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January 2021

Book Reviews

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

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

Featured Reviews
 

Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shock Wave
by Florian Louisoder
Starry Night Publishing


"It wasn’t the future that took root in our present that day, it was the past..."

Forty-year-old deep-sea diver Scott DeSantis is en route to repair a problem with a wellhead deep in the Gulf of Mexico when he hears on the radio that Cuba is planning an underwater detonation of an atomic bomb. Scott’s ex-wife, Linda, a nuclear physicist for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is taxed with accessing the fallout from the incident. Suddenly, Linda is thrown into an encounter with an old nemesis, and Scott discovers that the woman to whom he was once married, the mother of his two children, is not the person he thought her to be. Linda finds that the incident has opened a vortex which she thought had long been closed, and she and Scott must travel far into a past with which Linda is very familiar in order to save their children from being caught in a time warp from which they may never return. Their lives are now on a trajectory that will change the world forever. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Beautiful & Vivid

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Debts and Vengeance: Third Volume in the Good Neighbors Series
by Janet M. Dann
DannWorks


"Both had been known to kill with little provocation and now both were feeling very provoked."

This third novel in the saga of the Dacia, Wagner, and Epstein families depicts the power of family and community against incredible odds. The Wagner and Dacia families have survived a violent turf war brought into their community by Mafia-supported bootlegging. The victory of these rural families against the criminals has sparked the musical career of August Wagner, "The Fighting Cowboy," who mocks the Mafia members who invaded his town. But Primo Moretti and Zeke Volakis, crime bosses implicated in those events, pine for vengeance. Uniting their efforts to achieve revenge, they launch retaliatory attacks against the families that include kidnapping. When these efforts fail due largely to the efforts of the savvy Dacia women, Moretti solicits the help of Chicago boss Signore de Luca. Will the plots of the Mafia bosses succeed, or will the targeted families somehow manage to escape the mobsters' machinations again? ... (read more)

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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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Stunning Historic View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

General in Command: The Life of Major General John B. Anderson
by Michael M. Van Ness
Kӧehlerbooks


"While he had been abroad, he dreamed of home and now at home, he held firmly to the relationships formed abroad."

Biographies, by nature, are a peek into an individual's lifespan and contributions to society. In this book, however, Van Ness successfully manages to not only give a glimpse of Major General Anderson's life but also delivers insight from a unique vantage point into many of the most pivotal moments in American history. At the same time, this work is genuinely made special and personal by the continuous efforts of the author, Anderson's grandson, to both learn and chronicle his grandfather's gargantuan impact. In his quest to fully unearth the life of a remarkable general, Van Ness combines his family knowledge with relentless research, leaving no stones unturned in his mission to shed light on one of the principal figures of the 20th century. ... (read more)

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Spine-Chilling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crossing Over
by Paul Clayton


"I never thought I’d live to see the day when a legally-elected president of these United States would be dragged out of the... White House."

The future United States is on the verge of a second civil war, plunging its citizens into a dystopian universe where they must fend for themselves. Any semblance of government control is nonexistent. From New York to Massachusetts, several states have formed the Liberty League to support the radical Revolutionary People's Party. Meanwhile, state guards, including those of the Carolinas, Alabama, and Kentucky, have formed the Minute Men that support the incumbent president. The United States Government now has two presidents and a severely fractured country. The main character, Mike McNerney, his wife, Marie, and disabled teenage daughter, Elly, are thrust into this chaos with no failsafe. They are forced to leave the comforts and safety of their home and travel toward the Canadian border in the hopes of crossing over and rediscovering a sense of normalcy. The irony that such a world in the modern political landscape is not nearly as far-fetched as it once seemed is not lost upon the reader. ... (read more)

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Evocative Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


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

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

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The Fate of Journalism

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Truth: Real Stories and the Risk of Losing a Free Press in America
by Bob Gabordi
AuthorHouse


"The first amendment doesn’t belong to the press; it belongs to all Americans. Lose it and we lose what America stands for around the world: hope and freedom."

In this autobiographical manifesto, Gabordi details his personal stories as a journalist, starting with his long uphill battle in forging a career, followed by how the industry adjusted during the evolution from print to digital media consumption, all while emphasizing the value of the First Amendment and the imperativeness of a free press for all Americans. Gabordi approaches how the news has recently become widely regarded as an ethos of dishonesty, and how journalists are now modern scapegoats for society's issues. In response to those that blame the media as a whole, he presents the inner workings of newspapers through the lens of his forty-one years as a working journalist and, later, executive editor for local presses. His mission is to reveal the compassion and truth-seeking qualities that journalists should embody on the whole. It is especially important to recognize this now, Gabordi states, within the current political climate. He shares how journalists must aspire to delineate the facts and let the truth speak for itself. Otherwise, it will stand in danger of losing its credibility. ... (read more)

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Our Evolving Brain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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The Plan

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No Birds Sing Here
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing


"People don’t want poetry or literature. They want celebrities, half-crazy celebrities."

Mix a dram of Hunter Thompson, a dash of Kerouac, a pinch of Tom Wolfe, a sprinkle of Palahniuk, a dab of Salinger, and a heaping spoonful of Scott Fitzgerald. Shake liberally, and what emerges is an urban literary concoction that rises to the level of the best road trip stories ever told. At turns ribald and violent, at others tender and thoughtful, this tale starts mildly enough when Beckman, a disenchanted dishwasher with literary aspirations, flees his dead-end job and his writer's block to hit the road with Malany, a remarkable poet he encounters at a used book store. He concocts his theatrical plan after they jump out of his dive apartment window and head through the Southeast in her rickety Oldsmobile. ... (read more)

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Devastating Events

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation During World War I
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers


"Today, whenever there are civilians anywhere in the world in harm’s way—from a natural disaster to an armed conflict—the nearly universal response has been: ‘America will help.’ That was not the case before World War I."

During the First World War, a group led by American citizens, known as the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), saved millions of Belgian and French citizens from starvation when Germany occupied their homelands. CRB, which was not an official government agency, which became the largest food relief program up to that time in history. Despite that distinction, few people know about it now. That’s precisely why this is such a valuable and formidable addition to World War I scholarship. The veteran author has been studying history for almost half a century. When he inherited a compendium of papers from his grandfather, who was a member of the Commission, he knew he had to chronicle the CRB story. This book is the result—a project that began when the author first heard the tales as a teenager and concluded with a decade of expert research and persuasive writing ... (read more)

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Time Out of Time

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shock Wave 2: The Book of Vallora
by Florian Louisoder
Amazon.com


"We see time as this big thing that spans eternity and we forget to appreciate and value the moment."

In this second book in the author's series, time travelers Scott and Linda DeSantis return from Atlantis to their own time; however, the world they find is a much different place than the one they left. History has rendered an alternate reality in which America, defeated by Germany in the Second World War, is now a totalitarian nation. Technology is used to keep watch and exert control over the American public. For Scott and Linda, this new world in which they have arrived, one in which their own children are unrecognizable to them, is one of danger. They are immediately hunted by old enemies who are now in power and find themselves trying to escape to safety, all while being under surveillance by this new and frightening government. The two have one goal: to stay alive long enough for the secrets held in the Book of Vallora to lead them back to their real home. ... (read more)

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Faith Embrace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How Did I Get Here Part II: The Journey Continues
by Gloria Walker-Powell


"I had no idea at the time how smart my unseen enemy was."

