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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and gets their book reviews in front of more than 14,000 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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Swimming Underground
by Mary Woronov
Montaldo Publishing


"The ocean had thrown me back onto Brooklyn's shore in pieces and all I could do now was collect and reassemble them into something new."

Actress and artist Mary Woronov paints Warhol-like cinema of her time in the Silver Factory and Andy Warhol’s inner circle during the late 1960s. She was most famously depicted during that time as Hanoi Hannah in the film Chelsea Girls—one of many Warhol “films” and “screen tests” that were never meant to be viewed in the classic linear style of storytelling, but rather the endlessly interpretive impression of art. In fact, Woronov would eventually come to see them as video paintings, often displayed as background pieces while the Velvet Underground played and the party rolled. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

The Heart of a Devil

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Lucifer's Son: The Temptation Chronicles, Book One
by Sergey Mavrodi
W & B Publishers

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"The world around him withered, bleached; it lost color, grew dim, and lost all its beauty. There was nothing to watch, nothing to read, and no one to talk to."

It has been said that there is nothing more frightening than being alone with one’s thoughts. That can frequently be applied to curling up with a book of horror, the supernatural, or the occult. It can definitely be applied to Russian author, Sergey Mavrodi’s latest offering. Here, in one volume, are enough thought-provoking, fear-inducing, and in some cases stomach-churning tales to keep even the most courageous reader looking over his or her shoulder. ... (read more)

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Modern Family

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Second Thoughts, Second Chances
by D.C. Moses
Xlibris

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Viktor took another good long look at all the Clinton Street his eyes could take in. 'Where have all the immigrants gone?' he hummed to himself."

First generation children of Polish immigrants to the U.S., Mitchell and Viktor Kipnis have reached retirement age. Mitchell’s declining health leads him from the West Coast, where he led a successful career in aeronautics, back home to Thompsonville to live with his cousin Viktor. Paul Kipnis, son of Mitchell, now in his thirties, is also there. Mitchell and Paul are soon introduced to Corrina, a vibrantly attractive adoptive daughter of Viktor's, now in her twenties. ... (read more)

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Excellent Stories

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Bonds of Love & Blood
by Marylee MacDonald
Summertime Publications

reviewed by Caroline Blaha-Black

"What was wrong now had been wrong in the beginning. She had married Ashok out of necessity."

In her collection of twelve brilliantly-written short stories, MacDonald explores the pain and beauty of human relationships. MacDonald’s writing is raw and visceral, creating a strong emotional connection between her characters and the reader. The stories ring true when it comes to the many experiences and nuances of human relationships, such as love, divorce, and physical distance. The author, who is a winner of several literary prizes, delivers rich, full characters, who hold our interest and refuse to leave us until the end. ... (read more)

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Suspense Writer on the Rise

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Shadow of Guilt
by Samuel Jay
Infinity Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Shelley grabbed the bedcovers and pushed them against the opening under the door just as it caught fire and singed her face and hair."

Life is filled with pivotal moments. Getting up the courage to ask a colleague out on a date might lead to a lifetime of marital happiness or the awkwardness of rejection. Quitting a stable company to take a job with a promising new one could make a career or break it. In the author's novel the plot hinges on three fateful decisions by the main character. Two will ultimately plunge his life, career, and family into chaos and heartbreak, but the third could very well bring about his salvation. ... (read more)

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A Soldier's Story

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Shot Down
by Steve Snyder
Sea Breeze Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"While standing there, Minet glanced over at the trucks and saw Joseph Simon in one, his face bloodied, and realized the worst had happened; the Americans had been discovered."

Howard Snyder, pilot of the B-17 Susan Ruth was "a little apprehensive" when he learned that he and his crew would be taking the same position in flight formation of a bomber that had been lost in a similar raid on Frankfurt four days earlier, but he had learned in the few short months of training and combat to not let fear and nerves affect him before a mission. However, February 8, 1944, would prove to be a fateful day for the plane's crew and their families stateside when the Susan Ruth was suddenly "shot down" over Belgium. ... (read more)

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Ordinary Life Through God

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Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary
by Melinda Worth Popham
iUniverse

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

"Most of the time I go around on the default setting of myself - the one that says I'm a very nice person. Thoughts matter, all those judgmental, gossipy, mean-spirited, one-down, depressing thoughts I have, but they don't count against me - against my self-image, I mean - the way what I do does."

A story of one woman's triumph over adversity, this autobiography is infused with Popham's religious and spiritual beliefs and her encounters with divinity. The topics explored are ones that most people experience: love, loss, loneliness, death, trauma, pain, joy, happiness, sadness, fun, abandonment, and creativity. The author paints a descriptive picture of what was missing in her life—a needed connection to the blessed and holy through pain—what she relates to as the Miracle Go of her spiritual life. In a heartfelt manner, she examine's her own thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. ... (read more)

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The Art of the Craft

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Notes from a Printmaker: Essays, Images, and Interviews
by Bob Tomolillo
Park Press Printers

reviewed by John E. Roper

"The renewed interest in printmaking has caused an eruption of alternative viewpoints to enter the discussion, including the validity of the printed image and its ability to inform and dictate new trends in society."

