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October 2018

Book Reviews

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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of 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

Last Stories
by William Trevor
Viking


"He slept and waited still, but he knew in dreams that only angels were is solace."

William Trevor posthumously delivers his final collection of stories in the aptly titled, Last Stories. Widely considered a master of the short form, Trevor does not disappoint in this assembly of late and mostly unseen work. We'll dispense quickly with the accolades, which include prizes short and tall and at least ten New York Times bestsellers, some of which occurred in a time when the public has nearly ceased reading literary works and especially short stories. It suffices to say that more than one writer, during Trevor's eighty-eight years, today works in the short form because of this author, and this trend will no doubt continue. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Searching for Answers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

I Know Now: A Woman's Healing - Violence to Victory, Trauma to Truth
by Cinda Stevens Lonsway
new72publishing


"I’m alright. I’m alive. I’m here and Bob is gone."

When an intruder broke into her apartment in the middle of the night, the life of the author changed irrevocably. The man, whom she decided to call “Bob,” had apparently been observing her and her flat-mate Katie and had found a way into their little domain through an open window. Strangely, though he demonstrated an intention to rape the woman who gave her name to him as “Cindy,” she was able to fend off his advances for three hours. The methods she used were spontaneous. They included physical resistance and aggressive response on her part, but there were clever diversionary tactics as well. She asked him his name, shook his hand, even offered to get up and cook him a meal—anything to distract him from his desire to rape her. In the time they were together, though she could barely see him, she determined that he had an acrid body odor and very rough hands. As dawn broke, a neighbor began doing his morning ninja moves, causing a sudden clatter. Cindy convinced Bob that this was a sign that Katie would soon be up and would come to check on her. Bob fled. He was never found, though the author is convinced that he continued to stalk her. ... (read more)

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Bringing to Light

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hidden Women: A History of Europe, Celts and Freedom
by Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Lexicus Press


"New information gives glimpses into a world where women were treated better 2000 years ago than today."

What do the Celts have to do with the tax-exempt status of churches? Stewart’s book makes its way to a connection in this wide-ranging exploration of Celtic history. She begins with a song of praise to women and ends with a bulleted call to action for “going forward” to reclaim the values and cultural equilibrium achieved by the ancient Celts. Overall, the purpose of the book is to explore the hidden layers of Celtic history in Europe which can be found through archeological discoveries, analysis of Roman conquests, and a critique of the rise of Christianity. She invites readers to reconsider history by looking more closely at the role of women and of the family in the Celtic tradition. ... (read more)

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Inventive & Fresh

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beer and Gasoline
by John Knoerle
Blue Steel Press


"Feed the tyrant a credible story of evil plotting’s within the castle walls -- indeed even a half-way credible story -- and he will act accordingly."

Hal Schroeder is a long-time spy with CIA Counterintelligence that has worked with the group before it even became an officially sanctioned agency in the years following World War II. Now in 1968, he finds himself in the small town of Needles, CA, on assignment from his boss and the Chief of Counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton assigns Schroeder to Needles on a rare field assignment to investigate the disappearance of a local man named Jeremiah McLemore. McLemore operates a for-hire trash disposal business and worked as the trash hauler for Camp X, a mysterious government outpost on the Arizona side of the border near Needles. Under the alias of Army Lieutenant Richard Nolan, Schroeder befriends a young local police officer named Thomas Bell to help locate McLemore. When Jeremiah’s body is found (with the aid of a helicopter pilot-for-hire and a locally famous Native American tracker), the grisly sight sets off all manner of speculation. ... (read more)

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Powerfully Broad

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Penny For Your Thoughts: Poems of Love and Loss (Feelings Into Words)
by Sherrill S. Cannon
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.


"For if I knew ahead of time, then I
Would live my life according to its end;
And never give the present, time to try"

This collection of poetry examines love, as so much poetry tends to do, but the perspective here is unique. That romantic euphoria and devastating heartbreak are seen as two sides of the same emotion. Split up into three sections, the first and third are polar in their approach, either bubbling with affection or profound in examining what was lost or what was never had to begin with. The middle section offers a little bit of both, tying in experiences that are related to being in love or emotions that come along with a relationship or marriage. The poems themselves also cover a variety of forms, ranging from free verse to sonnets and concrete poetry to haiku. Containing over 100 poems, the poet’s musings on an aspect of life that tends to be powerful no matter how it’s experienced will emotionally reach readers of all ages. ... (read more)

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Love and Renewal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Angel City Singles
by Ralph Cissne
Morgan Road


"…'He learned… how a new life can be constructed on the foundation of what had been destroyed.'"

David is at a crossroads when he finds himself bobbing in the Pacific Ocean off a Malibu beach. There, with dolphins swimming just out of reach, possibilities loom. A peaceful drowning death lies temptingly beneath the surface, while back on shore, the potential for fulfilling life beckons. David stays afloat, and this metaphor befits his journey of reinvention from divorce in Dallas to a new life in Los Angeles. It’s 1987—an era before Facebook, YouTube, and Uber drivers of the so-called gig economy. David and a small circle of new friends ease their way through the dark margins of Hollywood. They heal wounds, bide time, stretch pennies, and seek the inner artist in each struggling soul. ... (read more)

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Discovery & Power

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For
by Sara Pascoe
Trindles and Green Ltd


"That would be one of the regrets of her short life, never getting one of those kebabs."

There is much to explore and admire within the pages of Pascoe’s magical, award-winning tale, but divulging every detail would spoil the fun of reading it. The basis of the story is a girl named Rachel Hollingsworth, or Raya, who discovers she is a witch. The young protagonist is a wise-beyond-her-years, fourteen-year-old girl who favors the goth look of black spiky hair and body piercings. Underneath that tough exterior, hidden behind the self-confident attitude, exists a vulnerable girl. Her father is dead, and her mother is afflicted with a “bad case of schizophrenia,” leaving Raya in the foster care system with a woman named Angie. Life in the foster home isn’t bad, and she reluctantly strikes up a friendship with twelve-year-old Jake. Still, Raya is determined to run away and live on her own with her new boyfriend, Tony. Their plan isn’t perfect, but Raya needs to do this while she still has her sanity. But just when she finds Tony she witnesses his irrevocable decision that sends Raya reeling and running away solo to London. ... (read more)

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A Complicated Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Raven's Resurrection: A Cybertech Thriller
by John D. Trudel
Trudel Group


"Raven slung his rifle. He walked over and stood behind them, his Sig leveled, finger on the trigger."

In the author’s latest thriller, America is not as secure as its average citizen might think. Radical Islam poses a serious threat to the nation, but only a few understand just how extensive the reach is of its practitioners. Raven has experienced firsthand how dangerous the nation’s enemies can be, but many of them, in turn, will learn what a deadly adversary he can be. ... (read more)

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Becoming a Leader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unlocking the Natural-Born Leader's Abilities: An Autobiographical Exposé
by Salar A. Khan, MD., MBA.
Xlibris


"…natural-born leaders...have an innate skill set conducive to becoming leaders. They are optimistic, selfless, and do not seek external rewards or glory."

Illustrating the author’s own journey to leadership, this autobiography/memoir was written to pass on experience gained by a lifetime of service. A young child at the time of the India/Pakistan partition, his family resettled in Pakistan. With those early years in turmoil, his parents were his teachers. Once the author entered school, his brilliant older brother became a role model. Challenged by his family, the author assumed responsibility for household duties and volunteered for additional tasks. On his father’s advice, Khan became a doctor serving in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and America. From experience gained, he declares it our duty to find out what we are capable of. ... (read more)

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This Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Illness of Medicine: Experiences of Clinical Practice
by Michael J. Young, M.D.
GM Books


"It is time to stop, time to take stock of what is happening in the practice of medicine."

A physician specializing in urology recounts incidents in his 30-year practice to illustrate some of the flaws in the current medical system. Young vividly describes the sleepless nights and weekends weighed against the constant requirement for total concentration and alertness, two factors affecting any hard-working medical practitioner. Using a myriad of memories, he carefully paints a picture of the many ways that medical work has gradually changed, often for the worse. Such issues include digitalized electronic medical records that may allow a diagnosis of “normal” for every condition a patient might have, even those for which one has not been examined or, at the opposite extreme, leave a diagnosis of some abnormal condition on the patient’s permanent record long after it has been resolved. Another problem is the explosion of medical marketing; ads on TV and the Internet can give false hope for treatment. Complexities of medical insurance can prevent needed care, and fear of lawsuits can have a deleterious effect on a physician’s practice. ... (read more)

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A Ray of Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Real Daughter
by Lynne McKelvey
Savant Books & Publications LLC


"He doesn’t get it, she thought, pausing beside the baby mastodon and its imploring trunk. Doesn’t get that Mandy is a child in mourning, a child in mourning for her mother."

