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June 2020

Book Reviews

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

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

Featured Reviews
 

Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Critical Investigation into Precognitive Dreams: Dreamscaping without My Timekeeper
by Pau Kiritsis
Cambridge Scholars Publishing


"Quite simply, while passive observation of past and future events may, under certain circumstances, be possible, direct participation in them is impossible."

In this detailed and wide-ranging book, the author is primarily concerned with the phenomenon of precognitive dreams—that is, the study of dreams which contain a premonition or subconscious inkling of something which has yet to be but does, in fact, take place in the future. The future, as it were, may be less than 24 hours later, days or weeks later, and may even range into years. The closeness in resemblance between the event, object, person, etc. in the dream and its real-life waking counterpart can vary widely, from a vague symbolic resemblance to more extreme cases of actual equal identification. Additionally, sometimes dreams of precognition can be on a personal level (which is the more common type, such as one dreaming a relative will pass away and then precisely that happening in real life), or of a collective nature (such as precognitive dreams involving natural or man-made disasters, airplane crashes, and the like). ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

No Average Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Defending Guns
by Steven Prevosto
World Castle Publishing, LLC


"The wind rushing wildly through the trees and over the land is like the spirit of man driving him to feel fulfilled in his pursuits."

In 1878, bad guys are hired by Douglas Pitt, whose goal is to take land surrounding Kansas City for a large cattle ranch. The hirelings include the town’s sheriff and deputy, who obey Pitt’s orders at whatever cost. Most of the other hirelings are already on wanted posters. The main good guy is Anthony Augustus Peters, a traveling actor from New York and quick-shot gun aficionado. He meets Fox Cloud, a Lakota Sioux and former child captive who knows English. They pose as bounty hunters wearing clever disguises from Anthony’s makeup kit. Another important yet unseen character is Anthony’s deceased wife, Mary, who inspires his death wish. Dressed in black for the final scene, will Anthony get his death wish as in Hamlet’s tragedy? Can this adventure end well? ... (read more)

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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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Oneness with Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction
by Dr. Ian Prattis
Manor House Publishing Inc.


"Yet there is always a glimpse, a possibility of stepping through the darkness and touching a warm knowing light that spurs us on."

Educator, prolific writer, spiritualist, and environmentalist, Prattis delivers an SOS to the world to save the earth and its inhabitants from destruction. The work draws upon written accounts from scientists, philosophers, social activists, and spiritual thinkers, including the wisdom of first nation tribes, all who make a convincing case for the need to take immediate action to rescue the planet. His futuristic scenarios are a wake-up call to honor the Paris Climate Agreement and the horrific physical, environmental and social consequences that civilizations will face should the earth fall further into demise. Prattis elucidates the dangers of corporate carbon emissions and their contributions to the destabilization of the earth. He emphasizes that the continuous search for wealth accumulation has come at the sacrifice of the planet. His compelling personal narratives take readers to the Canadian wilderness, the Hebrides in Scotland, and to an Ashram in India, where he writes of his near-death experience. ... (read more)

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Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


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

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

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Modern Christians Should

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Necessary for Jesus: 70 Prophecies 70 Rewards
by Stephen R. Kirkendall
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.


"If you start giving, you will begin to trust more in the Lord. If you don’t give, you’re saying that you don’t trust the Lord."

Many aspects of the Bible have been “put up for debate” between scholars, translators, clergymen, and laypeople alike. After centuries of study and reinterpretation, different churches or communities believe that they have come across the correct way to understand the information presented in God’s Word. Using direct quotations from the New King James Version Bible, this text puts to rest the debate as to whether or not tithing still applies to modern Christianity. Answering questions about its relevance, the amount requested, and the correct way to tithe on a low income or no income, this book chooses not to interpret the words of the Bible but to present them literally in order to provide guidance. ... (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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Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lord Chamberlain’s Daughter
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


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

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

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Eye-Opener

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tip of the Arrow: The Selma Student Nonviolent Movement, A study in Leadership
by Charles A. Bonner
Page Publishing, Inc.


"The civil rights movement in Selma, Alabama, had a great effect throughout the world."

More than 50 years ago, a group of students organized to protest and ultimately end blatant discrimination against black citizens in Alabama. Author Bonner has constructed a remarkable overview of the place, time, culture, and occurrences. Personally involved in these memorable events, Bonner painstakingly collected autobiographical material from more than 400 fellow members of the Selma cohort, both black and white, for this wide-ranging survey. Raised on a farm, Bonner has vivid memories of the Selma region in the pre-civil rights era. He sweated in cotton fields with his family to earn a pittance while gazing in the distance at “the big white mansion up on the hill” belonging to former slave-owners who had become guardians of white privilege to the extreme detriment of their black fellow citizens. ... (read more)

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Secret History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

White Seed: The Untold Story of The Lost Colony of Roanoke
by Paul Clayton
Amazon.com Services


"He was playing his part in all of this, pretending that they could make a go of it in this God-forsaken place."

Maggie Hagger is just one of many passengers leaving England and making her way to Chesapeake, Virginia, in 1587 as one of the future citizens of Sir Walter Raleigh’s colonies. Raleigh’s Virginia promises the start of a new life to Maggie and others—like the newly-appointed Governor John White, as well as Captain Stafford and his soldiers—but first, they must survive the journey to the Americas. Yet Maggie and the other colonists soon learn that settling down in Chesapeake will be much harder, as tensions between the Native American tribes there and prior English settlers still exist. Labeled as one of America’s oldest mysteries, the failed colony of Roanoke is at the heart of this novel, which explores the possibilities of what went wrong and what happened to the inhabitants. ... (read more)

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Real Strength

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Knock: A Collection of Childhood Memories
by Carolyn Watkins
Mindstir Media


"I quickly learned that military kids must be flexible."

