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October 2019

Book Reviews

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

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Howard Stern Comes Again
by Howard Stern
Simon & Schuster


"I thought, What if I could listen to my guests the way my therapist listens to me?"

Over the decades, media personality Howard Stern has evolved into one of the finest live interviewers. He has reined in his legendary narcissism—actually employing it as a tool—to disarm his subjects and reveal the perplexing conundrum of humanity that is common to us all. From rising stars to established veterans, from the average Joe experiencing his fifteen minutes of fame to the ruthless and infamous plying their trades, many have found their way onto Stern’s interview couch. Some of the best of these can be found in this compendium, which includes commentary and annotations from the author. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


"He called the desert the perfect place for him because so little moved. Just one big photograph, so it provided the illusion that his life was back to normal."

There is an exceptionally fine line between intense introspection and prolonged navel-gazing. That line is a tightrope author Bolick walks precariously in this tale of one man’s unyielding search for enlightenment. Bolick’s protagonist desperately wants to come to grips with personal answers to profound questions such as why are we here, what does consciousness really mean, and can we ever truly understand one another or, for that matter, ourselves. The author encases these soul-searching queries in a story that dispenses potential answers much like a time-release capsule—a few now, a bit later, and eventually perhaps enough to ward off congenital melancholia. However, these intermittent answers raise additional questions. Does the patient stand a chance of actually being cured or merely treated? Should his doctor heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”? ... (read more)

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A Western Gem

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Off The Well-Lit Path
by M. S. Holm
Sentry Books


"Rugg did not ask the cop why he robbed adolescent girls of their innocence and bragged of the obscenity. He knew the cop would have no answer."

Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality. ... (read more)

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Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books


"'I have died a couple of times, and there's nothing out there but cold dark space.'"

Generally, engineers and other professionals don't morph into successful writers. But Don Calmus, a retired engineer, has writing talent and took the time to study the craft, enabling him to write this stellar novel. Not only should he not "stay in his own lane," he should write a sequel. ... (read more)

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For the Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California
by Lucille Lang Day, ed. and Ruth Nolan, ed.
Scarlet Tanager Books


"They need to see danger before their eyes to believe its teeth."

An ode to California’s majestic inheritance when it comes to Mother Nature, this anthology presents one of the rare occurrences in which the spotlight is almost entirely removed from the poets themselves and placed onto the different natural gems that the Golden State offers. Letting your work stand for a greater cause takes both grace and humility. More importantly, the compilation expresses a dichotomy of concern and hope throughout by juxtaposing the awe-inspiring descriptions and imagery with the potential devastation that is in store for future generations. ... (read more)

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Generations of the Chesapeake

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Family Matters
by D. C. Moses
Cherry Street Publishers


"But what had happened to Alex and Barry…so busy, so loving, so passionate for self-discovery, so yearning for self-transcendence?"

The untimely death of their son, Lu, is a shadow that haunts and looms over the Byrnes family. Each one grieves his loss in their own private way while attempting to find a way forward, immersing themselves into their careers and daily life. Then father, Barry, faces a life-changing decision when his company requests to relocate him to Washington. This sets in motion the mixed feelings and introspection by Barry and his reluctant wife, Alex, who contemplate the uncertainty of their future so close to retirement. They each reflect upon the early years of their marriage and life before and after Lu’s death. Others in the family must also come to terms with the tragic familial loss. As they each face uncertainty in the way forward, they learn something of themselves and one another. ... (read more)

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Direct Answers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Common Sense and Reasonable Answers
by William Warren Luce
Seacoast Press


"World peace is achievable. We simply have to change our perception, believing that it is attainable."

In a book that examines life from many points of view, a retired military officer has delved into politics and religion, asking questions and coming up with startling but often sensible responses. The book as a whole seeks to examine in detail many major concepts that we think we should live by or have been conditioned to believe. The author then proceeds to pick these concepts apart, from branch to root, offering a different way of approaching such time-worn notions. The basic premise is that, despite what we have been led to believe, we can change the world, but we must do so by changing ourselves. ... (read more)

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Truth in Government?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

100 Years of Deception: A Blueprint for the Destruction of a Nation
by Alan R. Adaschik
Stratton Press Publishing


"To be sure, no American wants to believe we live in a nation ruled by conspirators who overthrew our government."

In 1913, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, giving the power of printing money and the control of currency away from Congress and into a private institution led by powerful bankers. What at the time seemed like an innocuous piece of legislation designed to prevent the market from being volatile in effect led to the transfer of power in America away from the individual states and toward a national government being dictated behind the scenes by the very same bankers. Now more than a century later, the effects of their decision-making have crippled the integrity and effectiveness of the country, and the end goals of a neutered America are being realized with each armed conflict and unconstitutional legislation. Outlining the reach and scope of this conspiracy and how to take power back, this book will open the eyes of Americans regarding the takeover of their homeland. ... (read more)

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Hectic Lives

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Retreat
by Jill E. Ficks Friedman
Stratton Press Publishing


"'We listen, we observe, and we try to gently steer the individuals we gather to resolution of their problems. Not on a grand scale, but the results can be grand.’"

Eight Los Angeles women receive a vacation offer they can’t refuse and take off for a relaxing spa retreat to their north in quiet and luxurious Santa Barbara. They don’t realize that their caring and hospitable hostesses are actually supernatural beings—witches, angels, fairies, or some other unnamed category of magical creature—who travel incognito in the bodies of recently deceased women and who can manipulate situations and objects with even less effort than a Bewitched-like twitch of the nose. These spirits have organized the retreat and seek to be helpful in relieving and supporting the women through their various everyday challenges, in order that each guest may find peace and purpose in their hectic lives. ... (read more)

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Recollections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Brother's Mother
by Bruce Collier
Stratton Press


"It’s as if I’m overhead looking down at this scared little boy, tiptoeing in a dark hallway toward a strange noise, looking for his mother."

Set in the post-World War II era, this memoir describes the childhood and young adulthood of the author as it was impacted by his mother’s heavy drinking and dysfunctional parenting. Collier and his brother were left in their mother’s sole care due to the early death of their father. Her parenting was at best neglectful and at worst abusive. As adults, Collier and his brother escaped and made lives for themselves; however, their mother constantly tried to pull them back with demands for money and care. At the memoir’s conclusion, Collier reflects on alcoholism and its effects on children. ... (read more)

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Musings & Insights

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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Well-Rounded

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Feasting with the Trinity: A Formative Approach to Growing in Godliness
by Kendell Easley
Stratton Press Publishing


"Are there supposed to be so many competing models, each of which claims to be the best way to grow in Christlikeness?"

