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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and gets their book reviews in front of 15,000 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.

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Focus Review
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Seeing the Real You at Last: Life and Love on the Road with Bob Dylan
by Britta Lee Shain
Jawbone Press


"How could he embarrass his children this way? How could he embarrass himself?"

Shain’s tale of her brief affair with Bob Dylan takes us from her college days, through early trials and successes, and the struggle to find love and relevance as an artist. It eventually peaks at her star-crossed intersection with Bob Dylan. Along the way, we get glimpses of a Dylan at work and play, as well as the infamous number of masks that guard him from the public. When Shain ultimately unveils him, we discover the portrait of an atypical artist trapped inside an ordinary drunk and womanizer. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

A Challenging Refuge

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A Farmhouse in the Rain
by Joe Kilgore
Top Hat Books

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Paul looked down and saw the liquid on the floor wasn't just rainwater. Fatigue and nausea hit him all at once. He almost swooned and toppled over."

Paul didn't know whether they were in luck or not when he and the two soldiers under his command escaped the rain to take shelter in the humble home of Colette Auteuil in war-torn France. However, his leg wound needed treatment, and a dry bed was much better than sleeping on the soggy ground. As they ate the bread and drank the wine their hostess provided for them that night, little did they expect that events were being put in motion that would irrevocably alter not only their lives but also the lives of others connected to them a continent away. ... (read more)

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Challenging Love

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Inceptions: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Then I briefly thought about past women and quickly barred them from my brain. He was mine! He wanted me!"

Kate Quinn's life went into a downspin in a hurry. In her late 20's, Kate works as an in-home nurse with a family that loves and respects her while she also has to deal with criticisms from her own family, whom she still lives with. Topping this all off is Scott, her one and only boyfriend of six years who, as Kate has just discovered, is cheating on her. Kate cuts Scott off immediately and tries to deal with her problems with the help of two friends: Pepper, her headstrong dance instructor best friend, and alcohol. Scott is trying desperately to win Kate back, but what neither of them counted on was Robert Beckham, a police officer friend of Scott's that has been interested in Kate since they first met. ... (read more)

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A Walk into the Unknown

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Walking to Woot
by Jackie Chase
AdventureTravelPress.com

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"How can one even begin to grasp the simple yet complex evolution of tribal society that exists much the same today as it did thousands of years ago? ... Katherine and I had many questions and few answers; but determined, we tried to grasp every concept blown our way."

Some of us long to take trips into the unknown. We wish to leave behind our material possessions, and live simpler lives. Jackie Chase did just that, for one adventure-filled month. Jackie is no stranger to travel. She's spent much of her life flitting from one place to another in search of a deeper understanding of the world's cultures. In Walking to Woot, Jackie takes the reader with her to live among the Dani people in New Guinea, Indonesia. Despite being a seasoned traveler, Jackie had her apprehensions about the potentially dangerous trip. She had good reason to: This time, she was bringing her 14 year old daughter, Katherine, with her. ... (read more)

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A Life Lived Forward

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Monk's Journey
by Walter (Monk) Reynolds
The DubHouse

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"In the meantime, Charlie had another drink and went to bed. How anyone could sleep after committing such a despicable act is beyond understanding."

Every life is a story. Autobiographies and memoirs are vehicles for recording them. While it is true that humans are all basically the same, circumstances, experiences, and how people deal with the world around them is what truly makes individuals different and in a way original. Reynolds story is true and begins in rural Florida, 1939. At first, there is almost the hint of a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn quality to the life that is about to be shared. However, this is no tall Mark Twain tale being spun. This is the beginning for a boy who will experience fear, and pain, and darkness, not just in the pages of a book, but rather in the real world around him. ... (read more)

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Exciting Coming of Age

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Hush Now, Don’t Explain
by Dennis Must
Coffeetown Press

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"I pulled him to me as I had Billy the night before. But here I wasn’t holding a man. Instead I was holding a past."

Sometimes what is unsaid speaks loudest. Now and then a writer has the confidence to hint rather than hammer. This author’s story of the loss of innocence and the search for one’s future in the secrets of the past uses revelation sparingly—which is to say well. Nor does he burden the reader with expositional excess. No sentence, paragraph, or page feels overwritten. While one is eager for the start of each new chapter, there’s no overt attempt to create cliffhangers. This is a novel where the writer’s measured pace makes it all the more enjoyable. ... (read more)

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Is the Honeymoon Over?

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Beckham 101: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"'There's my girl. Baby, you are mineall mine and only mine. I don't share.'"

Fresh from their second and full-sized honeymoon across the Atlantic, Kate and Robert Beckham are back into their routines and enjoying their lives. Resolving the cliffhanger from the previous book, Kate finds herself home alone and confronted by a jealous ex-lover of Robert's, police officer Chris Foss. The conversation between the two women is civil if not icy at first, but before long, Chris has Kate at gunpoint and is ready to kill her to win Robert back. Kate's future brother-in-law Kevin, also a police officer, is able to protect Kate from Chris' jealous rage, but Chris is wracked with grief and ultimately ends her own life shortly afterwards. ... (read more)

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Discover Alaska

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Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume Four
by Phyllis Downing Carlson and Laurel Downing Bill
Aunt Phil’s Trunk

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"This road is built for war, but this road will be used when peace and victory come back to us again."