Secrets have always played a major role in novels. From secret passageways in adventure tales to secret betrayals in spy yarns to secret familial revelations in Victorian comedies, tragedies, whodunits, and more. A secret is also at the center of this literate psychological drama that unspools in late 1970s Los Angeles. It is a secret that engulfs its keeper completely—a secret that results in unimaginable consequences when shared. ... (read more)

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Protector of the Law

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Voidstalker
by John Graham
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"A voidstalker was a lone wolf, there was no room for bonds of comradeship. If Gabriel were forced to choose between the squad and the mission…He would leave them all to die."

Perhaps Ray Bradbury was right when he said, “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” That sentiment seems to be at the heart of most science fiction. If one accepts the incredible accomplishments, the extraordinary coincidences, the phenomenal capacity for birth, life, death, extinction, and regeneration on this world that we inhabit, then surely one must accept the proposition that wondrous things are therefore possible on worlds we don’t inhabit. Certainly, wondrous things are on full display in Voidstalker, a sci-fi novel that elongates the limits of its readers’ willing suspension of disbelief while keeping them anchored to very human ties that bind. ... (read more)

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Deliciously Dark Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Encore: A Contemporary Love Story of Hypnotic Abduction
by Tantra Bensko
Insubordinate Books


"What a nauseating motto, at the top of every book on the back cover in sickening Pepto Bismol pink: “Just be yourself!” God, I’d rather die."

Novelist Bensko weaves elements of history, myth, political intrigue, psychology, magic, cultism, religion, and romance into a tight tapestry of contemporary Gothic storytelling that has the reader as entranced as the novel’s protagonist. The plot centers around an avant-garde theater troupe and its resident hypnotist, Dune Thornley. Thornley has made the troupe and its star performer—his wife, Susan—famous for their performances centered around British myths that incorporate the gem, moldavite. In preparation for each performance, Susan’s understudy, Miriam Reynolds, possessing a close resemblance to Susan, undergoes Dune’s hypnotic entreaty. Dune has taught Miriam to take in his wife’s essence—to essentially become Susan on stage. At the season’s final show, Susan is missing, and Miriam takes her place on stage. Before Miriam is released from Dune’s suggestive spell, he abducts her and rushes her away to an ancient castle. With each passing day, the reader becomes aware that Dune has much more in store for Miriam than life as a replacement for his wife. ... (read more)

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Simmering & Rising

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Death by the River
by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor
Vesuvian Books


"Then there was his prize. He had plans for taking her, taming her, and teaching her the lessons she deserved."

In the small Louisiana town of St. Benedict, the Devereaux family has wielded most of the power for generations. Through their brewery, they are the largest employer in town, and the only heir to the family, Beau, is set to inherit the company. But Beau has no interest in taking over the family business; he wants to pursue a career in football as well as pursue the girl of his dreams, Leslie Moore. Prone to anger and used to swinging his clout around, Beau dates Leslie’s twin sister Dawn, all the while harassing Leslie to break her will down. But for Beau, his possessive manipulations soon escalate wildly out of control, and what started as sleeping with some girls behind Dawn’s back turns into twisted, sinister urges to dominate at all costs, putting the lives of everyone around him at risk. ... (read more)

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Forbidden Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dating Policy
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris


"I couldn’t get past the kiss as that employee handbook taunted me on my coffee table."

Mallory Kennedy’s company has a strict "no dating" policy that threatens to derail her first real chance at love with Todd Duvall, a quality control manager in her office who sends her heart racing every time he walks by her. She admires his confidence, his Scandinavian features, and his work ethic. When Todd begins to show interest in her, too, her work life and romantic life become entangled. Adding to the fray, Mallory also finds that Todd has deeper secrets that threaten their future even more than the company’s policy on dating. ... (read more)

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Max's Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Case of Emil Diesel
by Patricia Menton
Xlibris


"Art survives. That is all that matters. Each piece tells our history. It is our gift to future generations. It is our legacy."

This novel is a fictionalized account inspired by a true story. It involves a private art collection illegally seized by the German Democratic Republic in the years during the Cold War. ... (read more)

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Nature & Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Back Story Alaska
by Lance Brewer


"I don’t know what it is about Alaska that stirs yet calms me."

Lance Brewer admits that his sense of urgency to live life to the fullest may be a character flaw, but he clearly has no regrets. His decision to carve out as much as time as possible to fish, fly, and view wildlife in Alaska is fueled by his passion and love for this unique landscape. A lawyer by trade, the author takes every chance he gets to visit Alaska and eventually establishes Camp Brewer as a base for his experiences. In a wonderful scene near the end of the book, he questions himself in the style of a lawyer questioning a witness about the reasons he came to Alaska. This reflective Q&A tool offers deep self-examination and profound answers about making life decisions out of love and not fear. ... (read more)

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A Student of Religion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

As It Is
by Raymond G. Floodgate
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"We need to understand that on a world like this, learning covers every aspect of life."

According to the author, there is more to life on Earth than meets the eye. We live on a tiny dot in space, unable to contact other dots or travel to see them in the vastness of the universe. In one sense, this can make it seem as though each of us is pretty unimportant. Yet we are here, Floodgate says, because we want to be here to learn and progress. The lessons will come from all our actions during each lifespan. Our teachers include everyone and everything we relate with, and there is no syllabus because each life begins as a blank slate. If this seems unfair, the author says, consider how little sense it would make merely to live out a totally pre-ordained path or to come to one’s existence loaded with pre-conceptions brought from an earlier incarnation. ... (read more)

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Devotionals for Inspiration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Daily Walk with God
by Marlene Burling
Author's Press


"There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. It takes time and effort."

A Christian writer offers her wisdom in the form of daily discourses. Her observations and advice center around the theme of taking a walk each day in which we try to see God’s purpose for us that day and in all the time we have on this earth. The book is formatted as an easily readable journal, with 365 offerings beginning on the first day of January. ... (read more)

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Forgetting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Julia’s Memories and the Interflow of Things
by Dave Dröge
MVO Productions


"...some people prefer to stay in their dream, need antidepressant after seeing patches of reality."

As a famous, renowned artist, 55-year-old Julia sets about recording her memoirs of a difficult childhood and the formative experiences that led to her significant career in art. Beginning with her youth, Julia recalls the differing forms of parenting she received from her businessman father and her artist mother. Julia’s father offers her nurturing and support but is frequently away on work, while her mother holds her to exceedingly high expectations as a member of society but also treats her coolly, almost as a threat. As Julia grows older, she makes friends and discovers in herself a streak of activism, spurred on by tragedies in her life both perceived and real. ... (read more)

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Triumph Against the Darkness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Love is the Answer, God is the Cure
by Aimee Cabo Nikolav
Inspirational Books Publishing


"I always pray that God removes any darkness around me and fill my soul and life with love."

Nikolov’s complex, searching memoir details the severe abuse and trauma which impacted the trajectory of her life. It is also a cathartic account of the faith she holds steadfastly to for survival and how her belief in God enables her to transcend the darkness. ... (read more)

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Adirondack Song

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blood and Bone, River and Stone: Memoirs of Lewis County
by Christopher Kuhl
Stratton Press


"Let Him resurrect His Son, let Him resurrect mine--but me, me--leave me in bones in the depths of the pond."

Deep in the Adirondacks, the small towns of Lewis County play host to a simpler, quieter way of life. Through a collection of short stories and poetry, the author recounts the history of generations of families, seamlessly weaving between fact, fiction, prose, and verse. Drawing parallels and origins back to the Trojan War and the Holocaust of World War II respectively, this is a tale of those who break their backs struggling to live off the land. Those who yearn to sever ties to their birthright often find themselves stumbling back after seeing the world, and those who stay to try and cultivate the stony, difficult ground often sacrifice much more than they expected to lose. Lewis County offers peace to those looking for it and tragedy to those not keeping a careful eye. ... (read more)

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Awakening

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Final Days of Judgement
by Beverley Buckley
Xlibris AU


"Once the lessons are learnt, there is no need to repeat the experiences that have allowed us to learn that which we needed to learn."

