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March 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

That Famous Fig Leaf: Uncovering the Holiness of Our Bodies
by Chad W. Thompson
Cascade Books


"The body was not designed to be enjoyed apart from the spirit that resides inside."

This work explores the history and psychology of the body and its connection to the mind and, more importantly, the spirit. By examining church leaders’ stances, psychological and sociological studies, biblical studies, and a large swath of literature, this book researches society and religion’s seemingly imposed dichotomy between the body and the spirit, and it poses why no dichotomy should exist whatsoever. By exploring how members of Western society predominantly shape their attitudes towards their bodies during childhood and adolescence, this book examines how an oversexed society loses respect for itself and its members through body objectification and how through an understanding of where these ideas develop and the disconnect that often occurs between body image, body acceptance, and faith, believers in any faith can accept their bodies and their sexuality as inseparable from their spirit. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Quirky, Good

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Satellite Street
by Eleanor Lerman
Permanent Press


"A radio dj who died seven years ago-someone you’re too young to remember-was trying to communicate with me through my friend who can channel the dead, but she didn’t hear him so he used my father instead."

Paul Marden struggles with horrible pain from a severe illness and is developing a friendship with LeLee—a psychic, transgender woman who is swarmed by spirits on the other side. They live in a dilapidated town known for the supposed ability of its inhabitants to see launches from Cape Canaveral. Also living there is Paul’s elderly father who has dementia and horrible nursing care. But this is only the beginning as the Great Oswaldo, a former children’s program host who now works to debunk anything psychic or spiritual, is focused on revenge. However, the dead may have other ideas. The story revolves around coping and accepting differences, childhood struggles, and meeting interesting characters, especially as Paul and LeLee, the former Arthur Conners, reconnect at a church function after having no contact for many years. ... (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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Beloved Pet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Toby
by Phyllis M. Cutler
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


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

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

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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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Mastery of Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Devil’s Bookkeepers, Book 1: The Noose
by Mark H Newhouse
Newhouse Creative Group


"How can we bring a child into a world like this?"

History textbooks often provide facts in lieu of telling stories. In Newhouse’s historical fiction, largely based on the Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944, these stories are brought to life, a conjuring of what those resilient souls must have endured daily. Through the lens of the main character, Benny Ostrowski, readers gain the opportunity to experience what it must have been like to live, love, and grow in such a terrifying time. As each chapter progresses, the narrative becomes simultaneously more mesmerizing and haunting. Sealed off from the world in the Lodz Ghetto, the Jewish community was stripped of its dignity—and most material possessions—with the ever-looming Nazi noose becoming increasingly tighter. ... (read more)

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Disney Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


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

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

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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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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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Living

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Troubles of Our Lives
by Marie-Ghislaine Mera
BookVenture Publishing, LLC


"Bring all your troubles, your sorrows, to the river. Drown them, immerse yourself and you will come out a new being if only you believe."

Mera’s work consists of twelve different short stories. And though each one has its own plot, set of characters, and can represent differing genres (religious fiction, mystery, romance), there are common threads that run through each of the dozen original narratives. Such common elements include, among other things, downtrodden or disadvantaged characters—drug addicts, porn addicts, lost souls, the mentally ill, widows—who are all searching for meaning in the madness of life. And in each case, it is through Jesus that a sort of completeness is finally found, a type of peace for the sets of varied characters in each of the twelve stories. ... (read more)

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Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Illness of Medicine: Experiences of Clinical Practice
by Michael J. Young, M.D.
GM Books


"Until the business of medicine is removed, and the actual practice of medicine is again the priority, we are destined to continue on this path of dysfunction."

This deeply informative, thoroughly fascinating book makes an important contribution to debates about the broken American healthcare industry. A retired urologist, Author Young draws on a career that gave him the experiences not only to write a compelling memoir but also the wisdom to make a credible and incisive assessment of the medical system. He narrates his journey through medical school, the challenges of establishing a practice, and frustrations of complex bureaucracy. As a urologist, he saw his share of gruesome injuries and illnesses involving intimate parts of the anatomy. For example, one chapter is disturbingly titled “The Fractured Testicle.” Descriptions of complex urological cases are informative, and readers will gain detailed knowledge of prostate ailments, in particular. However, Young’s ethos extends beyond his specialization, as he delves into various healthcare topics such as overhyping of pharmaceuticals, rampant litigation, and problems with current medical training. ... (read more)

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Strange Reality

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All Roads Lead to Lawrence
by Craig Leener
Green Buffalo Press


"And it’s through basketball that I measure my life and figure out the people who are in it."

Engaging readers in a fast break followed by an easy layup and a slam dunk, author Leener returns to Zeke Archer’s world where athletic prowess plus metaphysical curiosity equip this youthful character to meet life’s challenges and obstacles. As the story opens on a basketball court in urban Los Angeles, Zeke is engaged in the biggest tournament game of his life, while his older brother Wade is dying a world away in Afghanistan: “I realized I was no longer on the basketball court. I was crouched on my haunches beneath the scorching sun. The sound of Jefferson’s pulsating crowd dissolved into a whir of truck engines. And I still had the ball.” As his team loses, and Zeke’s entire world dissolves around him, he reaches out to his autistic friend, Lawrence, a math prodigy who intercepts messages from the 7th Dimension. ... (read more)

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Humor & Woe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Treasure of the Blue Whale
by Steven Mayfield
Regal House Publishing


"I had learned that money does indeed change people, and that taking it away has a good chance of changing them back."

