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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional reviewers and gets their titles in front of more than 14,000 subscribers to our free monthly book review. Read author and publisher feedback about the USR.

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Featured Book Reviews

 

The Golden Age

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Grace and Grit: Insights to Real-Life Challenges of Aging for Adult Children and Their Parents
by Fritzi Gros-Daillon
Pink Tulip Press

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"I believe the world, our nation, your community, your loved ones, are facing unique challenges today when aging forces us out of our homes. These are unique challenges because the generations largely affected by this growing segment have enjoyed more freedom, more independence, and greater self-sufficiency than any generation before them."

Grace and Grit has become a popular title for books, especially since Ken Wilber's beautiful writings about the life and death of his wife. And while few people can match the work of Ken Wilber, this book, in its own way, also pays tribute to living and dying and offers heartfelt stories in this process of transition. This small, easy-to-read book offers significant insights into the world of the aging and stories of grief and joy in the challenges that face both aging parents and their adult children. Many of us are going through, or will go through, these same types of challenges.  ... (read more)

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Noteworthy Poetry

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The Sun God is a Ham
by Gene Hull
La Maison Publishing

reviewed by Carol Davala

"Time waits for no man. But when a woman is putting on makeup it stands still."

Gene Hull is clearly a man with a sense of humor. In the title poem from this varied collection, he places the giant orb at center stage, and captures a detailed performance of its rise and fall across an earthly venue. It is an "uppity star" deserving of our applause. "Uncovering a poem, making it come to life, is the fun of the writing process," reveals Hull, in a personal style where form always follows substance. Whether probing age-old questions about love and time's passage, commenting on a day at the movies, or the problem with modern day hackers, readers should find these poems easily accessible with simple visual and emotional conjuring. ... (read more)

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Encouraging the Classics

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Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Through this book, I in a very humble and modest way have tried to propagate my testimony about classics and what they can do for many."

Mumbai-born author and teacher Fiza Pathan believes fervently that reading classic books enhances imagination and improves language skills. She bases her theory on experience: At an early age, she read Bram Stoker's Dracula, inciting in her a love of good grammar and grand ideas. In her teaching, she observes that children who frequently surf the Internet or watch TV (even educational channels) tend merely to ingest ideas without generating their own. Once they begin reading the classics, their language and imaginative skills change noticeably for the better. Citing many examples, she demonstrates how these books contain moral story lines, excitement, mystery, and romance. From Around the World in Eighty Days, one can learn geography, from Robinson Crusoe, survival techniques, from Ben Hur, Roman culture. Books can sensitize us to critical issues: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.  ... (read more)

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Resetting Your Career

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Upsizing in a Downsizing World: Lessons Learned and Tips to Get You Back on Your Feet after Job Loss
by Jeannette Chau
iUniverse

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"Losing a job is like losing a family. You go through a similar grieving process."

The days are long gone during which workers could expect to remain with the same company for decades, and then receive a gold watch and a comfortable pension upon retirement. Now, downsizing is commonplace as companies struggle to maintain a competitive edge in a difficult economy. After being downsized, Chau, like so many others, struggled for months to find a new job. She also dealt with challenging emotions ranging from anger at being let go to grief over losing her connection to a place where she'd shared many happy memories with coworkers. She decided to write her book to help others successfully cope with sudden job loss, both emotionally and practically. ... (read more)

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A New Life in America

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A Boy From Cuba
by Peter H. Sust
Tate Publishing

reviewed by Carol Davala

"That is always my philosophy; the best is yet to come."

With recollections of the small Cuban fishing village where he grew up, Peter Sust can remember playing ball with Fidel Castro's son, meeting the renowned American writer, Ernest Hemingway, and having the anti-capitalist, guerilla leader, Che Guevara as a neighbor. For the young Sust, it seemed a relatively carefree time. But with military vehicles appearing in the streets and Castro's mounting political takeover, Sust's parents made a wise and conscious decision to send their children out of the country. Soon thereafter, eleven-year-old Sust and his sister, each with five dollars and a 24K gold watch, boarded a plane to start life anew with relatives in the US. ... (read more)

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Nurturing the Creative Child

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Henry's Dragon Dream
by Vroni Hovaguimian
Illustrated by: Barbara J. Liotta
CreateSpace

reviewed by RJM Terrado

"From high in the sky down we fly, henry smiles and shuts his eyes."