As an inspirational memoir and a tribute to military families, this picture book for middle-graders stands out with its down-to-earth reflections by the author and tender watercolor illustrations by Lindsey Erickson that evocatively enhance the nature of the text. Watkins’ honesty about her real-life experiences fosters readers’ ability to have fruitful parent-child discussions about these emotional matters of separation and possible loss. The author stresses that her family could have shared their feelings more: “Perhaps Mom and I could have talked more about our feelings. I have now learned that sharing feelings makes it much easier to cope with them.” Likely this is why her book includes notes for parents and educators in the end matter with questions, points to consider to bolster these necessary conversations, whether at home or in the classroom. This guidance could help children feel safe to express their feelings and work through any emotional difficulties caused by missing the absent military parent or by fearing for their life. ... (read more)

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Compulsion & Desire

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

HomoAmerican - The Secret Society
by Michael Dane
Amazon.com Services


"This Secret Society, of which I am a member, is no more visible to me than I am to them."

With the rise of noteworthy novels and biographies from LGBTQ writers such as Paul Lisicky, Noelle Stevenson, Brandon Taylor, and Ocean Vuong, Dane joins the ranks with his hefty, detailed memoir. The reader is invited into Dane’s private, life-long search for identity. With intimate detail, the author reveals a well-traveled, storied life where somewhere along the way he “stopped being a real character,” only recognizing himself in reflections. He examines the painful moments of childhood and his chaotic passage into adulthood. We follow him as he roams among outcasts, immersing himself into an invisible society that is known only to a few. Dane probes the duplexity of visibility and invisibility, like a dancer on stage in front of audiences and an object of desire, yet continuously feeling lonely and invisible. For Dane, he moves through a world of night. He wanders in shadows and “darkness, of passion and pleasure.” ... (read more)

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The Real, Dangerous Truth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Black Forest
by J. Scott Boyd
Amazon.com Services


"The only thing you need to know about me is Smirnoff, two 1.75 liter bottles. V8, six 12-ounce cans. Open. Chug. Chase. As she says this her hands start trembling."

Jack Larson and his best friend, Cash, live a life of smoking weed, hanging out, popping pills, getting high on video games, and taking frequent jaunts to the local corner store to quench their hankering for Slushie D’s and peppermint schnapps. Added to this is the Kola Kountry soda for its valuable and “mandatory” kick of caffeine. Jack’s dad walked out on fifteen-year-old Jack two years ago in this small mountain town, and the need to find out exactly what happened to his father has led him to a pretty scary place in life. The local cops have their theory; Jack has his own. This has led him to strengthen his friendship with Cash, whose birth-name is Johnny Cash McDermid, and who just so happens to be a genius when it comes to mathematics. Interestingly, Cash’s gift in that area becomes beneficial in this environment where the lifestyle is foggy and dazed—both literally and metaphorically. ... (read more)

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From Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Esoteric Christianity Made Simple
by Con Trong Bui
Outskirts Press


"The inadequate, limited human language is one of the many factors that make it challenging to understand spiritual literature."

Does being a faithful adherent of Christianity mean that one must accept apparent biblical fallacies and falsities as inspired truth? This is the central theme that has motivated author Bui to compose this lengthy treatise on biblical writings. His exploration begins appropriately in the first portion of Genesis, certainly one of the thorniest pieces of the scriptural puzzle, in which we seem meant to believe that before God created earth and heaven, he had no place to live. Though couched humorously, Bui’s suggestion is logical, a trend that will be seen throughout his narrative. Also, if Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil before eating the forbidden fruit, how could their action be considered a sin? Bui explains that disobedience was the sin. ... (read more)

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Classic Detective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tokyo Traffic
by Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press


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

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

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Another Great Novel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ottoman Excursion
by Tim Pelkey
SDP Publishing


"Now is the time for reckoning."

When Michael Callahan, an American surgeon with the World Health Organization’s Disaster Relief Team, boards a plane to Istanbul, he never imagines what the next weeks will hold in store. He and the other members of the team are en route to Izmir, a town on Turkey’s west coast, to provide medical help to the victims of a recent earthquake. But as the Turkish members of the team point out, this country straddles Europe and Asia not only geographically but ideologically, as well, and the pull between East and West, fundamentalism and modernization, can be as volatile as any natural disaster. ... (read more)

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Hard Peace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Standoff
by Andrew C. Watzek
Trafford Publishing


"I heard there are three sisters,and that they lost their folks sometime back. I heard they run their ranch on their own, and folks say they're tough as boot leather."

Violence and struggle have a habit of changing people. The McCullough sisters, the book’s protagonists, have been altered by these over time. The iron of their character is now hard steel after the various conflicts of two previous adventures. This book is the concluding chapter of the Eric Hoffer Award-winning Western trilogy centered around sisters Sara, Julie, and Angela. For the past two novels, the sisters’ lives have been consumed by gun battles and cattle drives. But after all of these previous events, the main goal of the McCullough sisters has finally been realized: they have a profitable ranch. ... (read more)

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Understanding Scripture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Who Is Jesus Christ: The Complete Story
by Abraham Howard, Jr.
Lettra Press


"Therefore, I say to you, if you lack knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and desire to know more, this book is for you."

This informative collection concentrates on New Testament narratives, referring back to Old Testament events when required, with the goal of establishing the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Author Howard expresses a sincere credo: Jesus Christ always was and will be; he performed miracles, fulfilled prophecies, and rose from the dead. Some of Howard’s ideas deviate from certain church teachings, casting doubt, for example, on the notion of “the rapture” when Christ returns. Using scriptural citations, Howard argues strongly against any sexual act other than for conception. He believes that humans are meant to be vegetarian, referencing “eat no blood”—a commandment established after Noah’s time and reaffirmed in the Law of Moses. He explains, through biblical sources, the meaning of such terms as “idolater,” “sorcerer,” and “whoremonger.” He concludes that those who believe in Jesus Christ may look forward to a spiritual “New Jerusalem.” ... (read more)

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Boston's Rich History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

If Boston’s Buildings Could Speak by Freddie the Fish
by Lauren M. McGrath
PageTurner, Press and Media


"The Old State House was important to everyone."