In the spring of 1918, a forty-year-old sperm whale, a “great, block-headed beast” living a well-traveled but solitary existence, is nearly captured off the coast of Japan. The whale escapes and disappears deep into the sea. On account of indigestion, the whale releases something known as ambergris, which Mayfield explains is a waxy substance originating from the intestines of a sperm whale. Although basically whale vomit, ambergris is actually valuable, used in part with the production of perfumes. This substance becomes the subject of intense curiosity when it washes ashore in Tesoro, California, circa 1934, where a ten-year-old boy finds the “gigantic, lumpy mass.” ... (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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Journey of Life & Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Latecomers
by Rich Marcello
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC


"When its members are in harmony, there is nothing in the world they can’t do together."

This is a wondrous story that encompasses the here and now with the time-honored connection of mystery and spirituality. We learn about Maggie and Charlie who embody the boundaries of life with the expansion of the soul. In their journey through trials and tribulations, they share the depth of eternal love. Written in the first person by both protagonists, the story focuses on symbols and sacredness, their beloved friends in the moai, and includes the goddesses and the spirits that accompany them. When Charlie goes on retreat to a beloved center, the story offers a glimpse into the necessity of dealing with his restlessness, a restlessness that Maggie saw through her paintings of him. The journey into the mysticism of life regarding their findings from a secret book of symbols, as well as magical plants, leads the group of five on a path of helping others. ... (read more)

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Tough, Vulnerable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

U-10
by Sam B Miller II
Amazon.com Services LLC


"He wants the technology in the ship and no witnesses to how he got it."

Lieutenant Ty Lavender fights for America against native insurgents in Afghanistan. Then an alien spaceship crashes in the desert nearby, and Lavender must fight fellow Americans to protect Earth from destruction by alien technology found in the wreckage. Representatives of SEED, a rogue government agency, seek to destroy an insectoid alien race and appropriate their technology for SEED’s use in its study of aliens. Meanwhile, ambitious SEED Director Richard Cruneval watches from the helm for a chance at the world-renown he craves. Agent Lincoln Frost is assigned to procure U-10, a weapon with numerous destructive capabilities. To their mutual surprise, Lavender and Frost encounter Koritt Diviak, the spaceship's operator, tasked with bringing human specimens and technology home to his planet for experimentation. Diviak never thought the humans would intelligently use U-10 to resist capture. Nor is he prepared for their capacity for dispassionate ruthlessness, fathomless love, or both at once. ... (read more)

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Overcoming

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

...But I Promised God
by Malamateniah Koutsada
Xlibris


"God speaks to humans, not religions. If our spiritual ears are open – if we are tuned in, as it were – we will hear Him."

A young woman lives out her dreams—but slowly, with many setbacks. Author Koutsada was born in Greece as World War II was heating up, a war soon followed by the Greek Civil War. Her childhood was a dizzying mix: wartime deprivations, schooling (at which she excelled), religion that raised many questions, and family joys sometimes overshadowed by conflict and abuse. Her mother often “belted” her for infractions that seemed minor. Her parents had a stormy relationship, and poverty was both a threat and reality. There were traumatic changes in house and homeland as the family was moved as part of a compulsory resettlement. At age 21, Koutsada immigrated to Australia, married, had children, divorced, remarried, and studied nursing. In later life, divorced and impoverished, she returned to nursing school and finally fulfilled her long-held dream to help others as a way of thanking God for His blessings. ... (read more)

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Best of Health

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Be All You Can Be
by Edward Vaughn
PageTurner, Press and Media


"As she usually did when faced with a dilemma, Faith put on her sneakers and headed out for a meditative run."

Faith Thomas, a child born with many deficits, becomes angry, disobedient, and even criminal in her feelings and actions until she is first saved by circumstance and then her own determination. Growing up in a wretched trailer park environment, she is suddenly orphaned and placed in an institution. Already very overweight by school age, she is mocked by her peers. Counselors befriend her, but she rejects them, steals money, and runs away. Taken in by a man who rapes her and uses her money for his own illicit purposes, she is lucky to meet with a kindly lady, then a helpful couple, while hitchhiking. For the first time, she learns about Jesus and begins to fight her food addiction and act in a more open, loving manner. The couple assists and then adopts her, and her life changes radically. Finally, she finds love with a figure from her past who has experienced his own remarkable conversion. ... (read more)

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An Agonozing Trial

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Conspiracy: An Innocent Priest
by Liam McCarthy
URLink Print and Media


"My case is a multiple series of twists and turns and requires great patience and intelligence to sort out the story in its pure state."

In the late nineties, the media was inundated with stories of how children had been molested by priests. Panic ensued, and along with the guilty, many innocent priests were also falsely accused of the horrendous crime of pedophilia. This is the story of one such priest. Written by the accused, it includes journal entries, letters from parishioners, and police reports of the alleged incident. It is an honest and intriguing account of one who, having been falsely accused, struggles to understand what has happened. Not only does the book contain McCarthy’s heartbreaking account of his ordeal, but it is also filled with scriptures and writings which helped him get through it as well as advice on such themes as marriage, death, and faith that he has gleaned from his forty years of service as a priest in the Catholic Church. ... (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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Death & Trial

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Death by Cop: A Call for Unity!
by Wayne Reid with Charles Gill
Lioncrest Publishing


"Join us on the bench as a spectator; judge the case alongside us. Vicariously experience the drama that we lived."

On a December morning in 1998 in the town of Milford, Connecticut, Franklyn Reid, a Jamaican American, was shot in the back at close range by police Investigator Scott Smith. Prior to the shooting, Franklyn was not committing any crime but was evading the police after being seen walking along the street. Reid died from his wound in the hospital. Smith was able to leave police headquarters without facing the questioning and examination to which a non-police suspect would customarily be subjected. Reid’s family, including his younger brother—the co-author of this stirring account—were shocked, grief-stricken, and enraged by the manner of his sudden death. More than a year later, a trial was held to determine if Smith was guilty of murder. The presiding judge was Gill, who has also contributed his memories and expertise to this legal and personal exploration of events. ... (read more)

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Making Connections

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Big Bear Fair
by Grandma Krazy
EC Publishing, LLC.