Describing her own awakening and attunement to a new concept, the author of this book shares her enlightening revelations about the future of the planet and how it will affect humanity. Using wisdom that she channeled from the Elohim, the council that will guide the earth’s new transition, she was given twelve laws, twelve degrees of freedom, and the message that each person has twelve core issues they need to resolve. Using her method of Stress Defusion to help both herself and others, she prepares people to move beyond fear and greed-based motivations as the increasing vibrational frequency of the planet will bring people with it out of the third dimension and into the fifth. As this transition continues to occur both in the world and its people, Buckley shares what she has learned personally and through the Elohim’s laws to lead others toward harmony. ... (read more)

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Surprising & Sharp

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Connected: A Case Of Unique Proximity
by David Random
LitFire Publishing, LLC


"What you’re saying is that we have a confessed murderer, but we have an apparently innocent man attached to him."

With the countless number of mysteries that are written and published year after year, it’s almost impossible to create one that really seems unique. But unique feels like the perfect word to describe this murder mystery involving conjoined twins. ... (read more)

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Dubious Characters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Middle East Quicksand: Espionage, Passion, & Love During the Crisis
by Robert Thomas Fertig
LitFire Publishing, LLC


"Everybody lies,” he said. “You must inquire, question, scrutinize everything. It’s not what people say – it’s what they do that really counts!"

At forty-five, Vincent Renaldo is questioning everything about his life. With his children away at college, a growing distance developing in his marital relationship, and a dead-end corporate job, he feels as if he’s drowning in mundane minutiae. When he’s offered a new position at the smaller firm Computer Techniques and Systems, he decides to accept. Though he learns much in his new position, it isn’t the lucrative proposition he expected. Vincent soon finds himself in search of other prospects. Thus, begins his introduction into the world of foreign intrigue and dangerous espionage. Vincent becomes entangled with the seductive Eve in Monaco, and his life becomes as complicated as the world events exploding around him. As factions in the Middle East are beginning to grow heated, Vincent finds himself embroiled in a world of dubious characters and uncertainties. Will he ever escape the dangers and find his way back to the life he once knew? ... (read more)

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Congo Music

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Crimes of Rumba: Volume I Congo Music
by Thierry Antha
Xlibris


"The legal and historical question is: why has this scam and fraud been going on as an open secret that so many people knew for decades without outrage?"

Antha’s exhaustive treatise on the history of Congo Latino, Congo Rumba, and Rumba Lingala asserts that political forces at play during the Belgian colonization of Congo did, in fact, perpetrate a fraud on the genre’s foreign listeners. The vast reach of the policy of forced labor under King Leopold of Belgium encompassed even the music and musicians of Congo, leading to the exploitation of Congo music. One result of this exploitation was a false narrative perpetuated by both state-appointed distributer, Fonior, and the music industry abroad concerning the origins of what became known as "Congolese modern music." Fuel for this false narrative was the state administration’s intentional creation and distributing of Congolese Rumba as an African form of music influenced by Cuban music. Antha seeks to trace and explain the origins of Congo music, its authentic purposes, the relationship between the church and Congo’s music, and its unscrupulous handling by the state for profit. The truth concerning Congolese music has, to date, been subdued, allowing the wide acceptance of Fonior's post-colonial fraud. ... (read more)

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Generations of the Chesapeake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Family Matters
by D. C. Moses
Cherry Street Publishers


"But what had happened to Alex and Barry…so busy, so loving, so passionate for self-discovery, so yearning for self-transcendence?"

The untimely death of their son, Lu, is a shadow that haunts and looms over the Byrnes family. Each one grieves his loss in their own private way while attempting to find a way forward, immersing themselves into their careers and daily life. Then father, Barry, faces a life-changing decision when his company requests to relocate him to Washington. This sets in motion the mixed feelings and introspection by Barry and his reluctant wife, Alex, who contemplate the uncertainty of their future so close to retirement. They each reflect upon the early years of their marriage and life before and after Lu’s death. Others in the family must also come to terms with the tragic familial loss. As they each face uncertainty in the way forward, they learn something of themselves and one another. ... (read more)

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Thorny Issues of Concern

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Israel: God’s Covenant People, God’s Promised Land
by Graham Coates
Xlibris AU


"God has a covenant with Israel, and He has promised to bless her."

The survival and success of the Jewish people in regaining the land that God promised Abraham spans thousands of years of history. Author Coates has gathered corroboration for the special place that Israel holds in the world, beginning with the original gift of the Holy Land described in the Old Testament. Israel is a religious seat for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Coates examines two negative forces that deny the importance of the small nation: anti-Semitism and “replacement theology.” The former has been extant throughout recorded Western history. The latter holds that Christianity replaced and rejected Judaism and with it the primacy of Israel as the Jewish nation. Many ancient prophecies refer, Coates believes, to the current divided and conflicted situation in the region today. The author’s conviction is that when the Jews acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, he will then return to a fully united Jerusalem. ... (read more)

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What If

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prime Poems
by Alison Fromager
AuthorHouse UK


"We all know right from wrong
Better yourself and see
We could all be very happy
And live the life that we are all meant to lead."

Though Fromager’s poetry consists of a simple structure and no consistent rhyme scheme, it brings up pertinent questions that humans, by nature, shy away from. In “What If,” for example, she focuses on making choices and the occasional haunting aftermath that leaves the individual playing back the events over and over, wondering what they could have done differently. Authenticity exudes from these poems as the reader journeys through themes of pain, loss, self-awareness, and, ultimately, healing. ... (read more)

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Wit & Thought

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems and Other Nonsense
by Dexter Satterwhite
Xlibris


"And they will be one with each other
As through their lives they go
Like the merging of two rivers,
Their combined waters flow."

Tucked within themes of fleeting time, nostalgia, and remembrance is a collection of poetry that thoroughly experiments with both form and content. Much of Satterwhite’s compilation captures emotions at particular points of the lifespan. However, what begins with lighthearted poems like “When Mary Turned Forty” takes on a distinctively pensive, almost cynical tone in some later poems like “Lament.” ... (read more)

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Interpretation & Analysis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The School of Sun Tzu: Winning Empires Without War
by David G. Jones
iUniverse


"Because Ping-fa is intentionally, and delightfully, metaphorical, the messages need to be ferreted out, tasted, and tested."

Many people have heard of the classic Chinese text The Art of War by Sun Tzu and may also be somewhat familiar with the way in which our society tends to twist its messages of troop deployment and terrain navigation into some sort of business strategy. The author of this examination of Sun Tzu lays forth a compelling argument that much of what we understand about this ancient text is colored by mistranslations, commentaries of existing erroneous commentaries, and even revisionist histories of China’s first empire. Re-examining this classic work of Chinese literature and understanding it as a series of educational metaphors rather than literal pieces of advice allow it to appear as a tool for cooperation rather than conquering and sheds a whole new light on what so many people claim to understand. ... (read more)

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Divided & Conquered

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Powerless
by Shelley Miller
Xlibris


"'So,' said Paris, his eyes lowering. 'You weren’t really kidnapped. You really were living in a Dud Community. You’re really....' 'Class 0,' Promise admitted."

In a society where people are organized into classes based on the superpowers they receive as teenagers, Promise Terrene lives the good life. Born to two Class 1 parents, her privileged lifestyle leads to a snobbish attitude but one that is shared by the caste system she lives in. When her fourteenth birthday arrives, she travels to the Lightning Tower to receive her powers, but the unthinkable occurs when no powers manifest. Dubbed a Class 0, she is entitled to no kind of preferential treatment by society and is only spared sterilization and enrollment in a work camp by being smuggled away by a Class 2 who witnesses her diagnosis and helps her escape to the countryside. Separated from family, friends, and the only life she’s ever known, Promise must learn how to get by using only her wits in a world where virtually everyone has incredible powers. ... (read more)

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A Fast-Paced Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Rise of the Boy: Lost in Time (Beings within the Myth)
by A.K. Solimov
Xlibris


"Time present and time past are both present in time future. Time future is contained in time past."

Best friends Sebastian and Dominic have no clue that a mysterious crop circle will take them from their modern New Zealand home to ancient Egypt. Once there, Pharaoh Akhenaten is dead, and Tutankhaten is next in line to rule, but the royal prince is missing. When Egyptian soldiers find a bewildered Sebastian in the desert, they mistake him for prince Tutankhaten. On the other hand, Dominic winds up with a tribe of traveling Nubian warriors. Heavy lifting is scheduled for the pair of boys lost in time. They must find each other, a way to return home, and the real Tutankhaten or else a royal dynasty will fall into the wrong hands. ... (read more)

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Taste of Blood

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Emele's Night Goddess: Book III
by Steve Pierce
Xlibris


"Ian tossed the head to the woman’s feet, but she was paralyzed with fear, unable to move. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out."