In McGrath’s appealing children’s book, young readers join their newest classmate and history guide, Freddie the Fish. He attends the Boston Harbor School, where he’s “seen and heard it all.” You also meet Freddie’s friends with historical significance: Leo the Lion, Eunice the Unicorn, and Gus the Grasshopper. Freddie’s story primarily focuses on the historic Old State House and Faneuil Hall at “the heart of Boston’s Freedom Trail.” We learn about its history in addition to America’s early days and separation from Great Britain’s tyranny. ... (read more)

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Ancient Egypt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Camel Fables from the Sailors of the Sudan
by Thurlow R. Weed, Jr.
Infinity Publishing


"A wise camel once said, 'The easy steps through your life are often right at your feet, be patient and you’ll find them.'"

While there are children’s books dedicated to nearly every creature imaginable, camels are rarely given a moment to shine. However, camels of all shapes and sizes take center stage in this compilation of 41 fascinating tales. More than just providers of transportation, these camels use wisdom and whimsy to solve problems of every kind, often saving lives in the process. “The Emperor of the Oasis” is a particularly charming tale, presenting a fictional origin of the name “Fig Newton.” In this delightful story, a fig-loving camel named Newton saves a lost caravan by following his memory to an oasis filled with juicy figs. However, offering more than just amusing anecdotes, the author reveals a clear admiration for the perseverance and patience of animals, a central premise he expresses beautifully: “Watching animals that we think have a hard life can reveal why we must learn to slow down, back up in order to reason out problems differently.” ... (read more)

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Moral Ambiguity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Until Tomorrow: I Will Love You Unconditionally Until There Are No More Tomorrows
by James A. Gauthier, J.D.
URLink, Print & Media


"Was today our last day? Would there be a tomorrow for me and Kendra?"

Brad and Kendra are a married couple who have grown up together. As children and young teens, they experienced nearly everything as a couple. Kendra, who remains significantly young-looking and is perceived by some to be about fourteen even as an adult, is more adventurous than Brad. However, the two love each other. Kendra's appearance and physical and emotional proclivities enable her to join the FBI as an investigator into the sex trafficking of children. Her attempted murder brings this realization home to Brad. Shocked and grieved, he must deal with the situation revolving around a mate to whom he is devoted. Can he love her unconditionally? ... (read more)

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Shaman

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Miracles Master the Art: Healing Medically Incurable Illness
by Nancy Lynne Harris, M.A.
URLink Print & Media, LLC


"If you want your health to change, you must be willing to change your negative attitudes and your negative behaviors."

In this book, the author uses personal experience to validate her belief in the great capacity of the mind’s healing powers. In Harris’s estimation, attitude is the most important factor in allowing the body to heal from an illness that has, more than likely, been created through negative attitudes and beliefs. She feels one’s self-deprecating thoughts are the source of sickness. Therefore, it stands to reason that illness would be conquered through a change in one’s inner dialogue. Furthermore, the maladies one manifests are directly related to the feelings about the self and one’s situation. The book consists of nine chapters which address the creation and resolution of illness and injury. Drawing on her studies in energy healing with the Four Winds Society, Harris discusses the healing techniques she incorporates as a shaman. ... (read more)

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Spiritual Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Supernatural Help for Mae
by Wilda Mae Schooley
Christian Faith Publishing


"Now I knew the reason for so much suffering. There’s about 3 percent of the population who deal with this."

Creating an autobiography that explores her pain and medical problems, the author chronicles her sudden transition from able-bodied and healthy to frequently going in and out of hospitals with life-threatening conditions. The insertion of devices like a pacemaker to help keep her heart rate stable seems only to weaken and further deteriorate her health. After some experimentation and close attention to the stimulus that makes her feel ill, she discovers that she suffers from electrohypersensitivity: being in the presence of electricity causes her body to have an adverse reaction. Living in this modern era where electricity is everywhere and coping with a condition that many people don’t know about in the best-case scenario, the author must learn to rely on God and others as well as adjust her lifestyle simply to survive. ... (read more)

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Imagery & Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Satan's Stronghold
by Robert Gallant
PageTurner, Press and Media LLC


"He’ll sacrifice you if necessary to nail the drug dealer, her mind reiterated."

When Chesney Barrett is presented with the opportunity to avenge her mother’s death by shutting down a drug operation, she takes the chance, filled with determination despite the dangers it entails. In this novel, Gallant challenges his readers’ sense of morality and justice when the line between good and bad becomes murkier than the swamps Chesney travels to for her graduate environmental research and simultaneous undercover mission. Can she even trust Travis Weld, the agent who recruits her, when he mercilessly kills just as much as the drug dealers she’s after? ... (read more)

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Pandemic Times

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Armageddon Virus
by Robert Gallant
PageTurner, Press and Media


"If you could go back far enough in your genealogy, you would discover that your ancestors were viruses."

After enigmatic covert agent Travis Weld shadows an illicit weapons dealer and intercepts coded phone messages offering the sale of a deadly new virus, he sends his graduate student protégé Chesney Barrett undercover as a newspaper reporter to investigate the world of virology research. Just as Barrett prepares to follow the trail to a Texas research lab and the smoldering Dr. Martin Giles, she’s embroiled in a puzzling double murder involving methamphetamine dealers in the tranquil Louisiana bayou where she researches water and vegetation samples for her environmental studies thesis. But the new virus and its threat to humanity is the most daunting enemy: “A virus is a serial killer, striking at random and leaving a few clues, some meaningful and some misleading. A successful serial killer craves a worthy opponent…” ... (read more)

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Lush Plot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Anika and The Sorceress
by Marlene C. Aquino
URLink Print and Media, LLC


"At last, the time has come. The savior for our king, Yuzuf, is born. Soon, he will be set free from the wicked kingdom of Ninirov."