Aunt Phil’s Trunk: Volume Four is an exceptional account of Alaskan history. From a mere glance at the title, audiences unfamiliar with the preceding Aunt Phil’s Trunk volumes may think they’ve stumbled upon another dense history book to read. This could not be further from the truth. A collective effort between the authors, volume four is a treasure trove of pivotal moments in Alaskan history, illuminated by monumental photographs, detailed captions, and thoroughly enlightening insight, including stories of the individual’s that helped Alaska survive and eventually prosper economically. ... (read more)

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St. Louis Survivors

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The Doctor’s Tale
by Claire Applewhite
Smoking Gun Publishing

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"You seem to think that you can save people from themselves. The truth is, no one can—not even you, Superman."

Stories of hospitals, the doctors and nurses who inhabit them, plus the patients who wind up in their examining, operating, and emergency rooms, have long been a staple source for literature, films, and television. There is a deep well of drama to draw from in the circumstances that send people to these institutions, and there is also fertile ground to be ploughed in the emotions that can be masked, but never completely hidden behind uniforms, lab coats, and scrubs. When it comes to her examination of St. Louis City Hospital, Applewhite prescribes not only drama and emotion in large dosages, but also humor and humanity to be taken as needed. ... (read more)

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Laughs Abound

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Tools of the Trade
by Philip B. Persinger
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"She goes up to the flat. She runs the bath. She takes off her clothes and slips into a bottle of whisky."

High finance, haute cuisine, and huge knockers abound in this salty satire that seeks to hoist wretched excess on its own petard. The sex is decidedly kinky, the pace is jet-fueled, and the penman piloting the plot is determined to never substitute a straightforward sentence for a wisecrack, gag, or pun. ... (read more)

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Frankie's Journey

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Frankie Jones
by J. R. Klein
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"And so the summer days turned shorter and the nights cooler and autumn arrived in Paris and the leaves changed color and spun to the ground like painted toy helicopters."

It’s the 1990s, not the 1920s, yet echoes of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises linger in the white spaces of Klein’s beguiling novel. Instead of disillusioned youth reeling from the horror of World War I and finding solace in the cafes of Paris and the bullrings of Spain, Klein writes of the disaffected upwardly mobile seeking answers in the restaurants of La Jolla and the cantinas of Mexico. ... (read more)

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A Compassionate Solution

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The Shark and the Volcano
by Sylvia M. Medina
Green Kids Club Adventures

reviewed by Carolyn Davis

"This book is dedicated to those who are helping to reduce the plight of sharks, due to shark finning and to their capture(both intentional and unintentional)."

A fantasy picture book with a narrative geared to readers aged 5-9, The Shark and the Volcano is one of a series of adventures in which the "Green Kids" obtain super powers that permit them to confront and resolve environmental issues. ... (read more)

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Great Historical Fiction

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Princess of Blood
by Brigitte Goldstein
Xlibris

reviewed by Anita Lock

"It was fate that brought us together and I shall never betray you, Sandrine!"

Sandrine Legrand is no ordinary peasant. Although unaware of her past (which she discovers later in the story), Sandrine makes herself as inconspicuous as possible when Philippe, Count de Treffort-Salignac, and his troops lodge at her foster father's inn. Ironically, the two are drawn to each other. Philippe is surprised that Sandrine is both literate and quite knowledgeable on political affairs. Meeting secretly, the two confess their love for one to another. Sandrine is caught in the middle of ruthless wars between the Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots), especially when she is wrongfully accused of witchcraft. ... (read more)

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The Kate and Robert Romp Continues

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You and I: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"My Robert showed me his vulnerability, and it was me. I meant so much to him as he did to me."

For Robert and Kate Beckham, the wedding is over and the honeymoon is about to begin. Fresh from their hurried matrimony in Las Vegas, the newlywed Beckhams head to San Diego for some alone time full of relaxation, sightseeing, and plenty of physical intimacy. Focused on her husband—the over-possessive, at times frighteningly intense, madly in love police officer Robert—Kate is interested only in showing her love and passion for her new husband. Pleasant times in San Diego are over in a matter of days, but Kate has her wedding reception followed by an extended honeymoon across the Atlantic to meet Robert's parents to look forward to. In the blink of an eye, the couple are off, and Kate falls in love with the natural beauty of Ireland. Also to her advantage, Robert's mother, family, and seemingly the entire village take a shine to her immediately, and she becomes a popular addition to the scenery, serving as a matchmaker to those around her stuck in unhappy relationships as she once was. ... (read more)

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A Break from Tradition

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The Linotype Operator
by Michael Robert Wolf
Finishing Line Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"She watched him, knowing that once he left the train she would probably never see him again. So what? Why would that even matter? He was a nice goy, a Gentile."