"So many bears make quite an affair. Why are all those bears out there?"

Inspiration often starts at home, and this is no different for Grandma Krazy (author Kathy Barnett Blomquist), whose fictional children’s story about bears is inspired by her grandchildren. Utilizing a mixture of humor and adventure, a day in the life of bears is authentically captured from a child’s perspective and combined with an engaging writing style that encourages new, grade-school readers to savor both the illustrations and the new words that they will likely encounter. ... (read more)

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Finding a Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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


"If you are a mentally ill person, then you are the person who needs to understand what I say here."

Anyone dealing with their own mental illness has three options: 1. Stay as you are; 2. Expect someone else to heal you; 3. Take charge and heal yourself. The author spent eight years living with options 1 and 2. Negative thoughts resulted in her contemplating suicide. Once she chose option 3, it took only eight months to regain complete sanity. Harris’ mother had taught that loving oneself was wrong. Instead, speaking aloud positive affirmations of love was the technique the author used to turn the tide. This method can be of special use to quiet tormenting voices inside one’s head, even other personalities/demons, which speak blame and self-hatred. Within the mental stillness that will result, a mentally ill person becomes able to shift energy toward healing. ... (read more)

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Spirit Recipes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooking from Within: Telepathically Received Recipes from the Holy Order of Yodh
by Guru Madeleine
Dorrance Publishing Co


"Be careful what you take in, for thought incorporated into yourself becomes or creates your form."

At a time when the spotlight is shining brightly on the world of self-care, Madeleine’s work transcends the cookbook genre and presents an opportunity for individuals to tap into the highest level of consciousness. On a variety of levels, from improvements in energy to mental health and concentration, the recipes in this cookbook are dedicated to improving both one’s physical and spiritual outlooks on life. Though the objective is to practice self-control through a divinely-directed diet, there is little doubt that implementing these recipes can spur a lifestyle change.... (read more)

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Tough Questions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

That Famous Fig Leaf: Uncovering the Holiness of Our Bodies
by Chad W. Thompson
Cascade Books


"The body was not designed to be enjoyed apart from the spirit that resides inside."

This work explores the history and psychology of the body and its connection to the mind and, more importantly, the spirit. By examining church leaders’ stances, psychological and sociological studies, biblical studies, and a large swath of literature, this book researches society and religion’s seemingly imposed dichotomy between the body and the spirit, and it poses why no dichotomy should exist whatsoever. By exploring how members of Western society predominantly shape their attitudes towards their bodies during childhood and adolescence, this book examines how an oversexed society loses respect for itself and its members through body objectification and how through an understanding of where these ideas develop and the disconnect that often occurs between body image, body acceptance, and faith, believers in any faith can accept their bodies and their sexuality as inseparable from their spirit. ... (read more)

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Overcoming Fears

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What Are You Scared of Now? Overcoming Phobias and Life’s Anxieties
by Kenneth A. Marston
PublishAmerica


"Conquer, defeat, overcome, subdue all the phobias and fears gripping your life. Face them head on."

All of us have secret and not-so-secret fears, numbing anxieties, and hidden stresses. The author draws heavily on his own experience of dealing with such conditions, and on the knowledge he has gained from helping others to manage or expel them. Fear, he states, can be healthy, such as fear of disrespecting God or dishonoring others. But most often, it is unhealthy and irrational, a sense of the dangers of the unknown. A phobia is often linked to real events, causing residual dislike, aversion, and panic. Anxiety involves worry and self-torment. All of us, Marston states, no matter what our genetic code or our life’s occurrences, will experience fears, phobias, and anxieties. ... (read more)

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Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dream World: Tales of American Life in the 20th Century
by William Charles Krebs
Authors Press


"To me, loving someone is committing myself to that person, cherishing her, wanting to put her needs and feelings first, ahead of mine."

Immersive and fully realized, this novel is an epic romance that follows two young individuals on their path to independence and finding love with each other. Liz Anderson from Michigan and Willie Johnson from Ohio are both entering college with the idea that they want to be more independent from their parents. However, this is difficult when they each attend schools near their family homes. For this reason, both of them seek a place elsewhere. ... (read more)

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Her Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Married a Hiker, Got a Cowboy: A Memoir
by Nancy W. Brown
iUniverse


"When I was a child, it always seemed odd that my parents had been married in a cemetery."

The quote sets the stage for the adventures of a woman who has enjoyed a variety of experiences. Initially sustained by a family that is both intellectually and physically focused, Brown's early life was a mixture of self-challenges such as hiking that were shared with her family and included the training and encouragement to appreciate art and other cerebral pursuits. The author expresses gratitude for the balance in her early life, as well as the adventures that continued through the years. ... (read more)

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Coming Together

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Same, Same, But Different: It’s a Good Thing!
by Sandra J. Corneau
Xlibris


"When we are young we play and sing. It’s a magical time full of wonderful things!"