Seven-year-old Anika Smith is no ordinary child. Clad in her floral jumpsuit and pink sneakers, this extraordinary little girl has an otherworldly destiny, replete with adventure, danger, and mystical friends to guide her path. Yet as Anika’s power grows, so does the trepidation of her parents, who will do anything to protect her from the mysterious creatures who claim her as their hero. When attempts to relocate Anika for her protection come to no avail, she is magically transported to the kingdom of Durvesq, a land in mourning for their missing king, and his parents, stricken gravely ill by a misguided sorceress. Yet before Anika can confront her adversary, expelling the black magic that threatens the realm, she must undertake a series of harrowing quests through which she will turn the hearts of the wicked and restore strife-torn families to joy. ... (read more)

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A Page-Turning Series

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unsung Lord of Siyah Chan
by Joan C Wrenn
OutSkirts Press, Inc.


"Only a dull ache remained. Was it over? Was he in the World of the Ancestors finally?"

The much-anticipated sequel to Young Lords of Siyah Chan, the story picks up as Yoaat Balam finally takes his place as the Ahaw. But becoming the lord of his city-state doesn’t just mean putting aside his passion for astronomy; it also means taking on the hardships to come. Events beyond his control cause pandemonium among his people—floods, famine, illness, and even the threat of enemies overtaking allied cities. Yoaat will enforce new rituals and ceremonies to try to appease the gods, but will it be enough? With the help of his family, Yoaat will try to unite his people before treachery destroys them all. Can he bring his people together as one as Siyah Chan, or will his efforts fade away in history as another forgotten reign? ... (read more)

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Gallows Humor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Murder Finds A Home
by Winnfred Smith
Westwood Books Publishing


"Pulling my .38 special from the glove compartment, I ran to the house, slowing at the porch to get a quick look inside. And there they were."

There are all sorts of variations of the mystery genre these days. The detective novel takes multiple forms, as well. Author Smith’s tale falls somewhere in between what might be called a cozy mystery and a comfortable hero. It could be classified as a cozy because this mystery does not rely on the shopworn elements of gratuitous violence or brutality, particularly explicit sex, or an ongoing fusillade of profanity and vulgarity. It could also be seen as a comfortable hero tale because the protagonist is not the prototypical burned-out ex-cop who continually sees the world through the bottom of a whiskey glass and spouts cynical metaphors in virtually every paragraph. This hero is actually a successful businessman, quite likable, and exceptionally skilled at unraveling complicated situations. He’s a good guy’s good guy. ... (read more)

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What Happen

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Beginning: Hijacking of the Religion of God, Volume 1: Judaism
by Sami M. El-Soudani
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"What is it about human beings that makes them seek religious thought?"

This remarkable treatise comprises a far-reaching exploration of the origins and outcomes of three of the world’s great and interrelated religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is based on an amusing but nonetheless profound premise: “Men practiced hijacking long before they had wings.” ... (read more)

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A Fix for the Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Christianity a Flawed Religion: How Christian Dogma Inadvertently Keeps Humanity in Bondage to Sin and a Suffering World and How to Fix It
by Warren William Luce
Lulu


"We need not bend the knee and hang the head in worship of God. True worship of God is much more meaningful than that."

At a certain point in his life, though author Luce enjoyed his churchgoing experience, he began to ponder the true meaning of Christ's teachings. Studying scripture intensively gave him pause. An especially perplexing example was God's admonition, given through David in the Psalms, to allow soldiers to kill Midianite men, women, and children but to "keep the young virgins for yourself." This provoked one of many questions: how could a God who gave a commandment against killing, "condone, let alone bless" such actions? Approaching his minister, the author received answers that seemed dismissive. Luce was finally judged to be a disruptive influence because he harbored such doubts about Christian teaching, was excommunicated, and had to leave the congregation. This freed him, he recalls, to begin searching for spiritual principles that he found were not only intellectually sound but also spiritually satisfying. ... (read more)

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Recollections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bear on the Stairs
by Kenneth A. Marston
Authors Press


"The specialists informed us that raising a child with autism
Was most difficult and a real gut wrencher."

A neatly organized collection of short poetic works tells the story of one parent’s experience of loving, observing, and understanding his autistic son. Marston’s son, Neill, was plagued with several anomalies during and after his birth, and signs of autism soon emerged. At first, in line with the thinking at the time, medical specialists suggested institutionalization for the child, but his parents rejected that option. ... (read more)

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A Rapid Plot

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dreamberries
by Kenneth A. Marston
AuthorsPress


"Get a good night’s rest and we’ll talk tomorrow. ‘Dreamberries’ are a unique fruit with a very interesting history."

On the afternoon of July 29, 2012, James Elliot McGuire III embarked on his usual afternoon ride with his horse Jette, never suspecting that his life would, in the space of hours, be changed irrevocably. He would espy a beautiful young girl and Immediately fall in love. Lightning would cause an enormous fire from which he and Jette would barely escape, and he would awaken in a strange room to find himself transported, not only to the year 1885 but also into the body of a woman. After escaping the fire, James abates his hunger by eating several unusual berries he finds along a riverbank. He is soon to discover that these berries, called Dreamberries, have the ability to cause the person eating them to travel through time. Unfortunately, James also discovers that berries with this miraculous power are a magnet for evildoers. The unscrupulous Sullivans have grown rich from them and their many uses. Now, James and a few friends, in the past and present, agree to work together to stop this evil and bring justice to the guilty. ... (read more)

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Grave Consequences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Huntsman
by M. A. Cumiskey
Stonewall Press


"Surveying the scene the single row of cottages looked idyllic—a typical country vista: a perverse distortion of the fact."