Easley realized the answer to his own question about growing to be like Christ was best addressed through the renewed emphasis on the Trinity. Using this sorting strategy, he grouped various godliness approaches into three categories to arrive at a daily (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) feasting schedule with the Trinity. He expects this approach to guarantee that a reader will be rewarded with a well-rounded knowledge of Christian godliness. ... (read more)

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One Brave Mouse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Tale of the Christmas Hero
by Carolyn Mitchell
Westwood Book Publishing, LLC


"CHRISTMAS EVE IN OUR TOWN WAS A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT.
SNOWY HILLS GLISTENED UNDER BRIGHT MOONLIGHT.
ALL OF THE CHILDREN HAD FALLEN PEACEFULLY ASLEEP
HOPING SANTA WOULD BE COMING, HIS PROMISES TO KEEP."

In line with many children’s stories about Christmas Eve, Mitchell’s tale covers the plight of Santa and his reindeer when they get stuck in a brook and fear they will be unable to deliver the night’s presents. The deliveries are proceeding as scheduled until the reindeer spot a field mouse. Unable to stop themselves from chasing the mouse (much to Santa’s dismay), the reindeer barrel after the mouse, charging through snowdrifts and getting further and further off course. The mouse, knowing he can’t outrun the reindeer for long, decides to lead them across the thin ice of a brook. With the weight of the sleigh and all the night’s presents, the reindeer break through the ice, and they all get stuck in the slosh. Having turned the tables, the mouse gets a good laugh out of the situation; however, once he hears Santa’s complaints about ruining Christmas, he realizes the extent of their actions. Thinking quickly, the mouse wakes some hibernating bears who push logs in the brook to give the reindeer footing and use their strength to help pull the sleigh free. With Christmas saved, although running a little behind schedule, the reindeer cheer and decide the mouse deserves a gift. Santa reaches in his pack and presents the mouse with a huge chunk of cheese, declaring him Mouse of the Year.... (read more)

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Getting Free

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Out of Slavery: A Novel of Harriet Tubman
by Carol Trembath
Lakeside Publishing Mi


"Survivors of the stings of slavery and the risky tests of runaways share a common chain. We are linked by suffering and an uncommon faith in each other."

Trembath’s affecting novel begins with a young Cecelia (Cece) fearing for her safety. In a bold plan, Cece and brother, Lou, escape the plantation with a “trembling group” on the Underground Railroad, guided by the “Moses of our people,” Harriet Tubman. Cece is curious and intimidated by the confident woman with a bounty on her who reads the forest and suffers unexpected blackouts, the result of a blow to the head as a child by a cruel foreman. Traveling by night, fully aware of the consequences of capture or abandonment, they reach safety and freedom. ... (read more)

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He Remembers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God Blessed Them for the Journey
by Corinne Lund
LitFire Publishing


"Do I have to experience the deep dark places in order to learn?"

A combination of spiritual workbook, artistic innovation, and self-improvement, Lund’s work stands out as the authentic baring of her soul. As an art educator, the author paints stirring images in the reader’s mind through metaphor and imagery. While the concept of faith and the Bible are certainly key, the delivery is drastically different from books in this genre: preaching is replaced with storytelling, her own personal experience with vulnerability through breast cancer, and audience interaction. ... (read more)

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Sweeping Narrative

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Incidents of Life
by Molly Odegard Nikolic
LitFire Publishing


"Love was alive, its living and breathing forces covered them with a divine magic caressing each with a special tenderness softer than the dew that covers the roses every night."

When Harrison Barkley is offered the chance to translate the texts of Bozidar Arandjelovic’s work—alongside the writer and in Belgrade—he jumps at the opportunity. After getting settled in, Harrison meets Vesna Petrovich, Arandjelovic’s assistant, and the two fall hard and fast in love. But tragedy strikes the lovebirds when Vesna is murdered on the streets of Sarajevo. Now Harrison must learn to deal with his grief and try to move past it, with the only solace being memories of his fiancé. ... (read more)

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Harrowing Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Despair to Hope and Healing: One Woman’s Journey
by Barbara K. Mezera
LitFire Publishing


"Hidden behind a wall of silence – strong
and thick.
I lay tightly curled, withdrawn from life.
Hiding my beauty.
Hiding who I am."

As its title suggests, this book of poetic reflections traces the author’s journey through her battle with depression. Divided into seven sections beginning with “Wrestling with the Big D,” she explores mental illness, family, health, occupation, shyness, relationships, and “Random Musings.” Writing with honesty and clarity, Mezera traces what she calls her “companion on my life journey” from the time she was nine through her search for an effective therapist and the right medication, beginning at age thirty. Her poetry includes subjects such as suicide, anger, and violence. Not only does the author delve into her lifelong depression, she also touches upon her diagnosis of MS and subsequent disability with poems about pain and loss. However, the book is one of triumph as readers share her journey through trials, her search for self, and ultimate acceptance. ... (read more)

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Lost & Found

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Begotten Not Made
by Cónal Creedon
Irishtown Press


"And so began Brother Scully’s private and personal journey to discover the living Christ."

Caught between indulgence and renunciation, young Brother Scully exchanged thoughts with Sister Claire for only an awkward hour in December 1970, but their love inspired a daily ritual of flashing lamps at dawn between monastery and convent. When her lamp fails to flash from her window on Christmas Day near the fiftieth anniversary of their serendipitous meeting, “his mind is haunted by memories, twisting and turning and churning around his tormented brain . . . He laughs at the painful loss of his innocence, and the brutal consequences of a single embrace that set his life trundling off the edge into the big black with no way back.” Brother Scully then relives that enchanting hour and the subsequent five decades of unconsummated love and rebellious scriptural analysis in a single day, revealing a tantalizing theory of the true paternity of Jesus Christ that turned his monastic vocation and his heart inside out. ... (read more)

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Humanity Explored

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amadeus! What Makes a Human Human?
by Josephine deBois
PageTurner, Press and Media LLC


"'What makes you a better person if you are made in one way and not the other? And how would you even know the difference?'"

Ludwig Mann is a conductor riding the heights of fame and execution in his profession. Organizing orchestras in sell-out live performances and selling popular recordings around the world, life seems to be in the palm of his hand. Still, he is plagued with insecurities and doubt about his work, his life, and his romance. On the one hand is Tiffany Yun, a talented pianist whom he has bound his existence to despite fate and culture keeping them apart. On the other is Josephine deBois, his manager, who has been with him every step of the way and is deeply committed to him. The pressures of being a celebrity and always in demand compound this unsure aspect of his nature, but a deeper, darker secret is hidden from even Ludwig himself. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Nexus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooperative Lives
by Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing


"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"

Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision. ... (read more)

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Finding a Way

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Up from Adams Street
by Larry Crane
Maine Authors Publishing


"I wished I could be more definitive in my plans. She wished she had been more definitive in hers. It felt as if we were balanced on the edge of a knife and could fall off on either side."