In the second part of an evocative and stirring search for one's spirit, the author shifts focus to scripture, demonstrating the power of God's Word, whether that be read verse by verse or sung through gospel hymns. Walker-Powell's persistence not only helps her grow spiritually but also provides a better life for her family. She now has a house and a car as she is moving forward in life. Whenever any sense of normalcy seems to set in, however, she is faced with more challenges. It is the grace with which she stays steadfast in her faith and her desire to improve that speaks to the reader. ... (read more)

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World of Damora

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Skull Gates
by P.G. Badzey
Stone Owl Press


"Disagreement turns to rancor, then to bitterness, then to spite, then to hatred."

Author P.G. Badzey again combines his aerospace industry expertise with his love of epic fantasy in this installment of the Grey Riders series. His unique perspective includes Christianity and fictional faiths, science-based magic, and sword and sorcery in the world of Damora—a setting that derives from and rivals J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth in cultural and genealogical complexity. ... (read more)

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Blinding Passion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Naked Under the Lights
by Judith Peck
Black Rose Writing


"He was still a painter immersed in making art."

Bert Kossoff, a painting teacher at the Art Student League in New York City, is well-known for his abstract art style as well as his womanizing ways. His wife, Ruth, ignores his infidelities while his daughter, Sonata, who is enamored with her father and his work, is completely unaware of them. As Sonata finds her own passion and path into the art world, she learns of survival, intimacy, and determination, all while reckoning with uncovered family secrets. Her enthusiasm throughout the novel is infectious, and she makes for a good vessel for the story—someone on the fringes of the art world who finds themselves in it, trying to figure out the driving force of an artist. ... (read more)

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Tensions Abound

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Treasure of the General Grant
by Brian Wilson
Ingram Spark


"He was never one to disclose secrets, not even on his death bed."

The novel opens with a scene of Uncle Henry, a treasure hunter, telling his nephew, Robbie, a bedtime story about a ship, the General Grant. Robbie asks what happened to the treasure when the vessel sank in 1866, but his uncle doesn't say. On that suspenseful note, the book jumps ahead to Uncle Henry's death. By now a New Zealand sheep farmer in the sleepy town of Gore, Robbie is his uncle's sole beneficiary. Suspicious that the older man found the ship's treasure, Robbie's inheritance rides on answering his boyhood question. ... (read more)

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Heist

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Silver City Bank Robbery
by Beverly Smith
Page Publishing


"The sheriff was a fair and just lawman who was respected by most of the townsfolk. Later today, though, he would be sorely tested."

Stories of the Old West have been around since before it was old. Now, author Beverly Smith has added to a long legacy of Western lore with her tale of a memorable incident in a tough frontier town. The best of Western authors, writers such as Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, knew their heroes and heroines had to seem larger than life to match the sprawling, often harsh environments their tales were set within. The author of this yarn takes that lesson to heart as she recreates a burgeoning mining town overflowing with rough-hewn men and hard-working women who prove more than a match for the tumultuous times. ... (read more)

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The Trouble with Words

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Never Marry a Writer
by Tolu' A. Akinyemi
The Roaring Lion Newcastle


"The terrorists who opened the doors of hell and drank the blood of the innocent parade our streets with bulging shoulders."

"Never marry a writer," warns this powerful and deceptively relevant collection of poems. After all, a writer is apt to memorialize anything and everything. A writer chronicles and exposes, captures and recounts, leaves no deed or fact inside the privacy of a marital union. Whatever the situation, a writer will write, spill ink along with secrets, reveal and reframe private doings, and recognize no boundaries as a natural chronicler of life experience and observation. Nothing is off-limits, and any assumption of privacy is the spouse's folly. Flaws, truths, hurts, and betrayals are all potential fodder for the page. Yes, each poem in this revealing book testifies to the title's warning. The collection holds up the most private life experiences to the glaring sunlight of published words. ... (read more)

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Surprising Debut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fishing for Something
by Andrew Scott Bassett
Luminare Press


"Catching a break in life is like catching a fish, part skill, part perseverance, part dumb luck... lot like fishing when you really think about it."

Raymond Barrett is the father of two sons named after movie stars: John Wayne and Audie Murphy. That and his love for fishing speak volumes about the type of person he is. The boys haven't seen their father since he left their mom when they were in their early teens. As the eldest son, John has taken on responsibilities in the household. Meanwhile, Audie has always been more free-wheeling. Now their father is dead, and his lawyer has informed them that they have to take a fishing trip across America and notify old friends about his passing to collect their hefty inheritances. At each stop on the list, they must go fishing as a kind of memorial service of times past. ... (read more)

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Powerful Imagery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let’s Go Walking in the Storm: A Collection of Poetry and Reflections for Soul and Spirit
by Gloria D. Gonsalves
AuthorHouse


"A prayer is a poem and that is my truth."

This collection of poems explores several issues, including human suffering, ecological devastation, violence and war, immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic, racism, discrimination, and other topics in which, as Gonsalves writes, "soul and spirit face a storm together." Throughout, the author undertakes a journey to "seek understanding and acceptance in all the chaos." Many pieces are written as religious prayers. Other realms are equally explored, including celebrating nature, children, personal obstacles, death, the power of words, global peace, the celebration of trees and forests, and the poet's determination to raise her child as a lover of nature. "In the forest I let him touch and feel the trees as he points them out," writes Gonsalves. "One particular tree has become his ritual: he squeals with excitement when it's in our sight." ... (read more)

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Action-Packed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Max and the Spice Thieves: Secrets of the Twilight Djinn
by John Peragine
Crumblebee Books


"My dad was a great captain in the Spice Guild’s fleet. He left me a message to find him here. I know he still lives."

Max Daybreaker, the protagonist in this young adult fantasy, refuses to believe that his dad is dead. He has to be out there, somewhere. When Max wakes one morning, his mother surprises him, saying they are going on a special journey. Max always has his favorite book nearby, The Secrets of the Twilight Djinn, given to him by his father before disappearing somewhere in the three seas. Max has no idea about the journey upon which he will embark, nor how the events and magical creatures in his favorite book will come into play in Max's own action-packed adventure. ... (read more)

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Obession

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Burning Desire: The Psychopath and the Girl in Black Prada Shoes Part 1
by M.L. Stark
Xlibris


"This is not lovemaking but narcissistic brutality, a dark hell of burning fire."

The moment Mary meets Doctor Drake Lucifer Bates, she's intrigued by him. What starts out as a doctor's visit soon morphs into something more scandalous, as Mary and Drake start an affair. Between her rocky marriage with her husband, Paul, and the advances Drake makes during sessions, Mary finds herself drawn more and more to Drake, even as the red flags start to appear. This first book in the author's trilogy follows Mary as she becomes Drake's patient and soon lover, getting further entangled in a relationship that is hypnotic and passionate but also dangerous. Mary and Drake's story unfolds across the globe in this captive affair, as Mary tries not to lose herself over to Drake completely and get wrapped up in his manipulative schemes. ... (read more)

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War & Displacement

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Locket
by Lisa Arnold
Xlibris


"He was torn between the wife waiting in the States and the erotic temptress he had formed a deep bond with in Jakarta."