At forty-eight, Naomi Kaplan has become resigned in many ways to her fate as a spinster. But when a brief encounter with a handsome stranger at her place of work results in an unexpected gesture of kindness, all of the romantic dreams she once buried long ago come rushing back. Yet despite Darrin being unmarried and events conspiring to bring them together again, there is a maelstrom brewing: Naomi is a devout Orthodox Jew while Darrin is a committed Christian. With such religious differences, is it possible to have a future together? ... (read more)

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Taking Office

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Run: Your Personal Guide to Winning Public Office
by Senator Marian Walsh
Grand Cove Publishing

reviewed by Donna Ford

"Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams – experienced a day in their lives when they stopped complaining... It's in our DNA as a nation to make changes..."

Whether you are called to run for office or simply wish to support a candidate by donating funds and time or by posting a sign on your lawn–Run can help you become a motivated citizen. Many people see politics as a complicated maze. Walsh's advice is to start with the issue that matters to you. Learn the law involved and investigate opposing viewpoints. ... (read more)

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Going Home

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The House on Seventh Street
by Karen Vorbeck Williams
Booktrope Editions

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

"Looking back on the past to his failures made him uncomfortable, but sometimes those things rudely pushed into his mind and before he knew it, he would linger there for a time. Henry knew he had not been much of a father to those girls."

An engaging story with a fascinating mystery and metaphysical insights, we are taken through the lives of five generations, with the focus on Winna, the granddaughter of Juliana and Edwin, the daughter of Nora and Henry, the mother of Emily, the grandmother of Isabelle, and the sister of Chloe. Winna returns home to Colorado from New Hampshire after the death of her father to settle his estate, for Chloe was written out of her father's will. Working her way through her grief of a divorce, the loss of her father, and a budding relationship... (read more)

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Tending to the Great Lakes

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Water Walkers
by Carol Trembath
illustrations by David W. Craig
Lakeside Publishing

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Grandmother planned to walk around each of the Great Lakes, one by one. She taught me that it is our Ojibway people's custom to watch over and protect the water. I thought about Grandmother's words. I wondered how I could help."

Mai is a little Ojibway girl who wants to learn from her tribal elders. Her grandmother is going to walk around each of the Great Lakes, and she agrees to let Mai come along because "Even our little ones can make ripples and waves.” Mai's task is to fill a copper bucket with lake water each morning. This ritual is followed by Grandmother's prayers and songs. Mai notices that in one town there are lots of plastic bags in the water, a lesson in the problem of pollution. She observes that a family of deer have to walk farther than ever to get to the edge of the lake to drink, and a bear tries to catch fish and can't find any. ... (read more)

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Launching a Musical Life

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Kids in Musicianland: 5 Reasons to Stick With It
by Karyn Rashoff
Barking Dog Books

reviewed by Anita Lock

"...people who are willing to work the hardest in music tend to be the people who are willing to work the hardest in school, too."

"More choices and distractions exist in a young person's life today than ever before." Rashoff's apt statement is the driving force behind her motivating read, which zeroes in on middle and high school students. Its purpose is "to inspire teens to focus on the music in them, to develop and pass on their skills, and to realize the satisfaction of it all for the rest of their lives." Constructing her narrative around five explicit reasons "to keep music in [teen's] lives," Rashoff's tenets include meeting new people, being a part of a team, being a part of history, traveling opportunities, and keeping life balanced with music. Rashoff backs up the precepts with over twenty stimulating stories from a host of seasoned individuals in the music arena... (read more)

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Inspiration for Life

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Life is a Journey: Master Your Destiny
by Saisnath Baijoo
Fulton Books

reviewed by John E. Roper

"No one knew that she existed. There were no friends, neighbors, or family. She was like a lonely bird trapped in a cage. No one wanted an old woman as a friend."

When Anita fell in love with the handsome American tourist she did so wholeheartedly. Her doting father, however, didn't trust his daughter's suitor, Thomas, and tried to discourage the marriage. Anita followed her heart, though, allowing bridges to be burned between her father and her, as she moved from Tobago to Miami. But Thomas' lies about who he was, and what type of life he had planned for his new bride quickly began to emerge once they arrived on the mainland. Soon, Anita's dream devolved into nightmare. With one hardship after another piling on top of her, was there any hope left for the young island girl?... (read more)

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Emotional Resonance

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My Father Moves through Time like a Dirigible and other stories
by Gregg Cusick
Livingston Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"And then the wedding and the Army and the children and still, she thought, they had been happy. Yet somehow, she could not place exactly when, it stopped feeling the same."

Loneliness. Self-loathing. Guilt. Unexpected joy. All of these are common, human emotions, and they are also what pepper the lives of the characters Cusick chooses to tell us about. Most are negative, destructive, and color the people that move through his short stories in ever-darkening shades. Some, though, pull his players out from under their personal rainclouds to find a faint hope and a chance for a brighter day. Yet all of them we can relate to on some level, whether we have ever experienced them to the same degree or not, and perhaps that is part of what makes this collection so powerful. ... (read more)

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A Mystical Enclave

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Rainbow Majesty
by Ann Ulrich Miller
Earth Star Publications

reviewed by Carol Davala

"Maybe finding out about the past would help me find my future."

