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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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The Green Stick
by Reg van Cuylenburg
Blue Palm Press


"Behind us the moon floated in the waters of the Paralrama Samudra... Nightjars laughed like goblins, the cicadas sawed incessantly, and in the distance across the lake we heard the lonely trumpeting of a herd of elephants."

Reg van Cuylenberg, Ceylon-born (now Sri Lanka), leaves behind a captivating memoir of growing toward manhood in The Green Stick. Beginning around the age of three and ending at seventeen years of age, the author, who was also an accomplished artist and journalist, unpacks memories... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

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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Navigating the Patent Process

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The Patent Jungle: The Inventor's Friendly User Guide
by Leon Cooper
90 Day Wonder Publishing

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"That seems to be the essence of the American spirit, that there's always a less costly way, a better way, and lately, a greener way..."

Confused about the difference between trade secrets and trademarks? Not sure whether you need a utility, design, or plant patent? This is the right book for you. Cooper offers a succinct overview of patents and how to obtain them. His easy-to-understand language and straightforward approach is ideal for beginning inventors who aren't sure which step to take next to turn their visions into realities. Readers will gain valuable advice on how to consider their patent applications in light of the possible challenges to the patent's validity. ... (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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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 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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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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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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Nuns of the Last Resort

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Sisters of the Last Straw, #1, #2, #3
by Karen Kelly Boyce
Chesterton Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"She sat on the floor with a bright red face, amidst the broken boxes and crooked metal chair. A broken cigarette hung from her mouth. And that is exactly how the other nuns found her."

What does a nun do when her bad temper forces her out of other convents? Why, she forms her own, of course. Together with the eternally clumsy Sister Krumbles, cigarette-sneaking Sister Lovely, neat freak Sister Shiny, and excitable Sister Lacey, who invents colorful curses to counteract her swearing, Mother Mercy attempts to hold together her new order of misfit nuns and give them all one last chance to practice their vocation. ... (read more)

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The Science of Past Lives

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Something Survives
by Milton E. Brener
Xlibris

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

"The ultimate thesis of my book and this essay is the clear possibility that the atoms, the eternal atoms that form the brain organs dealing with memories, are entangled, and can and do communicate with each other even after the death of the 'prior personality' and in some cases can and do retain the memories of that deceased person."

This book consists of a series of essays regarding developments in quantum physics, entanglement, and the possibility of reincarnation. This is a supplement to his previous book, Our Quantum World and Reincarnation. While there are fifteen chapters and 245 pages including a bibliography, the book is written in large print and spacing which makes it a fairly quick read. The chapters include a discussion of reincarnation cases, mostly based on the work of Ian Stevenson who studied over 2,500 cases worldwide of children who had memories of previous lives. ... (read more)

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A Modern Biblical Interpretation

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The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version
translated by Robert Helm
Xlibris

reviewed by Staff

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son – so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life."

With the multitude of English versions of the New Testament available both on the Internet and in bookstores, the translator of the MEV is well aware that his readers might ask why the world needs another one. However, Helm's purpose with this work is to provide what he sees as a much needed translation in modern colloquial English that will also serve as a "bold witness" for the good news about Jesus Christ. In keeping with these goals, he has opted not to simply rely on a literal, word-for-word translation from the original Greek but instead has chosen to employ a "dynamic equivalent" rendering of scripture as needed. The result is a version that most modern readers of English should easily understand. ... (read more)

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Intriguing Lore

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The Hidden and the Maiden
by Eben Mishkin
CreateSpace

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"It was her. His heart thudded against his rib cage as he stared at her beauty. He drank in the flawless porcelain skin of her face. He had found her, found her at last."

Power over the living is limited, but power over the dead is boundless. When control over a god of death falls into the wrong hands, it's up to an unlikely trio of heroes to stop the impending destruction. James Rathbone is a failed wizard's apprentice who jumps at shadows. Zephyr Wayne is a man who believes himself to be insane because of his unusual talent of seeing ghosts. JJ is the tag-along ghost of Zephyr's mother, possessive of him to the point of obsession. This rag-tag team must work together to send demonic forces back to the darkness from whence they came. They're not exactly knights in shining armor, but they're all the world has. ... (read more)

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A Fantastic, Gripping Read

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Visions Through a Glass, Darkly
by David I. Aboulafia
Cosmic Egg Books

reviewed by Jennifer Weiss

"The jaws of the carcass had been stretched - impossibly so it seemed - to accommodate the unrecognizable form that issued from it."

Visions follows the life of Richard Goodman, a man who runs an institution that teaches the art of watch making to young adults with disabilities. When Richard and Kara take the kids on a trip to Coney Island, a gypsy woman reads Richard his fortune and foretells his death. Not only that, but she also passes her gift on to Richard. Richard tries to figure out how he can save himself from dying in less than three days, but a new enemy arises and threatens the very life Richard is trying to save. Now Richard must also learn who this killer is and stop him before it is entirely too late. Will he succeed? ... (read more)

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Trascending the Self

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Road Map to Power
by Dr. Syed Arshad Husain and A. Darius Husain
MSI Press

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

"No matter how egalitarian and enlightened a society becomes, however, no matter how progressive their policies are crafted, there will still be a gap between the haves and the have-nots if power is defined as a derivative of the amount of wealth and resources acquired."

While the title may lead one to think this is a self-help book, this writing goes beyond that type of genre with its intellectual focus on gaining healthy power. In the writings about the ten rules of power, the first chapter examines how most of us are average (based on the Bell Curve), then takes us through a relationship with a co-worker who inspires him to change, and focuses on the Pareto Distribution of wealth. This chapter is a thoughtful introduction to the rest of the book. Other chapters include a history of power, the legend of equality, and the Great Society. ... (read more)

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A New Gothic Classic

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The Rose Within: A Gothic Romance
by Sana Pirzada
Book Empire

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"I watched in utter disbelief as the lady, an aristocrat, a woman whose beauty was unparalleled, willingly gave her blood to her housekeeper's daughter."

In today’s world of instantaneous communication, universal techno-speak, and the sum total of the world’s recorded information available via mere keystrokes, it feels wickedly luxurious to take a languid journey backward and lose oneself within the conventions, charms, and chills of the classic Gothic novel. Pirzada has penned an admirable homage to the genre with her tale of an eerie estate, foreboding dreams, seemingly unrequited love, hidden secrets, and violent deeds that unfold amid the fog-shrouded gloom of England in 1925. ... (read more)

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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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Darkness in Light

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Redefining Darkness
by Alaric Cabiling

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"Since the dawn of time, mankind has only ceaselessly redefined darkness, so that a new dusk brought forth a new beginning, and to every end there was only the hope that hope would never be lost."

In these unsettling short tales, dark secrets are brought to light, some of them in the most uncanny of ways. Each tale is self-contained and observes the characters within them, their intimate thoughts, motivations, and choices that set them on a collision course. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive


Twin River IV: When The Cold Wind Blows
by Michael Fields

From the first paragraph, readers are treated to the setting of Death Valley, simultaneously painting the harsh, dangerous environment with its most striking and breathtaking features. Soon thereafter, Cain Towers and his uncle Abel are introduced, celebrating Cain's 18th birthday with some wine. This moment of seeming normalcy is immediately shattered as Abel retells the story of he and Cain's father's lives growing up in an orphanage, engaging in sinister, ritualistic behavior after being adopted out... (read more)

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