The mistress knows about the wife, but the wife doesn't know about the mistress. The husband and lover they share is an American soldier stationed overseas in Indonesia during World War II. He fathers children with both women and supports them all back in his home state of Georgia after the war. The story chronicles the emotional and familial tumult of the subsequent twenty years. Secrets fester, confusion mounts, and the toll of sin and silence makes its indelible mark on all unfortunate parties involved. Wrapped inside this sorrowful story of betrayal and disappointment is a third love story that offers a possible second chance for characters whose obstacles have been significant and whose need for salvation is strong. ... (read more)

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Emergency

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

ER Adventures in Rural America
by Ken Jones Jr. MD
Xlibris


"I immediately noted all the changes: CT scanners, MRI, ultrasound, 24-hour-available labs, telecommunication with big-city hospitals, and most importantly, very-well educated and dedicated ER staff."

After practicing general surgery for thirty-six years, Jones decided to return to his roots. He had "moonlighted" in rural emergency room (ER) medicine for the extra pay during his surgical residency. After some soul searching, he made the humbling move from being a board-certified surgeon to begin a new part-time career in the ER field. "I wish more retired surgeons [would] use their diagnostic skills in rural ERs," writes Jones. "The needs are tremendous, and the satisfaction gives one a wonderful feeling." Arguing that a surgeons' array of specialized skills are much-needed and appreciated throughout America's rural ERs, Jones advises any surgeon in his sixties or so—but not ready for retirement—to consider ER rural medicine. ... (read more)

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Medical Memoir

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

To Be of Use: Five Decades as a Cancer Doctor Including the Story of the Conquest of Childhood Leukemia
by Edward Arenson MD CWSP
Xlibris


"I am more an artist than scientist, but was able to practice medicine as though it were a blank canvas full of colors, lines, textures, made up by real people with real problems."

This extraordinary memoir details the life of an oncologist over nearly fifty years. Beginning with his undergraduate studies in English and art history, the author describes his first calling to pediatrics with a 1973 fellowship in hematology-oncology at Children's Hospital in Denver. Childhood leukemia was the most common pediatric cancer at the time and was always fatal. Arenson then served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Augusta, Georgia, which proved to be a culture shock for the self-described Yankee Jew. ... (read more)

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Positive Messages

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Pinch and Nardo
by Kenneth Fuerstinger
Writers Republic


"Pinch entered the never-ending forest with one only thing on his mind—what his parents said. ‘Pinch, you must find your special purpose in life.’"

In this vibrant children's book, Feurstinger takes his readers on several adventures with Pinch and Nardo—both strangers to one another at the beginning of the book—who become the best of friends by the end. Pinch, an inchworm, embarks on a journey to find his purpose in life after losing his parents. Despite his small size, he braves the never-ending forest his parents had once told him would lead him to his destiny in life. Surrounded by the unknown, Pinch has no way of knowing which way to go or what exactly his parents had in mind. By chance, he meets Nardo, a frog who helps him when he's stuck. Nardo eventually joins Pinch on his journey, hoping to also find his own special purpose in life. Along the way, they recognize their differences and similarities, both of which strengthen their bond. ... (read more)

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Colorful Compilation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jazzy and Rhumbi to the Rescue
by Dori Seider
Xlibris


"Cats have to encourage their humans constantly, giving them extra attention and affection every time they do something we like, like save our animal friends."

This heartwarming and adventurous tale is told from the perspective of two resourceful kitties named Jazzy Girl Muffin and Rhumbi Boy. Both rescued from the same litter, this feline duo lives with a married couple they have nicknamed The Noisy Guy and The Quiet One. And while these kitties love their idyllic home, they are hardly content with lazing in the sun. Instead, these compassionate cats secretly influence their humans to love and rescue more animals, including the ducks who dwell in a nearby pond, a chipmunk named Chippy, a mouse name Montgomery, four baby bunnies, and even a little bird trapped in a feeder. Offering each other an enthusiastic "PAW 5" upon each successful endeavor, these kitties encourage their humans, and the readers, to welcome all types of animals into their homes and hearts. ... (read more)

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Delightful Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Colorful Journey
by Jennifer Tirtilli Ranu, Giuliana Ranu and Karolina Ranu
Xlibris


"These Founding Fathers had the foresight to predict that huge factories and mills built here would manufacture many products... previously purchased from and taxed by England."

Young fictional characters who live in Patterson, NJ, during the 1950s narrate stories about the founding of this corner of America based on historical facts. Sweety is one of the multicultural, local children living on a dead-end street in New Jersey. Sweety's father works in construction. Fathers of her friends work in factories and mills called sweatshops located downhill from their neighborhood. Stay-at-home mothers' work is clearly evident on every block, as laundry washed using ringer machines hangs out on clotheslines to catch the wind and dry. The children meet a groundhog who offers to take them on tour of Garret Mountain if they can guess his name. ... (read more)

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Unexpected Party

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Willie Wombat's Walk
by Sandra Swain
Xlibris


"'I wasn't invited either,' Willie said brightening up a bit. 'Let's go play.'"

In this book for young readers, Willie feels that he was not invited to Tom Cat's party because he and his family have just arrived from Australia. To counter his feelings of sadness and rejection, Willie's mom suggests that he get some fresh air by going for a walk. Willie goes reluctantly. Along the way, he meets Stephanie Squirrel, Natalie Gnat, Owlivia (an owl), Aidan Alligator, Brandon Bear, Liam Lion, Emma Elephant, and Owen Octopus. Each one believes that they weren't invited because of some physical characteristic or trait. Each one also thinks that they have been the only one excluded from the party. However, the true reason is the number of guests allowed is limited, not exclusion because of personal traits. All are invited to Willie's house, where Willie's wise mom has baked a banana cake. The classmates eat and play, as they realize that they have made their own party. ... (read more)

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Light Pollution

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Corky Tails: Tales of a Tailless Dog Named Sagebrush: Sagebrush and the Disappearing Dark Sky
by Joni Franks
Xlibris


"'’Studying the constellations was a large part of my childhood. I was taught that to gaze at the moon and the stars is to look beyond the earth, seeing the bigger picture of the universe.'"

This educational book for older children tells another charming tale of canine hero Sagebrush in the author's continuing series. Beginning with a poem, it is a rich story of the love of family, including beloved pets and fairies. These sprites are known to the pets and to "Young Miss," the human who explores the wonders of the universe at their cattle ranch in the Rockies. The book not only focuses on these bonds but also has a lesson about homelessness. Featuring a female role model, the narrative examines light pollution and how it harms the earth and creates a barrier to connecting with the cosmos. It is a nicely crafted, environmentally focused story that teaches youngsters about pollution and how to change the world by fighting against it. ... (read more)

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Family

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alexander’s Big Surprise
by Icey Shaikh
iUniverse


"Butterflies dances (sic) in his belly as he listened to his dad’s footsteps coming down the hall."