Reminiscent of Diane Mott Davidson's culinary mystery series that highlights the mountainous beauty of Colorado, Ann Ulrich Miller taps into the same majestic backdrop for a fine novel that blends romance, intrigue, and a center for new age enlightenment. Herein she delivers a captivating story that sheds light on a twenty two-year old mystery surrounding the death of Juniper Sutton's father, Nathaniel. This fluid narrative takes readers to the Rainbow Majestic Lodge, a former hunting resort that has been converted into a new age retreat by Juniper's Aunt Rosalee. In the wake of her fiance's death in Iraq, and the recent loss of her mother to Alzheimer's, Juniper is unexpected... (read more)

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Poetic Elegance Personified

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Life in Suspension: La Vie Suspendue
by Hélène Cardona
Salmon Poetry

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"I’m learning to let go, trust the ripeness of the moment. That everything happens at the right time."

Life in Suspension is a testament to Cardona’s unique ability to make words sing on the page. From the first poem, “To Kitty,” Cardona dazzles with visually stimulating images of eyes “the color of rain,” and how “laughter burns snow.” A literary architect, Cardona pushes the exploration of many of her poems to the brink of possibility. While the casual poetry reader will enjoy the array of spectacular diction, imagery, and overall musical cadence of the piece, the hardcore enthusiast will find himself wading in a gold mine of rich thoughts and observations. To that end, audiences will find that each time they read the same poem, they will uncover a gem that went unseen in the first go-around. ... (read more)

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Globe-Trotting Intrigue

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The Medinandi License
by Randall Reneau
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Not a problem. Now let's get to Timbuktu, rescue Gordon and shoot that son of a bitch, Zeid."

This is the latest chronicle of Reneau’s rugged geologist, Trace Brandon, who seems to attract trouble like lawyers attract insults. And speaking of attorneys, his own—who happens to be his best friend, legal adviser, and shooting buddy—is once again along for the ride in this entertaining ode to action, adventure, and adrenalin. ... (read more)

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Improving Elections

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Election Attitude
by John R. Patrick
Attitude, LLC

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"An open question is whether easier and more convenient methods of registration and voting could lead to high participation. An election attitude suggests the entire process should be as easy as one-click purchasing online."

Author and innovator in information technologies, John R. Patrick, has created this timely examination of voting/polling processes in America. It is no secret that voter participation here is perennially low compared to other countries, with many complaints among voters and non-voters alike about such issues as the reliability of current procedures, the cumbersome paper trail (or lack of it), and over all a mistrust of this system, both in terms of the machinery involved and the personnel who oversee it. ... (read more)

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A Lovely Heroine

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The Soul Hypnotist
by Edwina Orelus
Page Publishing

reviewed by Donna Ford

"For Laoise's sixth birthday, her father gave her a special silver rock with a picture of the cross on it... protection against all evils and jinnis."

Orelus has chosen the storyline of good overcoming evil for her first novel. Her approach to this subject is inspired by the author's Haitian heritage. Black magic and jinnis enter into the tale of a girl from Louth, Ireland, who at the age of seven lost her biological parents but retained the principles of faith she learned. Adopted by a wealthy family, Laoise lived a privileged life from that point on. She soon became used to being chauffeured to the best stores with or without Iezabel, her adoptive and rather controlling mother. Laoise was sent to a prestigious boarding school in France where she was protected from bullying by angels. ... (read more)

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A Satisfying Romance

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Terms of Surrender
by Lorrie Farrelly
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"She told herself she was relieved he'd allowed her some modesty, but in fact she felt a keen and wanton disappointment that he'd left her alone."

Set in the years immediately following the Civil War, this is a love story of two people—one grappling with immeasurable loss, the other on the brink of it. Cantrell is a former Confederate Captain haunted by the guilt he feels for the death of his younger brother in the war. Annie is a young rancher in danger of losing everything her parents carved out of the wilderness. Together, each may be able to help the other. ... (read more)

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Fast-Paced Military Action

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Black Widow Bitches
by Victor Cass
Golden Foothills Press

reviewed by Michael Radon

"He looks pale, his face splattered with blood from fallen comrades. 'Stay alert! STAY ALERT, GODDAMMIT!'"

Rooted in today's news and imagining a not-too-distant future, this story imagines a world where the Islamic caliphate scores victories across the globe and establishes itself as a dominant world power. With the United States and its remaining allies firmly entrenched at war with this new and dangerous superpower, freshly demoted veteran Captain Elias Marin agrees to accept an assignment that many in the brass are quick to dismiss: overseeing a unit of all-female infantry soldiers. The women making up his unit come in all shapes and sizes, each with a unique motivation for joining the fight. After training and learning to work together... (read more)

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Deep Connections

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The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More
by Meredith Marple
Cinder Path Press

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"Breezy and warm, the air carried the invigorating sweetness of newly cut grass and the oddly pleasing sound of power mowers getting it done. But as she neared the tourist-dependent downtown, the crush of people threatened to ruin her plans."