This book expands on a story that was begun in two earlier volumes. In this continuation, readers learn more about the fate of a virtual family of vampires, and, in particular, sisters who are living their lives in relative anonymity until a stranger arrives on the scene. ... (read more)

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An Upbeat Delight

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Yard Full of Wonder
by Jean McCarthy
Xlibris


"'Wake-up, it's time to get up world,' make it a good day!!"

A little girl discovers a varied community of animals participating in interesting adventures in her backyard. First, she observes a mother rabbit giving birth to two babies and shows this to her brother Michael while he is mowing the lawn. He moves the babies out of harm’s way while he finishes the yard work. Next, the girl observes a father blue-jay feeding his baby worms while the mother keeps the baby warm, after which the baby flies free. The girl then finds a skunk and compares his size with that of a dog. She is excited to see the skunk again in the future. Finally, while lovebirds splash and whistle, she imagines that they are singing for everyone to wake up and have a good day. ... (read more)

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Writing from Pain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Multitude of Mercies: A Novel
by Fay Freimuth
iUniverse


"Laura didn’t make it home in time for Christmas. She’d gone too far off the deep end."

Something is suddenly, terribly wrong with Nan’s sister Laura. Just weeks before Laura is supposed to marry, she is confined in the local hospital, claiming she is possessed and is pregnant by a stranger. It is Nan’s first experience of Laura’s illness—schizophrenia. Their close-knit family will try to understand and cope with Laura’s episodes, her suffering, and disruptions, but, still, Nan constantly worries about her. After Laura’s wedding plans crash, there are other men. Nan knows Laura is generous and loving as well as intelligent, and she worries about Laura’s choices. What will happen when her new trucker boyfriend, Charlie, finds out about her mental problem? Laura keeps having breakdowns, making Nan herself feel crazy with stress. Her Uncle Theo wisely opines, “We’re all just a few chemicals away from insanity, Nancy.” Laura gradually learns how to take care of herself, and Nan will discover some dark family secrets and come to feel genuinely blessed by her afflicted but openhearted sister. ... (read more)

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Grim& Grizzly Appeal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

White Winter
by Roxana Vella
AuthorHouse UK


"They just couldn’t accept the fact that someone deliberately tempted their daughter and made use of her in such a brutal and heartless way."

When 16-year-old Amy Saunders is senselessly and violently murdered, it throws the lives of her entire family into disarray. Her parents drift toward an inevitable divorce, while her younger sister Faye detaches and becomes emotionless. As Faye begins to investigate what little she knows of her sister’s demise, however, she becomes aware of dark and sinister forces that threaten her own life. With her loyal friend Kaylikim and her charming and handsome boyfriend Simon, she slowly emerges from her shell and begins to live her life away from the shadow of Amy. Those shadows crash down on Faye again as there proves to be more to Simon than she can see, and the hellish influence of Satan’s son yearns to claim both Saunders sisters in order to establish power over all living things. ... (read more)

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Loneliness Unveiled

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Steve’s Story: The Life of a Polish Orphan
by Jackie Van Dyke
Xlibris


"For the first time in his life, Steve had a true sense of family."

Steve Chapla is just like many middle-class American men: hard-working, a skilled laborer, a U.S. Army veteran, a father. Yet, Steve’s quest for a sense of belonging, of family, has defined him all his life. Steve has had a variety of hardships and adventures—being orphaned from his immigrant family at a young age, being drafted and injured in World War II, and, finally, starting a family of his own and building a business. An engrossing, well-written read, this book by Steve’s daughter acts as part family history, part biography. Well-researched and using sources such as family letters and photos, oral history, legal documents, and news clipping, the author details Steve’s various journeys and paints a picture of a kind man with an appetite for life—but one who also suffers from loneliness. ... (read more)

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A Life Examined

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ones Such as These
by Al Fonner
Writers Club Press


"…all is One, and the One is God. Therefore, everyone and everything was a part of God. …why, then, do we continue to destroy each other?"

Jenna Keleman has a problem. She and her husband, Joe, are young, upwardly mobile professionals in their early thirties but not yet ready for parenthood. When she discovers she is pregnant, the news is disturbing. Luckily for Jenna, she lives in an era of enlightenment. She has several options in the year 2032. No longer chained to the mythological standards of old religions, most people subscribe to a more intelligent type of spiritualism based on scientific knowledge. Even ideas of personhood have been challenged in the court system, leading to intellectual views that have advanced humanity beyond the darkness of ancient beliefs. Yet, she becomes troubled by a disturbing dream and an unexpected gift. Both lead her to question her strongly held beliefs. As she searches for truth, she finds herself conflicted. Can she resolve her spiritual questions, or is she making too much of nothing? ... (read more)

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Achieving Success

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Everyone Needs a Caddy: Mentoring for Business and Life
by Joe Tyney
Xlibris


"The book examines the necessary skills and attitudes required to work cooperatively to achieve situations characterized by clarity of purpose, trusting relationships, and high achievement."

With his experience in leadership, mentoring, and coaching, the author offers an exceptional look at the “Game of Life” by relating this work to golf. But for those non-golfers, understanding of that game is not necessary for looking at the information regarding how to function in life, particularly at work, including leadership positions and the skills necessary to be effective. With chapters on topics such as vision statements, planning and goal setting, confidence, attitude, accountability, effective leadership, and how to win, the book takes the reader through a step-by-step account of how to utilize potential for the greatest success. Utilizing charts, lists, and case studies, the book guides the reader through the main tasks of mentoring others. ... (read more)

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Epicenter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sailing Through the Storms of Seizures: Living with Epilepsy, Recovering from Brain Surgery, and Being a Caregiver
by Jon Sadler
Xlibris


"Seizures taught me that being a good leader requires relying on other people, being humble, and seeking the good in any situation."

The author was four when he had his first seizure following a bout of high fever. That made him the object of constant concern to his family and dictated almost every decision he made. With medication, Sadler was deemed seizure-free for several years, though his speech was permanently affected. After a college sailing accident, he had his first grand mal seizure. He continued sailing despite the dangers, graduated from university with an engineering degree, found employment with the Navy, and then a position with the Army Corps of Engineers. As he grew older, his ability to deal with seizures weakened, leading to radical brain surgery. In 2010, after informally counseling a man whose child had epilepsy, he approached a turning point in his life. He became a licensed graduate professional counselor and now works as a mentor/advocate for the Epilepsy Foundation. ... (read more)

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Life Unfinished

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

“Edstudioz Edtertainment – Remember Me”: Poems, Lyrics, Letters & Messages
by Penny N. Kuria-Pettigrew on behalf of Edwin Henry Kuria
AuthorHouse


"I will die before my time because I already feel the shadow’s depth."

Nigeria-born Edwin Kuria had dreams of becoming a music producer and songwriter but tragically died before he could achieve success. Kuria left behind a trove of writings including lyrics and letters stored in his room—a place of inspiration which he called Edstudioz Edtertainment. This collection of writings curated by his grieving mother reveals an introspective, talented man on the cusp of fulfilling his destiny. Deeply religious and achingly ambitious, Kuria writes lyrics, poems, and prose glorifying and questioning God, celebrating his dreams of fame, and lamenting his fatherless childhood. Kuria also emulates Tupac Shakur and acknowledges his influence which is evident both in his premonitions of an early death and in his love for his mother. Through his writings, he explores themes of loss and struggle, hope and longing, love and family, and, ultimately, identity as an African man, lover of music, and fervent Christian. ... (read more)

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Testimony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Do You Know the Man? - The Writing Of A Book... To Reflect The Story Of A Man
by Everlean Merritt-Williams
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"It is the Lord’s plan for others to honor a servant where honor is due."

Williams envisions a group of college students―L. James, his friends, and classmates―gathered in their school lounge. During a lull in activities, James proposes a question for discussion. It has been his deep desire to meet the man said to have served his church for fifty years. This man who people should know simply claims to be “just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody that can save anybody.” James asks his group if anyone knows that man. Although no one does, their curiosity is aroused. They wonder at such dedication: serving a single church for that many years. ... (read more)

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Christian Outreach

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

To Thine Be the Glory
by Angela D. Martin
AuthorHouse UK


"I am at this moment in time the most blessed woman on earth."