Children playing together on a playground full of sunshine, fun, smiles, and lots of silliness—that’s the scene Corneau paints for readers in this book, complemented by vibrant, clear, and crisp artwork by Gennel Sollano. We are introduced to the main character, Jane, who is from Canada. Jane has blonde hair, green eyes, and a contagious smile. Soon we meet her best friends, who include Liya (from South Africa), Vinny (from Italy), Peter (from Greece), Hannah (from India), Ming (from China), and Kimi (from Japan). They all have two hands, two feet, and two eyes. Does it matter that some in the group have brown skin and some pink? Not at all, it seems. Sizes of noses, funny ears—even the cute dimple in Peter’s chin—these frankly are of no significance. Even when some adults and other children give them funny looks, it doesn’t faze Jane and her multiracial friends whatsoever. “We play, we laugh, we dance and shout,” writes Corneau. “We don’t care what ‘they’ talk about.” ... (read more)

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Body Tuning

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Randy Tai Chi Manages General Diabetes
by Dr. Maurice R. Olfus
AuthorHouse


"Today, in the town of Gratefulness, meek, mild-mannered, ten-year-old Randy practiced his Tai Chi in the security of his backyard."

A very perceptive youngster has the necessary skills to help his grandmother in this colorfully illustrated children's book. When Randy Tai Chi saves his baby sister from eating "chocolate" (actually dog poo) using agile tai chi moves, he earns the status of "master of the mindful movements and awareness." Then he accompanies Amazing Grandma to a visit with her physician, Dr. B. Better, offering a suggestion for the treatment of her diabetes: tai chi exercises to correct her posture, strength, and balance. Unbeknownst to them, the villain General Diabetes is stalking them, getting increasingly angry because he’d hoped the disease would make the world a terrible place. Randy demonstrates ten tai chi exercises with Amazing Grandma next to him imitating his moves. Amazing Grandma’s condition improves, and General Diabetes’s evil scheme is thwarted. ... (read more)

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Team, Community

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Few Yards Shy of Heaven
by Kevin Giffen
AuthorHouse


"I found myself in the same uncomfortable spot I had been absorbed in only several minutes earlier; alone and in a foreign territory without direction."

Melvin Wright is a reporter who feels that his talents would be better used writing from somewhere and about something more prestigious than the closing of local industries in the economically and socially depressed town of South Heaven, Ohio. Circumstances work against him, however, and he is obliged to spend months there. Cynical, embittered, and suspicious of the people and events that have dictated his plight, he turns his attention to the town's passion for the Rangers, the local football team whose success during the season helps to relieve the townspeople of their worries. Wright eventually becomes a participant in the healing that appears to originate from the football triumphs, to appreciate on some level the bonds that small towns and hometowns build. ... (read more)

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Ghosts of the Past

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Labyrinth of Voices: A Chronicle of Seduction and Madness
by Rick Ryan
iUniverse


"In my own mind, I was some kind of unique hybrid of Jim Morrison and T.S. Eliot . . ."

Tom Wolfe meets Hunter S. Thompson in this intoxicating escapade. It’s 1980, and after alcohol aversion therapy, Mike Ridley has progressed from stenciling addresses on curbs in Santa Monica and Brentwood with a pint in his back pocket to functioning as an impressive cog in the wheel of a Southern California boiler room scheme where he makes the sale of copier toner or a box of pens sound like a steal. And it is, what with all the cons that accompany sales. He soon becomes enmeshed in a coworker’s pseudo-psychological, fifteen-hour a day, fast-track program to spiritual enlightenment that brings back the haunting voices: “after the dime-store varnish of LifeAware had peeled away and the fear-infested, half-rotted wood pilings that through the years had become my mind . . . I was a Student, a Teacher, and a Prophet all rolled up in one glorious entity of enlightenment.” ... (read more)

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Bible Says

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

2033
by Aubrey Eddy
Xlibris


"When do you think Christ will return, Marc? . . . No one, not even the son will know the hour, says God. But . . . you will know the generation."

The main characters in this science fiction novel share a train ride into the city to work. One member reports a news article regarding an event in the skies: a massive cloud that will have a direct impact rapidly approaches earth. Other characters offer their input as to what it might be and question whether a collision is likely. Could it be another rock similar to that which caused the demise of dinosaurs? No, it is a cloud. As expected, some characters have heard this prophecy and wonder if it could be true. Others heard, but hope in their hearts it is all bogus. ... (read more)

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Missing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Life Raft
by Paula Ashcraft
Xlibris


"Was he trying to take down a crime boss or solidify a place in his organization?"

A story of mysteries including death and recovery, the FBI, and crime syndicates, the narrative revolves around a number of players. These include Victor Ramos—who may or may not be working to reduce the mob’s hold, FBI agents Jason Kirtland and Sierra Cortez, other FBI agents who may or may not be leaking information, and Julio Torrez, an informant who may or may not be a good guy. There are also the teenaged Choate brothers who live with their aunt (since their parents may or may not be missing due to their work away from home), and Jack Winters, a seemingly good guy of a neighbor who is missing his deceased wife. Also examined are murders, stolen money, a missing yacht and its captain, and the involvement of one Juan Perrone, the seeming mastermind of all these traumas. Lastly, God plays a small role in this story. ... (read more)

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Personal Hymnal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kingdom Verses
by Rhoda Benjamin
Xlibris


"I will take my stand like Queen Esther and Tamar
Ruth and Mary, mother of Jesus Our Savior
Ellen White, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa
Winnie Mandela and Michelle Obama"

The author’s book takes readers through many journeys that all readers can relate to at some level. For example, step into the shoes of the faithful and head to a place of worship on a bright sunny day. Stand in defiance of the world’s violence and corruption. Find affirmations of faith in daily life tasks, even something as simple as a daughter finding an apartment in Boston. Invoke historically notorious women who defied the law and their circumstances and, by doing so, made their names household synonyms for the word “strength.” Heed the warning to remain vigilant in one’s watch and one’s daily life, even in an act as small as using too much salt. And, at the day’s end, find a foundation and give thanks for having lived through and faced another day and its many wonders and tribulations. ... (read more)

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Faces of Danger

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Old, Old Willow Tree
by Vernon and Linward Campbell
Xlibris


"'A crystal ball is what I seek, it will not be found by the faint of the heart, or by the weak.'"

