years of the author's writing and experience, the poems in this collection cover everything from historical occurrences, wildlife, pieces of life advice, folklore, and superstitions. Selections like "Knock on Wood" humorously play on old sayings and cultural superstitions: "Lost my car, / Lost my house, / Lost my girl playing cat and mouse.".In contrast, other poems like "Sin City" express a nihilistic-tinged observation of a city where there's "No consoling to be found / when everybody's underground." Other, more personal poems, such as "Where Can That Cat Be?" draw readers into "Two days going on three" where a beloved pet disappears. Its resolute owner decides to "Use a little mental telepathy, / and soon, she'll be home right after me." Last, but definitely not poetically least, readers nostalgically sing about the joy that romance, even after many years, adds to life: "It's 2020 and I'm gonna sing out / how much I love you." ... (read more)

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Optimizing Creativity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Design Science in the New Paradigm Age
by Herb G. Bennett RA
AuthorHouse


"We operate on dense vibrational levels that are complements of the finer forces and processes and choose to make things."

Every day, people around the world have dreams, ambitions, and ideas that they believe will elevate them to a new experience, adventure, or lifestyle. However, so much of these ideas go unused, victim to a lack of energy, focus, or self-belief while dealing with every other responsibility and aspect of life. In this book, the author examines what could potentially be the genesis and spark of these creative bursts, how to cultivate and nurture them, and where to find them more frequently. By harmonizing body, mind, and spirit, readers will learn to better understand the languages of each element of life and teach them to work in unison so that those big ideas and ideals come to the surface more naturally and effortlessly, inspiring both others and the self to do great things. ... (read more)

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Lost Loves

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No Other Name
by Robert Beatty
AuthorHouse


"The future and the life Samuel wanted was just a short distance away over the horizon."

Samuel Martin is a farm boy willingly bound to tradition. At the cusp of adulthood in 1913, he has no desire but to marry and continue his life on the remote Ohio farm where he grew up. His biggest obstacle is that the girl of his dreams is not among the plain young women of his rural community. On the night of his high school graduation dance, Sam and his best friend celebrate by sneaking off to lose their virginity in a brothel located outside the town limits. There, a lusty, enigmatic teenage prostitute captures both his eye and his heart. Clarinda's childhood abuse has propelled her to this unconventional living arrangement that grants her financial independence and a determined detachment from any inclination to love. She refuses to share her real identity with anyone. Even faithful Samuel, obsessed with making her his wife, cannot reach into her past. Instead, his longing propels him into a hard-edged, lonely future distant from the homegrown ideals he holds dear. ... (read more)

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Cute & Colorful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Good Ol’ Chuck
by Ms. Shyanne
Xlibris


"'What will I feed everyone?' he asked himself. 'I know. I can make a friendship stew. I’ll put in a little of everyone’s favorite foods.'"

For a groundhog like Chuck, February 2nd is the biggest day of the year. In anticipation of his big day, Chuck decides to invite all of his friends over and throw a big blowout bash so that he can celebrate Groundhog Day with all of his favorite critters. After securing party supplies and plenty of food for the celebration, Chuck returns and is delighted to see all his friends arrive and have a good time. The only problem is that Chuck parties a little bit too hard, and when it's his time to shine, he accidentally oversleeps and misses the appointment. With everyone waiting on Chuck to deliver his verdict about whether spring will arrive or winter will remain, the clock is ticking against him. Will he make it in time to make his proclamation, or will he let the townspeople down by missing his big moment? ... (read more)

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What is America?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

While the U.S. Sleeps: Squandered Opportunities and Looming Threats to Societies
by Winston Langley
Xlibris


"For over two hundred years, the United States' role in the world has focused on or expressed the will to national power and domination."

Langley's text takes the pulse of America. Through a series of examples that span more than a century, Langley suggests that perhaps a misdiagnosis has occurred. Why American life is teetering is neither due to the figure in power, such as Trump, nor party affiliations but rather a systemic series of patterns that have gradually come to a head in the early parts of the twenty-first century. As the author dissects pivotal events (or missed events that could have been pivotal), his stance is crystal clear: it is imperative to learn from history so that it does not repeat itself. ... (read more)

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Raw & Joyful

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems from a Gypsy Heart
by Verle Jean
Xlibris


"I wonder in the heart of storm
What trees must feel to be shorn."

Encompassing a lifetime of experiences, reflections, and musings, Jean's poetry compilation is the roaring of her inner spirit, adamant on sharing her life's journey through evocative language in hopes that it will inspire others to live fully. Though "gypsy" is usually attributed to nomads, Jean's poetry turns this notion on its head by embracing the idea that she is not tethered to any particular place because the world is her home, a place to explore deeply. ... (read more)

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