Growing up in Illinois just after World War II, Crane recounts his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Born into a blue-collar family with limited means, he is constantly cognizant of disparities between his living conditions and those of many of his contemporaries. He realizes that participating in sports is a potential entrée into worlds that seem beyond his. Plus, Larry loves the games. He plays baseball, football, and basketball. He caddies at golf courses. As he grows physically, he senses the need to expand mentally and philosophically too. A scholarship helps, then a surprise appointment to West Point follows. Each step up the ladder of opportunity, however, is taken with a self-inhibitor in place—an emotional regulator that keeps his innermost feelings trapped inside him. ... (read more)

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Honoring the End

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Essential Caregiving Guide: How to Optimize the Extended Care Your Loved One Needs
by Godfrey Harris and Jacqueline Njuki
The Americas Group


"This book is about helping those who help others—the people who selflessly manage the extended caregiving needs of a relative or friend."

Voluntary caregiving for ailing relatives or friends is an activity that has increased greatly in recent years and shows signs of continued growth. AARP statistics project that as many as 117 million people in the United States alone will be in need of some kind of caregiving service in the coming decade. Many of these people will be taken care of in their own homes or in the homes of family members, statistically far more than those who will be occupying standard medical facilities. Harris and Njuki, co-authors of this practical guide for those who offer care, have coined the term “kacipent” that they invite readers to utilize. It is a blending of the words “care” and “recipient” and is seen throughout their book. It seeks to remove the connotation of the person needing care as being either a patient or customer. The authors offer three rules at the outset: consider the kacipient’s needs by major groupings such as medicine, food, etc.; take notes; seek help from others willing to work with you. The most important message is to relax. ... (read more)

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Transports Readers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moonbeams and Poetry: For Those Whose Ears Are Pricked and Tongues That Are Long-Drawn
by Jerry Staudenraus
Your Online Publicist


"...and smiling
as if it were
that only
cows are in the know"

In Staudenraus’ compelling collection of verse and art, silver linings are everywhere, love and romance abound, lovers share wine, and tigers contemplate their existence. “The Starmaker” transports readers into quiet evenings where all that exists is the individual, his or her thoughts, the stars above, and humankind’s futility in comparison with the universe’s vastness. Similarly, “I’ll See You in the Spring” invokes a Frost-like tone that conveys a philosophical longing for warmer times. “Breakfast” offers a sensual view of the world and an appreciation of the female form, which “A Requiem for Remembrance” longs for and “Valentine’s Eve” strongly affirms. At the collection’s end, “After the Dark Time” affirms that when life’s darkness passes, hope stands firm and eternal, ready for new beginnings to take hold. ... (read more)

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Beloved Pet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Toby
by Phyllis M. Cutler
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"When grandma takes me for a walk she is very proud to walk with me. People stop and say how cute I am."

Toby, a golden labrador with a loving family, tells his story in this “autobiography” of the everyday life of a family dog. Always on the hunt for food scraps and looking forward to visits from grandma or the kids getting home from school, Toby is a lively, energetic dog with a twinkle in his eyes. Despite some necessary leg surgeries and even being afflicted with seizures, Toby doesn’t get slowed down by much thanks to his disposition and the love of his family. From stories of neighborhood walks to the joy of opening presents at Christmas time, Toby recalls all of the special memories and moments of his life shared with his beloved family. Though his energy sometimes gets him into trouble, Toby is always interested in being a “good boy” in the eyes of the people who take care of him and love him. ... (read more)

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Western Charm

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Trails to and Tales of Sanderson, Texas
by Cleo W. Robinson Jr.
Authors Press


"Judy replied with a laugh. 'You stay here long enough, and you’ll become a certified character, too.'"

In the middle of the 20th century, Sanderson, Texas, is a small sleepy town that can support itself but is still isolated enough for all the residents to have some kind of social bond. Molly Brown is a mysterious young woman who arrives by bus with no money, few possessions, and no direction. Spending all of her money on the bus ticket, Molly discovers Sanderson is as far as she can go. Entering the Turner Cafe, Molly shyly orders a meal with no idea how she’ll pay for it. The proprietress of the establishment, Lou Smith, recognizes a bit of herself in Molly and offers her a job and lodgings. That’s how small-town life works: you take care of each other. ... (read more)

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Enchants & Inspires

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mary Magdalene, Shaman: Healing Through Transplant Surgery
by Sara Taft
LitFire Publishing


"Mary Magdalene was a living flesh and blood woman who walked on earth alongside her beloved companion Jesus."

Inward and outward spiritual journeying, dire illness, organ transplant, and renewed vigor have led author/artist Taft to a new stage of life. In this evocatively resonant memoir, she recalls a stable childhood, a responsible and affectionate marriage, a growing need to be acknowledged professionally disrupted by repeated setbacks, a feeling of emptiness leading to infidelity, the diagnosis of a pervasive, life-threatening liver disease, and a gradual recognition of the etheric spirit pervading her life, most strikingly through the personality of Mary Magdalene. Taft describes in rich detail her three remarkable pilgrimages: to the Australian outback where she danced among the aboriginal women; to the Southwest where a shaman helped her dislodge her negative self-image; and, after life-saving surgery, to France to get a closer sense of the true, historical Magdalene. ... (read more)

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The Wobble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The United States of Empire: The Passing of the Mantle from the United Kingdom to the United States
by James F. Dunn
Page Publishing, Inc.


""(At the beginning of the twentieth century) the United States was not taken seriously as a world power. How is it that in the 'American Century' the United States came to rule the world?"

Dunn's work explores many international precedents of war and psychology to explain America's entry into World War II, such as the decline of empires in Europe and the rise of fascism. It also makes an argument for Franklin Roosevelt's prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack by Japan on December 7, 1941, was the definitive act that permitted Roosevelt's administration, which had been giving significant aid to the British without official Congressional approval, to declare total war against Japan. Ultimately, Germany's declaration of war against the US launched the country fully into the Second World War. The socio-economic impact of both world wars, the Great Depression, and the rebuilding and restructuring of Europe, shifted the realpolitik dynamic, which had been wobbling for decades, from the UK to the US. ... (read more)

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Carribean Tales

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Purple Blues
by Esther O'Neale
LitFire Publishing


"I never told you this but I’ve been gathering purple things just for you. Believe it or not, I’m writing this note with a purple pen."