In Shaikh's picture and storybook for young children, Alexander's excitement regarding an upcoming event isn't revealed until the end of the story. The plot traces the day of his mother's return, but it is unknown where she has been or why she was gone. Instead, the story focuses on Alexander and his father's daily interaction before going to the airport to meet his mother. This element denotes a positive and close relationship with his father. His grandmother also goes along for the celebration, bringing various goodies such as flowers and red licorice. The trip culminates in a wonderful greeting, and in his excitement, Alexander learns a valuable lesson about tying his shoes. In the end, all of the participants experience a happy family reunion. ... (read more)

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Clear Vision

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eyes Can Talk
by Lana Jean Mitchell
Xlibris


"'Mr. L. Loveher, Chikere needs her eyes examined. Her eyes are saying she might need glasses.'"

The eyes are the windows to the soul, so they say, and this book teaches children about what their eyes tell them and others through three brief stories. The first story concerns Chikere, a young preschooler whose teacher believes she needs to get her eyes examined. When her father takes her to an optometrist, she cannot be tested because she can’t read, but she does know her ABCs. A second optometrist points out that a young child will learn the song, but if her eyes are poor, she would not be able to recognize the letters. The second story is about Little, a young boy staying with his grandparents, who insists he is not tired enough to go to bed. His grandma, however, lovingly informs him of the clues that his eyes give away and that he is indeed getting sleepy. ... (read more)

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Ways of Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My First Day at School
by Dr. Liz Zafra Evans
iUnivere


"The school, the teacher, and the other kids make my day very special and fun."

Every child eventually reaches that momentous milestone of their first day at school. Some treat it with excitement, others anxiety, but it is a rite of passage that is a vital part of our culture's development. In this story, the narrator is a child who is preparing for the first day of school with plenty of excitement and a small amount of nerves. The narrative shows how when children say goodbye to their parents and meet their teacher and their classmates, they realize how fun school can be and how rewarding their first taste of individuality is. In its description of going through every aspect of the first day of school, from breakfast and brushing teeth to recess with a classroom full of new playmates, this book is charming and reassuring to any child unsure what to think about entering the school system. ... (read more)

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Shine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Together Forever
by L. K. Goza
Xlibris


"One time I was taking a bath; I slipped and almost drowned, turned blue. Mom saved me. She was like a guardian angel."

Students are taught to expect conflict, climax, and resolution in the classic five-act structure of writing. Yet sometimes it can be more relaxing just to read an uplifting, feel-good kind of book. This brief compilation of short stories contains almost entirely that kind of storytelling, ranging from a "movie" story about a national operation to make the world a more comfortable and peaceful place to childhood memories of growing up in the early twentieth century and making a homemade radio. Each of these stories is a brief glimpse into a simpler kind of existence, whether imaginary and fantastic or hearkening back to earlier times when people's worlds were just a little bit smaller. With five different stories, the reader is sure to experience a spectrum of ideas that all hold interest without the stress of a sharp twist in the tale. ... (read more)

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Escape

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shanghai Torah: Yuanfen
by Briana London
Cosworth Publishing


"Two souls—separated in purpose and culture—united by the artistry of the written word."

This is a sweeping saga of lives torn asunder not only by the maelstrom that was World War II but also by the metaphysical borders that religion, culture, and emotion sometimes erect. While it is a story of families simply trying to exist within the greatest conflagration that the world has ever known, it is also a testament to faith, tolerance, and understanding. ... (read more)

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Invaluable Perspective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Black Family Reunions: Finding the Rest of Me
by Dr. Ione D. Vargus
Xlibris


"Everyone has a family history. It is within our families that we come to understand who we are and where we belong."

As interests in genealogy and family history have grown over the past few decades, there are unique challenges that face the black American community. Taken from their families and homelands in the era of slavery, many African Americans lack the historical family ties that other racial groups may enjoy. This wound stings twice as hard, given the important role of the family in traditional African cultures. In this book, the black family reunion is examined at every angle: their history, their importance, and what features they often share with one another. After outlining the drive behind starting a family reunion and what to do at it, the author spends several chapters advising the reader on how to use the reunion format to lift the entire family, creating a tradition that will endure for generations to come. ... (read more)

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A Better Look

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Expectations Nearly Killed My Dream: The Expectation-Reality Gap
by Andries J. Jacobs
Xlibris


"To ensure the organization’s leaders and consultants understood the leadership style of the CEO, the CEO analyzed, studied and regularly communicated its leadership style with the consultants."

This business book from a seasoned process expert and consulting entrepreneur combines reflections, tools, and advice for professionals in start-up or consulting environments. The author is generous and humble as he shares gems and tips acquired over a lengthy and accomplished career. The book's title refers to a leader's potential expectations and assumptions that can imperil a business consulting operation if not addressed and mitigated. Among these are the danger of assuming that content experts share a firm's communication and professionalism culture. As ambassadors of an organization, consultants out in the field have the power to shape a client's impression of the firm. Thus without detailed guidance and process training, such representatives can have detrimental effects on a company's reputation and ultimate potential for success. ... (read more)

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Hard Lessons

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Education of a Teacher: Lessons a Small Town Taught a Teacher
by Noel Nation
Xlibris


"Life does not deal with everyone the way it deals with me. Athletics helps reveal how others deal with life."

He is enamored with the idea of being a doctor, but his dislike of rigorous study and his distracting love of all sports mean that Noel Nation will never make a capable physician. As a teacher, though, the observant young man with a talent for explaining things just might succeed, according to his friends. At the same time, Nation must also grapple with Osgood-Schlatter's disease, a painful knee condition that will permanently impact his participation in sports. If he can't always play, however, Nation can coach. For more than thirty years, in the small town of Cleveland, Oklahoma, he does exactly that, coaching every sport from varsity football to girls' baseball and teaching the sciences from biology to physics. Along the way, he loses multiple family members in a single monumental tragedy through which only his firm Christian faith, staunch family values, and robust work ethic can possibly bring him. ... (read more)

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Awakening Awareness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Clouds of War: Past, Present and On the Horizon
by Jerry L. Burton
Xlibris


"Empires, by nature, are competitive…. Tension can be resolved by war or compromise…. Empires tend to choose war."

Burton shares the life of his long-time friend, ninety-six-year-old William H. Drumm, Jr., Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.) in this part biographical, part historical narrative. Set against the backdrop of World Wars I and II and through the Vietnam conflict, Burton explores the historical contexts that influenced Drumm's coming of age and his twentieth-century military career. He tells Drumm's story in an unusual memoir-like first-person viewpoint, presumably with many of Drumm's own words. ... (read more)

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A Brave Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Two Different Worlds
by Angela Drayton
Xlibris


"“...in bed thinking about me being a first time mother... excited and scared at the same time... going to have to raise this baby on my own."

