US Review of Books - Book Review Service

US Review Blog GoodReads Twitter Facebook Linked-In Instagram USR Subscribe US Review RSS feed

 

Book Reviews

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.

Recent Reviews

Featured Reviews

First Chapter Reviews

          

 

Recent Book Reviews

 

search engine by freefind

back to top

Featured Book Reviews

 

Encouraging the Classics

none

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)

back to top

The Journey Begins

none

Wantin
by Truth Devour

reviewed by Anita Lock

"If it feels so good loving the wrong person, imagine how wonderful it is going to be when you love the right one."

Wantin, the first book in a romantic trilogy, is about a young woman's search for love amid unresolved conflict from her past. As a young child, Talia is accustomed to traveling with her parents and having various nannies care for her while her mother and father are off exploring. But at six years of age, Talia's life abruptly changes after the unexpected death of her parents in Haiti, and plans are made for her to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Australia. ... (read more)

back to top

Life As We Know It

none

Badlands
by Thomas Biel
Three Towers Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"I wanted my own bed and my own ceiling, something confined, not the vastness of the stars, the puzzle of endlessness. I wanted to go home but I couldn't move."

Some writers have mastered the art of spinning fantastic tales, trotting out lies of mystery, romance, and high adventure that while barely believable still manage to entertain us. Others choose to cut closer to the bone of truth, making us turn to the author's blurb at the back of the book to see whether or not what we are reading is fiction or fact. Biel falls into this latter camp with his debut collection of linked stories, episodes from the life of his youthful protagonist, Matthew Davis, that seem too painfully real to be imaginary. ... (read more)

back to top

Imagination and History

none

Nelson's Castle: A Bronte Fairy Tale
by Susanne Petito-Egielski
Amuninni Press

reviewed by Carol Davala

"Justice. That's what burns in all our eyes. That's what brings us hope. That's what we live for. That's how we die."

It's easy to get lost in the multi-faceted draw of Susanne Petito-Egielski's novel. Rooted in the history of her own grandmother's hometown of Bronte, the author entertains readers with a captivating mid-19th century fairytale, ensconced in the tradition of castles, hierarchy, forests and beasts, a peasant heroine, magic, and madness. ... Against the backdrop of Mt. Etna, aka "Mungibellu," the one-eyed monster, the bewitching peasant girl Gratia Maria Saitta, yearns for her mother Agata's love. ... (read more)

back to top

This Actor's Life

none

North of Hollywood
by Rick Lenz
Chromodroid

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"If the audience could see inside me—at least as well as I can see out the window in the extraordinary light—they might realize that I’m youthful and charming…"

Rick Lenz is an actor.  Most people don't know the simple truth that he reveals in this captivating autobiography: Actors are real people, and acting is a real job. Tall and handsome but not "pretty" he was able to morph into a villain, a troubled teen, or the occasional edgy lead. Durable actor Lenz, who once aspired to be a doctor or a lawyer, appeared in numerous movies (notably Cactus Flower with Goldie Hawn), TV shows (Murder, She Wrote), and every sort of stage production from summer stock to Broadway to off-off Broadway, to state fairs and just about anywhere he could make a living. ... (read more)

back to top

The Golden Age

none

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)

back to top

Noteworthy Poetry

none

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)

back to top

Nurturing the Creative Child

none

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)

back to top

Real Life Images

none

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)

back to top

A Job To Do

none

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)

back to top

A New Life in America

none

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)

back to top

A New Master Thriller Begins

none

Ahriman: The Spirit of Destruction
by Puja Guha
CreateSpace

reviewed by Michael Radon

"He gave her a bitter glance. '˜What could you possibly add to being a spy?'"

Less than a decade into the future, a new potential terrorist attack in Kuwait has drawn the attention of a classified intelligence organization known only as The Agency. The skills required to prevent the attack leave the assignment to Petra, a hotshot in the Research department who quietly retired from fieldwork after an assignment went belly up on her watch. Now she's forced to uproot her life completely and infiltrate Kuwaiti political circles in order to identify the threat and stop the attack. Making matters worse is the involvement of the Ahriman, a legendary terrorist assassin with a body count to his name and unexpected ties to Petra's past. ... (read more)

back to top

Rough Justice

none

Twin River II: Have Weapons-Will Travel
by Michael Fields
iUniverse

reviewed by John E. Roper

"A blood vessel broke. The crimson liquid flowed over his lips, leaving a sweet, salty taste in his mouth. He gagged and spit blood over Jeffery."

Vigilante justice has long been a theme in literature and cinema. Westerns capitalized on the idea of the lone gunman meting out punishment for evil outside of the law, and more than a few of the pulp detectives dealt with criminals without relying on a judge and a jury. In 1969 Don Pendleton's Matt Bolan starting building up a staggering Mafia body count in The Executioner series, while Robert Parker introduced Spenser, a sometimes law-abiding but equally effective crusader in 1973. Fields' writing echoes both of these authors in his gritty tale of vengeance and madness. ... (read more)

back to top

Finding Noah's Ark

none

The True Story of Noah: Discovering Where the Ark Came to Rest
by Kerry L. Barger
CreateSpace

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"The ark was massive by any standard, covering an area roughly the size of a football field and 60 feet from top to bottom."

The True Story of Noah: Discovering Where the Ark Came to Rest explores the origins of this well known biblical story from a unique angle. Using related literature and information provided, Barger probes further to understand the likeliest resting spot of the ark. In the process, he provides a deluge of enriching historical information that revolves around the life of Noah and the origins of man. Barger’s discourse is intriguing and would particularly spark engaging conversation in a college humanities lecture. ... (read more)

back to top

The Interludes of Life

none

Unrequited
by Truth Devour

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Follow your dreams; they know the way."