O’Neale grew up in the Caribbean island of Grenada, and, in her poems and short stories in this collection, that cultural environment informs the author’s craft. First and foremost, O’Neale is a storyteller. One story recalls a group of young boys and girls in their free-faring youth, swinging from a coconut branch over the riverbank, as well as childhood innocence in playing hide and seek. Then there is the tale of the young girl who, more than anything, is interested in books, even just looking at the pictures, as she’s not old enough to make sense of the words. She pretends to be sick to avoid going with the family to church when the “forbidden” book detailing human male and female anatomy is snuck from the stack of other books, daring to capture the young child’s rapt interest. ... (read more)

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Prose Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Feelings from My Heart and Soul II: A Wonderful Journey of a Poet
by Andrea Lambertson
URLink Print & Media


"The trees are naked their branches entwined
The feeling of being alone
Oh ever so divine"

Reflecting on the beauty of nature and the need for companionship, the author of this collection of poetry presents dozens of selections designed to lay her heart out in full expression. Describing in dancing prose the change of seasons, life in upstate New York, and various emotions across the spectrum, each poem serves as a platform from which the author can speak her mind. Always grateful if not occasionally melancholy or wistful, the poet weaves her verse skillfully, and oftentimes the silver lining of a sad moment or the natural joy of appreciation is captured on every page. Complete with full-page illustrations with soft colors and a relation to the themes of the poems themselves, this is a cozy, personal journey through the author’s perspectives and emotions that is perfect for any time of the year. ... (read more)

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Vivid Short Collection

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cur Vitae: The Collected Writings of Talrich deYorkshire
by Talrich deYorkshire
Intermittent Publications


"'We’re very different dogs, Titan and I.' 'Oh? Like how?' 'Like, his lunches typically outweigh me.' 'That’s a breedist thing to say, Jack Hammer.'"

Imagine no longer what dogs would say about their masters if they could talk, as this collection of canine-centric stories puts that debate to rest. This collection of short stories features dogs in a number of interesting times and places, from one of the world’s last libraries in a dystopian future to the lonely desert wastelands of Arizona. There are tales of service dogs, security dogs, and even dog detectives and police officers within the pages of this collection. Each story either focuses on or prominently features a dog participating in or observing plenty of drama and action. Spanning multiple genres, time periods, locations, and even breeds, this collection of stories is sure to delight not just dog-lovers but anyone looking for a burst of clever storytelling. ... (read more)

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Inspiring Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
by Dr. Frank L. Douglas
Frank Douglas Books


"Focus more on what we contribute and less on what we control."

From a boyhood of poverty, author Douglas has risen to remarkable success as a medical practitioner, researcher, and scientifically astute administrator. His autobiography begins with an incident that well illustrates the dire circumstances of his childhood in British Guiana (now Guyana). Riding his bicycle to the market to collect the family's weekly foodstuffs, the boy encountered a rough surface, capsizing and effectively destroying his cargo. He was harshly beaten by his mother and even contemplated suicide. Things changed when he started school. Showing unusual intelligence, he won school honors, was supported while in college in Guiana, and awarded a Fulbright scholarship, leading him to the United States and a degree from Lehigh University. ... (read more)

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A New Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mental Illness Heal Yourself
by Nancy Lynne Harris, M.A.
URLink Print & Media, LLC


"I began to hold the word Love in my mind all day long, not directing it anywhere, just holding it there."

After the horrific trauma of the accidental death of her teenage son, author Harris gradually began to slip into mental illness, overwhelmed by pent-up emotions, nightmares, hallucinations, and depression. Over a period of years, she spent time and money on therapies to cope with her negative feelings, triggered by the loss of her son but also arising from childhood abuse including low self esteem brought on by having an alcoholic father and a mother who punished her physically and told her that she was “conceited” to love herself. The turning point came when Harris began to realize she was in control of her mind, leading to the repetition of affirmations of self-praise such as “I treat myself sweet, kind and loving.” These affirmations, she points out, are free, can be self-composed, and have the same power to drive out negative thoughts that medicines have to drive out physical disease. ... (read more)

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On the Case

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kassy O’Roarke, Cub Reporter
by Kelly Oliver
Beaver’s Pond Press


"My heart is racing. I hide in the shadows and wait to confront the evil Agent Killjoy. If he knows about Apollo, we’re sunk."

Kassy O’Roarke has a one of a kind life for a middle school student. With her parents recently separated, her brother claiming he can communicate with animals, and living on a part-time petting zoo, her circumstances are anything but normal. Kassy’s ambition in life is to be a reporter, detective, or spy—something where attention to detail and a keen mind will make a big difference. Outshined on the school paper by a perky cheerleader and part-time nemesis, Kassy is desperate for a big scoop that she can report on, even if it’s a serious crime. Kassy should have been careful what she wished for, though, as a cougar cub goes missing shortly before her brother’s birthday party. If Animal Control finds out, they’re liable to shut down the petting zoo. ... (read more)

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NJ's Best Trails

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails in the Garden State, from the Skylands to the Shore
by Priscilla Estes
Appalachian Mountain Club Books


"Is there any doubt that New Jersey is an urban hiker’s paradise?"

Though New Jersey is a small state, ranking 47th in size and with the country’s highest population density, it retains surprisingly lush rustic scenery, including rugged mountainous terrain, rivers, and the Atlantic coastline. It enjoys favored status as a hiking region of choice for people from within and out of the state. Estes’ detailed guide is arranged by region with color photos. Each hiking site includes directions to the trail, a detailed trail description, a “Did You Know?” segment pointing out nearby attractions and local history, and “Other Activities” in the area. Themed for both experienced and first-time adventurers, the thorough trail descriptions note mileage, signposts, and vistas, along with alerts denoting narrow passages, steep drop-offs, essential turns, bathroom facilities, and helpful suggestions, such as “linger on a lopsided bench” or “look for toads.” An “At-a-Glance Trip Planner” offers information on costs, pet-friendliness, and a general rating of the trail’s difficulty, while an appendix lists even more hiking venues. ... (read more)

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Special Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blackberries Are Red When Green
by Keith Frohreich
Amazon Digital Services LLC


"I turned ten the year I met Dutch, the summer of 1958."

This historically relevant Bildungsroman is a tender but gritty tale. Told in the first-person viewpoint of Kurt Baumann, a farm boy, this debut novel reads like an intimate memoir, transporting readers to the hardworking, homespun world of mid-twentieth-century Indiana, where family dysfunction, racial inequity, and brutal violence lurk beneath the bucolic, church-going surface of an ordinary farming community. ... (read more)

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Power to the People

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Solar Dividends: How Solar Energy Can Generate a Basic Income for Everyone on Earth
by Robert Stayton
Sandstone Publishing


"Every five days the sun delivers to Earth the energy equivalent to all the fossil fuel reserves in the world."

The sun, author Stayton reminds his readers, belongs to no one. The energy it produces is freely given to all of Earth’s inhabitants. In this attention-grabbing treatise, he seeks to demonstrate how we can use that gift in a way that would benefit each individual, not only with energy but also with money. He illustrates exactly how this might come about by creating a future fantasy in which he is the central character. ... (read more)

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True Valor

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Badge of Honor
by Karen Glinski
Terra Nova Books


"'Walk in beauty, Shitsoi,’ he whispered. ‘I know you can.’ His eyes closed."