Drayton loves people. She is sociable and demonstrative. She writes about holidays as a child, sneaking an early peek at Christmas packages, about loving her sisters because they kept her laughing, and about admiring her mother. The latter worked long hours and demonstrated to her daughters how likewise to become good mothers. Following after her mother, the author valued obligations, worked in the evenings, and returned to school because of missing friends her age who were also teenage mothers. Their teen antics keep the story refreshing and entertaining. ... (read more)

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Close to the Line

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reflections on Mountaineering: A Journey Through Life as Experienced in the Mountains
by Alan V. Goldman
Outskirts Press


"I revel in that special...uncertainty of the outcome,
Regardless of skill, that is experienced during the bond of indulging
Ourselves in...dangerous sheer joy of climbing,"

This book of poems and musings delivers whiffs of the rarefied atmosphere that mountain climbers breathe. Hardy souls, like the author, thrive whether they ascend to the summit or wisely descend in safety. The lives of mountaineers depend on their roped partners, toe holds, and pegs pounded into rock walls as they climb beside ridges with mountain goat views. Avalanches, glacier crevasses, and frostbite are hazards of snow country. Miles of loose scree and less dense air challenge the last miles. This book describes climbing a volcano and crossing the Continental Divide. Ultimate views from a summit have made it worthwhile for both the author and famous climbers, such as Muir, Mallory, and Alexander. At the Vale of Kashmir, the latter wept that there were "no more worlds to conquer." ... (read more)

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Musically Poetic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bottomless Toothpaste Flats in Bruges (A Poet’s Memoir)
by John Patrick Acevedo
Xlibris


"Nobody does Harley Quinn like
government. Nothing backs-up Harley
Quinn like a poet.
So I handed Quinn the poem I began
the year Thorazine took my legs"

When reading Acevedo's poetry, it becomes obvious that he is a dedicated fan of the late singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye. In this newest memoir and poetry collection, Acevedo sojourns in Bruges, Belgium, visiting the historically preserved "Lunasia," where the famous recording artist spent time in rehab, journaling about his experiences and philosophies. The literary result by Acevedo is nothing less than a small poetic masterpiece. How the poet meshes his writings and self-styled poetics with that of Gaye is stunning. In his piece "Checkout Girl," Acevedo writes, "The light's gone out for me. / Even the drink don't work anymore. Saw my poetry flash before my eyes. / Saw the young journalists line up outside / holding markers and flowers." Other popular musicians populate Acevedo's poems, as well, including Cat Stevens, James Taylor, REM, Paul McCartney, U2, and Tom Petty ... (read more)

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Handling Grief

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Secret Place to Hide from Death
by Dr. Elco Vallier
iUniverse


"No matter what we try, many people have come to realize that there is no safe haven in this world."

Pastor and author Vallier explores the ponderous subject of human death and man's continual search for longer, even everlasting life. In our age, scientists seek ways to help us live longer, with ever-multiplying areas of knowledge enhancing that goal. Vallier goes to the biblical account of God's creation of man to shine more light on this issue. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness and limitations. God's punishment was to remove from them and their descendants the possibility of immortality. But God then gave humans the means to everlasting life through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. Though many people choose to ignore this gift or claim the possibility of immortality through scientific and philosophical means, the prospect of eternal happiness through the love of Jesus remains the only "secret place" that people can turn to when faced with the inevitability of death. ... (read more)

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Partner Appreciation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lick Like a Lesbian
by Wise Cracks
Xlibris


"Even if you don’t have a tongue like a giraffe… we’ll show you how to get the best out of this most stimulating form of lovemaking."

This novelty sex manual describes itself as a "fun but informative guide to perfecting oral sex." Illustrated are ten "much-loved oral sex acts," based on results from a group of "very happy volunteers" who sacrificed evenings of television and going to the pub to produce the information contained herein. Arguing that oral sex is the most "intimate form of lovemaking," the author admits that, for the uninitiated, "staring close-up at somebody else's genitalia" can induce a range of emotions, from fright to humor to beauty to arousal. Chapters on hygiene and safety emphasize cleanliness, mutual respect, and comfort. Techniques presented include The Paper Cut, The Custard Bowl, The Crossroads, The Wheelbarrow, The Cream Donut, Trampolining, The Stamp, The Bishop's Finger, The Chocolate Nut Sundae, and The 69. ... (read more)

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Winning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

January 6th
by John Sizer
Xlibris


"All the things I hated while growing up were now providing me with the tools I needed to survive this situation."

Despite a challenging upbringing, the author of this book tells his life story about dealing with adversity and utilizing a powerhouse work ethic to become financially powerful working as a physical education teacher and coach. That American Dream happy ending came crashing to a halt, however, when it was revealed that his wife had been mishandling the family funds and lying about it for years. It came to a head when she was sent to prison unexpectedly. Having to pick up the pieces and start over from scratch, Sizer used that same work ethic and lessons learned a lifetime ago to help him restart his career and continue to support his daughter. This is a whirlwind autobiographical tale of football dreams and the endless hustle of working five jobs not just to get by but to get ahead. ... (read more)

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Jesus' Return

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Stations of the Risen Christ: Resurrection Meditations
by Frank Heelan
ReadersMagnet


"But life does not end with the cross of Christ."

Author Heelan has created a highly focused collection that gives Christians a new choice in worship—one based around the old and long-held tradition of fourteen stations of the cross, or Via Crucis. The time-honored stations are short recitations of events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus, ending with his death. Heelan asserts that this tradition has the addition of the stations, or meditations, on his resurrection and "the promise of what is to come"—the hope for all Christians inherent in that world-changing event. ... (read more)

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The Faith

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I am Yours and You are Mine: God’s Love
by Rev. Kelvin McKisic
GoToPublish


"God’s love does not leave you alone to fight the battle or complete the task; he is with you always."

The author's book reminds readers that God's love is the whole reason for Christianity. God loves humankind so much that he sent Jesus to take the punishment for everyone's sins. But God's love for humanity began millennia before Christ's birth in Bethlehem. In particular, he demonstrated his love and care for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, seeking the Promised Land. Their journey from slavery in Egypt would have taken them eleven days had they not doubted God and complained against him. Yet even as he punished them, a loving God provided them with bread and meat from Heaven, with water, with clothes that never wore out, and with a cure for snakebite. Through it all, they remained his chosen people, recipients of a love so deep and perfect that an entire chapter of the Bible is devoted to its description. Today, God extends that love to Jews and Gentiles alike. ... (read more)

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UFO Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Adam to Omega: An Anatomy of UFO Phenomena
by A. R. Roberts
iUniverse


"In spite of all the studies and investigations that have been conducted over the years, why do UFOs continue to remain an unsolved mystery?"

This treatise addresses UFOs and other unusual phenomena, guiding readers by exploring aliens from pre-biblical and biblical times to current events. Part 1 examines UFOs and scientific facts regarding the vastness of the universe. From cave drawings to crop circles to governmental cover-ups, it focuses on previous UFO cases. Part 2 examines biblical stories within Jewish and Christian writings. The author theorizes that these biblical writings reveal advanced alien technology, strongly impacting religious thought. Part 3 discusses the Omega—the possible ending of times through various tragedies. Yet, it also explores how there may be other ways aliens are trying to communicate. Questions include whether we have a secret space fleet and if humans have the wisdom to cope with aliens and advanced technology. Finally, are aliens here for a hostile takeover of the world, or are they giving us warning signs and ways to help? ... (read more)

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Visionaries

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Juliana
by Stan Cosby
AuthorHouse


"She spoke light into my darkened soul; awakened me to truth and beauty and joyous life."