With the popularity of dragon-based video games, TV shows, and films, why not children's dragon literature? Henry's Dragon Dream is a beautiful literary adaptation of this trend. Narrated by the character dragon himself, the book has a unique voice as it allows readers to see kids' creativity from the perspective of a "creation." In the story, the dragon (creation) is a product of Henry's imagination (creator). ... (read more)

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Real Life Images

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Short Fiction for an Absurd World
by Bronwyn Rodden
CreateSpace

reviewed by Michael Radon

"I had caught a dose of assertivelessness from the laundromat lady and paid the fruiterer with hardly a grumble."

With a bent on the curious details, the awkward moments of life, and downright dark secrets and closeted skeletons, this collection of short stories spans more than two decades of the author's work. From horrific stories of a honeymoon turned grotesque and a woman putting herself quite literally into her weaving work to an escape from the most mundane of offices and a series of chance encounters with a well-shouldered gentleman with a fussy eating dog, these stories cross genres and tones to provide a truly wide array of elicited emotions. This title carries no narrative structure from story to story but handily serves to collect the author's work in an anthology and celebrate the weirdness of life in all its shapes and circumstance. ... (read more)

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A Job To Do

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South of Good
by Randall Reneau
Create Space

reviewed by Anita Lock

"In less than ten days, I'd gone from being a sworn law enforcement officer to a co-conspirator in a drug deal."

South of Good is a story about Hardin Steel, a sheriff who is constantly trying to nab drug dealers in a South Texas border county. When he attempts to capture the ringleader of a Mexican drug cartel, Steel is unaware of the compromises he will have to make to get the job done, as well as protect those who are near and dear to him. ... (read more)

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Enduring the Journey

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Crossroads: A Camino Tale
by F. R. Merrill
Red Fox Publishing

reviewed by Carol Davala

"All I can say is, each of us is here to learn, and to take home from this trip what we need."

Over a decade ago, renowned actress and new age author Shirley MacLaine made a milestone pilgrimage across Spain. She recounted her spiritual journey in the autobiographical work, The Camino. In 2006, F. R. Merrill travelled a similar path, yet instead chose to incorporate that same historic landscape as a backdrop for an intriguing, fictional tale. In this captivating read, seven women will trek 550 miles to follow the landmark path of St. James, the peacekeeper. ... (read more)

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Unforgettable Mystery/Romance

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One More Dance
by Valentine Cardinale
Outskirts Press

reviewed by Barbara Mims Deming

"So far he had managed to avoid contact with the police.... If only he hadn't lost his cool that night..."

Widower, Julian Case, enjoys attending a wedding in Italy, especially meeting and dancing the night away with university professor, Alegra Rossini. Winging his way home, he can't get her off his mind and plans to see the lovely woman again. Such thoughts are put on hold when he arrives home to find his son, Leo, almost beaten to death. Family, employees at Julian's real estate firm, and close friends rally around as a father vows to not only protect his family but find out who committed this crime and why. ... (read more)

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Elegance and Grace of Discovery

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Athena Parthenos/Promachus
by Huck Fairman
Xlibris

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"I, too, have believed, 'til now that we make our fate, to a great extent, once we have grown."

To visit the ancient relics of the Greeks is an experience of a lifetime. Through vivid sensory details and unparalleled knowledge of Greece, its history, and architecture, Fairman transports his audience to this mesmerizing land of gods and temples. At one point or another, most couples find their relationship strained, and the joy simply draining away from their lives. Few, however, are like Wren and Belle, the protagonists of the novel, who try to save their relationship via their anniversary trip to Greece. While the premise could simply be viewed as a couple trying to save their marriage... (read more)

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What We Love of the Past

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50 Favs of the '60s '70s '80s
by Fred John Del Bianco, Jr.
AuthorHouse

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Ironically, another controversial, but even more blatantly outspoken, show (again on CBS) would soon emerge just two years later, not only surviving, but also becoming the number one show on television for five consecutive seasons."

The study of history usually focuses primarily on a society's politics, wars, natural disasters, and human rights as well as its achievements and innovations in the areas of weaponry, architecture, and infrastructure. Occasionally, a small section in a textbook will be devoted to the arts and literature of a specific country that somehow managed to have long-lasting effects on world culture.Sometimes, though, one will find a book devoted almost exclusively to the things of the past which captured our collective imagination... (read more)

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Future Tolerance

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Seeking the Face of Love
by Hadrian Bradley
Bradley House

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Quote"

The author of this philosophical work has suffered because of his sexual orientation. But this is not a memoir or a treatise on the question of one gender or gender choice versus another; it is more like a new kind of bible, based on the thesis that religion is not necessary to God's plan. The book does encourage people who are other than "heterosexual supremacists" to love themselves and avoid "dark thinkers." Classifying all political conservatives in this negative category ("an LGBT person voting for a conservative activist politician would be like... (read more)

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Inside Caesar

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Caesar, Cicero & Cleopatra: What Really Happened?
by Arthur J. Paone
Belmar Publications

reviewed by Michael Radon

"He should have known that Caesar was fully aware of what Cicero really felt. His people were everywhere, some very close to Cicero."