Gratitude turns what one has into enough, and Emerson learns this important lesson in Glinski’s intriguing novel. Emerson, a twelve-year-old, is spending the summer on a Navajo reservation when his grandpa is bitten by a snake. Awaiting news from the hospital doctor, Emerson witnesses a sack being chucked into a trash can. Curious, he goes to investigate. Little does he know that the sack is full of stolen jewelry until it is too late. This event starts him racing from one peril to another. ... (read more)

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Moving On

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The Bills Keep Coming, the Grass Keeps Growing
by Sandi Latimer
iUniverse


"I'm too young to be a widow. Are there any age guidelines to widowhood? I'm in my early seventies, but in my mind, and judging by the music that runs through my mind, I'm still back in my teen years and hearing music of the early days of rock and roll."

How does a woman pick herself up and keep going when her husband takes his own life? That is the plight of Latimer in this poignant memoir about life after her husband’s suicide. The title itself is a stark reminder that life goes on, even through deep mourning, and survivors are tasked with the responsibility to keep everything moving. In addition to losing her soulmate, Latimer loses her partner, the person who would take care of things around the house and pay the bills. More than just tending to a broken heart, the author must also tend to water line leaks and a broken furnace. Readers are with Latimer as she figures out how to be a sole homeowner and do things like selling the second car that she no longer needs, things that her husband would have taken care of. And through it all, as she finds help through a Survivors of Suicide Bereavement support group, Latimer begins to find herself again. ... (read more)

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Who Will Save Them?

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A Day in June
by Marisa Labozzetta
Guernica World Editions


"All marriages have spells . . . like a chronic illness: the symptoms subside . . . you feel good; they flare up . . . you feel bad: occasionally the illness is fatal."

The small, picturesque town of Brackton, Vermont, is suffering a failing economy. Enter Eric Boulanger, a photographer and hometown boy who proposes that the Chamber of Commerce have a contest in which the winning essayist will be gifted the wedding of a lifetime, and "Brackton Is for Brides" will become the town’s slogan. The winning essay, written by a paralegal and aspiring writer, Ryan Toscano, is chosen for its sincere and honest portrayal of the deep love shared by her and her fiancé, Jason McDermott. The only problem is that Ryan and Jason aren’t together anymore. ... (read more)

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A Dog's Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Doggie Shower Anyone??
by Christina High
Xlibris


"Yes, our furry friends do enrich our lives. So, what better way to welcome them into our family than to have a party?"

Major events in life are often celebrated with a party. Aside from the obvious birthdays and anniversaries, we often celebrate upcoming weddings or expected babies with a shower that celebrates the momentous occasion. Why not take that same line of thinking and apply it to the arrival of a new dog? Dogs become part of our families and our identities, just like becoming a parent, so having a doggie shower to celebrate with our closest friends and family stands to reason. Full of recipes for party food, rules for fun games, and decorations (all canine-themed, of course), this book gives readers a step-by-step guide to throwing a doggie shower that everyone can enjoy. With interactive planning ideas and plenty of pictures, readers will be more than ready to share their new four-legged friend with the world. ... (read more)

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Past Lives

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Glimpses of a Life
by Jacqueline McNeil Watts
Outskirts Press


"’By sharing this manuscript, I welcome you to bits and pieces of one lifetime.’"

In only 98 pages, this book covers the history of the author disguised as a spiritual story of past-life regressions. Mystical events take place as they have taken place for the author in a here-and-now reality paired with the view of the timeless nature of reincarnation. The story begins 100,000 years ago and spans 22 reincarnations until culminating in the year 2050 and, finally, in the future beyond 2050. Each and every regression tells an individual story of that being/person and the lessons, both good and bad, which had to be learned. Each story reveals two commonalities designed to lead the reader to see that these people are the past and future lives of the author. ... (read more)

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Joy of Life

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The Grandma's Drama
by Beverly J. Walker
Xlibris


"Nyja, on the other hand, could not get over the fact that she was actually in the company of a man – of a fine looking man."

Nyja Joyner has been celibate for over 20 years since the death of her husband and the birth of her daughter Meosha. Now, the 40-year old grandma is looking to put herself back into the dating scene and find some love. With the help of her friend, Jovada, Nyja meets and falls in love with Omar Joseph, and the two of them hit it off immediately. But while Nyja is enjoying her love renaissance, Meosha runs into some legal trouble. Will Nyja be able to succeed in helping her daughter out? ... (read more)

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Healing

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Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer
by Diane Davies
Beaver’s Pond Press


"Cancer can make our feelings hurt, way down deep inside."

Children are terrified by the thought of losing parents and grandparents, and cancer is a particularly frightening and mysterious illness for any age group to confront. Author Davies uses her talents as a grandmother, educator, breast cancer survivor, and patient advocate in this concept picture book that speaks frankly about the fears, tough questions, and emotional responses that both children and adults have when confronting this medical challenge. ... (read more)

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Breakdowns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Manic Mama: Dysfunction Sucks
by A. J. Irwin
Xlibris


"She floated on a ten-foot cloud, waving and smiling to all that looked her way."

Detailing the experience of a young woman suffering from manic depression, this book follows the progress of a young girl whose father has left the family and whose mother has become a bitter and emotionally demanding woman who does not know the meaning of unconditional love. Both physically and emotionally abusive, the young girl's mother saddles her with taking care of the younger children as well as the cooking and cleaning, all while criticizing and withholding acceptance. Ultimately, upon becoming impregnated by a 28-year-old young man during a short trip to Californa, the main character is ultimately rejected by her mother and married off to a complete stranger through both parents’ machinations. The daughter born of this marriage is never quite loved by the father, and when she is struck by a car and left comatose while he is dropping her off at school, the family descends into chaos, with the wife becoming hounded by voices or "companions" that vie for control of her consciousness. ... (read more)

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New Coaching Strategy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Positive Psychology Coaching: Introducing the ©AIPC Coach Approach to Finding Solutions and Achieving Goals
by Susanne Knowles
Xlibris AU


"Coaching is focused on helping clients find solutions to problems or issues they are currently facing or helping them achieve their goals."