A deeply convinced Christian has composed her life story to illustrate how it is possible to know little about the church or God but with only a rudimentary understanding to reach a place of deep, abiding faith. The daughter of hard-working Jamaican immigrants, Angela D. Martin was born and raised in England. Her parents were primarily concerned with providing their children with an economically stable existence. They sent the children to Sunday school, but they themselves did not attend church on any regular basis, that is until later years. However, Angela knows they did their best to raise her well within their understanding. She went to university and attained a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree, but relationships with men proved a stumbling block, leading her to major disappointments. During this period of her life, she was drawn to the Bible, but never for very long. However, her interest grew when she reached a point of personal desperation and turned, surrendered, to God for comfort. ... (read more)

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God's Blessings

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sovereign Confinement
by Patricia Blanks
Xlibris


"The way to jubilee and liberty is God Sovereignly Confining us."

This short narrative demonstrates how God, the ultimate sovereign, works on his followers by means of limitation, even incarceration. Blanks sees no better example of this than the biblical story of Joseph. Joseph was sold off by his jealous brothers and then enslaved and imprisoned in Egypt. The author compares this to a pit, a void: the prisoner has no idea of the length of confinement and can’t understand how it can have any positive purpose. But the Lord saved Joseph from despair and blessed him with prophetic dreams that eventually led to his freedom. Blanks recounts her own sovereign confinement, beginning with a cancer diagnosis. She maintained faith that she would survive despite multiple setbacks over twelve years. During this time, her spiritual life began to bloom. So, when her sovereign confinement was over, it had brought many blessings. ... (read more)

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Tree Talk

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Whispers from the Trees: The Book
by Glenda Ungermann
Xlibris AU


"We are all one and one day we will understand that one cannot be without the other."

Trees have messages for humanity. The author’s relationship with trees began when she had the realization that she is “part of the fairy realm known as elementals.” She touched a tree and felt its vibration; gradually, words emanated from within. As she communicated more, trees began to contact her internally, each using its individual name. Highgrove, in Tasmania, speaks of karma and the interconnectedness of all life. McGraw reminds us that trees “clean and prepare the air” and questions why they should be destroyed to make products like bark chips. Jannofay recalls the devastating pain of cyclones; Salamanda observes the destruction of widespread logging. Some trees cite lessons learned from past lives as humans. Some find their human admirers puzzling, and all wish us well. Their communications focus on peace, love, harmony, and the gift of wisdom. ... (read more)

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Doing Right

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heading Home
by Karl Gibbons
Xlibris AU


"We cried for the loss our friends, we cried for the loss of our innocence, we cried for the loss of our youth."

Oscar Wilde is credited with saying, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” In this novel, however, it is the richness of spirit, not necessarily wealth, that enables old friends to reclaim their history, put ghosts to rest, and finally move on. ... (read more)

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Steampunk Soul

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Out of Time
by D E McLean
Xlibris NZ


"'Until you get there, you don’t really know what it’s like.' 'Yeah,' agreed Kev, 'the difference being no one writes travel guides on the future.'"

Millicent Darlington and her ragtag group of wayward souls, secretive government officials, and orphaned children make up the crew of the airship Elizabeth Anne. When a respected lady with a background in science hires the ship in order to secretly study and find evidence of the mythical kraken, they end up with more than they bargained for. Encountering a group of slavers who have just returned from capturing an unsuspecting New Zealander named Kev and transporting him to their time and dimension, the crew of the Elizabeth Anne mounts a rescue operation. However, with Kev now their responsibility, they need to find a way to return him back to his own place and time, even if it means proving the existence of parallel universes in the process. ... (read more)

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Operation W. M. Turner

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Diamonds, Cocaigne and Caravaggios
by James Jones
Xlibris


"hauptman neilson eased the safety catch of the silenced walther ppk, and aimed the gun at the major’s stomach, then said. mr churchill considers you a murdering bastard…"

In a classic example of free-form expression, the author has made the decision to totally eliminate paragraphs, almost completely remove capital letters, and only use punctuation idiosyncratically. Once you become accustomed to that, however, you can immerse yourself in a number of rip-roaring adventures. His stories span epochs and continents to deliver mayhem and murder across a range of criminality involving diamond smuggling, drug running, fine art theft, and more. The yarns are mostly set in present times. However, one pops up in World War II and another in 1796. They take place in multiple locales—England, France, Holland, Columbia, Africa, and America too. Their common denominator mostly involves bad guys who have done dastardly deeds and paramilitary units committed to stopping them and taking possession of their ill-gotten gains. ... (read more)

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Cultivating Relationships

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Be Wee with Bea
by Liz ONeill
iUniverse


"She was so upset, she immediately stopped all of her other exercises and began her ON GUARD exercise; her FEARS were back."

Growing up, Bea was relentlessly teased by her peers, who called her fat and clumsy. Though her self-esteem took a major hit from these taunts, her mother always offered her plenty of love and always provided Bea’s favorite treat: honey. Now that Bea is older, and living without her parents, the effects of bullying have carried over into her independent life, but she has found many types of exercises to help her cope and stay functional. From exercising frequently to meditating and talking to The Maker of All Things, Bea is able to keep her thoughts focused and her heart happy through much of life. When it comes to her friends, however, Bea can be a bit nosy and over-eager to solve problems that do not concern her, though it comes from a place of love and concern. ... (read more)

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The Tides

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sea Trial
by Donald E. Bodron
Xlibris


"As long as men continue to go down to sea in ships some... will be careless, negligent or arrogant... trouble due to inexperience... plain run out of luck."

After graduation from New York Maritime College, the author was assigned to serve with the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest. He learned firsthand the business of marine inspection. Many of the ships he oversaw repairs on were built for WWII, often suffered damage from the engine to the hull, and had been repaired at least once. Ships were renamed after a major rebuild or purchase by a new owner. The chapter titles are locations where Bodron served. ... (read more)

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Devotion to God

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

God's Amazing Hands
by Cynthia Phillips
Xlibris


"The Heavenly Father has allowed you to see a small part of Paradise."

The author relates a group of miraculous stories, including an amazing occurrence in her own life and the stories of acquaintances who experienced encounters with God. When asked to obey a command that seemed foolish, two ladies failed to listen and met near disaster; the Heavenly Father sent angels to intervene once each lady repented and prayed fervently. Several stories demonstrate the importance of memorizing healing scripture and the power of quoting these out loud, especially saying the name of Jesus repeatedly. ... (read more)

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Long Way from Home

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Boy from the Farm
by Ryan Martin
Xlibris AU


"To use a Bible and farming term, what you sow you reap, and that is true of life."

As a boy on a farm in England, author Martin never imagined he would one day be a sailor in the Royal Navy, a Christian mission worker overseas, and a retiree in Australia. As a child, he joined in farm work with old-fashioned parents who modeled a strict, simple lifestyle. He learned to catch fish with his hands, shoot game, and drive a tractor. Often competing with an older brother, the teenage Martin looked for employment away from the family farm. At age fifteen, he signed a 12-year contract with the Royal Navy, became a radio operator and later a Helicopter Aircrewman, married his sweetheart Liz, served in the Falklands conflict, and was once praised in a national newspaper for a heroic rescue on stormy seas. After a profound, dramatic re-commitment to Christianity, he and Liz undertook some years of charitable work in Africa. ... (read more)

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The Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Long Road to USA Citizenship: An Autobiography
by Horst G. Baier
Xlibris


"Yes, life in Germany was good; young people had work and everybody was occupied and busy."

Born in 1924, the author recalls his idyllic childhood on a family farm in Germany. In his mid-teens, he was certified as a tool and die worker. Then, drafted into the military, he went to war at age 18. He was quickly deployed to the front where he fought continuously until, wounded, he was transferred to a field hospital. While recuperating, he met Paula with whom he immediately fell in love. The war took him to Italy and then to a prison camp in Egypt where his machining skills led to a bearable situation. Returning home after the war, he and Paula got married. However, post-war Germany was in chaos, so his father helped the couple to emigrate to Canada. From there he landed a good job with the Ford Motor Company in the US and settled into a cozy existence on a small, pleasant homestead. ... (read more)

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Haiti in Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tim Tim? Bwa Sech! Keskiya a Kiskeya? - The Xó of Àgasú
by Dr. Jacques-Raphaël Georges
Xlibris


"Once upon a time in Kiskeya, that land that is very far from the shores of America yet so very near…"

This collection of folktales and stories celebrates the island of Haiti. The language and culture are explored through clever allegories and unusual narratives with a wide range of characters whose experiences reflect the history, geography, and magic of Haiti. The collection builds from simpler tales of a thieving eagle to more complex, sophisticated sagas of immigration and revolution. The storyteller continually interjects in the flow of the story to ask questions of the listener. These questions serve as purposeful, philosophical interruptions and remind listeners that the elaborate storylines are designed to inspire reflection on the reality of Haiti’s past, present, and future. ... (read more)

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Community Organizing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Social Change Through Training and Education: Volume II—Understanding the Humanity of Policing
by Dr. E. Beverly Young
AuthorHouse


"I want everyone to understand the police officer as a person who too, is a member of the community."