Mallory Cooper lives in the sleepy town of Great Wharf, Maine, where nothing ever happens. The most exciting news is a new store opening. The most dangerous crime spree is a recent string of shoplifting incidents. Yet Mallory finds herself growing more and more uneasy, faced with the debilitating fear that the world is not a safe place to be. She wasn't always like this—losing her job and watching her children move out on their own has left her despondent. ... (read more)

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A Real Halloween

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Mr. C's Magic Garden
by Maria C. Ciancio
Trafford Publishing

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"All in all, Mr. C.'s magic garden was enjoyed by everyone, including birds and animals."

Mr. C. loves to plant his annual spring garden. Tomatoes are his favorite, but he chooses a wide variety of seedlings from the local nursery each year. He clears and turns the soil before planting his seedlings. As gardeners are wont to do, Mr. C. decided to start a compost pile one year to improve the soil further and put his kitchen waste to good use. But this leads to an unintended consequence: "volunteer" plants that Mr. C. didn't plant. ... (read more)

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Beauty of Language

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The Best Of Gival Press Short Stories
edited by Robert L. Giron
Gival Press

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Maybe if Geist had that morning turned left instead of right, he might have been alert instead of being trapped on his plummeting psychic elevator."

Eleven stories comprise this collection. They were selected for quality of writing rather than adherence to any motif or theme. Thus, they cut a wide swath through all manner of timeframes, environments, events, and emotions. In addition to first-rate writing, there is however another element that links them all together. That element is an exploration of the inner self—a searing examination of what makes us behave the way we do—and the consequences that result from such behavior. ... (read more)

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Thought-Provoking, Entertaining

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Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses: Climbing the Road to Self-Realization
by Valentina Knurova
Total Health Publications

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Bring just a particle of creativity to your daily life and you will see how the world will change and it will be full of new colors and give you novel possibilities that you had never imagined."

In the Town of Geniuses, everyone hears in his/her own language, timelessness allows people from any century to meet and converse, and there are guides to point you to your own hidden genius within. The book begins when the narrator, Sophie is enveloped in a strange fog that carries her to a fortune teller who introduces her to the ideas she will be grappling with during a mystical study tour of the fabulous Town. Sophie will talk with some of the world’s most remarkable people and learn about many more—geniuses from every age, religion, and discipline. ... (read more)

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Nurse of Courage and Duty

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Fatal Decision
by Terri Arthur
Henschel Haus Publishing

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"I have done my duty. Now you must do yours. Put on the blindfold."

Historical fiction brings the past to life in ways that scholarly collections of facts simply cannot. Lives that were lived and events that actually happened are relived more fully when novelized. That’s certainly the case in this vibrant retelling of the life and death of World War I nurse Edith Cavell. ... (read more)

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A Complex Latticework

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Limboland
by Leigh Goodison
Sheffield Publications

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Losing the soul completely would kill either child. Or if one came out the victor, the other’s death was inevitable."

Goodison has penned an interesting thriller jam-packed with treachery, recriminations, guilt, and guile. All her major characters have locked something away in their pasts that they don’t want to revisit but must if there’s to be any hope of saving the children they love. ... (read more)

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A Natural Mystery Storyteller

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Elizabeth Daleiden on Trial
by Ron Fritsch

reviewed by Donna Ford

"Elizabeth Daleiden had to know, better than anybody else, what happened the night Henry and Titus died in the fire that destroyed their house."

With his simple statement, Jonah resurrects the question he has been asking himself since a child of six, watching the fire near his grandmother's farm and listening to the hateful remarks of locals. Did someone deliberately set the fire to rid the town of two old homosexuals? Elizabeth was the nearest neighbor and would have seen a mob entering. Without hesitation she assures Jonah, now a Chicago lawyer, that the fire was an accident. ... (read more)

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Rethinking the Net

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Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why You Need It More Than Ever
by John R. Patrick
Attitude, LLC

reviewed by Donna Ford

"The only prerequisite for reading this book is a strong desire to meet the rising expectations of people growing up on the Web."

While an IBM marketing executive, Patrick published Net Attitude in 2001, just as the "dot com" bubble burst. This book offered what companies lacked—not technology or money—a net attitude motivated more by user needs and less by corporate greed. ... (read more)

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Electric Knowledge

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Electric Savvy: Using Electricity to Make Your House a Home
by Blaine C. Readler
Full Arc Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"However, it didn't matter much, since everybody was using ear buds, which is like crumbling up the Mona Lisa and jamming her through your mail slot."