Enthralling is surely a term that should be used judiciously when speaking about a book, yet it seems the perfect word to describe this tale of historical, social, religious, and philosophical self-examination that is at the center of this beguiling novel. First, there is the way it is written. It is recounted in the voice of the protagonist—a Brit named Paul. The English language, written as if spoken by an Englishman, is often quite different than the same language written as if spoken by an American. This narrative is definitely the former. If one has a difficult time with that, it may prove slow going initially. On the other hand, if one enjoys the lilt and beauty of the mother tongue, it’s a treat indeed. Imagine a story being recounted by the likes of a sardonic John Cleese or a whimsical Eric Idle. Humor is the aphrodisiac the author uses to lure readers into this tale. Irony and wit increase as the pages multiply, though sometimes, without warning, the tome becomes less Monty Python and more of a Ken Russell fever dream. Frequent sex and occasional violence are intricately woven into the fabric of this most British mosaic, which makes excellent use of the writer’s extensive vocabulary. ... (read more)

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A New Translation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version
by Robert Thomas Helm
Mindstir Media


"Why was it important for Jesus to be a descendant of David and of Abraham? (Gen.22:15-18; 2 Sam.7:4-17; Matt.1:1-17)"

The focus of this Modern Evangelical Version (MEV) of the New Testament is to make it readable (versus older English translations like the KJV) and understandable to modern readers who may have no background in Hebrew or Greek. It answers the type of questions that today’s young folk frequently ask, such as the use of gender-inclusive nouns. Did the original New Testament writer mean both women and men when "people" is used in the text? Also, did the Apostle John mean “we” or “you” when he wrote the introduction of his letter to church leaders? This information is consistently addressed in notes at the end of each chapter. ... (read more)

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Myths & Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Talents of Stone and Fire: The Brotherhood of Stone Series First Chronicle
by B. Octavier Barnes
Writers Republic


"'You’ve been wondering why the School has kept things like Talents and Babylonian Text away from common knowledge, isn’t that right?'"

At face value, Riley Kincrest and Arthish Lilith couldn’t be more different despite their similar ages. Riley is the only son of a lord and spends all of his time studying academics, combat, and the arts in order to take over his father’s lands one day and keep the family name in good standing. Arthish lives alone with his mother out beyond the city walls, providing simply for the two of them as a hunter after his blacksmith father passes away. Underneath the surface, though, each of these two young men has hard decisions thrust upon them that will change their lives forever. Riley’s family and teachers beat him mercilessly, looking for any opportunity to provide corporal punishment and never showing an ounce of affection. Arthish’s mother is brutally murdered while he is away, and he seeks revenge on the mysterious man that carried out the nefarious act. ... (read more)

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A Piece of Him

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pocket Poetry
by Anthony Sanders
Writers Republic


"Dreams are the light of
imagination
and the brother of creation
So dream big and maybe
you can catch a nation"

Fittingly titled, this book is a collection of heartfelt poems that the readers can quickly digest while relishing the poet’s use of imagery and symbolism that consistently evokes emotions and paints an image in the reader’s mind. Sanders’ collection of musings and reflections do not necessarily adhere to any consistent poetic rhyme scheme or technique in most poems; nevertheless, the poet demonstrates a knack for using repetition as a means of emphasis and to get the reader’s attention. Notably, “I Can” uses the phrase repeatedly to motivate dreamers and, more importantly, encourages them to believe in their dreams. For the most part, as the poetry compilation progresses, the poems’ speaker is bold and unafraid to speak his mind. From introspective thoughts that range from mental health to spiritual poems about God, Sanders’ passion and authenticity shine clearly through the pages. ... (read more)

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End of Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Red Horse: War Against God’s Government
by Connie Ordelheide Anderson
Pen House


"Man, 666, is the Destroyer in disguise. He is not quite God 777. He is at war with God’s character and government."

A treatise on biblical symbolism, Anderson’s book examines many of the key constructs found throughout the Bible. These include, for example, “seas of humanity,” “mountains of fire,” and “seven angels with seven trumpets.” The author’s main thesis proposes that the end days, which are soon upon us, were foretold like a roadmap in the Bible by an omnipresent God who has already written the story of the world. Tying into the equation such modern significant events as the fall of the Iron Curtain, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the history made in China’s Tiananmen Square, Anderson then turns her focus toward the unspeakable tragedies which unfolded in America on September 11, 2001. The argument is made that because humanity has turned from God (such as church and state separation), such catastrophic events and mass human suffering will only increase. ... (read more)

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Fatal Strike

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Shield Down
by William de Berg
Trafford Publishing


"As she was about to sit down, Jackson suddenly became transfixed by one of the computer screens as it lit up with a huge spike..."

In this dystopian work, Earth is threatened by a major "star quake," as SGR 0245+05 seems about to erupt. Astrophysicist James Templeton is summoned to Washington, D.C., for meetings about the probability of a major disaster that could destroy much of the planet. The formerly maligned Templeton discovers that, despite their discredit of his predictions of a decade before, NASA has demonstrated its belief in the veracity of Templeton's findings by having built mini-cities underground in the U.S. The magnetar, +05, strikes Earth, and a small number of people find safety. Humans surface after two hundred years to begin life again. Have humans, once again in conflict, learned anything about themselves and the care of their environment? ... (read more)

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Uplifting Hope

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Ethereal
by Al Price
Xlibris


"When you live your life on the ethereal plane, there is always a way to succeed or win."

In 1983, 17-year-old Aeamon is determined to make the Ole Miss football team as a walk-on prospect. Growing up in rural Mississippi, Aeamon is a resourceful, spirited young man destined for greatness despite his humble beginnings. He works on the family farm and takes over most of the responsibilities when his father is crippled from an accident. He also builds a strong bond with the African American family that lives nearby, befriending their son Jo-Nathan. The two enjoy good times and bad in their last years of high school, and each takes different paths when Jo-Nathan joins the Marines while Aeamon goes to Ole Miss. With a strong work ethic, a curious mind, and an optimistic outlook, Aeamon’s journey to glory on the football field is a rousing portrait of adventure and friendship. ... (read more)

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Idealized America

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Code Name: Spirit
by Colonel Don Wilson
URLink Print and Media


"It would take a concerted effort by law enforcement at all levels to clean up America."