This simple but cogent manual for all parties involved in law enforcement stresses that communication is the first essential since policing is a partnership. The police are accountable to the community just as its citizens are, and all must communicate. This involves not only speaking but also the “bidirectional” requirement to listen and understand. Both citizens and police must be aware of and control their nonverbal cues: hand gestures, eye contact, and other subtle actions. Though at times they must take charge, police are not merely supposed to give orders. This misperception can lead to their seeming harsh, condescending, and even prejudiced. Police authoritarianism can provoke racial fears. To promote what Young calls “communication wellness,” law enforcement personnel and residents must form a collaboration to create compatible strategies, draw in many community players, and identify common goals. ... (read more)

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The Ad Game

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

O'Brien, Lipschitz, and Partners: A Satire
by John Nieman
Xlibris


"'The truth...with a twist,' Jack said, as if it was the guiding principle of this rather funny commercial."

When a tired, tried-and-true pitch to land mattress-maker Serta as a client fails, Shelly Lipschitz is not surprised but still disappointed. Extending her congratulations to the tiny upstart firm of O’Brien, O’Brien, she soon gets lured into their anything-goes style with its propensity for taking risks with their fingers on the pulse of the ad world. After Shelly signs on as a partner, the new O’Brien, Lipschitz, and Partners agency draws in client after client looking to rejuvenate their branding and advertising with something fresh and unexpected. In a year’s time, the firm goes from plucky beginnings to one of the hottest ad agencies in New York. ... (read more)

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Thrust Into Combat

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Nightmare Enemy, Dream Friend
by Jerry Blanton
iUniverse


"The news spread throughout the boat and stunned everyone. The main speculation was on the possibility of going to war with America."

The majority of this novel details a German man's formative years and his exploits as a U-boat commander in the Second World War. It’s a sweeping saga of one man’s journey through some of the most turbulent times the world has ever known. ... (read more)

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Dark & Light

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reborn and Other Versifications
by A. E. Fonner
iUniverse


"When sad, she offers relieving cheer.
When troubled, she takes the darkest fear.
Her presence calms the tempest sea.
My love throughout remains with me."

Collecting roughly three dozen poems into this brief, direct volume, the author shares his creativity and perspective with the reader on a personal level. The poems in this book are organized into three chapters that follow a logical progression of themes. The first chapter, “Lost in the Dark,” focuses on primarily negative emotions and difficult, trying times or situations. The second chapter, “Through the Twilight,” is more transitional in its perspective, looking forward to the good while expecting the bad. The final chapter, “Emerge in the Light” contains poems that are hopeful, exuberant, or celebrate the benefits of faith. ... (read more)

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Atlantis Rescue

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Aussie Pilot
by Kevin Johnson
Xlibris AU


"We have to learn how to fly a spaceship….and then work out some sort of plan to achieve what Orack has in mind."

Australian pilot David Granger begins his military career flying missions in Vietnam, but a strange experience in the mountains leads to an encounter with an alien being that sets him on a mission to faraway planets to save an alien race. What starts out as a historical novel about a military career turns into a science fiction adventure fueled by newly acquired superpowers, interplanetary battles, and one all-powerful computer leading a quest to save the aliens of the planet Atlantis. ... (read more)

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Tech & Time Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Aramay: The Janus Set, Book One
by Alan Stapf
AuthorHouse UK


"'Just because you, a damaged product of the Federation, can’t see the deeper noble side of humanity, there’s no need to ridicule those who can.'"

As a member of Ex-Op/141, Aramay and her group are tasked with either capturing or eliminating natives on an Earth-like planet for the glory of The Federation. Their missions are recorded, edited, and broadcast to the public as a popular propaganda show called Strategy. As the sole behaviorist and empath on her team, Aramay believes that the natives are much more intelligent than how they’ve been portrayed, which puts her at odds with her fellow Exec members. As Strategy draws on and tensions rise, Aramay believes she might be able to prove her predictions right. The war between Ex-Op/141 and the natives is escalating. Are the natives as primitive as they seem, and who is really calling the shots? ... (read more)

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Earth Salvage

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Destiny: Quest for a New World
by Donald M. Edwards
Xlibris


"The Committee was very concerned that the depletion of Earth’s resources was making it necessary to look elsewhere for an inhabitable environment for humankind."

Grant Wickham has been tapped by The Committee, a secretive and powerful organization, to recruit a team of experts for a mission to establish a human colony on an Earth-like planet. With Earth’s resources rapidly depleting, Wickham selects a talented, diverse team and begins the arduous task of training and preparing for building a life and a community in space. Looming in the background of the inspiring adventure to the last frontier is a group of eco-terrorists who want to sabotage the mission which they believe will contaminate the galaxy and ruin more planets as Earth has been ruined. ... (read more)

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Alien Crisis

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Drakos Effect
by Joe Sharcoff
iUniverse


"Fighting, resisting its fevered anger and growing destructive drive, and in the effort to understand, it held on to this being named Shana."

Astrobiologist Dr. Shana Savarino is the only one who can stop a deadly alien weapon that seeks to destroy all life on planet Earth. The weapon has awakened after eons of dormancy near the site of an asteroid crater in Mexico. The origins of the weapon are complex. Understanding the weapon requires an intergalactic history lesson from the Cephians, an alien race observing and aiding humans and oftentimes filling in large gaps of knowledge about the world outside the familiar planets of Earth’s solar system. The weapon is part protector, part destroyer. Shana believes the weapon is Earth’s guardian, and she taps into those tendencies; but, when the weapon takes its battle form as a dragon, destruction is unleashed across the planet. ... (read more)

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Transitions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kennedy and Her Bink / Kennedy y su Chupeta: Book 1
by Maureen Sky
Xlibris


"“Please don’t take my bink. It helps me to think.”
“Por favor no tomes mi chupeta. Me ayuda a pensar.”"

This delightful children’s book concerns a little girl’s pacifier, also known variously as a paccie, a dummy, a binky, or, in this case, simply a bink. Little Kennedy—vividly depicted here as a dark-haired toddler in bright clothing—always has her bink either in her mouth or on a string around her neck. She wants her parents to know that the bink calms her down, helps her to think, and to sleep. In the Spanish translation, she declares that “es mejor que comer galleta” (“It’s better than eating a cookie”). And it’s a wonderful comfort when she goes on a ride. Kennedy will soon be eighteen months old, and some say it is time that she gave up the pacifying object. But Kennedy wants to keep it a while longer. Until she decides to give it up, what real harm can it do? ... (read more)

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Farm Animals

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of Maxine: The Little Pig Who Thinks She's a Dog
by Lee Dunstan
Xlibris


"Maxine wondered what a pig was; she knew she was a dog."

Maxine, the little black pig, comes to live at a big farm with all the cows, goats, cats, horses, deer, and dogs and grows accustomed to farm life. Since she spends a lot of time with the dogs, helping to bring the cows to the milking shed, sleeping in the sun with Tank and Shade, and playing with Wiley, Maxine thinks she is a dog as well. When Maxine grows bigger, she cannot sleep with the dogs anymore and has to live in a paddock with Blitzen the deer but still dreams of rounding up the cows with the other dogs. ... (read more)

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Rich Imagery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lost & Found
by Taher Adel
AuthorHouse UK


"To the sublime peaks of bliss I climb
On the wings of youth on either side
My mind drifts through splendid seas of certainty"

Intensely emotional and full of vibrant imagery, this volume of poetry uses the need for human love and support in a profound yet ambiguous way. Chronicling selections of the author’s work from his first dabblings in poetry to the present day, much of the work in this book focuses on the relationship between the Almighty and his creations. From exultations of the highest order to pleas for help at the lowest, darkest times, the dialogue between God and man offers a beacon of hope and light under any circumstance in these poems. With over sixty poems to choose from, each one provides a unique point of view, form, and tone that creates a whole spectrum of approaches to mostly the same topic. ... (read more)

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Atheism Rising

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Escape to Faith and Freedom
by C. A. Davidson
LitFire Publishing


"'Then atheism must be the government-sponsored religion in the Empire,' Ben said, 'but they sure don’t have freedom.'"

