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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of 17,000 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
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How We'll Live on Mars
by Stephen L. Petranek
Simon & Schuster


"There are some wildcards in terraforming Mars, including the possibility of reawakening ancient life-forms."

President Nixon’s legacy, and resulting long dark shadow over history, rests with two monumental blunders unknown to most people. He took the US dollar off the gold standard, resulting in a global currency destabilization that may soon come home to roost. In addition, he canceled the Saturn V rocket—the largest rocket ever assembled by mankind, the rocket that would have launched astronauts to Mars.Without either of those decisions, the US space program might have already colonized the red planet and would have the money to accomplish it. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

To Live Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Diary of an Immortal (1945 - 1959)
by David J. Castello
Werewolf Publishing

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

"We'd also heard reports from the hordes of refugees streaming westward towards us about medical experiments and medieval style torture; stories almost too fantastical to believe."

The story is written in first person by Steven Ronson, who begins his tale of being a U.S. Army medic during World War II and experiencing the horrors of Nazi Germany, including the freeing of the Dachau concentration camp. The first chapter sets the stage for a fascinating journey for Steven—from the hell of the war to the beginning of his life as an immortal human being. For when he was in Germany, the troop discovered a treasure trove of Nazi goods in a hideout. While others looted for souvenirs and money, he read about the providence of a box of pills, pills which were meant for Hitler in order to dominate the world with immortal, super Aryan beings. ... (read more)

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Is the Honeymoon Over?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Consideration of the Mystical Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Paths of Destiny
by Lilian Nirupa
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"The Jyotishian, or expert in understanding the signs, following specific instructions of the sages stored in many thousands of rules, will use them to depict an interpretation of the person's whole life by creating a Jyotish reading."

Astrology—the belief that planets and other heavenly bodies can influence our lives—is considered by some to be a science which, properly understood and utilized, can provide practical guidance. Author Lilian Nirupa, practitioner of the Vedic astrological system called Jyotish ("light of God"), is a Christian who here expresses her conviction that Jyotish, while grounded in Eastern (Hindu) religion, can also benefit those who follow other spiritual paths. Her book is a basic explication of the Jyotish system, suitable for someone new to both astrology and Vedic teachings. She provides astrological charts and other diagrams to illustrate the many "thousands of rules" mentioned above. ... (read more)

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A Seasoned Writer

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

UFOs and God
by Michael R. Lane
Bare Bones Press

reviewed by Lee Ware

"I was actually doing well until I heard her voice and all that changed. She resurrected the void in my life. I hated her for that, her and Alexander Graham Bell."

The stories range from a couple of pages to over thirty. They begin with two boys tossing pebbles and making wishes into a well, and they end with a writer awaiting the return of his wife while he contemplates the lives and scenery surrounding him. In between, we have World War II soldiers, a devout believer in UFOs, a man deciding whether to live or die, and many others creating a varied spectrum of characters and settings allowing the reader to slip from one world to the next. The stories themselves are not centered around a single idea or place, but... (read more)

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An Epic Thrill Ride

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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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Intelligent Erotica

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

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 DOXA Method for Self-Understanding

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Passion Spirit Purpose: 3 Formulas to Introduce the DOXA Method to Empower You to Love Your Life
by Ana Weber
Balboa Press

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

"Every puzzle we encounter, every challenge that calls for our creativity, lets us build part of a new foundation of self-esteem and self-love as we take ownership of our actions and solve the mystery."

In 157 pages, twenty-two chapters, an appendix, and endnotes, the author explores how to grow through a sense of empowerment. The initial chapter, which focuses on using the DOXA way, sets the stage for the rest of the book. DOXA is about Desire, Outstanding, Xing, out the impossible, and Allowing you to be you. This chapter leads to others on mysteries, desire, and living in the now of DOXA. Other chapters include your purpose, intentions, learning and growing, freedom, your metaphorical grocery bag regarding taking an inventory of your day, and a cautionary tale regarding relationships. Continuing chapters reveal living in the now, listening to the inner voice, compromise, gratitude, accepting the unknown, her story of her immigration, love, and celebrating each day. The Appendix examines conversation starters for a dialogue with yourself such as, "Are you happy at your job?" and others. ... (read more)

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To Forgive

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Freddy and Margewich
by Adena Trevor
Xlibris

reviewed by John E. Roper

"At last she came to a steep cliff. She was so angry, she threw the sack over the cliff, lost her balance and slipped over the cliff herself."