To the uninitiated, printmaking is frequently viewed as a profession peopled by trained craftsmen rather than a realm where the artist can also make his mark. But as the author so vividly makes clear through examples from both the past and his own background in the field, the skill and thinking behind the successful design and implementation of a print is a valid, if at times misunderstood, art form in its own right. The print studio can be a place where the expert craftsman and the accomplished artist can successfully collaborate to produce masterpieces. And, like all serious art, the print can also be a force in societal change. ... (read more)

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A Riveting Read

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What She Knew
by Nadine Galinsky Feldman
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"If I could wish for anything, it would be for you to find balance... to know who you are without the trappings of outer success."

Shocked by the announcement at a Wall Street firm that federal agents have arrested Bernie Madoff for securities fraud, money manager Liz Nabor is also taken aback when her boss asks her to use unethical practices to procure a takeover during this troublesome period. Concurrently, Liz gets word that her estranged Aunt Eddie in Washington is dying and requests her presence. A tumultuous chain of events occur while Liz is on the west coast waiting for her aunt's impending death... (read more)

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A Woman to be Reckoned With

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Esther
by Rebecca Kanner
Howard Books

reviewed by Anita Lock

"I am not here by accident."

The story of Esther has been told and retold over the centuries through oral and written traditions, and in later years—plays and movies. Numerous books, whether nonfiction or fiction, have been written to shed light on the probable details in one of Old Testament's inimitable and well-loved plots. Esther is an orphan peasant girl who is kidnapped and taken into captivity for one specific purpose: to satisfy the lustful desires of King Xerxes. Later, the magnificently wealthy ruler of Persia is tricked into agreeing with the elimination of the Jewish population. Kanner's latest novel adds new spins to the girl who smartly used her beauty and brains to save her people from genocide. ... (read more)

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A Beautiful Day

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Grammy's Glen
by Toni Atkinson
BookLogix

reviewed by Michael Radon

"We can dig for treasure under rocks buried deep
Maybe search for baby foxes in the forest asleep"

In a far off, distant land lives a happy and knowledgeable woman who resided out in a meadow full of natural beauty. Friends with the flora and fauna as well as the local children, Grammy is always excited when she has visitors hungry for adventure and exploration. When a young blond-haired, blue-eyed girl and her younger brother find Grammy's garden, they run up to greet her with a hug before deciding to enjoy the area. The threesome settle on a relaxing sit by a duck pond, watching the fish jumping up from the water and the family of ducks quacking in a row as they moved from dry land into the pond. After sitting in the warm sunshine, they decide to dip their feet in the water to cool off and then took a nap to cap off a relaxing day. ... (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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The Mysteries of Life

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The Crossbow Code
by M.C. Raj
Panther House

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Kris gave an open invitation for tittle-tattle. Blessed gossip. Harbinger of human hope. Sluice gate of uncontainable truths."

There is a relatively straightforward story—a classic plot—within the pages of Raj’s novel. Readers will be compelled to see where this tale is going and how it will end. The real delight of this book however, is the journey to get to that end. It is with lilting language, imaginative sojourns, and memorable characters. ... Kris is a young man from India who shows up at the Vatican and is arrested on suspicion of terrorism. His two Muslim wives intercede with the Pope. Kris is released and granted a papal audience. Then the Pope winds up dead. Thus begins a fevered flight from the long arm of the law, the slow unraveling of a sinister conspiracy... (read more)

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More Than Survival

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Béla's Letters
by Jeff Ingber
CreateSpace

reviewed by Donna Ford

"These reminiscences were recounted with a vividness that belied the decades... my father embraced a love, frozen in time, of a world vanished yet ever present."

The author has created a captivating work of historical fiction based on stories told by his surviving parents and relatives, and inspired by the packet of letters his father, Béla Ingber, carried when he fled his native Hungary. Béla was the fourth son of eight children born to Kalman and Eszter Ingber. This loving Jewish family lived in Munkacs, Hungary. Béla was in his 20s when Hitler began to implement his plan for a master race. The oldest son, Jeno, worked for a newspaper and warned of what was happening in Germany. Zionists urged Jews to flee to Palestine before persecution arrived in Hungary. Béla could not bring himself to leave his parents, until he and brother, Ferencz, were conscripted for the Hungarian army. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Scout's Honor
by Dori Ann Dupre
French Press Bookworks

Open the first chapter of this book and step into the mind of a fourteen-year-old tomboy named Scout. Join her in the outfield as part of her mind is trying to keep up with the baseball game she’s actively involved in, while another part is reminiscing about the good times she’s had at summer camp. Plus there’s her pleasant anticipation of the impending camp as she daydreams about the counselor who captured her heart with his good looks and outgoing personality. ... (read more)

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