Ben and Ruben are just boys when they flee with their uncle from the Kohor Empire in the 1960s. Ben has been raised in secret as a Christian, while Ruben is swept up in the nationalist atheism that is a hallmark of the oppressive Kohor regime. When their father is detained by the secret police the day before their attempt to flee the country, the boys must grow up with their uncle on the island of Yeshurun. Ben flourishes under his newfound freedoms, enjoying his public display of beliefs, while Ruben struggles to find his place, getting swept up with a rebel group intent on bringing the ideals of Kohor to Yeshurun. As revolution and upheaval take place in the name of progress, Ben must rely on his faith to find the strength to stand up for what he believes. ... (read more)

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Making Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Being the Way
by Rev. Patrick McAndrew, D.R.S.
LitFire Publishing


"There is nothing like catching a glimpse of Spirit, feeling the Sacred Breath of Life flowing through you, feeling God’s Presence all about you."

Analyzing the teachings of Jesus, the Bible, and a method of maintaining a lifestyle that is grounded in spirituality and peace, the author of this book puts forth the concept that Jesus Christ was not alive to found a church or organize a religion but rather to serve as an example for his Way of Being. Drawing on specific verses, lessons, and parables as well as popular movies like Peaceful Warrior and the Star Wars series, the author teaches how to live in the present and appreciate the life force of the entire world. His book shares a metaphysical interpretation of the Bible that supposes that the stories don’t provide a literal history but rather a detail of the things one must do within themselves in order to live in Jesus’s example. ... (read more)

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Young Travel

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Adventures of David and Kringer in Germany
by Eddie R. Johnson, Jr.
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"'Germany is great, Kringer. The food, the people, sights...There is one place I want you to see.'"

If it's not fried, sugar-coated, or rendered in bright neon colors with repetitive catchphrases, kids often have no use for it. Geography and maps are too boring, and the big question about foreign travel is this: Do they have chicken nuggets? So how do you spark interest in something as abstract as the world from self-involved little people who lack the context to understand anything outside the toy-filled room in which they are sitting?... (read more)

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Sex & Reason

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Friction and Fantasy: Opening Pandora's Box
by Ramon Piñon, Jr.
BookVenture Publishing, LLC


"Human sexuality is not simply a matter of biology, but an expansive universe of ideas, myths, received ideas, traditions that have a long historical trajectory."

In a society constantly bombarded with sexual images and innuendo, is there a need for one more book about sexuality? In the age of information, is there anything the civilized world doesn’t already understand about human sexuality? When nearly every magazine on display at the grocery counter has an article about sex, what can be learned from yet another book on the subject? Surprisingly, there is plenty.... (read more)

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On Call

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Discontinue Leeches!! And Other Stories from an ENT’s Training
by Amit Patel, MD
Xlibris


"Medicine is and will continue to be an absurd field, and hopefully these stories will allow some insight into what doctors have to face every day."

Whether while being on call, performing patient rounds, doing consults, signing out patients, and/or arranging their transport, the author logged the witty and whacky communications he experienced. Mostly, the after-hours calls came from the other equally overworked and a bit inexperienced hospital staff. Medical residents each have their specialties. Patel’s is in the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) field. However, four years of general surgical residency at a hospital means that whenever “on call” a resident might consult at any time about any urgent case. Sleeping and eating are put on the back burner, and after a while, a tired resident doesn’t automatically respond in person to every supposedly urgent call. ... (read more)

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A Compelling War Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Misunderstood Ally
by Faraz Inam
Xlibris


"The story may not have all the solutions but can help the reader understand all the perspectives."

Lt. Col. Dhil Jahangiri, a commanding officer in the Pakistan Army, is increasingly troubled by a war he believes is untenable. Sp. Agt. Samantha Albright, a CIA operative and drone specialist, must reconcile decisions that sometimes result in collateral damage. Mullah Baaz Jan, a militant commander in the Army of Muslim soldiers (LaM,) watches as his beloved leader is killed when a CIA drone hits a village mosque. Entangled in the "war on terror," each of these characters approaches the war with different perspectives and objectives. The ramifications of the mosque bombing by the CIA set these three on a collision course with horrifying results that, though unintended, should not have been unexpected. ... (read more)

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Brave Political Ideas

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Little Rebellion, Now & Then, Is a Good Thing
by Alan M. Hallene, Jr.
Xlibris


"Congressman Crain and his associate Tim McConnell were lying on the top steps of the library in blood-soaked clothes."

Andy Crain, a congressman from Scranton, Pennsylvania is not exactly a household name when he delivers a speech proposing term limits for legislators and a ban on lobbying in order to influence politics. His radical beliefs do, however, cause those in power to decide that he poses too great a threat, and secretly a plan is concocted to assassinate him after the speech. A mysterious and fateful intervention, though, causes the first shot to miss, and Andy’s lifelong friend and campaign manager Tim McConnell protects Andy from the second. Rushed to the hospital, Andy and Tim are comatose at first but later determined to see their vision for the country through. However, the conspiracy that almost claimed their lives may be closer to home than either one of them would suspect. ... (read more)

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Love & Chances

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Stolen Youth
by Angela Studer
iUniverse


"'I mean I thought I just cared a lot for you and that it would be easier to let you go now, before I got in really deep.'"

Wyatt James returns home to the Double N Ranch after spending ten years in prison for a murder he did not commit. He was a teenager when he was wrongly convicted, so he has a lot of catching up to do when he gets out. Intent on starting anew with the help of his family and small-town community, Wyatt wants to focus on the future without looking back. But the past keeps showing up even as he starts a new romance with Kate, a strong-willed woman who wants to be with Wyatt even if it brings danger and uncertainty to her life. ... (read more)

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Clan Rivalry

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Heroes Don't Cry
by Bob Harris
Xlibris


"Cleverness is not the absence of strength, but the skill to use it effectively."

In the author’s dramatic story of good vs. evil, siblings Alex and Ambrose mourn the sudden death of their police officer father. Ambrose meets a mysterious older woman at his new job and takes her up on her offer to work on her ship. The siblings are soon kidnapped from their ship and taken to a beach, where they will remain unless they find Nicholas, the only person who can help them off the island. Alex and Ambrose get separated and each embarks on a journey full of danger, battle, magic, evil, friendship, and adventure. Will Ambrose allow the bitterness that remains after the death of his father to cloud his vision of the support and love coming from friends left behind? Will Alex discover her hidden strengths, and will they be enough to conquer the monsters on the island? ... (read more)

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Lore & Reality

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mystery on Widow Island
by James Malcolm
Xlibris


"The secrets Alice held were so unfathomable, no one would ever believe her story if she ever chose to share it."

Unexplained break-ins, sightings of naked people roaming the island, and a lost child taken into foster care may all seem to be random incidents, but they turn out to be connected. Alice, a widow living on her private beach, soon finds herself involved. She provides refuge and aide to the strangers who have “washed up” on her shores, but her biggest task yet is keeping their identities a secret. Can Alice help her new friends before evidence points back to her? ... (read more)

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A Darker Wonderland

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Otherland Circus
by Kelsey Elizabeth Behm
iUniverse


"If all of the evidence before her did not read of such cruel and depressing results, Lizzie almost would have thought that Wonderland was wondrous indeed -- a place that a girl would enjoy so much that she would not want to leave."

At the Pauper’s Lunatic Mill, Lizzie Lutwidge’s father and brother study the Alice Effect—a strange, dreamlike journey to a subconscious realm—on girls admitted to the ward. Tired of being kept out of the loop, Lizzie makes her way to the Mill to seek answers but instead encounters more mysteries—and even horrors. Ever the curious one, Lizzie is determined to find out the missing piece to the puzzle that is Wonderland and the Alice Effect. However, her investigation reveals a twisted family secret and a dark destiny waiting for her. Can she save the girls who have succumbed to Wonderland? ... (read more)

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The Essay

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Thus Spoke Golden Guru
by Conrad Linden
Xlibris


"Anything that Golden Guru says is not to be taken without a good deal of critical thought. The students are encouraged to think for themselves.."

This collection of eleven essays covers a wide array of topics from love and Australian Aborigine culture to climate change and the value of the European Union. Most are short, some three to five pages, with questions on topics posed in a conversational style and answered in boldface blocks of the “guru’s” answers stated in essay form. Following each section is an additional essay question for the reader to ponder and perhaps do research and write a response to. Poetry and linguistic theory regarding the language of the Australian Aborigines, with whom the author has spent time serving as a political advocate for equality, are included. A few essays concern morality and religion, with imaginal work on the crucifixion of Jesus and a homespun parable of a “pure land” or place established by Akhenaten for gardening in the light of God. The author posits that Jesus may have been taught at a re-embodiment of said school/garden. ... (read more)

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Necessary Woman

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Get to Know Yourself as a Woman
by Hilaria Petrus
Xlibris


"Adjust your schedule to make the time you will need to pray through spiritual welfare issues of everyday life."