In this imaginative narrative, author Cosby depicts encounters between Julian of Norwich, Benedictine mystic and anchoress, and her close friend and admirer, Margery Brunham, beginning in 1389 AD. Postulating that her widowed father may have abused Brunham, Cosby places her in the convent with Dame Julian, a survivor of the Black Plague years. Julian, asking Maggie to call her Juliana, seems to know what the teen is thinking, empathizes with her guilt-soaked nightmares, and offers edifying interpretations that turn them from darkness to the light of God's truth. One repeated motif is the rose bush, its red petals representing the blood of Jesus, and its thorns, his sacrificial suffering. With Juliana's counsel, Margery is able to forgive herself and experience further spiritual revelations as the wife of John Kempe, a member of the Lollard movement bent on wresting worship from the hands of priests to be shared by all Christians. ... (read more)

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Xmas Killing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Twelve Murders Of Christmas: A Toni Day Mystery
by Jane Bennett Munro

iUniverse


"For a nanosecond I was paralyzed with fear. All I could think was Oh my freakin’ Lord, I am so dead."

A traditional Christmas song takes on new meaning in this entertaining mystery. The holiday ditty has its lyrics rewritten by an apparent serial killer who sends cryptic verses to an Idaho pathologist via Christmas cards with gruesome illustrations. The cards parallel deaths as questions mount. Who's sending them and why? Can the killer be unmasked before the twelve days of Christmas turn into twelve bodies? And will it end then, or not? ... (read more)

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Wonder Product

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bad Chemistry
by Paul Stephen Hudson
Xlibris


"He was temporarily enjoying his newfound wealth, but he could have done without the momentary irritation as the bullet hit the back of his head."

This is a big book that is as compelling as it is corpulent. It's an exceptionally well-written chronicle of international intrigue and suspense. A contemporary thriller that spans the globe, there is literary heft to this novel as well. It is like a John le Carre spellbinder without the spies and counterspies. ... (read more)

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Run-Ins

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cowboys, Outlaws, And Family: A Western Adventure
by R. Hess
Xlibris


"A physician has declared that people who sleep with their mouth shut live longer. He noted this is probably due to the fact that their bunk mates don’t kill them."

History comes to us in many forms. According to the author of this book, the times gone by enclosed within these pages are the result of oral tales handed down, research studiously applied, plus a heavy dose of memory and imagination. ... (read more)

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Epics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Olaf’s Stone: Book One
by Charles W. Jones
iUniverse


"When they were all gathered, the report showed an amateur video taken before the first explosion. It showed two people walking up to the house, followed shortly afterward by FBI agents."

Olaf travels to Sweden in order to spend time with his aging grandfather and learn more about a special legend that his grandfather recounts in small pieces each time his grandson visits. Little does Olaf know that he is a person of interest because of his family's unique history. As he travels, agents follow him, tracking his every move, placing themselves conveniently beside him on airplanes. When he reaches his family's estate, Olaf doesn't realize that his presence on the estate brings danger to his grandfather's doorstep, nor does he know that the power of the secrets his grandfather is about to share with him will hold the potential to change the course of humanity's future and the fate of his family. ... (read more)

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A Rewarding Year

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How Long Is Exile? Book I: The Song and Dance Festival of Free Latvians
by Astrida Barbins-Stahnke
Xlibris US


"She hears her nation crying, counting, chanting the years of its exile as if pushing black discs of an invisible abacus."

Latvian immigrant Milda Bērziņa-Arājs, her sister, mother, aunts, cousins, and daughter are the heroines of this historical family drama focused upon themes of displacement and identity. Many strong male characters appear in the novel, but much attention is lavished on female viewpoints. The story opens as Milda attends a Latvian song and dance festival, an activity she cherishes as a Latvian seeking to maintain her family's language and culture outside the USSR. The Arājs family has lived within a closed world in the Midwestern US, mingling only with other Latvian families, sending their children to a Latvian cultural school on Saturdays, and attending a Latvian church on Sundays. ... (read more)

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Imagery & Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Excursions of the Mind 2: Stories Take Flight
by Joanne Kenzy
AuthorHouse


"Another world, glistening white
Ever changing but always the same
Remains of an old sea floor
Blown out of heaven’s door."

With a truly commendable range of poetic topics, Kenzy's compilation is a mirror into the highlights of human history. Despite not following any specific rhyme scheme, these chiefly experimental narrative poems will still awe even poetry purists. While the words hold weight, the designs and images of Pamela Trush are what truly set this collection apart. Stunning and vibrant, they seamlessly capture the exotic story and free spirit of each poem, be it the magical feeling of a winter wonderland in "Another Time" or the hauntingly beautiful image of a cat immersed in the snow in "Blizzard on the Plains." ... (read more)

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Carefully Crafted

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Letters
by Jonbeyond
Xlibris


"We are the herald of joy and despair
We are the rain from the broken hearted
We are the mist of fond memories."

The power of the written word is on full display in a poetry compilation that wipes the dust off the spirit and speaks to the essence of being human. Jonbeyond's ability to explore wordplay by using figurative devices and juxtaposing paradoxical ideas like night and day or dream and life is unparalleled. The combination of unquestionably spectacular writing and accompanying digital images that seamlessly match each poem's tone imbues the work with a rare energy predicated upon authenticity. ... (read more)

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Lethal Thriller

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Devil's Bible
by Craig Conrad
Xlibris


"He wouldn’t talk about it, but reading between the lines, it was like Paul was playing a game of angels and demons... "

Occult detectives have been around in fiction since 1840 or before. Some say Pliny the Younger penned a tale of a Roman ghost-hunting detective around AD 100. Other famous sleuths of the supernatural include Blackwood's clairvoyant John Silence, Hodgson's ghost-finding Carnacki, Stoker's vampire-hunter Dr. Van Helsing, and Rice's Kolchak, known as the Night Stalker. Conrad's professional private eye Paul Rice joins these famous gumshoes with his search for a lethal book penned by the devil. ... (read more)

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Ancient Philosophies Now

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Here Is Wisdom: What You Need to Know About Who We Are? Where We Came From? and Where We Are Heading?
by Alexander Meer
Xlibris


"Why didn’t people realize that slavery was wrong, and that it violated people’s fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"

When it comes to the largest, existential questions about life and its purpose, people tend to fall into two camps. Either they believe in a higher spiritual plan that guides them, or they point to science that postulates that humanity is merely here as part of a natural cycle. While the answer continues to elude all but the most assured minds, this book highlights the fluidity of what we as a society or a species tend to define as the most likely answers. Each chapter of this book highlights a different time period from the creation of life to the digital age and examines what humans tend to accept as the reasons for being. Reflecting changing attitudes on things like rights, protections, and freedoms, this text weaves philosophy, anthropology, science, faith, and history together into a braid that seeks to shed light on the things that keep us wondering. ... (read more)

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Charity & Harmony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Having Coffee with God: Can Religion Change Monotheism?
by Benjamin Abrahams
iUniverse


"In the twenty-first century, we need explanations for our universe."