Unrequited relays the continuing saga of Talia Jacob and her search for finding the "person whose vibration matches the tune" her soul sings. Talia is financially secure for life as a result of being the sole recipient of her deceased parent's estate. Yet this fiscal stability offers no comfort to the unresolved conflicts of her past and a longing to be loved. Now approaching her thirties, Talia seeks a clairvoyant who confirms, "You have been hiding from the world yet it seeks you out." ... (read more)

back to top

When Dead Isn't Really Dead

none

Death by Autopsy: A Toni Day Mystery
by Jane Bennett Munro

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"You know, the American Heart Association recommends taking at least thirty to forty-five seconds to verify the absence of a pulse before starting CPR."

Toni Day, M.D. is a hospital pathologist who witnesses a car crash into the frigid waters of a deep canal in Twin Falls, Idaho. She selflessly stops to help, but becomes trapped herself. After the car is extricated and one Beulah Mae Pritchard is brought from the car to the hospital where Dr. Day works, she finds herself called in to perform the autopsy. However, once she initiates the procedure, indications are that Beulah may not be so dead. Beulah's husband's dead body is also found stuffed into Beulah Mae's trunk, and his autopsy is piled on to keep Toni busy all weekend. ... (read more)

back to top

Satisfaction Achieved

none

Sated
by Truth Devour

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Now that I've finally found you, I'm never going to let you go."

This is the final sequel to a riveting trilogy about Talia Jacobs and the search for her soul mate. Talia comes face to face with Bodhi Reynolds, her childhood sweetheart. Even though they were only six years of age when they met in Haiti, they were inseparable. Their bond toward one another was so strong that Talia's Haitian nanny "executed a voodoo ritual and plaited" their hair together before the two headed in different directions: Bodhi, to the United States... (read more)

back to top

Women Who Rock

none

Handmaidens of Rock
by Linda Gould
iUniverse

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Whenever we mingle with other musicians, especially in the clubs, I get propositioned…. Cheating on wives or girlfriends is part of the rock star image."

Candy, Hope, and Theda are three high school seniors enamored with a fledgling rock band at their school in the late sixties. Candy is bookish, Hope an aspiring model, with Theda devoted to acting and theater, but all three learn to subdue their career aspirations if they hope to move beyond "groupie" status and enter deeper relationships with the boys in the band. In college, an academically sponsored trip to London turns instead into a happenstance jam session with one of the last musicians signed with Apple Records, the music business failure founded by the Beatles. ... (read more)

back to top

Thorns and Rewards of Life

none

Of God, Rattlesnakes and Okra: A Preacher's Boy Tells His Growing-up Story
by J. Bennett Easterling
MSI Press

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Today when people speak of the good old days, I smile agreeably and keep my mouth shut, but those okra fields are laughing out loud and screaming, 'Who do you think you're kidding?"

Harvesting okra is painful, nasty, thankless work, especially on a sticky Mississippi morning, at the break of dawn, with a million mosquitos determined to keep you company. That's one of the messages gleaned from Easterling's childhood memories. Born in Prospect, Mississippi, to an unsalaried circuit-riding preacher who "raised six kids by hustling and scrambling," the author augments his disdain for okra with recollections of running from scarecrows, trying to out-do (and impress) his father, meeting country fortune-tellers, con artists, and children even poorer than himself—in short, growing up in the good old days when times were challenging. ... (read more)

back to top

Resetting Your Career

none

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


"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)

back to top

First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

none

Let There Be Lite, Or, How I Came To Know and Love Gödel's Incompleteness Proof
by Joe Taylor
Livingston Press

Lay Auto—run by a slow-curve high school dropout-mastermind, a heavily degreed and even more heavily blue-eyed professor, and two fantasy enigma, at least at the outset, women—has created the first bio-garbage-consuming engine, and shady terrorists of uncertain danger linger on the fringes. ... (read more)

back to top

none

Baby Poop: What Your Pediatrician May Not Tell You
by Linda F. Palmer, DC
Sunny Lane Press

Linda Palmer is concerned about what comes out of your baby—that’s right, baby poop—and she’s written a book on it. A strong immune system in the formative years lays a critical foundation for lifelong health. The bedrock for this trend is... (read more)

back to top

none

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)

back to top

none

Hothouse Gods
by Frederick Barrows
Lone Argonaut

In New Orleans, Jimmy has girl trouble—one he wants to dump, another he can’t get out of his mind. Jimmy has past trouble—bad birth, sketchy upbringing. Jimmy has direction trouble, only certain he’s headed the wrong way. ... (read more)

back to top

none

Two Brothers
by C Dunaway
Trafford Publishing

Bill and Bob Larsen, twin fourteen-year-old boys, are left for dead after their rancher father and mother are brutally killed by ruthless outlaws. The boys ride out for their Uncle’s homestead, with sparse supplies and a belly full of determination. ... (read more)

back to top

none

Interviewed by God: A Journey to Freedom
by Beth Banning
PuddleDancer Press

Off the coast of a small island where people gather for healing, Beth Banning communes in sea. Snorkeling beside a boat, she stares eye-to-eye with a dolphin wihch seems to be transmitting a message. ... (read more)

back to top

none

The Alhambra Decree: Flower from Castile, Book One
by Lilian Gafni
Lifeline Publishing Books

Isabella is under pressure of the 1452 variety. She’s overworked, scratching out a living. Her heart is weak, but most of it belongs to her son, Salvatore, the secret lovechild of the Duke, heir to the Portuguese throne. ... (read more)

back to top