Margewich had had a terrible day. She had heard stories of Freddy and smelled his “delishomposhus” pancakes, and her desire to have some of the fluffy, golden brown marvels had become so overpowering that she had to have some. It should have been so easy to slip the boy in her sack, carry him back to her dark forest lair, and then force him to make as many pancakes as she wanted. But the lad was tricky, and with the help of some sympathetic do-gooders he had foiled her plans. Thoroughly beaten, she swore never to return, and so ended the story the author remembered from her childhood. Yet was that truly all of the tale?  ... (read more)

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A New Season

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

She's Got the Jack: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"He sighed as I looked at the screen full of photos of me. 'What's this?' He answered very monotone, 'My wife in another man's eyes."

At the end of the previous book, Kate and Robert's near-idyllic, passionate whirlwind romance and marriage was struck with family tragedy at the car accident her pregnant sister and brother-in-law were in. This story opens with the joint funeral of this crash that claimed the life of Kevin and Stacey. Just when the situation seems like it can't get any worse, the dark twist that Kevin has been spying on Kate and taking photos of her, chasing after his unrequited love, comes to the surface. Kate and Robert must come to terms with this information in their own ways... (read more)

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Imagination Explored

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emily and George
by Adena Trevor
Xlibris

reviewed by Megan Bain

"No one else could see him but George was Emily's best friend."

George is Emily's first friend, although imaginary. During the day, they play hide and seek and play ball with Emily's dog, Susie. At night and during nap, George joins Emily in her dreams and together they travel to faraway places to play with all types of baby animals. Yet with all this fun, George and Emily's favorite activity is reading. George can vividly describe to Emily places named in the storybooks as if he has personally visited each location. ... (read more)

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Being Young

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Group Home
by David Seila and Michael Skubal
Henschel Haus Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Predators sometimes wait in ambush. Other times, that same predator will just lift her skirt or unbutton an extra button on her blouse."

Sometimes stability can only be found through movement. David is a long-haul trucker, a wounded warrior whose home base cruises on the eighteen wheels of a Peterbilt. On the road behind him is a childhood where his abusive father once sat at the top of the food chain until his son reversed the roles and became the predator. At another stop on that road is a group home, a constantly churning cauldron of teenage hormones and hurt that scarred him in ways that at times equaled and at other times surpassed what he had experienced as an M.P. in Iraq. But perhaps the most personally devastating moment in time he left behind him holds the girl in the rain, a young woman he will spend years trying to find again. ... (read more)

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To Live Again... and Again

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books

reviewed by Jennifer Hummer 

"'Do you fellows want to live as long as civilization on earth exists?' Dalton said in precise unhurried words, while smoothing down his thick crop of silver hair. "

It's the 22nd Century and people no longer need to die—at least that is what John Dalton, a retired billionaire, wants to prove. After convincing his friends, all of whom are also past their prime years and billionaires, to join him, the men seek to clone their DNA while retaining their memory. The Reborn Project, as Dalton calls it, is not only morally questionable, but illegal. Still, the men press on, finding a way to take over the financially strapped IMS (The Institute of Medical Science). After a few missteps, John Daltons' reborn operation is a success and his old memory is placed into a younger clone, JD Dalton. But not everyone is happy about the Reborn Project and soon JD must deal with death threats. Legitimizing human cloning won't be as simple as Dalton had once thought. ... (read more)

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Off the Beaten Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Age of Water
by Sean Craft

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"So much of it about water, he reflected. Salt or fresh, clean or filthy. Calm or troubled."

Renowned British author, Graham Greene, used to refer to many of his novels as “entertainments.” This book has many of the ingredients that made Greene’s work so interesting. There’s an expat living in the stifling heat and humidity of a faraway country. There are multiple secret liaisons. There is a bit of treachery, a dollop of tragedy, a whiff of intrigue, and enough introspection to make it all seem very personal. ... (read more)

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Secrets of the Mind

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Alexandria
by Gregory Ness

reviewed by Jennifer Hummer

"You're in Prague to study people's dreams and a strange man appears who knows too much about you, gives you an old coin and plays a flute that hypnotizes you into a dream state. Abnormal? Yes."