If you have ever wondered about the value of coaching to improve your chances for promotion or to overcome life events that handicap achievement, this book clearly defines the options available and explains what may be confusing differences. A current concise definition for coaching is a “valid personal and professional intervention delivered by coaches.” However, it takes eighteen chapters to cover the differences and nuances. For example, in coaching, the coach and client are equals. Mentoring, however, is marked by the status of participants and is characterized by someone senior in status investing time mentoring a junior. In counseling, issues discussed are from past events; in coaching, training sessions will likely follow to assist with upcoming or recent changes. In-person coaching is typical, but modern methods include telephone or video coaching. Tangible action steps are assigned by the coach to promote and track progress. ... (read more)

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Disney Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kem Weber: Mid-Century Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios
by David A. Bossert
The Old Mill Press


"'It’s the only furniture I ever dealt with that had a soul. It had an energy that came off of it.'"

At the close of the 1930s, Walt Disney was putting together his legendary studio complex in California, designed from the ground up to provide his team with everything they needed to do their jobs. Also enjoying success in his field, German architect Kem Weber was pushing the style of modernism in the areas of furniture design and architecture. Searching for someone who could capture his vision completely, Disney struck up a partnership with Weber that led to the designing of a whole new line of furniture that combined flexibility and modulation with extreme specialization. These designs and pieces of furniture served as an iconic hallmark of the Disney Animation Studios for decades after their creation as well as in a resurgence toward the end of the previous century. ... (read more)

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Scary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Matt Monroe and the Haunted House
by Edward Torba
All Points Press


"Thick fingers of low-lying fog floated toward Matt. Curiosity urged him to walk forward, but what lay ahead?"

After their last adventure in the magical realm of Paragon, Matt Monroe and his friends are eager to get back to what passes as normal life for them. Back in school and under the watchful eye of their parents, Matt hides a series of terrifying nightmares about his arch-nemesis Damien, and Josh is hiding his unhealing wound suffered at the hands of a dragon. When Matt is out delivering papers, he encounters Nathaniel and Annabelle Parker, two children who were murdered in the town nearly a century ago. This contact leads to a new supernatural adventure that only Matt and his friends in The Brotherhood can embark upon. With vengeful ghosts, deadly poisons, and the shadow of Damien’s influence in every danger, the group of teens and their allies must be ready for whatever comes their way. ... (read more)

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The Right D3

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Optimal Dose: Restore Your Health With the Power of Vitamin D3
by Judson Somerville, MD
Big Bend Press


"During that day outside in the sun, you likely felt very alive and invigorated but then got very tired that night and slept well."

After experiencing a tragic biking accident, the author of this book was rendered paraplegic while going through his medical residency. Struggling with chronic pain and a host of other medical concerns, he was able to overcome his disabilities and finish his training, opening up his own private practice. Health continued to be an ever-present concern, however, as he dealt with infections, sores, and a lack of quality sleep. Decades later, he attended a medical conference and listened to a talk about vitamin D3, something he had already considered as an undiscovered cure. His beliefs reinforced, the author returned to his home and began experimenting on himself to discover what larger doses of D3 could do for him before prescribing them to his patients. This book captures those results, chronicling the author’s personal story and background before exploring the positive effects that a much larger dose than the current recommended dosage of the vitamin can have on the body. ... (read more)

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American Dream?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Whisper of Hope, Cry of Despair
by Vicky Bedi
iUniverse


"She still berated me and called me names then. I nearly deliberately crashed the car twice . . ."

The American Dream has been an ideological construct for decades that has brought multiple families to the New World in search of a new life. The author's family was one of them. When her grandfather fled Russia after the fall of the czar in the early 1900s, Bedi's family began a new life—but one of hardship instead of happiness. Bedi depicts the hard labor, education, and general unpleasant living situations in the early decades of the 20th century through her family's stories. These hardships ultimately led to Bedi's difficult childhood, one filled with abuse and despair. In this account, she tells the story of her family plus her personal triumphs and failures. ... (read more)

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A Breathtaking Book

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ripples & Waves: Walking Lake Huron
by Carol Trembath
Lakeside Publishing


"Trees are the lungs of the earth."

This incredible story focuses on Mai, a fictitious Ojibway girl walking around Lake Huron with her family and Native Americans from various tribes. Mai and her new friend make dreamcatchers to share with others they meet along the way. Though fiction, the story is based on The Mother Earth Water Walkers, a real-life group of native women who circumnavigated the Great Lakes on foot starting in 2003. They did so to raise awareness about the condition of water in our country and the need to be good stewards. They also set out on their journeys to reunite tribes, which scattered after the white man came to North America. ... (read more)

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Growth & Transformation

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Simply Amazing
by K. C. Armstrong
Xlibris


"The difference between a common person and a truly amazing one is in learning, growing, accepting, and changing what we can."

In this work of twelve stories, Armstrong's book begins with a foreword by David Arquette and then a prologue in which the author discusses the need for story as he interviews twelve extraordinary people on his radio show. The introduction discusses the author’s story of college and football at Western Kentucky, working for Howard Stern, getting fired, becoming homeless, drinking heavily, and being on the verge of death. He then talks about getting his life together and developing his radio program as the CEO of WMAP Radio (“World’s Most Amazing People”). In the twelve interviews, he relates with his interviewees about the trauma they have all gone through and the healing that has taken place through their connections with hope and love which have transcended the positive outcomes of businesses and their personal lives. ... (read more)

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Transcendent

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Sky and Earth Cielo y Tierra: Poems~Poemas
by Christina Watkins
Xlibris


"It comes now in the wind
fresh, moving the grasses
spreading seeds and unsettling earth
to give them cover."

Gently written and delicately flowing, Watkins' poetry speaks in both English and Spanish on facing pages. The poems are written in free verse with excellent rhythm and compelling structure, whether you enjoy them in English, Spanish, or both. The book is broken into three sections, divided by lovely black and white illustrations that lead the way to the new set of poems. Each poem connects the reader with nature and, often lightly, with a sense of something bigger through dance, motherhood, and a subtle religious tone. ... (read more)

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Believing

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Songs from the Heart: Poems That Stir the Soul and Awaken Faith in a Chaotic World
by Ann Howle Davis
Xlibris


"To live immersed in His love and grace,
To live unbound by sin
Just as I have to die to live,
I have to lose to win."

Basking in the light of Jesus Christ, Davis pens her poetry from the perspective of a hopeful pragmatist. In much of her poetry, either directly or indirectly, she expresses that life will not be a straight journey to the promised land. On the contrary, no one truly controls their destiny, only their reaction and faith in the midst of events that happen to them. ... (read more)

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The Poet's Grip

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Suspend
by Hister Grant
Xlibris


"Looking down, God sees Earth
Infinities distant
He wrinkles his nose
Regretting the whole thing"

With this volume of poetry coming in at only 54 pages, one might assume there’s not much weight in the 50 short poems found within, but that would be a grave mistake. These poems reveal a depth of poetic prowess and a range in subject matter that travels from reflections on a dying plant in the middle of a city to the duplicitous ways of snakes to a quartet of sensuous haikus (each entitled “For Suki”) to the poet’s amusement at a frequent flasher. Sometimes, Grant is delightfully self-aware as in “Forever”: “I am enlightened; I know I have bad Karma.” At other times, in poems like “Paradise,” this self-awareness is grittier: “In revolting apoplexies, / That’s what I want! / Spasticated on the ground forever, / Laughing stupidly, / Drowning in atrophy / Memory less, meaningless! / Crawling on my back, / In orgasmic detachment, / Amongst disgusted shoes, / I’m all alone, / And I’m eating my lips.” But at all times, he is masterful in his ability to get to the crux of his subject poetically. ... (read more)

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Figuring Out America

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tear Drops: Part 2
by Gideon C. Mekwunye
Xlibris


". . . never give up at any time for only the strong survive."