In the magical land of Floss, morning arrives with a horrible revelation when it is discovered that all of the children in the land have gone missing. The distressed and panicked parents turn to their king for guidance and help, and he, in turn, consults with his wizard, Pearley. Pearley uses his crystal ball to try and divine the location of the missing children, but then his crystal ball vanishes. The king and Pearley decide to send out the knights of the realm to find another one. Each of them encounters a different brand of danger, but, eventually, one of the knights locates a new crystal ball and brings it back to Pearley. This time, Pearley receives a vision of an old willow tree and embarks on his own adventure in the hopes that he can rescue all of the children of Floss. ... (read more)

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Cataclysmic Conflict

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

War Starter
by Jordan McClung
AuthorHouse


"There may be war, and you would win, would that victory be worth the bloodshed and destruction?"

Author McClung’s novel boldly examines the many points of view that eventually coalesced in the cataclysmic conflict that came to be known as the Civil War in the 1860s. The MacGregors, a clan of Scottish descent, own a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. The story focuses on the recollections of Matilda (Tilda) MacGregor, spinster daughter of Sam, who is a well-educated preacher with many concerns and a special fondness for Tilda—though she shows herself as a nonconforming female early on—and her brother Runyon, whose medical skills will call him to duty in the war. At age 90, Tilda’s reminiscences begin in 1860 when Lincoln is running for President and talk of slavery, secession, and war is rife. Through her diaries and memories, we see her transformation as she becomes a teacher for people her family once owned, lives through two massive wars, secures the right to vote, and worries that yet another war is looming. ... (read more)

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Be Prepared

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Are You Ready Yet? Protecting and Preparing Your Family for Estate Issues Before and After Death
by Michael C. Wittenberg CFP
Xlibris


"I will serve as your guide on life’s journey from wellness to illness, to death, as well as with estate issues after death has occurred."

Wittenberg has created a conversational guide to approaching estate issues both for the person who considers what will happen to their estate after death and for the remaining family members who will handle them. The book begins with teaching one how to assemble and approach the legal team who will help to create the documents needed for estate planning through execution and post-mortem handling. ... (read more)

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War-Shattered

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Trials of Providence
by Lynn Alexandra
AuthorHouse


"'My son has traded in his pen for a sword.'"

Not only did the Civil War tear at the fabric of the United States of America, but it also tore at the fabric of families living on both sides of the conflict. This is the story of one such family and the trials which they faced when war broke out between the two factions of the country their ancestors had fought to establish. Inspired by the author’s research into her own family ties to the Civil War through the Sixth New Hampshire, Alexandra creates a work of historical fiction based on stories she uncovers about not only her family but veterans of the war. The narrative follows the Plaisted and Huckins families, early settlers who, coming to America during the Great Migration, become connected through marriage. As the war starts, it is the younger generation that will carry the brunt of devastation and death as they deal with ideals such as honor, bravery, and freedom. ... (read more)

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Word Hunt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tangled Thoughts
by Emeline Rodway
Xlibris


"Poetry calls
like a siren
mesmerizing
seducing me.
Transfixed, I dive
into churning
waters, struggle
with words and tropes."

In the most memorable poetry compilations, words are the key to unlocking an infinite reservoir of imagination. Through a poignant use of imagery and an exceptional command of figurative language, Rodway’s work is undoubtedly that key. Covering a number of niche topics, this collection stands out in its ability to tackle complexities within feminism, social justice, and the art of writing itself. ... (read more)

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Catholics Today

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Modern Catholic Concerns
by Peter Mazurek
Xlibris


"We should have an understanding of all the major arguments for and against the existence of God so that our persuasion is more substantial . . ."

The objective of this book of nearly 600 pages is to discover the truth about what Catholics believe. It was written by a layperson in hopes of assisting other Catholic laypersons who may be confronting some of the arguments and questions addressed. When dealing with religious issues, arguments from both sides must be considered to meet the needed burden of proof. The author has been faithful to do this throughout the book. ... (read more)

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Wyoming Heat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fury: Gannett Brother's Saga Two
by Tena Louise Atkins
Xlibris


"'This isn't a fairytale, Zach. This is real life.'"

This latest book in Atkins’ series focuses on Zach Gannett, whose goal is to breed and raise racehorses on the family ranch. In their small town in Wyoming, the prize is Fury, a thoroughbred black stallion owned by the Gannett’s neighbor, Catherine Montgomery. Catherine, too, is a rare beauty Zach has always admired and loved from afar. When Zach originally proposes to Catherine with a bargain deal for ownership of Fury, he gets rejected, with Catherine telling him he needs to reconsider. But an issue from Catherine’s past follows her to Wyoming, threatening Fury’s safety as well as hers. Partnered with Zach for protection, will the two overcome the odds and ensure Catherine and Fury’s safety? Can they find love in the Wyoming wilderness? ... (read more)

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The Muse

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Letters to Julian
by Annette Louise Brown
Xlibris


"Passion, that's what's missing. Not living our lives for our heart's desire."