Roy, a physicist, and his girlfriend, Renee, have moved to Prague after being ousted by their lab at home in the United States. Roy's research on dark energy has been deemed too dangerous to continue. His superiors claim Roy's findings will threaten the world order and in particular the dependence on fossil fuels. As Roy and Renee continue to study the dreams of "sleepers," they begin to wonder if the visions they are seeing are actually scenes from the sleeper's past life. One of the dreams takes Roy back to ancient times inside a sealed temple in Alexandria. There, Samia and Agrippa enter into "The Isis Rite of Eternal Bond," a ritual that will bond them for eternity as each other's spiritual guides. After witnessing this dream, Roy will have to consider if the trauma produced in bridging the conscious with the subconscious might be too much for the human mind to experience. ... (read more)

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Life Honored

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Journey of Two Souls
by Linda Darlene Marie Sharpe
Xlibris

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"As a family, we had a strong relationship and it worked for us. I felt God put me here for a purpose, and at this time, it was to be a caregiver."

First time author Linda Darlene Marie Sharpe had the duty and privilege of taking care of her mother who developed signs of age-related dementia late in life. A strong woman who saw many changes in her long life, Frances Byers survived an early relationship with a dangerously abusive husband who once kidnapped their three children. She weathered the Great Depression and the sudden loss of a faithful spouse. She and the author, who had always been close, decided to share living arrangements in the last twenty years of her life. Once her mother's dementia took hold, Sharpe did her best to learn as much as possible about the alteration in her mother's personality and to be comforting and supportive, "not confrontational," which required a great deal of patience. Sharpe took early retirement from her career in the medical field to be an active participant in the care of her mother. She sought advice from various experts, monitoring her mother's treatment... (read more)

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High-Intensity Space Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Quasar Mirror
by Stephen McCoy
Xlibris

reviewed by Sheelonee Banerjee

"The most dangerous possibility is the quasar, and if that reaches us, it will vaporize the Osprey."

The Osprey is a mining ship with an expert crew of six. Osprey's commander Captain Kenneth Winter has the assistance of his wife and chief engineer Susan Winter, executive officer Thomas Callaway, payload specialist Denise Klum, John Minestone, and Mario Gomez. The Osprey has two missions: retrieval of diamond and gold ores mined on Jupiter's moon Io and delivery of emergency medical supplies to La Grange on Jupiter's moon Ganymede. However, during the mission, Saturn's two moons collide, creating a quasar. While the quasar threatens to destroy the Osprey, it also warps time, putting the lives of the crew at high risk. Chaos ensues when all communication is lost with the Earth base. Caught in the time crisis where the ship seems to be moving backward from 2151 to 2015, the crew must battle untimely deaths, technical disasters, hidden enemy clone, and food and water shortage to return safely to Earth. ... (read more)

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Delishomposhus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Freddy and Mrs. Goodwich
by Adena Trevor
Xlibris

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"Freddy looked out the window and saw a most peculiar sight. Just above his house he saw a little woman dressed in an orange and purple dress and a green pointed hat with a gold tassel, riding on a broomstick going round in circles just above his house and coming lower and lower until she landed with a plop right at his door. The little woman opened the door and said 'Do I smell pancakes?'"

Freddy loves pancakes. He also knows how to make them and make them well. So well, in fact, it captures the attention of the peculiar, little woman with a broomstick, Mrs Goodwich. She drops in one day to Freddy's home, lulled there by the "delishomposhus" scent of the pancakes. She makes one request: She wants to learn how to make pancakes just like Freddy. With his mother's permission, Freddy accompanies Mrs Goodwich back to her home, the "funniest house he had ever seen." What follows is an amusing interaction, as Mrs Goodwich shares her curious world with Freddy while he teaches her the proper way around the kitchen. ... (read more)

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The Past Buried Inside

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Hook: Surfing to Survive a Shattered Family, Drugs, Gangs, and the FBI
by Kathleen Doler
BookLocker

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Maria has every right to despise Shane and how he’s lived his life so far. I don’t defend him. I just rescue him. It’s a sick familial compulsion."

In this novel the pace is swift, the plot is involving, and character development is thorough. Coincidence—as story facilitation—is relatively minimal. There is candor in the way the heroine feels about herself, her increasingly escalating problems, and the dysfunctional family she can distance herself from physically, but not emotionally. Plus there is a lyrical, almost mystical homage to surfing, sailing, and the sea itself. Participants in this tale are never far from its enticing allure. ... (read more)

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Her Guardian Angel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Letters to Grace: The Angel Diaries
by Monica Page
Xlibris

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"I feel a familiar presence and realise Grace is sitting next to me. No need for words, we sit side by side in this paradise, in awe of the beauty around us, feeling complete with this, within and outside of ourselves."