Military Operations for the Prevention of Subversion (MOPS), a top-secret military organization, originally existed to fight Soviet aggression during the Cold War. Now, in the early twenty-first century, it serves to protect the United States from acts of terrorism by any country in the world. Only its members know it exists. Even the President is none the wiser. But when a new and devoutly Christian takes office intending to reclaim the soul of the nation for God, they reveal it to him. They place themselves at his disposal to fight terrorism as the need arises. MOPS becomes Counter Subversion Executive (CSE), and its agents keep their promise. Keenest to fulfill his duty is Lieutenant Colonel Hunter William “Bill” Bowman, code name: SPIRIT. Will love for their country be sufficient to carry him and his loyal team through perilous encounters with some of the world’s fiercest opponents of liberty? ... (read more)

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A New Look at Scripture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prophecies of Christ and Their Fulfillment
by Aaron Tucker
LitFire Publishing


"As you read this book, you will see the Scriptures in a different light."

Author Tucker poses a question: how can we understand the end of a book (the New Testament of the Bible) without understanding its beginning (the Old Testament)? The most significant aspects of the life of Jesus, as recorded after his death and resurrection, are based on prophecies made long before. Tucker states that biblical prophets were not writing about themselves but instead predicting future events for all time and people. He cites numerous examples of the connection between Old Testament prophecies and New Testament happenings. The Book of Micah denotes Bethlehem as the birthplace of the “ruler of Israel.” Two early prophecies state that the coming leader will be “despised and rejected” by the Jews, and John says clearly that Jesus’ own people “received him not.” Old Testament prophets consistently envisioned the Messiah as a preacher, healer, miracle worker, and deliverer. ... (read more)

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Married in Christ

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Principles of Christian Marriage and Family Life
by Akinbowale Isaac Adewumi
Xlibris


"Maturity is the key factor in the success or demise of marriage relationships."

This handbook on Christian marriage and family life has been prayerfully written with a burden for young people, especially engaged and newly married couples. Since choosing a marriage companion is too serious a venture for immature minds, the author offers advice on discovering God’s will in marriage. Importantly, he explains the differences between gaining spiritual wisdom from dreams, visions, and trances. A person should be careful when seeing someone’s face pop into his or her mind; it can prove embarrassing if that person does not share one's feelings. The author gives some dos and don’ts while waiting for a mate. The single person does need patience to retain personal peace and purity and to prepare for married life. The don’ts instruct a single person who they should not marry: a divorcee who has a living spouse; a next of kin; an unbeliever. Other areas discussed are setting family goals, being in partnership with your spouse, and the consequences of breaking covenant/marriage vows. ... (read more)

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Swimming!

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Little Ellie Isabellie Elephant: Day at the Pool
by Tracy Hartley
Writers Republic


"As she was walking to her room she thought, it’s ok to be little. And it’s ok to need help."

Little Ellie Isabellie is a young elephant with a serious dilemma. She’s watching her animal friends playing together happily in a swimming pool. She really wants to join them, but unfortunately, she fears she’s “just too little.” It doesn’t seem fair that she can’t jump in and play as they do. Maybe if she were just a little bigger, she thinks. For example, what If she had stilts? But she realizes she’d never be able to get in the pool or swim around with those. The same objection applies to her idea of wearing her mother’s high heel shoes. Could she stretch herself to the right height? There’s a tape on the door to measure herself by, but making herself taller is obviously impossible. Ellie Isabellie is getting sad. She hates being little, and there doesn’t seem to be any solution to her problem. Maybe, though, her momma can help. ... (read more)

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A Different Cure

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Cancer Is a Jinn (Demonic) Possession: The Ultimate Cure
by Dr Mira Bajirova
Partridge Press


"We should always remember we are under constant camera, every word and action are regarded by the angels."

There exist 351 sins in Islam. According to this faith tradition, disease is retribution for wrongdoing, a demonic possession that Allah allows to afflict the sinner. It is believed that modern Western medicine does not cure a disease but worsens it. Islam holds that drug treatments excite the demons, called Jinni, who make a patient sicker. This mirrors Hippocrates' belief that drug treatments are of no benefit whatsoever. Those who believe in the Jinni maintain that illness is curable by repentance and renewed devotion to Allah through good deeds, and that conversion to Islam heals sick unbelievers. Still, be careful, the Qur'an warns. The demons are wily shape shifters who can assume any form they choose. They can entrap even Allah's most devout followers, turning them into vain, greedy, lazy, or lustful people. But Allah is merciful; he only wants people to fulfill the sole purpose for which he created them: to worship him alone. ... (read more)

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Ascending Above

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Miraculous Hand of God
by Patsy Moore
LitFire Publishing


"And now it’s my desire, to give my life to you.
I want your love to shine through, in all that I may do."

In the face of numerous struggles, medical challenges, abuses, and crises, the author of this book found a path forward and the strength to walk it. The key was her acceptance of the Lord and her faith that guided her to make decisions and changes that impacted her life for the better. Each chapter of this book highlights an experience that she or someone close to her had that defies explanation beyond simply being a miracle provided by God. The testimonials from people on death’s door with nowhere else to turn to—or placed in a situation that seemed impossible to survive—are powerful, and their proclamation of faith amplifies their impact. With shared and first-hand accounts, there are also selections of poetry and songs designed to praise and proclaim wondrous works and deeds. ... (read more)

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A Fresh Look

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Beginning: Hijacking of the Religion of God: Volume 2: Christianity
by Sami M. El-Soudani
Westwood Books Publishing


"...a scientist by training, I decided to apply mathematics of logic and Boolean algebra for... theological assertions, such as the opening poetic statement of John’s Gospel."

According to the author, the first hijacking of Christianity was done by Paul of Tarsus. His teaching that Jesus was the Son of God caused a rift between Paul (of those who saw a risen Christ) and Barnabas (of those who knew Jesus while on earth and considered him a prophet of God). Burton L. Mack, a former professor of early Christianity at the Clairmont Colleges in California, is one of the author’s key resources for the first hijacking argument. Mack traced theological movements among early Christians until the Pauline Christ myth was accepted. ... (read more)

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Throught the Royal Court

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Zephyr Spheres and the Sword of Wonders
by Myles B. Hibbett
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"’That’s not possible!’ she screamed. ‘She turned into a doll! She’s a real witch! This must go against almost EVERY SINGLE LAW OF SCIENCE AND NATURE!’"