A series of letters addressed to an invisible muse, this 181-page book contains some 36 letters from Maggie Calahan, a divorced woman who writes her thoughts, desires, recollections, and dreams addressed to a man known only as Julian. Mostly a few pages long, many of the letters concern Maggie's memories of growing up in California, her subsequent marriage and divorce, and many digressions spanning a myriad of topics. Most concern romance, love, and marriage as well as the opposite side of the balance: being single, free, and independent. Somewhat like a grouping of diary entries, the collection of letters spans five months, from March to August in a single year. Maggie looks at her mother, father, and two siblings from a more adult perspective in these letters. She discusses her hopes, dreams, and disappointments with eloquent and introspective passages that tend to sound a little depressed. Her thirst for companionship is tempered by her appreciation for the unencumbered lifestyle that she has grown to love. ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced Sci-Fi

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beth Curtis: Conqueror of Darkness
by J. Lesley Graham
Page Publishing, Inc.


"People who didn’t know Beth, always assumed she was only a poor defenseless little blind girl."

Kathleen Elizabeth Curtis is heading back to her home planet after an extended stay at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in search of a cure for her blindness. While waiting to board The Freedom, she discovers she has been bumped from the passenger list. Luckily, she had become friends with Chief Star Class Matthew T. Byrne, and he stows the teenager aboard, allowing her to leave Earth as scheduled. All seems to be going as planned until Beth awakens from the required deep sleep of space travel to find Byrne is still sleeping. Not only that, she appears to be the only person awake on the ship except for a band of deep space hijackers intent on stealing from the passengers and abandoning them to certain death. Fortunately, Beth finds help when another passenger awakens, and the two work together to save The Freedom. Will these two adolescents defeat the enemy and save the passengers aboard the ship? ... (read more)

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Post-Apocalyptic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Saga of the Green Nails
by J. Lesley Graham
Page Publishing, Inc.


"The men disappeared from view as their bodies slurped off the chairs like pools of molasses on a cold January morning to end up becoming puddles . . ."

Imagine a world where all health problems could be erased with a pill costing a single dollar. The only side effect: green fingernails and toenails. This is the world of Graham’s novel. Life is easier for the Green Nails. It is hard to imagine why a few people stayed Plain Nails. Obviously, they aren’t to be trusted and should be treated like lesser humans. Dr. Jim Graywolf and his children are among the few who choose not to take the pills. He has been working as a pastor for a small congregation of Plain Nails as no one really wants to have a doctor on staff who isn’t a Green Nails. However, when Green Nails suddenly die on the fifth anniversary of them taking the Quality of Life pill, the world is plunged into chaos and despair. Jim’s one hope may be in working with the President of the United States, a Green Nail. ... (read more)

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Substance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amore
by N. O. Bekoe
PageTurner, Press and Media LLC


"When the spray of water touched her already provoked skin, it lighted fire as though Richard was caressing her."

Three unique stories of romance and eroticism unfold between the covers of this book. The first story, “Shadows Don’t Lie,” tells the story of Ana, a self-made woman who has persevered despite shame and deceit. When her attractive neighbor Kwame becomes a part of her life, Ana is willing to sacrifice her comfort zone to find love again, but her old insecurities threaten to surface once more with a secret that Kwame is hiding. Next, “Little Diamonds” explores the simple innocence of children and how adult society can take two kindred spirits and threaten to drive them apart for their differences. Finally, “Out of Gold” sees two lovers, Kevin and Pearl, driven apart by a woman with a vendetta who will stop at nothing to wreck their happiness. ... (read more)

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Not Just Shade

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

California Covered Bridges Pre-1900's
by Forrest Oldham
Xlibris


"Living in California I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon the covered bridges of California and their history."

Through words and pictures, this informative, attractive book tells the story of the covered bridges built in California in the late 19th century. Author Oldham’s interest in photography led to excursions around the state’s picturesque landscapes, where he noticed the state’s near-100 covered bridges. Assigning himself the task of photographing as many as possible, Oldham also delved into their history. The covered bridges his book documents were constructed following the Gold Rush of 1849. California’s population was expanding dramatically, and infrastructure was needed. Meeting this need, the bridges ranged in size from small footbridges to the Nyes Crossing Bridge; at 233 feet, this bridge holds the distinction as the longest freestanding covered bridge in the world. Oldham also describes several different methods of constructing bridges, clearly illustrating their architecture with diagrams. He also explains the purpose behind covering them. One would think this done for safety, but actually, bridges were covered because coverings protected the structural underpinnings of the bridges, and they were inexpensive to replace. ... (read more)

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A Tough Stance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Broken Truth
by Karl Olson
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc


"Don’t let that Bible sit anymore in dust at your home. Pick it up, and have an open heart when you do."

A man overcomes many setbacks in his life, overcoming problems with a strong sense of biblical truth, as chronicled in this short but emotional book. Olson was the youngest of four children, raised by a loving, dutiful mother and a hardworking, strict father. His early memories included the fear of getting a shot at the doctor’s office; his father chastised him, telling him to let the doctor do his job. Afflicted with various mental and physical problems, Olson lamented that he was the smartest student in special education classes and the slowest in ordinary classes. He experienced success in high school when he excelled at running. Working in a factory, he ran afoul of management and was fired from his job. His father, though stricken with heart trouble, advocated for his son and secured legal help, a move which kept the author employed. On many occasions, Olson experienced powerful, visionary communications through reading Christian scripture. ... (read more)

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Soul of a Poet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moments in Time: A Collection of Poems
by Fred Lewis
Access Media


"It takes a lot of nails and boards
To make a house that is the Lord’s."