The continuation of the quick-witted Chiwinke's story begins as he enters America once again to find a better life for his family. The American Dream has been an ideological construct for decades that has brought multiple families to the New World in search of a new life and prosperity. Now that a lot of his family is in America, Mekwunye surrounds his novel around the idea that education is an essential way to achieve success through his character Chiwinke. As this second part unfolds, Chiwinke reconnects with his brothers and friends in America while displaying the struggles and trials many immigrants have to go through. Mekwunye often displays the hardships of finding work in America, showcasing a language barrier, racism, financial issues, and having to work the most unpleasant jobs around. He even has to fight off angry dogs so that he can survive. Chiwinke is the epitome of this hard work as he works three of the most tedious and underpaid jobs to save up to permanently move to America and go to school. ... (read more)

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The Price of War

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

War Calls, Love Cries: A Civil War Novel
by Mark Barie
Barringer Publishing


"Isaac was stirred into righteous anger and could feel the goosebumps on his skin. Lincoln spoke to his heart."

Seventeen-year-old Isaac Wells dreams of attending law school after graduating from a small school in Keeseville in upstate New York. His older brother, John, a notorious alcoholic, is to take over the family farm while Isaac follows his dream. However, fate fails Isaac. His father falls ill, John is less than dependable, and the stirrings of war pull at his conscious. The only bright light in Isaac’s young life is Rebecca Lobdell, daughter of the innkeeper where he has placed his ailing father. When John’s devious behavior compromises Isaac’s plans, he decides to put law school on hold, marries Rebecca, and tries to save the family farm. But again, Isaac’s plans go awry. Depressed and discouraged over his unhappy marriage, Isaac seeks solace in the arms of a prostitute. Eventually, he becomes convinced he must join the Union Army, thinking that the only thing he is leaving behind is the farm, an unhappy marriage, and his deceitful brother. ... (read more)

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Middle East Heat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Weapons of Mass Disablement
by Ionah Arbuthnott
Xlibris


"And once again, we are helping ourselves as God would surely approve. Israeli ingenuity has produced for us not the weapons of mass destruction which our enemies would use against us, but weapons of mass disablement."

In a matter of weeks, Israel is threatened with a multipronged attack of 244,000 guided missiles from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. The assault, planned by Iran, will weaken Israel to the point where Iranian troops can invade the country, complete the genocide of the Israeli people, and impose Shiite rule throughout the Middle East. Israel must work quickly to prevent the attack. As part of its military weaponry, Israel possesses the MWG—a microwave gun capable of disabling missiles before they’re launched. Meanwhile, Jonathan, an ailing Australian scientist, has developed a secret weapon—the DMAT—which renders a person and everything it touches invisible. Jonathan recruits Kate, his palliative caretaker, to convince the Israeli prime minister to use the DMAT together with the MWG, a move which will enable Israel to enter enemy territories and disable missiles without detection. But will they be in time to stop a national doomsday from happening? ... (read more)

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Understanding

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Am I? My Stories and Philosophies: The Autobiography of a Somebody or Nobody or Anybody?
by Rolf Harms
Trafford Publishing


"Whether sad events or happy memories, the experiences of my life have made an exciting journey for me."

Born in Germany in the latter years of World War II, author Harms has early memories of Allied aircraft attacks, bombings, and the loss of his father. His mother, though deeply traumatized, managed to keep working as a farm laborer and seamstress to support him, despite many obstacles. As a boy, Harms had visions of adventure in faraway lands, and at age fifteen, he acted on those visions, joining the German Merchant Marines. His very first sea voyage was to New York City, “providing many firsts.” The first American he met was also the first black man he had ever seen; the man’s good humor in communicating with Harms though they had no shared language impressed the lad deeply. ... (read more)

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Musings & Insights

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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War Heroes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

WWI Crusaders: A Band of Yanks in German-Occupied Belgium Help Save Millions from Starvation as Civilians Resist the Harsh German Rule. August 1914 to May 1917
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Milbrown Press


"The oncoming sound of heavy boots swept into the paper shop moments before the bell above the door tinkled."

As the First World War began to spread throughout Europe, Germany’s occupation of neutral Belgium struck many as a concerning action. With many of the able-bodied men shipped off for slave labor, the writing was on the wall that the country would stagnate and soon face a crippling food shortage. Efforts from within Belgium were being concocted to provide for the people, but without adequate access to resources and guarantees from the warring powers, nothing could be accomplished. Meanwhile, a group of Americans led by Herbert Hoover was helping American tourists out of the war zone but soon decided that intervention had to be taken in Belgium’s food crisis, as well. They had the protection as a neutral interventionist organization but lacked the infrastructure to disperse the aid appropriately. ... (read more)

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Transformation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future
by J. R. Klein
Del Gato


"We cannot change what was. We cannot prevent what will be. But we can still live today."

Thomas Blake, a famous writer of detective stories which are on The New York Times bestseller list, is in a state of dismay. He hasn’t written a word since the passing of his wife, who was his source of strength and support. Now in his late fifties, he is acutely aware of his aging status and the physiological changes that come with it. In a local café in Del Mar, California, a small group of surfers half his age senses his sorrow and invites him into their lives. During their trip to Ensenada, Mexico, Thomas’s forlorn spirit begins to awaken. He revives the surfing skills of his youth, rescues a friend from a near-death experience, and helps to bring a daughter and her estranged father together again. Through their relationships and adventures with one another, each character’s life is transformed and revitalized. ... (read more)

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Laws of Attraction

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Vacuum Effects of Gravitational and Electromagnetic Attraction
by Bobby Dee Ticer
Amazon Digital Services LLC - KDP Print US


"Gravity and electromagnetism are not here explained as directly interrelating. A decrease of gravitational force does not result in an observable increase in electromagnetic force."