Zephyr Spheres is a 13-year-old girl who lives with her foster parents, the Krumples. Mr. Krumple isn’t too bad; he just works all the time. Mrs. Krumple, however, treats Zephyr like a servant. Mrs. Krumple’s character is much like Cinderella’s stepmother. Also, because of Zephyr’s shabby clothes and poor social status, the children and teachers at school treat her less favorably than the other children. In particular, the rich Trinda Temple never misses an opportunity to put Zephyr down. After a particularly mean insult from Trinda, Zephyr turns her into a doll. Zephyr isn’t sure what she did or how she did it, but the news spreads quickly. Soon, the government comes and offers her foster mother money to allow them to take Zephyr away to learn about her magic. Mrs. Krumple readily agrees. However, before the government men take her away, two dwarves appear and tell Zephyr that she is needed in the realm she was born in, Danus. Not wanting to be sold to the government, Zephyr quickly agrees to go with the dwarves. However, Danus has its own problems. Zephyr finds out that her real father is alive and is King of Crystopia, one of the lands in Danus. To make matters worse, he has been kidnapped by evil forces employing dark magic. Zephyr realizes she needs to find a way to save her father and his kingdom while navigating the pitfalls of the royal court. ... (read more)

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A View of the Issues

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

In the Beginning: Hijacking of the Religion of God: Volume 3: Islam
by Sami M. El-Soudani
Westwood Books Publishing, LLC.


"The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."

In this third volume of El-Soudani’s comprehensive and encompassing research, he demonstrates the efficacy and power of doctrine. While the first two volumes examine Judaism and Christianity, this particular volume provides a birds-eye analysis of a three-thousand-year timeline through the referencing and unpacking of myriad historical and contemporary events that shook and shaped the fundamental pillar of religion and society. The level of objectivity while engaging in critical analysis has the potential to help audiences evolve from laymen to well-informed and engaged individuals. In a world where half the population is comprised of the religions discussed in the three volumes, there is undoubtedly invaluable information combined with a stellar presentation by the author. ... (read more)

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Another Fast-Paced Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Murder with Deceit
by Winnfred Smith
Westwood Books Publishing, LLC


"You think you have it all under control, and then she appears."

A chance encounter on an Atlanta sidewalk leads John Stone to embark on an adventure that will take him all the way to Paris, France, and introduce him to an unforgettable woman and her family. When Stone first sees the enchanting, Nicole Powell and her sister, Patty, he is moved to song. He asks her out to dinner and agrees to take her anywhere she chooses, little knowing that her choice would be one made as a joke. However, Stone owns an IT company along with a private jet, so when Nicole impetuously suggests Le Beaujolais, he readily agrees to an impromptu trip to Paris for a meal at his old friend, Pappy's, restaurant. As the pieces begin to fall into place in this coincidence of events, Stone learns that Nicole and Patty's father had been killed in a questionable accident seven years prior. At Pappy's insistence, Stone leaves for Paris with Nicole, Patty, and a friend, the girls' mother, in tow. Now, Stone puts on his detective hat and begins to investigate their father's death. ... (read more)

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Authentic & Real

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mask Weavers For Hire
by Patricia C. Jackson
Xlibris


"'You know Connors, I think we all wear masks. What happens to us in life becomes the thread we weave into our masks. The fibers of our soul we show to others.'"

Interpersonal relationships are at the heart of this involving mystery about a Boston psychiatrist whose patients are taxing her intellectual and physical stamina to the limit, and whose friends and lover may be pushing it even farther. Carla is a beautiful woman with a runner’s physique, a well-furnished mind, and even a bit of extrasensory perception. She needs those attributes firing on all cylinders when she finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery and an escalating search for hidden scientific information that could play havoc with the very weather of the world. ... (read more)

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Unusual Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Koi Fish and Salmon’s Adventure!
by Jeremiah Wang
Xlibris


"Remembering the dangers from the past, Koi fish warns Salmon fish to beware the daring dwarves, boisterous bears and the opportunistic otters."

Children of all ages will appreciate the union of wordplay and fanciful illustrations in this picture book featuring a pair of adventurous fish who live “deep in the enchanted valley... in the crystal clear water” where “they bubble happily together” and “dart around chasing sunbeams.” When their age-old instinct to migrate leads them upstream toward a new play area, Koi and Salmon encounter many dangers hidden in pools and bends of the river, including predatory otters, hungry fisherman casting nets, and a rocky waterfall monitored by bears. ... (read more)

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A Fascinating Glimpse

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Slow-Cooked Thoughts: Articles, Talks, Essays, One Old Poem, and Two Tales
by Rohan de Soysa
Partridge Publishing


"I have tried to express my ideas as seeds, as simply and succinctly as possible, so they could grow in people’s minds once planted."

This collection of works in various formats is a testament to the author’s devotion to environmental issues, along with his love of art and belief in its importance to humanity. The author shares his personal views forged from a lifetime of travel and work in promoting both art and conservation. The book consists of a series of articles on the importance of environmental conservation, a tenth-century poem by the Guru Phadampa Sangay, essays concerning the establishment and work of the 43 Group to promote “art in all its branches” in Sri Lanka, stories of travel, and the author’s philosophical beliefs. Enhancing his work are 68 of the author’s photographs. Though this collection features a variety of genres—including essays, poetry, and fables—there is one constant theme running throughout: the preservation and enrichment of humanity through environmental conservation and promotion of the arts. ... (read more)

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When the Order Fails

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

River Creed
by Kelly Coleman
Xlibris


"Generally speaking, Cadillac Hollow is the preserve of the lawless..."