In a brief introductory passage, poet Lewis recalls writing her first poem as a child. She attributes her talent to God, many of her poems carrying a spiritual theme. Some are whimsical, as in the “Happy Anniversary” celebration of one week of marriage, or a humorous description of “The Hospital” where the patient can never get any rest because of the staff’s seemingly obtrusive routines. Many are tributes to personal friendships and outreach to family, while some read like love songs. Besides poetry, other creative works include short essays, family missives describing the poet’s journeys with her husband, a recipe, reminiscences of her mother who taught her to wash and reuse “disposable” dishes, and rules for a favorite card game. She offers a tribute to U.S. Marines, colorful quilt and valentine card designs, and tips for new writers including formatting, story construction, and punctuation. ... (read more)

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Sense of Dread

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rockhole
by Jesse Skiles
Page Publishing, Inc.


"Why couldn’t the mistakes of the past loosen their grip and remain in the past? Then maybe this family could get on with living."

In the middle of the night, a picnic tryst between Mary J. and her husband, Brian, takes an unexpected and grim turn. Fleeing for her life, Mary J. frantically cuts through the darkness looking for somebody, anybody to help protect her from the fate that just befell Brian. Happening upon a farmhouse, Mary J. finds safety but trades danger for delirium, undergoing a psychotic episode before falling into a coma. Now it’s up to her sister Susie and Brian’s brother Stoney, themselves a couple, to try and piece together the impossible details of this mysterious tragedy. How could a body split in half from falling such a short height? What did Mary J. see that night that troubled her so? And what is this family secret that Susie’s parents are keeping hidden at all costs, even among their children? ... (read more)

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Vivid & Realistic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tragedy of the Blood
by Beth Bristow
PageTurner, Press and Media


"The Clearances were shameful, hidden, not written about and not spoken of."

Bristow writes a chilling account of the ethnic cleansing of the Highlanders after an attempted revolt on April 16, 1746, led by Charles Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie." Tragically, the Highlanders were without adequate food or weapons and outnumbered by the soldiers led by the Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II. The English Crown retained the land that once had been ruled over by Scottish chieftains. Bristow deftly uses historical characters to describe their struggles during "the Clearances," when the Highlanders were forced out of Scotland. ... (read more)

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Saving the Tribe

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From the Land of Tattooed Warriors
by Jeffrey L. Gross
PageTurner, Press and Media


"The Polynesians were the only deep-water sailors for 2000 years. They were the greatest open ocean seafarers in the history of the ancient world."

Takitoa, a high-ranking toa warrior and Nahini, first-born daughter of “royal blood,” were undeniably attracted to each other and in love, but because of her royal status, any romantic relationship between the two was prohibited. Gross’s book includes a fictionalized account of the forbidden love between Takitoa and Nahini. However, because it is set precisely in the culture, history, mythology, and anthropological study of the Marquesan people, the book is just as easily a piece of fascinating and insightful nonfiction. ... (read more)

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Humanitarian Mission

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

On Freedom and Revolt: A Comparative Investigation
by Carl E. Moyler
ReadersMagnet LLC


"Camus and King were born, reared and lived as personal witnesses to the social and political ravages of their time and place."

Albert Camus was born in Algeria to a poverty-stricken, handicapped mother and a father who died in World War I when the boy was only one. Camus was a diligent student and attained a university degree while suffering from tuberculosis. In his youth, he saw the ravages of neediness in Algeria and the horrendous trials suffered by his fellow Europeans. He would become an editor, novelist, playwright, and an active member of the French Resistance against the Nazis. He transmuted his reverence for freedom into a godless but humanitarian philosophy known as absurdism and was a strong advocate for racial, ethnic, and international unity. He had a gift for revealing the truth of those concepts through novels and plays that garnered popular success, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1944. He died three years later in a car accident. The author examines Camus through his life and many writings, including such works as The Myth of Sisyphus, depicting how even the most useless, punishing labor can evoke heroism. ... (read more)

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Consequences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Survival of the Blood
by Beth Bristow
PageTurner, Press and Media


"'Yes, th’ Scotland we’re used to is no more. I don’t understand why the king’s army have been ordered to destroy families and homes.'"

Charles Edward Stuart’s unsuccessful bid for the English throne unleashed a wave of blood in Scotland, starting with the brief but gory Battle of Culloden in 1746. Bristow rides the wave most authentically and with humanity through the lives of several Scottish clans as they back their Young Pretender (known later as Bonnie Prince Charlie) against the mighty British forces led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of the reigning king, George II. A welter of characters strides the moors and “Hielands,” but a list helps keep them straight. Some intriguing entities also populate the story: Clamhan, a supernatural raptor who serves The Dark One; De’il, The Dark One’s human-hating master; and Death, the workhorse, with his compassionate spirit helper, Elight. With rare psychological insight, Bristow uses these creatures to guide the treachery, deceit, and perhaps redemption of the Duke of Cumberland, deservedly known as “the Butcher.” ... (read more)

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Real Experiences

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fishing Buddies: A Spiritual Tale
by Thomas R. Martin
Balboa Press


"’Seeing God’s creation is like reading His mind, eh?’ Peter exclaimed excitedly, connecting another dot in his mind. The Old Man looked back at Peter. ‘Indeed it is!’"

This story is about fishing from a favorite hole down by the river, but it is also about so much more than fishing. Paul—who has lived out of town and been involved with drugs, alcohol, and breaking the law—has come back to the small town where he lived as a child due to the death of his childhood best friend, Peter. Disillusioned and angry at the world, he finds himself sitting on his old bed in his childhood bedroom, reaching fondly for the pair of fishing rods he and Peter used to carry with such excitement down to the river, past the railroad tracks and the tall grasses, to spend the hot summer days fishing at their spot by the river’s edge. ... (read more)

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Insightful & Important Work

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Chauncey Street Monster
by Dr. Kirt Gonzales
LitFire Publishing


"Domestic violence knows no race, age, cultural background, economic class, educational level, or even gender. It is an epidemic . . ."