Four twenty-something friends meet up in Truro Coffeehouse located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They have known each other since grade school and have been meeting twice yearly to keep up with each other. Tahn is an African-American into modern technology and X-games, while Beck is a red-haired Irish Catholic studying theology. Samantha or "Sam" is studying psycho-biology on the premed track at UCLA, while Gianna or "Gia" is a sociology major at Brown. As the book opens, they reluctantly share a strange YouTube video anonymously showing up on their phones, showing them all together in a pre-historic setting. They playback these videos simultaneously and are suddenly shifted back into Ghana as it was in 20,000 BCE during the hunter-gatherer stage of civilization. They then find themselves back at the coffeehouse and discuss what happened. This happens through four more consecutive periods, ranging from the Agricultural period to the Information Age of 1993. ... (read more)

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Hard Cases

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Days in Court: Travails and Hullabaloos in a University
by Gbolagade Ayoola
Xlibris UK


"Not a few people believed that Gyang and his hatchet men desired me to die for daring to put up a fight... in the court"

Playing out in electrifying testimony within the courts, Ayoola's documentary is his truth on the events following Professor Gyang's appointment as vice-chancellor of the University of Agriculture (UNIAGRIC) Makurdi in Nigeria. As a strong disciple of the former chancellor, Professor Idachaba, Ayoola was automatically perceived as an adversary from the outset, leading to chaos within the university setting. ... (read more)

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Heartwarming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Broken but Not Defeated
by Amelia Rate
Xlibris


"God chose Angelina with her broken body to minster to me."

A wheelchair-bound woman offers exemplary counsel about the nature of forgiveness and true faith in this inspiring book. Author Rate, trapped in an abusive marriage, turned to the solace of alcohol. At an especially desperate juncture, she took a job as a caregiver for Angelina, who was slowly wasting away from a spinal tumor. Yet Angelina was surprisingly organized. She knew her body's needs and precisely how a caretaker could assist to the smallest detail. She was alert and efficient, arranging shopping trips and handling finances. Rate began to realize that Angelina possessed Socratic wisdom and a deep Christian faith, motivating her to make positive changes in her own depressed, anxiety-ridden life. Angelina refused to complain or harbor bitterness and projected a sense of a strong, vibrant soul living within an injured body. These qualities she shared and gradually transferred to the admiring Rate, who was soon able to solve her problems in the light of Angelina's perseverance. ... (read more)

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A Classic Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Privilege Meets Politics
by Honor Mamath
Xlibris


"The radical and clandestine discussion Charles had just heard threatened everything familiar and safe to him."

Charles Stanley is young, adventurous, and looking to strike out from running his father's affairs in order to make a name for himself and ascend to the political world that his family has approached but never cracked. With Canada's sovereign nation status freshly formed, he is offered a position as an assistant to a liaison to a British official and Canada's first prime minister. But Charles proves to be a bit too cautious for the political world. The way that he delays his engagement, looking for a better opportunity, portends to his struggles with a transcontinental railroad plan that is bogged down by campaign promises and dirty money he hesitates to employ or decry. Will he make a move before it's too late, or will he end up trapped with his indecision and forced to deal with consequences outside of his choosing? ... (read more)

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His Word

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yes, Jesus
by Ann Chapman
Xlibris


"'What I'm going to be, I am.'"

After nearly two thousand years of myth, fables, and scripture, it's a tall order to find a fresh angle on the greatest story ever told. Many were raised with stories of Jesus, as teachers, clergy, and parents shared the themes of the faith and the life of a simple carpenter who was, in reality, the Son of God. Yet, in this wonderful children's book, the author manages to turn the familiar narrative water into refreshing wine with this inspiring tale of Jesus's education. ... (read more)

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Horsing Around

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Pumpkin
by Ilyannie T.G.
AuthorHouse


"Rohan pushed himself up on father and we started to set off!"

From the first page with it's loving dedication to the author's grandfather to the conclusion with its themes of freedom and courage, this wonderful children's story will have readers enthralled. In less than thirty pages, the author has managed to tell a charming and captivating story. Each lovely illustration commends itself to the text and helps define the animal characters. ... (read more)

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Dark Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All's Forgotten Now
by Michael S. Ripley
AuthorHouse


"’You are the Archivist! Stop the Keeper of Shadows from opening the way, or Baba Yaga will plunge this world into eternal despair ant darkness!’"

The setting is twenty-first-century Silicon Valley. But does it matter? The ancient forces of evil still hold sway. So, however, do the ancient forces of good. The problem is, no one knows whether a mysterious young woman found near death in a dumpster is good or evil. Even she has forgotten who she is. All anyone can positively say is that she has survived being shot in the back of the head, and she exudes a childlike innocence. She eventually recalls enough to know that she belongs to a race of immortals from the lost colony of Atlantis. They call her the Archivist. She is the chronicler of their history. She's also the only one who can banish Baba Yaga, the witch of Russian folklore, back to the fairy world and mend the tear in the Twilight Veil that separates our world from theirs. What will this feat cost her? ... (read more)

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Onward

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Awakening: Enlighten Thoughts
by Brenda Henson
Xlibris US


"I am God’s child, and this I know."

Poems that exult in the self, the spirit, God, and family invite readers onto paths of callings, questionings, and happy moments that fill life with memories. Part celebration, part assertive affirmation, this collection will delight and inspire readers with its bright, vibrant voice that rings firmly and proudly in each poem. Portrayals of close-knit families remind readers that life's most precious moments cannot be bought. Sneak peeks into passionate romance appeal to hopeless romantics and confirm the comfort that stability and mutual respect in a relationship can offer. The strength, beauty, and power of the strong female resound loudly, reminding women of all backgrounds that to be female is truly a blessing. ... (read more)

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Testimony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Finding Peace in Midst of the Storm
by Felicia Scott
Xlibris US


"Press on through disappointments
For your work is not finished yet."

In personal, honest verses, this collection delights and praises, confesses and admits doubt. As it details life's lows and highs in observations of relationships, mental health, emotional stability, and one person's journey to spiritual comfort, Scott's book asks readers to pause and consider their own spiritual state in a world rife with confusion, violence, and temptation. Readers will also find psalm-like poems that bring peace and calm to those filled with anxiety, acting as a calm hand to fevered states of depression. Other poems ask readers to become selfless in an overtly selfish world, all the while praising God for the miracle of everyday existence. ... (read more)

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Connecting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mosaic of My Life
by Hosain Mosavat
Xlibris


"In oneness, we become one family of mankind. We can heal and be healed. We can sing, dance and be merry in any language."