At a certain point in her life, Australian Monica Page became aware that she had a guardian angel named Grace who could be contacted as a consultant and guide. Visualizing what Page imagined to be Grace’s Office, at the top of a long curving staircase, she often visits Grace there. Usually the office appears comfy, an inviting space where Grace sits cozily drinking tea. But not always: once Page opened the door to see a massive hole with a hot wind blowing up from the depths of the earth, where Grace was mixing up a soup of Page’s strongly conflicting feelings, advising her to “stay in tune” and “be open.” In between her visualizations of Grace’s Office, the author writes letters to Grace, something like a journal, expressing her current ideas, hopes, and sometimes, her fears. In the course of writing (roughly between March and August, 2016) the author gets married; her husband John changes careers; and the author decides she too must change, to pursue a career in interior home design and use her writing talents. At each step, Grace offers wisdom, comfort and advice. ... (read more)

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Finding God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Selected Pathways to God: The Intellectual, Psychic, and Spiritual
by Colliston R. Rose, MD
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Many persons view old-age and modern religions as the only pathways into God’s kingdoms. Little do they realize that other pathways exist; furthermore, some are more advanced than old-age and modern religions based on how far into God’s kingdoms one can reach."

Rose states that God lives on “floor twelve of a spiritual mansion”; our earthly existence occupies the first floor. The author has created a chart illustrating that old-age and modern religions (based on intellect) and psychic methods (based on intuition) can only bring a person to the 4th floor, or level, whereas with the Advanced Religion that he prefers, one can begin at the 5th level and eventually attain the 12th level, becoming a Co-Worker for God. Differences between the advanced method and the lower ones include how often worship is performed (daily, weekly, or unknown) and the mechanisms used. ... (read more)

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Smart Action

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Visions in the Dark
by Iain Morrison
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

" The room was left in a hellish fluctuating glow of thickening red tinged black smoke that was becoming more suffocating by the second."

In this novel of espionage, mayhem, and murder, the beauty of the English countryside is being systematically littered with headless, handless corpses. While that’s going on, sinister forces are planning potentially horrific acts that could wreak havoc around the world. It falls to a government security agent and a municipal police inspector to overcome initial jurisdictional rivalries, solve the crimes, and thwart the evildoers. ... (read more)

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A Confident Young Girl

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Corrie's Timeless Travels and Travails
by Iain H. C. Morrison
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"She just wanted a look. Just a look to see if the ruin was there and if anything was as she remembered it. Calling Dusty to her, she scrambled once again down the bank, taking care this time, not to tumble or fall. There it was. In the clearing stood, just as she had recalled, the ruined cottage."

Young Corrie and her dog Dusty are out for a walk when suddenly Corrie finds herself three days in the future. Corrie discovers that she has passed through a time arch–and now she and her family are in danger. A simple walk with her dog launches Corrie into a war among aliens much bigger than herself or even her planet, and now she's at the center of it all. Corrie's Timeless Travels and Travails follows Corrie's adventures through space and time over the course of two grand adventures: Corrie and the Time Arch and Corrie and the Chaunt of Time. Corrie's Timeless Travels and Travails contains two related but self-contained stories which tell of Corrie's first encounter with time traveling, and a subsequent story with a Christmas... (read more)

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Stories of Courage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crossings
by Anna Aragno
AuthorHouse

reviewed by G. Robert Frazier

"She sensed that the gap between herself and her Mother was growing, as was the distance between Sicily and America."

With all the attention the media has generated over the President's immigration ban, Aragno’s fiction debut is well-timed. The book—a collection of a dozen short stories—explores the emotional toll refugees and immigrants experience as they leave behind everything they have ever known to start a new life in America. Through close first-person narration, each story clearly puts readers in the head of Aragno’s main characters, detailing their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and, of course, fears. Each character in turn laments loss of family and friends, holding on to them through vivid memories, while contemplating their new life of opportunity abroad. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Envoy of Jerusalem: Balian d'Ibelin and the Third Crusade
by Helena P. Schrader
Wheatmark

History remembers Balian d'Ibelin—husband of Dowager Queen of Jerusalemm, Maria Comnena—as a diplomat and warrior. After the Christian army's defeat at the Battle of Hattin, almost all of the Kingdom of Jerusalem falls to Salah ad-Din, and survivors move to the city of Tyre. The book begins on the day news reaches Tyre that Jerusalem has yielded. In this third volume in the award-winning series based on Balian d'Ibelin, the no-nonsense first chapter hooks the reader with crucial historical links. ... (read more)

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