Readler realizes that while a great many people know how to use the tools of modern technology such as a computer, microwave, or even a simple light switch, only a small percentage of the population understands how any of these marvels work. He is also aware that while thousands of textbooks may offer diagrams, formulas, and schematics to explain the science behind electricity, sometimes a less technical and more casual approach to the subject may be better for many learners. With these facts in mind he has dumped all but two equations from his text, junked the jargon, and decided to take a conversational tone to explore his topic. The result is a relaxed yet highly informative book explaining how electricity functions in our homes and lives. ... (read more)

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Facing Reality

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Glossolalia
by Tantra Bensko
Insubordinate Books

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

"Martha laughed: 'What's up, girl, have you started speaking in tongues?' Martha raised her hands in the air and nodded her head, her eyes closed like an earnest Pentecostal."

A novel that crosses genres, with a portal into the odd, Glossolalia offers a glimpse into the psychological aspects of both Nancy, our heroine, and others, including her Uncle Geoff, as well as into the minds of those in the Agents of the Nevermind with their secret language of Enochian. Armed with her wits and abilities of confusing origin, Nancy is influenced by Geoff, who employs her and utilizes mind control, including unknown medications; Martha, an employee where she works who teaches her about sex and sensuality... (read more)

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Love and Honor

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Court of Miracles: A Human Comedy of Seventeenth-Century France
by Brigitte Goldstein
Xlibris

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Everybody who was anybody and anybody who aspired to be somebody vied for the honor of being among the select inner circle."

Begin this vibrant historical fiction and you are immediately transported to Paris in 1661. While poverty, famine, and smallpox stalk the common citizenry, the nobility’s gravest concern is admittance to the most fashionable soiree being conducted by the rich, beautiful, and talented Marquise de Valinquette. The seemingly incongruent juxtaposition of wretched rabble and bejeweled aristocracy is in fact the axis on which this scholarly and entertaining novel turns. ... (read more)

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A Sense of Unity

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Water Wisdom
by Robert H. Wellington
Balboa Press

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Somehow the world has chosen to embrace the theories of randomness, chance, and survival of the fittest, to the exclusion of the spirit and consciousness."

Hall is a twenty-two year old graduate of college who feels somewhat troubled by an inner unease as he contemplates his future. Intuitively sensing that there must be something beyond career and family, he is startled when a vision of “the heavens open up and the multitude of heavenly host descend over the altar” during a Christmas Eve midnight service. Hall decides to embark on a canoe trip in Canada’s Quetico National Park to help him digest this experience. While paddling and camping, Hall writes poetry and begins to experience intense spiritual realizations. These increase until he finally encounters a mysterious entity named Joshua who engages him... (read more)

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Building Better People

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The Complete Model for Positive Behavior Management: A Transformational Guide for Parents and Educators
by Dina Al-Hidiq Zebib
CreateSpace

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"If you want to see changes in your children, begin by changing yourself."

Using the carrot, not the stick, and catching more flies with honey than with vinegar are time-honored sayings that are, unfortunately, oft-ignored in the classroom and at home. Yet, positive empowerment and proactive behavioral management are the keys to raising productive, conscientious, and emotionally intelligent children. The author is a longtime coach, educator, and mother who is well-suited to ask the difficult questions that drive inner reflection and positive change. Here, she presents her COMPLETE model-an acronym that stands for Contemplate and reflect, Open-heartedly listen, Make strong connections, Plan your priorities, Lead the learning through direct teaching, Empower through acknowledgment, Tactfully correct, and Evolve and transform. ... (read more)

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Hannibal's Wake

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In the Wake of Hannibal
by Robin Levin
Ingram Spark

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Cannae would take its place alongside the battle of Marathon and the battle of Gaugamela as one of the most one-sided victories in the history of warfare."

The Carthaginian Empire successfully invaded the Iberian Peninsula (Modern Spain) after Hamilcar Barca established Carthage’s presence there, initially to secure important gold and silver mines. His three sons, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Mago eventually live there in Khart Hadasht (modern Cartagena). This book centers on the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C), when Hannibal embarks with a large army to invade and conquer Rome once and for all by crossing north over the Alps with a herd of elephants. We view the events from the viewpoints of Mago, Hannibal’s youngest brother, his best friend Gisco, and Gisco’s wife Sansara. Court politics, imperial ambitions, and the tactics of mercenary warfare are explored. ... (read more)

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An Epic Thrill Ride

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The Gem Connection: A C.J. Cavanaugh Mystery
by Michael Lane
Booklocker

reviewed by Jennifer Weiss

"Besides not buying the story about Renita, she was suspicious about the extent of my involvement in this case. My weakness for children would have been a plausible explanation."

C.J. Cavanaugh is a well known private investigator. C.J. and his partner Renita Harris are hired by a mystery client to solve the murder of Clinton Windell, but they are not allowed to tell anyone about the case. Instead, they assume a false identity, a false job so to speak, to uncover the facts. Windell has not only been brutally murdered in his home, but also was robbed of his uncut gems worth twenty million dollars. Trying to remain anonymous, C.J. and Renita must become creative and think outside the box in order to solve the case. Michael Lane's story takes readers on a thrilling ride filled with excitement, mystery, and suspense. Mystery fans haven't read a story quite like this one. ... (read more)

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Better Business

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For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good
by Samuel Gregg
The Crossroad Publishing Company

reviewed by John E. Roper

"But while the Christian moral life is certainly concerned with not doing evil, finance is far from being an intrinsically problematic activity."