Born in 1934 in Shiraz, Iran, Mosavat shares the beloved birthplace of world-famous Persian poets Rumi and Hafez. "So," writes Mosavat, "I was sentenced to be a poet for the rest of my life." Graduating from high school in Tehran during its violent revolution, his father sent him to America. With degrees in mathematics and physics, Mosavat taught in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for thirty years. Passionate about photography, traveling, poetry, music, woodturning, and cooking, the white-bearded author describes hugging giant trees in the Redwood Forest and his gratitude for cherry blossoms—colorful, fragrant, and delicious. His mosaic captures a unique life-story, including commentary from his wife, Judy, whom he lovingly describes with numerous endearing and humorous anecdotes. The two met at a poetry reading in Ann Arbor in 1985. ... (read more)

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A Surprising Romance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rainfall
by Traci Lynne
iUniverse


"...you never know the love of a parent until you become one."

The story revolves around a spoiled rich girl who gradually matures into a feeling, compassionate person after getting involved with a man who works hard, has a strong sense of integrity and pride, and values things that cost nothing. The plot keeps thickening when they discover their parents' pasts and how entwined they were, even before knowing one another.

Any reader in a relationship, wanting a relationship, or looking back on one, will likely agree that this story depicts one accurately. There is drama, warmth, lust, and passion. Romance fans especially will enjoy meeting Darcy and Victor and learn to truly appreciate rainfall in Lynne's tale. But like any good novel, there is more than just a story here. The author describes rain as something pure and simple and wonderful. Many people dread a rainy day and miss out on its simple cleansing, wonderful smell, and natural wonder. However, Victor says to appreciate the free things, including simple rain: "I love the rain... I believe... it's the sky crying.... The sky cries for me... and through her tears it creates new life and new growth. It's a healing process." ... (read more)

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Murder & Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A New York Knight: The Raven, The Serpent, and The Wolf
by Carson M. Berger
iUniverse


"The crime scene looked like nothing so much as the inside of a slaughterhouse that regularly, and openly, flaunted its numerous violations of FDA health codes."

This very creepy tale initially examines the brutal murders of mortals that appear to have been killed by the magical world. Geoffrey A. C. Lakson, a Knight of New York, has lived for centuries through the magical world along with his familiar, Reynaud. Detective Matilda Moran, who is part of the police's Abnormal Investigation Department, joins forces with the two to examine these horrific massacres. Moran is a changeling and, as such, can blend in easier with the mortal world. Beginning with the Club Arcane—where nothing is off-limits, including sex and murder and all other taboos one can imagine—to the dark magic practiced on mere mortals by breaking any and all of the eleven Unspoken Laws, the deaths are investigated. There are also human alter egos that add confusion to the mix. And who is the waif, Rhea, who comes into his life? Finally, how do Lakson's two worlds connect while using powers for good or for evil? ... (read more)

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Works of Art

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Portrait of Deceit: A Kira Logan Mystery
by J. C. Andrew
Westwood Books Publishing


"All too often, you hear of ‘good boys’ who suddenly break loose and shoot up a school or church."

Frank Thornton is used to getting what he wants without delay, and, due to his profitable real estate agency, he has the bank account to make that happen in all areas of his public life. Thanks to his volcanic temper, he is able to get what he wants from those who should qualify as his loved ones. But where is the love in a man who beats his wife, Patricia, belittles his son, Dale, and unspeakably violates his daughter, Stephanie? That's more than artist and amateur detective Kira Logan can understand. It's no surprise to her, though, when Frank turns up dead of a gunshot wound. Motives to dispatch him are plentiful, but are they personal or, since he engages in dubious business practices, professional? ... (read more)

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An Escape

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Final Critique: A Kira Logan Mystery
by J.C. Andrew
Westwood Books Publishing


"Unfortunately, in this case, Marcie wanted moral justice for Robert, and she wanted Jason to provide it."

Kira Logan only wants to escape Phoenix's summer heat and relax a little. Between classes, she signs up to teach for a week at the charmingly bucolic Hidden Canyon Art School in northern Arizona. Unfortunately, Kira finds herself playing reluctant amateur detective yet again. What, if anything, does the suicide of a broody young Christian fundamentalist among her students have to do with a suspicious incident that severely injures a young woman—Julie Williams? Is Julie's mishap at all related to an overwhelming desire among her fellow students for revenge against her brother Jason? Many believe he was insufficiently punished for a drunk driving crash that ruined one life and ended another. Or did Julie fall foul of a scorned woman? ... (read more)

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A Fracture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Homicide in Bronze: A Kira Logan Mystery
by J.C. Andrew
Westwood Books Publishing


"There seemed no certainty about anything. I was convinced they should regard the situation as an attempted murder—of me. It wasn’t just an accident."

A seemingly celebratory occasion commemorating a hospital's founding family's achievements quickly transitions into a vengeful display featuring everything from sabotage, deceit, near-death experiences, and cold-blooded murder. Taking place in scenic Colinas Verde, New Mexico, the Medford family is nothing short of the town's crown jewel. Generations before, the Medford brothers founded a hospital and are now on the verge of having their sculptures installed at the hospital, permanently etching their legacies. Descendant Bill Medford commissions Kira Logan, a sculptor from Arizona, for the project. What ensues is a thrilling adventure predicated upon greed and alleged secrets, an inevitable collision between the Medfords and those who are adamant that the sculpture must not be built. ... (read more)

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Points of View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Painted Death: A Kira Logan Mystery
by J.C. Andrew
Westwood Books Publishing


"Some people think that the captain wasn’t just out fishing. It seems strange to many that, so far as is known, he had no clients with him on his trip and he was away too long."

In this first book of Andrew's art-themed mystery series, Kira Logan, an artist who also has a knack for helping solve murders, arrives in the small Alaskan coastal town of Raven Creek. She has been commissioned to lead the effort in creating a mural memorializing the many fisherman and boat captains who have been lost to the sea throughout Raven Creek's history. Early on, readers learn of the Halibut Hunter, a boat which has recently been lost at sea. The body of its captain, Jason, a respected fisherman in town, has now washed ashore. There is a bullet wound in his body, but, beyond that, almost nothing is known as to what might have happened to the crew of two on board. However, that fact does not stem the tide of rumor and speculation by the people of the small fishing community where, for better or worse, most residents know each other. ... (read more)

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Moby Dick Returns

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Death to Moby Dick: A Love Story
by Stephen Melillo
Westwood Books Publishing


"‘My world was an island. That island is gone.’"

Isaac, a renowned naval architect, is a man whose one life goal is to bring death and destruction to the infamous white whale, Moby Dick. Tortured by traumas from his time as a POW of the Confederates during the American Civil War, Isaac seeks shelter from his demons by stepping up to become a leader of men against the whale. He advocates for the underrepresented but, haunted by the war, wonders if the Civil War truly settled any differences that divided young America. However, as Isaac progresses through his journey of self-awareness and explorations of his origins and existence, his desire to slay the whale grows uncontrollably. On a specially designed ship called the Seneca, Isaac and his crew pursue the whale. Their mantra becomes "Death to Moby Dick!" As their adventures unfold, their camaraderie binds them together, and Isaac becomes a timeless friend and leader. Meanwhile, the fate of the infamous white whale rests in the hands of the harpooners pursuing it. ... (read more)

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