In recent years, our understanding of gravity has jumped ahead tremendously. Though we have long since understood the mechanisms of how gravity affects us and the world around us, we still have so much to comprehend about the actual generation and function of gravitational force. In this book, the author walks the reader through centuries of theories and experiments conducted by some of the brightest minds of our species in order to identify and pinpoint what gravity is and how it works. From the supposition of the aether as a substance occupying empty space to Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity to cutting edge science like string theory, the collected thoughts and proofs of each scientist are presented here for readers to follow on up to our current comprehension. ... (read more)

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Coming to America

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Like a Haystack: Life from My Perspective
by Margaret Smolik
Toplink Publishing


"In retrospect, I realize that a hay stack holds a deep significance for me. Layer upon layer of hay makes up a hay stack. It is not the work of one; many workers contribute to its formation like the people and events that shape our lives."

Smolik writes a harrowing and poignant narrative of her life as a refugee in World War II. Her family is in various camps throughout that era, and they ultimately find a new life in America, which begs a new understanding of the “American Dream.” The book is split into two parts. The first takes place during WWII in Yugoslavia and Austria, as the author and her family are shuffled around the continent. The second part, titled “A New World,” starts the family’s new life in America, after a three-week boat ride from Germany to New Orleans. ... (read more)

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Death Reimagined

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

As Good as Good-byes Get: A Window Into Death and Dying
by Joy Nugent
Balboa Press


"There is no pattern to the way people die, as character, beliefs, and readiness all play a part."

In this poignant and thought-provoking work, the author strives to shed light on the taboo subject of death. Through her work as a palliative care nurse in Australia, she shares case studies of the many patients with whom she has worked. Emphasizing lessons learned from each one, she introduces a concept of end-of-life care in which patients are treated with dignity and where every effort is given to relieve both physical and emotional pain and to ease anxiety. After her return to nursing school following her mother’s death, the author found herself drawn to the field of holistic palliative care. This book offers a window into a world which listens to those facing death with illustrative case studies to back up the hands-on research. ... (read more)

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Friendships

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Iggy-Wallaby's Walkabout
by Karel Hawkins
Xlibris AU


"Iggy the wallaby hopped along the grassy riverbank, his head held low."

Iggy the wallaby is lost and wandering along the Murray River in Victoria, Australia, after a picnic with his human, Kerry. Though sad, Iggy uses his head and follows the river, looking for a boat or a landmark to help him find his way home. He comes upon an old paddle steamboat converted to a home by a grumpy old man named Tom. Tom is in a terrible mood, and their first encounter scares Iggy. He hops away once again and spends the night under an old river gum tree. Iggy is awakened during the night by the conversation of two naughty white rabbits who have stolen Tom’s gold watch. To everyone’s surprise, Iggy becomes a hero, the rabbits get their just rewards, and Tom, Kerry, and Iggy become fast friends. ... (read more)

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Inuit Folklore

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Snowbear: A Story Inspired by Inuit Folktales
by Elisabeth Shalij
Stratton Press


"Warmth and light was provided by oil lamps, creating an atmosphere of togetherness. Through telling stories the elders would teach their children lessons of life."

A retelling based on traditional Inuit folklore, Schalij’s text introduces readers—young and young-at-heart alike—to siblings Tiak and Unu and the many Arctic animals they meet upon their journey to Icecap Mountain. The Inuit brother and sister trek to find waters full of fish to eat and reunite with their father and other people of their village. On the journey, readers meet Brother Seal (“guardian of the sea”), Brother Walrus, who “knows everything” and can guide the two to Icecap Mountain, and a big white polar bear—the bear of “white snow," aptly named Snowbear—singing his song and encouraging the pair to remain brave. When a grizzly bear and the polar bear fight to the death, it is Snowbear who saves the young siblings from the grizzly’s wrath. ... (read more)

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Family Storytelling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Crow: Named Pedro?
by Mr. Joseph
Xlibris


"Hawks do eat crows, but Lady Hawk passed a law for her clan not to play with Mr. Crow, for it is not right to ever play with your food before eating it."

This book for children is short and consists of only two stories. Similar to many of Aesop’s fables, the stories involve animals that take on human characteristics. The first tale is about a fox and a flea. Try as he might, the fox can’t seem to scratch the flea off him. So he devises a wily plan to separate himself from his tiny annoyance. Young readers or bedtime listeners of this yarn read to them by their elders will be exposed to the value of lateral thinking to solve problems. ... (read more)

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A Living God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Exodus: The Master Plan
by Alice Gravatt
Balboa Press


"A Master Plan exists for human life so amazing it goes beyond the scope of man’s most vivid imagination."

Author Gravatt has examined in detail the Old Testament book of Exodus which, she believes, lays out the "Master Plan" that God has prepared for all humankind. In Exodus, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments and also orders him to build a sacred tabernacle, which the author views as “the physical structure which served as a blueprint” for the plan. The tabernacle, styled as a tent with “veils” separating its major chambers, was massive, heavy, and costly. Metals—bronze, silver, and gold—were required, along with special spices, oils, fabrics, and woods. The innermost chamber, or Holy of Holies, contained the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant. The covenant between God and the Israelites is still in effect, but in our times, God dwells within us. Gravatt has supplied an illustration of the basic tabernacle design, as well as a drawing of a human cell representing a microcosm—a reflection, Gravatt says, of the macrocosmic Living God. ... (read more)

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False Accusations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Notorious Casolini
by Angelo Crapanzano
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"She walked up to the door and found that it was open. Was this some kind of trap? She walked inside with her hand on her pistol under her apron."

Peppino lives in a small Sicilian village. He helps his father work their farm. His sister, Stellina, cooks and keeps house for them. While they have many friends, they live within a class system that is built on connections and patronage. The town’s mayor and his family, plus other governing officials and their clans, rule the hamlet oppressively. When the mayor’s son attempts to wed Stellina, events are put in place that could destroy Peppino’s family. He is soon jailed for a murder he didn’t commit, but he eventually escapes and begins a frighteningly calculated revenge. ... (read more)

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A Natural Force

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Beginning: The Early Days of Religious Beliefs
by Jaime Reyes
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"As humans developed social and family groups for mutual protection, procreation, and survival of the species, a need for leaders arose."

Author Reyes has created a believable fantasy focusing sharply on the development of the earliest known prototypes of modern man. The story begins with a simple premise: an aging cave dweller named Og is getting too tired for hunting, but if he doesn't hunt, he won't eat. There must be a way to get a share of the meat without accompanying the tribe’s spear-wielding hunters. When a storm hits, and the people of his clan tremble, fearful of the noise and the lightning, Og has an inspiration. He uses their fears and his own sharp memory regarding the usual length and intensity of such storms to put on a show. Posing as a kind of shaman who can control natural forces, he demonstrates his power by drawing lightning to an up-turned spear. He will follow this initial chicanery with pictures, chants, and the invention of an ever-growing panoply of natural gods whom he names and whose forces only he can invoke. ... (read more)

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