The author knows he has his work cut out for him. Many Christians have been indoctrinated with a general distrust of both money and its effects on society. This often translates into the belief that money, while necessary, is still inherently evil, and that those who trade in it such as banks and other financial institutions are suspect at best. Thankfully Gregg is well-prepared for the challenge in front of him, and in possibly one of the finest books ever written on the subject, he shows how faith and finance do not have to be incompatible. ... (read more)

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Web for Good

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Friending God: Social Media, Spirituality and Community
by Antonio Spadaro, S J.
The Crossroad Publishing Company

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"We the people of the twenty-first century are creatures of the World Wide Web, always online, always connected, always communicating. And we—like all others throughout history—have created this technology in our own image, which gives this creation of ours a spiritual dimension as well."

Antonio Spadaro, S. J., editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, has developed a new term for the computer age: cybertheology. In this short but significant book, he speaks to Catholics and others about ways to approach the Internet, since it is obvious that this is a technology that can be used for good or for ill. Spadaro asserts that its powerful, instantaneous ability to link to human thought processes indicates that the World Wide Web is inherently enmeshed with spiritual energy. The Internet is a "place" where people can gather, become a family and uphold one another. Despite its noted dangers, the Internet can be a place for evangelism. Spadaro believes that cybertheology ... (read more)

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High Flying

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Sketches of a Black Cat: Story of a Night Flying WWII Pilot and Artist
by Ron Miner
CreateSpace

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"I have often wondered how many I killed – kind of an unsettling feeling, but an impossible situation."

Like many young boys, Howard Miner grew up fascinated with machinery, particularly locomotives, ships, and planes. When the U.S. joined the Allies after Pearl Harbor, it seemed only natural that he would put his fascination with flight to good use by becoming an airman for the Navy. Howard's excitement at the prospect of finally becoming an airman did not blind him to the very real dangers of war. Howard left for training early in 1942 and just eight months later shipped out to the Pacific theater. Howard flew with the Black Cats squadron, which had earned its moniker because its planes were completely blacked out—both in appearance and in operation. ... (read more)

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Enjoyable History

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The Ghost of Battle Ridge
by Susan La Serna
Warren Publishing

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"Cora looked down as the rain-soaked ground next to Sweet Tea washed away, revealing an ancient piece of metal. The children all looked at each other. Then, Cora wiped away the red clay earth, yielding an old canteen. It was crusted with bits of deer sinew along its edge. Cora turned it in her hands, allowing the rain wash away the mud. She could barely make out the inscription: Mathias Sabbath Mullen NC 2nd Regiment
b. July 27, 1753"

Mike Agosto and his family move from the wildfires and earthquakes of Northern California to the thick humidity and storm-prone green landscape of North Carolina. His father begins a job as history professor for UNC Greensboro, a profession that encourages Mike's own interests in US history. As Mike is about to enter the fifth grade, he befriends next door neighbor and schoolmate, Cora, and her dog Sweet Tea, who takes a liking to Mike's Siberian Husky, Hot Shot. ... (read more)

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The Belden Boys Help Out

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Belden Boy Series - Backwoods Bully
by P. J. HarteNaus
Whistleslick Press

reviewed by Michael Radon

"I got a hankering to go inside the kitchen and see if Mrs. McDugal is keeping the egg money inside the cookie jar."

In this third installment of the Belden Boys series of books, readers spend their time getting to know Franky Olson, the school bully and occasional friend of Peter McDugal. While at first Franky's pranks and selfish behavior may seem like something he does simply to get his kicks, it is quickly revealed that Franky's actions are the result of a difficult home life and trouble focusing on his lessons. With a mean new teacher who relishes the opportunity to humiliate Franky, a sick mother at home, and a farm with no food, Franky takes the frustrations of his life out on others often to his own chagrin when consequences or guilt work their way back to him. Though he is still young, Franky must learn that a simple act of kindness can reverse someone's entire fortune before he's left with nothing and no friends. ... (read more)

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Questioning Belief

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Jesus is No Excuse
by Gregory St. James
E-BookTime

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"I St. James, say unto you that my God did not create any religion, that religion is something that man created."

Writer Gregory St. James praises some aspects of generally accepted Christian teaching and condemns others. His book comprises a plain-spoken examination of the bible—he never capitalizes that word—and commonly accepted ideas about God (always capitalized). He asserts that God never actually appears to anyone, despite biblical stories to the contrary, but that God gave him messages in dreams. He believes Jesus was crucified and died, not for anyone’s sins, but as a man dies, no more. He states that God spoke to Jesus before his death, and recounts pronouncements not recorded in scripture. He debunks the notion of the resurrection, pointing out, perhaps fairly, that those who purportedly saw Jesus after his death did not recognize him. The author augments his narrative about biblical events with a chapter of his poems at the end of the book. The poems advance some conventional spiritual tenets and express more piety than is evident in earlier chapters. ... (read more)

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Strong Voice Poetry

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At the Threshold
by Gedda Ilves
Aquarius West Press

reviewed by Michael Radon

"I am an altruist
and decided:
worms also get hungry."