Out of gainful employment as the American educational system phases Latin out of the curriculum, a teacher devoted to the classics retires to a small Italian town to live out his days among those that share his fondness for the ancient tongue. An accidental discovery by his dog leads to an unearthing of a series of ancient documents, each preserved masterfully and serving as lost records belonging to Gaius Asinius Pollio, a historian and officer under the great Caesar. Using these records, the fictional protagonist named after the author himself translates and weaves a tale of the great Roman general that offers a more personal insight than the average history book. ... (read more)

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A Timely Message

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Southern Winds A' Changing
by Elizabeth Carroll Foster
iUniverse

reviewed by Anita Lock

"She said our relationship be remarkable. A white woman and Afro-American woman living like sisters."

The year is 1932. Allise DeWitt is a well-educated white woman and the wife of a landowner. Maizee Colson is an uneducated Afro-American woman and a sharecropper's daughter, living and working on DeWitt farm. The two women who seem to have nothing in common actually have more than one may expect. For starters, they are connected via Quent, Allise's husband, who rapes and gets Maizee pregnant—unbeknown at the time to a very expectant Allise. As a result, Allise and Maizee give birth to his boys who are roughly the same age. Maizee longs to be respected as an individual. Yet to speak up will only bring more trouble to her and her family. While Allise's voice, too, is limited because she is a woman, her restrictions are only exacerbated when she reaches out to help her black neighbors and provides better housing for Maizee and her son. Southern Winds A' Changing chronicles Allise's... (read more)

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Evident Choice

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Lives Interrupted: The Unwanted Pregnancy Dilemma
by Jeanne G. Miller

reviewed by Mihar Shah

"Abortion affects the mother, her family, her community and her nation in ways that are irrevocable. First and foremost is the life of her unborn baby."

Jeanne G. Miller's credentials and psychotherapist background, particularly with patients who have had to make the unenviable decision of deciding for or against abortion, speak for themselves. The masterpiece that is Lives Interrupted is perhaps the most thorough, unbiased, and impartial literature on arguably the most controversial societal issue. With clarity and force, Miller's presentation of the unwanted pregnancy dilemma is balanced: historical encounters begin the text, first-hand interviews end it, and the middle is imbued with captivating statistics, references to prominent abortion literature, and ultimately a deluge of knowledge on abortion. ... (read more)

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A Poet Laureate's Work

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Rising, Falling, All of Us
by Thelma T. Reyna Ph.D
Golden Foothills Press

reviewed by Diane Elliott

"You once distilled poetry from cobwebs taut between your Bougainvillea and the grapes."

In this collection, Dr. Reyna paints life in vivid poetic tones that sing with universal consciousness. This Poet Laureate of the Altadena (CA) Library District is fearless in her weaving of the lives of everyman. Her courageous work embraces the truth of poverty, the divine in relationships, as well as the beauty of survival. No part of life, whether splendid or grim, is left untouched by her pen. She opens with, "To Charles Bukowski: About Poems," where she shares her take on voice. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Serene Maiden
by James G. Skinner
Cyberwit.net

Hotel Bahia in springtime Spain seems like a lovely place, except for the dead Brit swinging from the ceiling fixture. Appearing like a suicide, at least one aspect isn’t right: The knife that cut the cord used for the hanging isn’t present. ... (read more)

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On Earth As It Is In Hell
by Cortina Jackson
Amazon Digital Services

Jackson has penned, well, one hell of an opening. Beginning with a quick, gory visit to hell, where condemned souls dissolve into a molten cauldron of the damned, a single woman—antagonist, we assume—is offered a reprieve by Satan... (read more)

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Sweet Karoline
by Catherine Astolfo
Imajin Books

Is Anne Williams crazy? Or is she just self-important? What we know is that Anne is an assistant for a movie production company, and she lives inside her head, which is packed-full of her perception of other peoples’ perception of her. ... (read more)

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