In September of 2013, Gonzales’ sister, Sellis, was savagely shot to death by the father of one of her baby girls, Eric McCormick, in an episode that garnered national media attention. Even before the gruesome murder, the perpetrator had committed years of domestic violence and abuse against Gonzales’ sister, as chronicled in this book. Unfortunately, as cycles of domestic abuse often (though not always) repeat from one generation to the next, Gonzales himself, as a young boy born in Trinidad, was witness to his mother being beaten and slapped by his stepfather. What began as violence against the young boy whenever his mom was out of the house, culminated into full-blown beatings and cruel mistreatment of the young author himself. ... (read more)

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Historical Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Lost Dutchmen Mine and the Peg Leg Pete Mine
by Harold Cohn
Outskirts Press, Inc.


"Jacob Waltz is speaking to Jim Bark: . . . Go downward on the Carney Spring to the Dacite Cliffs Mesa and then northward to the mine."

Intrigue, puzzling map locations and names, and recorded last words from those who supposedly found lost mines in Arizona will cause any gold hunter to tingle with excitement. Many men took their chances to follow the trails, as told by dying men, to find the illustrious Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. And many ended up missing or killed—if the source documents used by the author tell the truth. Cohn’s book confirms the only thing certain is that lost gold inspires lies and self-serving motives. ... (read more)

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Prayerful & Reflective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

With the Lamp of My Soul
by Jelena Bango
Xlibris


"Into the nights of the deep
connected we fall."

Readers encounter meditations and prayers, insightful wisdom, and reflections in these narrative verses. They then take a different journey through incorporated photographs from the author’s life and various journeys that fuse with other meaningful images that accent the collection’s poems. Those who are politically engaged will enjoy poems like “The Immigrants’ Song” that parallel current events by asking, “Where is our home?” and “Have we found our home?” Musically-inclined readers will find respite in poems such as “Piano,” which offer affectionate reflections about a mother’s role and music’s calming and foundational influence in human relationships. Spiritually-minded ones will find reminders of humility and God’s power in “Namelessness,” “Night or Day,” and “The ‘No’ Journey.” Nature lovers and modern-day Transcendentalists will find comfort in poems like “Rewind and Return,” “My Letter to the Sun,” and “The Sun and The Man.” The scientifically-minded will gravitate towards poems like “GIANT” and “Space Is” because of their blend of astrophysics with the mundane. ... (read more)

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Loveable Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Candy Cane Lane’s Story
by Sister Mary Faith
iUniverse


"You are going to have a sweet little girl. Why not name her Candy?"

When Mr. and Mrs. Cane found out they were going to have a baby, they were naturally very excited about becoming parents. Mrs. Cane “held her baby close to her heart,” as they wanted the child to feel so loved from the very beginning. Suddenly, the mother-to-be began craving more and more candy. When she visited the doctor, he laughed and said it was okay to eat a little more candy. In fact, it was he who first suggested naming their daughter "Candy." Candy Cane was born in December and was a very beautiful and sweet baby. As a grown-up woman, she was just as sweet, like candy. She loved people and helping in many ways. A street was even named after her: Candy Cane Lane. ... (read more)

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Fostering

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Here Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!
by Jennifer Scott North
iUniverse


"The mom pointed to the mess on the floor in the living room and said to the kittens,‘That is a very bad thing to do. As a punishment, you will go to bed without any treats tonight.’"

With the stars of the book being three little kittens, two girls and one boy, the narrative takes us through their adventures (and often, their misadventures) in living at their foster home with two parents and a dog. They run, play, nap, and cuddle, just like kittens everywhere. And, of course, they have to visit the vet, and this leads to the adventure of going for a car ride. Other adventures include being locked in the basement (which was rather scary) and meeting up with a spider, as well as learning about sharing space with the family dog. And when the family moves, what will happen to the three kittens? Reading the end of the book will be telling about life as cats. ... (read more)

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Farm Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Scaredy the Scarecrow
by Michael Stuart
AuthorHouse UK


"When Farmer Fields pushed open the door, he was greeted with a huge chorus of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’"

Farmer Fields and his wife live on a farm filled with all sorts of adventures featuring an array of animals. There’s Stanley the bull, old and tired with large, broad shoulders and horns. There’s Penfield, the trusty carthorse, with his long bushy tail. Dewsbury and Clara, the pigs, have eighteen little piglets. Three cows (Daisy, Belle and Matilda) and more than thirty sheep and chickens also call the Fields’ farm home. And then, of course, there’s Scaredy the Scarecrow, all stuffed with straw and held together with string. With a body fashioned from an old, red plaid shirt, a head of painted cloth, a floppy black hat, and trousers with holes in the knees, Scaredy’s main job is to keep Barry and Brian, the cheeky black crows, from eating the newly-sown corn. ... (read more)

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Relapse & Recovery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sober Spring and the Flight of the Loon
by Robert F. Bollendorf
URLink Print and Media, LLC


"It’s been said that God gives alcoholism to those He wants to draw closer to . . ."

The two heartfelt stories referred to in the title are about a family struggling with alcoholism and their measured engagement with recovery. “Sober Spring” is narrated in the viewpoint of Holly Brandt, wife of Hank Brandt, a construction worker. Holly, a church organist and homemaker, confides in her long-time family doctor, also a member of her church. Originally, Dr. Krueger brushes off Holly’s worries about Hank’s drinking and furtive behavior with the old saw that Hank is a good provider and has the right to quaff a few beers after work. After more conversation and reflection, Dr. Krueger refers Holly to a therapist who guides Holly and her five children to an intervention with Hank and the path to family recovery. ... (read more)

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