Romantic, intelligent, and poignant, this third anthology of the author's poetry draws from a lifetime of international and interpersonal experience. Many of her poems deal with a disconnect in communication, one person yearning to share feelings with someone who is away on business or no longer alive. At the same time, these selections bridge continental and political borders, showing the universality of the human experience from Honduras to Hong Kong. Each poem comes from the narrative perspective of a unique character that readers will see for just a glimpse into their most private thoughts. The final section of the book is specifically reserved for poetry about children, containing little vignettes ranging to the precocious wanderings of toddlers to the silent terrors of living as a child with an abusive adult. ... (read more)

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A Moral Legacy

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The Wisdom of Generations: Using the Lessons of History to Create a Values-Based Future
by Tieman H. Dippel, Jr.
Texas Peacemaker Publications

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Remember that many blame whoever is in office for the problems and see the solution as voting them out or changing government. However, political leaders are symptoms, not causes of the problems."

Our world struggles under the weight of rising personal and national debt, terrorism, racism, and gender inequality just to name a few of the woes. Yet as the author's book points out through historical examples and through the insightful observations of both Dippel and others, the primary issue behind these problems can often be traced to the disappearance of the Golden Rule in society. ... (read more)

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Epic Humor

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Hail to the Chief: An Inauguration Poem, or a Lament for What Might Have Been
by Tanyo Ravicz
Denali Press

reviewed by Priscilla Estes

"It's your turn now—the Ascent of Rodham—
You get on top, I’ll take the bottom."

An epic poem may seem a curious device to trace the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton, ending with her imaginary inauguration as 45th president of the United States. Epic poems conjure Homer’s The Iliad and Dante’s The Divine Comedy, classics expressing deep thoughts and moral consciousness. Epic poems also tickle the mind and ravish the intellect, grant more freedom of imagination than prose, and exaggerate both virtue and vice in a way that teaches, pleases, persuades, stirs, and entertains. ... (read more)

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Striking and Inimitable

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The Grace of Crows
by Tracy Shawn
Cherokee McGhee

reviewed by Anita Lock

"The grace of crows is the kind of grace that's straightforward and honest."

Forty-seven-year-old Saylor Crawmore suffers from anxiety disorder. Surrounded by dysfunctional environs her whole life, Saylor struggles on her own to overcome her mental illness since therapy and meds cause more problems than help. Saylor learns that Billy Underwood, a friend from her teen years and the only person who understood her painful childhood, is now homeless. Saylor searches for her dear friend in the hope of helping him. Once Saylor locates him, Billy brings up horrific memories that Saylor would rather forget about—ones that are key to understanding her mental illness. ... (read more)

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Smart, Deep Space

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War And Lies: Book II Of The Citadel 7 Saga
by Yuan Jur
Promontory Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"In his delirium, he tripped on something quite obscure and fell face down upon the ground in a sprawl, then felt the giant hand descend, grab him by the torso, and snatch him up."

Imagine if the universe that our scientists tell us about was itself a mere quadrant in an impossibly vast realm of existence known as the Superverse. In Jur's highly complex Superverse, countless mortal and ethereal races dwell and occasionally overlap with each other. Ruling it all are the Evercycles, beings of unfathomable power that are higher than the gods and lesser gods. This is the extensive sandbox that the author has chosen to build his ambitious Citadel 7 series in and one in which everything, even history and memory, are subject to change ... (read more)

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Meeting the Need of Others

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From Impossible To Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue
by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
Wiley

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Tripling isn't magic. It's not about the school you went to, luck, or working harder. There's a template that the world's fastest-growing companies follow to achieve and sustain hypergrowth."

Many businesses start out well but plateau after a while. Some remain permanently stuck there, or worse, begin to slide downhill into irrelevancy and ultimate failure. However, if there is one thing the authors of this book are experts on it is how to take businesses to the next level. Both Ross and Lemkin have proven track records as entrepreneurs, and their extensive and successful campaigns to make their companies rise to the top have also afforded them some valuable insights into what works in business and what doesn't. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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My Father's Son: A Memoir
by John Davis
Outskirts Press

John Davis's memoir begins with the tale of his earliest memory: a gun pointed at his mother's head. Davis captures the reader's attention with his bold first sentence and doesn't let go again until the final word. The first chapter might be a short one, but it packs an emotional punch. In just a few snappy paragraphs, Davis establishes the tone, the family dynamics, and the environment of his childhood. We learn about his mother's defiant but caring personality. We learn that as a child, the author lived close to his extended family. ... (read more)

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