Written in the present tense, this book is the third in a trilogy about the crimes of incest, murder, and rape in the Missouri Ozarks. The gritty novel tracks the response of a group of people who decide to put an end to the corruption that has enabled multiple crimes to go unpunished. The reader sides with the “outliers,” vigilantes who avenge twisted practices following the torture, kidnapping, assault, rape, and murder of individuals of different genders and ages by establishment figures. An example of their integrity and commitment is their entering the property of a perpetrator to view and dig into the grave of a murdered child. ... (read more)

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Blurred Lines

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Walking in the Gray: How to Succeed When the Rules Are Not Black and White
by Rickey L. Jasper
iUniverse


"When you are traveling, you must always be looking forward in order to know where you are going, but you must also continue to take a periodic look in the rearview mirror to see what is behind you."

For those who wish to climb the organizational ladder, Jasper’s book feeds ambitions with bountiful advice, supported by the biblical scriptures. The work brims with insightful suggestions based on the writer’s many years of employment—from his humble beginnings as a nine-year-old child laborer in the cotton fields of Arkansas to the top of the executive suite. It’s the gray space that matters is the common theme of the book. Among the insightful counsel included in this work is to understand an organization’s norms, culture, and politics, and that simply working hard will not suffice. Jasper advises that to attain a position of authority, one must expand beyond the job requirement by taking on extra assignments or volunteer work. He further articulates that it is the unwritten and unspoken rules that must be comprehended, including dress code, social behavior, the length of the working day, and other distinctive yet unmentioned aspects of group etiquette. ... (read more)

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The Seed Teacher

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

School Wasn't Always Awesome
by Dr. Justin Treisch
AuthorHouse


"On a positive note, it certainly did get Michael excited about summer."

Michael is a young boy who struggles in school. He is not lazy or refusing to learn. He does have an attention deficit and finds school utterly boring, but this is because no teacher properly understands him or desires to discover the most effective method to teach him. There are so many other children, and because his mind is always wandering, they ignore him. It is only when he comes into contact with a teacher who wants to use every educational tool at his disposal that school becomes engaging. A single teacher can make an impact and cause learning to be fun. ... (read more)

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Goodness of Earth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Natures Mirror of Symmetry
by Cheryl Caine
Xlibris


"There are reoccurring patterns that are archetypal and sacred in nature."

Written by a public school art teacher, this book is rooted in the symmetrical aesthetics at work all around us. The author posits that we lose an appreciation and sense of awe of nature as we age, and the book is an attempt to reacclimate readers with the wonders of it as well as the natural symmetry that exists all around us. The author’s work is in full color, with gloriously large photos of intricate details of natural items. Chapter Four, for example, is dominated by picturesque landscapes of mountains, beaches, cliffs, and canyons. These natural settings prove to be ripe with symmetry, produced by elements such as rain, wind, and fire. ... (read more)

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An Inspiration

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WWII + VI: A Kid's Memories of War and Postwar
by Johan Zwaan
Xlibris


"After five years minus five days, the war was over, at least in Western Europe, and we were free."

In this descriptive and engaging memoir, Johan Zwaan details a Dutch boyhood during the globe’s most trying period: World War II. These sentimentally toned narratives lead readers through the streets of Gorinchem (Gorkum for short) and Dutch history, as well as the city’s ever-changing societal landscape that shifts under the occupancy of German armed forces. With a clarity that only experience can provide, the recollections in this book transport readers into homes destroyed by enemy forces, into Jewish families ruined and ended by undeniable evil and greed, and into one family’s survival that forever cemented their bonds. The author also examines his father’s heroic role in protecting Gorkum’s Jewish citizens through his Dutch Resistance connections and personal endeavors as a doctor. His father’s opposition to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis knew no bounds, not even with multiple arrests and a barely mentioned three-month stint in a concentration camp. ... (read more)

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Heartrending

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Clouds Are Big With Mercy
by Alicia Adams
AuthorHouse


"When I was fifteen I wanted nothing more than to get rid of the OCD at once and forget that I had ever had it."

Alicia Adams is just fourteen when accosted by repetitive thoughts she feels are the result of not having enough faith in her Christian beliefs. She also assumes the fault lies within her character rather than obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a glitch with neurological function and chemistry treatable with cognitive therapy and medication. Her parents’ responses compound her problem. She has a good mother unwilling to grasp the complexity of her daughter’s situation, and a strong father enmeshed in religious logic, who is angered by Alicia’s despair. Her school experiences are sketchy, colored either by students bullying her or by her loneliness due to her lack of social skills. A school transfer helps to buoy her spirits, but the undiagnosed OCD soon resurfaces and leads to clinical depression. Luckily, her parents eventually respond to Alicia’s declining mental health by seeking help from a minister with a strong background in psychology and counseling. ... (read more)

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Achievement

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Spirit of Clovelly Park: Learning and Teaching at Kingston College
by Frances-Marie Coke
iUniverse


"And whenever the time came for me to escape from my own challenges, the room and the boys became my refuge, too."

Coincidental events in 2014, such as a bird knocking into her window while emails from “KC boys” flood her inbox, inspire the author to recall Kingston College’s significance in her life in this engaging memoir. She works at the school in the early 1970s, first with her bachelor's degree in English but with no formal teacher's training, and then as a fully qualified teacher after completing the university's postgraduate diploma in education. She later serves as a guidance counselor. ... (read more)

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Search for a Cure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Traveling With Alzheimer’s: Year Two
by Brian Scott Edwards, MD, FNLA
Xlibris


"With Alzheimer’s, I don’t have the future or the past easily available to me. I mostly have the moment."

Even when presented with a medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in December 2017, the author of this informative and entertaining book knew that, although life would be different from that point forward, by no means did or should he have to stop enjoying life. Rather than sulk in misery, there was still much in his very fortunate circumstances going for him, and this was no time to slow down. In fact, he and his wife have many major trips and cruises planned for 2020. A doctor himself, Edwards published Waiting For When I Forget I Have Alzheimer’s: Year One, in which he documented the diagnosis and early progression of the disease in February 2019. The current book he sees as part of a series of at least three books telling his inspirational story. The author says he seeks to encourage people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to relax, enjoy themselves, have fun, and, most importantly, not struggle or miss out on life in the frantic search for a cure. ... (read more)

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