This book’s premise is that all women should train themselves to be confident of their own abilities, and they should constantly rely on God and Christianity to help them through all of life’s adversities. Author Petrus begins by listing the rewards that women may experience when they undertake a program of self-exploration: happiness; less inner conflict; better decision making; self-control; resistance to social pressure; vitality and pleasures. She urges women not to give up when faced with serious challenges; they must re-examine and improve themselves while gathering courage from their religious beliefs. She asserts that relationships with men do not and cannot define a woman. Men need to have sex, but women, though they may enjoy it, do not regard it as the only necessity. Above all, she reminds her reader, “Faith is your way to your blessing.” ... (read more)

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Treasure Hunting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Livin' the Dream
by Michael J. Bruijn
Xlibris AU


"How the web was woven is of no consequence, but the gold is still there today."

High school sweethearts Jack and Lil are on a quest to find gold treasures hidden away for centuries in a church in Austria. Tipped off in a dream that is eerily similar to a dream that Lil has, Jack visits Gypsy Lou who explains the dream to him and sends him on his quest. Once the adventure is set in motion with Lil, Jack is given a mysterious clue from his grandmother when she dies suddenly. A European adventure ensues as the romantic pair seek a hidden vault and enough money to change their lives. ... (read more)

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Book of Memories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Road to Freedom: My Life and Journey from a 3rd World Country
by Edward A. Nieto
Xlibris


"Time has proved...how right I was to encourage my parents to migrate to America, the land of freedom and opportunities."

The author introduces himself as “made in Columbia and imported to the USA.” He was born in Columbia in 1940. His parents moved the family several times to avoid riots and unrest; they moved from Bogotá out to the country and back to Bogotá as Columbia’s troubles extended further from the city. The author claims that Columbia should have been rich if it was not for the fighting and loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. ... (read more)

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Careful Exploration

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A River Too Far
by Lee Flandreau
Xlibris


"Nighttime gives you time to think about things: how far you’ve come, how far it is to go back and what is to be gained by going farther."

In May 1990, friends Bill and Lee fly to South America to begin their journey to explore the Amazon rainforest, guided by locals Victor and Jose. Obstacles that the duo encounters include bats, electric eels, homesickness, and language barriers with their guides. Lee, the self-described family historian of the trip, notices that the guides do not describe animals and plants in detail, so he wonders if the Amazon species are so foreign and undiscovered that no one has categorized them. Other adventures of the journey include gawking at women in a brothel, surviving a capsized boat, and learning the customs of a Huarayo village. A guardian angel in the form of a travel agent from Lima saves them from being stuck in the jungle forever and helps them board a flight to Machu Picchu. ... (read more)

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Safety

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Whose Reflection Is That
by Robin Taylor
Xlibris AU


"Just because they don’t understand
What I am all about,
Does not give them the right
To make my life hell."

With short, direct stanzas, the compilation immediately hits on its main message: differences should not alienate but should rather be appreciated and embraced. Raw emotion from personal experiences exudes from the pages as Taylor depicts the realistic plight of those who are perceived as different. Born with high-functioning autism, Taylor demonstrates the day-to-day challenges endured by individuals on the autism spectrum both from a personal and societal level. ... (read more)

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Appreciation

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Earthen Vessel: Inspirational Prose and Verse
by Patricia H. Marino, Ph.D.
Xlibris


"We fail to see, the face of God
can be that of me or you."

Focusing on five primary themes—adoration, life, lessons, love, and legacy—this compilation not only seeks to inspire the reader with strong poetry and prose but also infuses the spirit with the ability to become more self-aware. Poems on spirituality and faith are not uncommon; however, Marino uses her background as a coach and mentor to simplify the understanding process for her audience. From the get-go, the metaphor of humanity, and the human body in particular as the earthen vessel, fittingly depicts the body as malleable, molded by one’s experiences and beliefs. ... (read more)

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Our Best & Worst

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Where Icarus Failed to Fly
by William and Emily Andrews
iUniverse


"Assistance in confronting faulty memories only increases agitation because the ego admits no such flaws."

William and Emily, after the deaths of William’s parents, find themselves in a small-town motel, desperate for a place to stay. Expecting a healthy inheritance but having little resources at the moment, William negotiates a deal with the motel owner whereby he will perform daily maintenance in exchange for a place to stay temporarily with payment of the remainder upon leaving. Determined to exploit this opportunity, the owner of the motel engages in illegal actions to keep William and Emily stranded there, providing him with virtually free labor for the entire property. As the situation intensifies, William has still not received his inheritance and later learns that he has been declared missing and dead as part of a plot of his ex-wife to manipulate his life and steal his inheritance. ... (read more)

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Brutality & Bullets

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Oh, Susannah
by Ruth Callick
AuthorHouse


"The same vicious monster that’s now after you did a number on your brother first, after he attempted to blow me to bits."

Cade Candlewood is determined to protect his partner’s sister, Susannah, when the past catches up and is out for revenge. Susannah’s life is in danger when an escaped convict, put away by Cade and his partner, threatens to torture and kill her. Susannah, on a girls’ trip with friends, has a close call with the killer and then is suddenly taken into protective custody in a secluded cabin alone with Cade. Cade and Susannah have a history of spurned romance. He rejected her advances when she was younger, and she is bitter and resentful towards him even as he now tries to keep her safe. ... (read more)

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Soul Flow

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inbetweenness: A Meditative Approach to Everyday Life
by Sunnie D. Kidd and Jim Kidd
Xlibris


"When spirituality flowing Inbetween persons is at its purest and finest, harmony presides and options for creative transformative living are optimized."

Employing a word first coined by Ms. Kidd in 1970, the authors use the term “Inbetweenness” to mean the interconnectedness of all things physical, universal, and relational. Every religion has attempted to explain this interconnectedness; however, translation of such a fluid concept to actual religious life often falls short due to the complication of rules. ... (read more)

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Love & Sacrifice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Spirit Within: An Inquiry into Humanity’s Inner Spirit and God’s Communication with It
by Jon H. Robertson
AuthorHouse


"Our inner spirit is God’s lamp—or searchlight—into our hearts."

John 3:16 states that God loved the world so much that he allowed his only son to die in order to save all humanity. If true, how was this communicated to the entire world, across all centuries, languages, and religions? Social media had not yet been invented. ... (read more)

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A Fast Read

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Into the Dark Forest
by Jeanine Fricke
iUniverse


"She’s like a sister to me. I can’t let her go. Not yet."

Since childhood, Olivia Clayton and Alyssa Walton have been the best of friends. Despite distance and personal losses along the way, the bond between the two has remained strong—that is until Alyssa fights for her life after getting hit by a pickup truck on her birthday. Olivia, determined to prove that someone intentionally tried to kill Alyssa, befriends the local sheriff, Shel, in order to find her friend’s would-be murderer.... (read more)

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Universal Topics

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Short Stories and Discussions for All Young People to Participate In: Series 2
by Geoff Daniel
Xlibris


"Remember, there are no real right or wrong answers to these issues; only your personal opinions matter."

The fourteen stories in this collection are designed specifically to inspire discussion of a wide range of social issues. Through imagined scenarios and diverse characters, Daniel opens up multiple perspectives on topics like eating disorders, endangered species, clean energy, blended families, drug abuse, and mental health. These fictional stories are highly focused on thought-provoking, current issues that can be debated. Daniel provides guidelines for discussion and includes general questions at the end that can be used to facilitate discussion. ... (read more)

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Fascinating Saga

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Darkwind Chronicles: Act I
by Christopher Cifelli
Xlibris


"Be on your guard and face each challenge as they arise whilst under your own judgment."

When Magnetin Darkwind and his friends arrive at a cave in search of treasure, Magnetin feels he can mysteriously find his way inside the place. As he uses his powers to open a door, Shendu, the Gatekeeper, appears and reveals that it is Magnetin’s destiny to become a Dragon Knight. To succeed, Magnetin must complete the challenges that will be put before him by the Guardians of Mother Earth, Heavens, Storms and Seas, Thor’s Hammer, Absolute Ice, Volcanic Flame, and Underworld. So he and his friends set out on a journey filled with obstacles that will train Magnetin to protect Hearth from an evil being known as “Wraith.” ... (read more)

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